‘Scripture & Preaching’ is the third part of our Liturgy series. The questions we will answer in this part are as follows.
Q. Why is the Holy Bible important to us?
Q. What is the goal of Biblical scriptures?
Q. What is Preaching?
Q. Why is preaching important?
Before we deep dive into answering the above questions, let me share with you some facts about the Bible we should know.
1. The Holy Bible has 66 books – 39 books in the Old Testament & 27 books in the New Testament.
2. The word Testament means ‘contract’ or ‘covenant’.
3. The Bible is written by approximately 40 authors from different walks of life, they were shepherds, farmers, tent-makers, physicians & kings.
4. They were written across a period of 1500 years.
5. The Bible was the first ever book to be printed in the year 1454.
6. The Bible is translated in 2018 languages, the highest ever.
Biblical scriptures has been an inspiration to many generations and it continues to inspire people even to this day.
Ravi Zacharias, one of my favorite preachers experienced the love of God through the scripture when he was a young boy lying down on the hospital bed. Somebody gave his mother the Bible and asked her to read the book of Luke. As Ravi was lying down helpless waiting for his death, he heard this mother read Luke 14:19 which said “Because I live you live”.
Later Ravi said that the word changed his life forever and meant to him as the defining paradigm for the rest of his life.
There are endless stories of how the Biblical scriptures has changed people lives throughout generation.
My life was changed when I was a young boy who failed in studies and was rejected by my teachers, neighbors and especially my father. An old uncle counselled me and reminded me of God’s love from the Bible; it changed my life forever.
The Importance of Scripture
To answer the importance of scriptures let me talk about the 2 major characteristics of the Scripture.
i) Authority of Scripture
ii) Sufficiency of Scripture
AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE
Wayne Grudem in his book “Bible Doctrine” defines the Authority of Scripture as follows.
“The authority of scripture means that all the words in scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of the scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God”
Scripture is important to us because they are Gods own words. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul writes to Timothy as says
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
There are internal as well as external evidences that prove the Bible is God’s word.
a) It’s Unity
Even though the Bible is written by 40 different authors from different walks of life across 1500 years there is an unbelievable uniformity in the overall text from the start to the end without any contradiction.
Most people who contradict the scriptures have either not read it completely or are interpreting it wrongly. If at all there were any major contradictions the scripture would have been abolished long ago.
b) It’s Prophecies
The Bible also contains prophecies which has been fulfilled through ages. The Old Testament has over 300 prophecies about Jesus that were fulfilled.
There is absolutely no other religious book with this type of predictive prophecy.
c) It’s Authority & Power
Like I mentioned before, the Scriptures carry an Authority & Power that has been transforming lives of millions across the globe.
It is quite rare to see a book change and transform people’s lives in such a massive way.
a) It’s Indestructible nature
There were hundreds of attempts made to destroy the Bible over generations, from Roman emperors to Communist dictators to modern day atheists & agnostics. None of them were successful, the Scripture and its impact over human lives still continues to grow.
b) It’s Self attesting nature
In India it’s a common practice to get photocopies of our educational certificates attested by a Lawyer before submitting it to any government procedure. The Lawyer verifies it against the original document and validates the photocopies with his stamp saying they are true.
To attest any document in this manner the attesting person should have a higher authority and should be a reliable source.
In case of the scriptures if anybody has the authority to validate its authenticity its scripture itself because there is absolutely no Higher authority or reliable source that can validate the scriptures.
The two arguments people use to speak against the scripture is either ‘Human Logic’ or ‘Scientific Truth’. In no way these two are reliable sources or else they would have the answers to human sufferings and pain. Only the Bible has the answer to human suffering and the cure.
SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE
Waye Grudem defines Sufficiency of Scriptures as follows
“The sufficiency of scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation; for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly”
2 Timothy 3:15 –
“and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Please note in the above verse Paul says the primary goal of the scripture is to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, it is to restore the broken relationship between God and Humanity.
Therefore the sufficiency of scripture means that we don’t need any more special revelation to help us relate to God which I believe is the most important need to every human being.
The work of Christ on the cross revealed in the Holy Scriptures is all sufficient for our redemption from sin and sufferings which also promises us an eternal life of Joy and fulfillment.
The answer to human sufferings is sin and Bible says that Christ died for all and bore the penalty of our sins once and for all on the cross. He died in our place and conquered death and rose again on the third day. All we need to do is to believe in his redemptive work, put our faith in him and follow him wholeheartedly.
The Gospel is the only truth that needs to be treasured.
In Colossians 2:8 Paul is warning the church to be careful of ungodly philosophy and empty deceit which is based on human traditions, the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ.
In Galations 1:8 Paul says “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed”
We believe in the Scriptures because it is all sufficient.
Preaching is proclamation especially the fundamentals of the gospel.
In 1 Cor 1:23 Paul says ‘We preach Christ crucified.’
We preach because we are commanded to do so in 1 Timothy 4:1-4
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
In Romans 10:4 Paul is urging the believers saying “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
Preaching is important because it reminds people about God’s faithfulness and his provision for salvation.