"The Bible: History or Mystery?"
Pastor Laura Guy
April 23, 2006
Here's an instant replay of what happened in worship:
- We began our series "Can We Trust the Bible?" by looking at the recent discovery of The Gospel of Judas and how that discovery was portrayed as something potentially faith-shaking because it contradicted the biblical accounts of Judas. (To learn more about this, you can go here and watch the preview of the TV special. )
- We briefly examined how we got the Bible, learning about the early church and the documents that began to get copied and passed around. When a letter of Paul's or a Gospel helped people in their faith - both encouraging them or challenging them - they took these words to be words from God. People of faith realized that even though humans wrote these books, God inspired the writing of them and God still spoke to people through them. Certain documents began to rise in importance to the early believers.
- We saw how eventually the four Gospels we have now became the four most-widely-used and referred to. This was happening as early as the middle of the second century. By the middle of the fourth century, the canon (our modern day Bible) was set by a council of bishops. When people ask, "Were the books that made it into the Bible chosen by everyday people or by a bunch of guys sitting in a stuffy room?", the answer is "both." The people decided which books were most meaningful to them, and those were the books that they copied and passed around most frequently. But the bishops were the ones who made the final decision about which books made it into the Bible. Even though we know that these decisions were made by fallible people just like us, we trust that the Holy Spirit guided these decisions.
- We learned about some of the books that didn't make it into the Bible, especially the Gnostic gospels. The Gnostics were a sect that broke off from orthodox Christian belief. They stressed the acquisition of secret knowledge as the pathway to salvation. They rejected the things of the physical world because they distracted people from the quest for knowledge. The Gnostic writings are collections of saying - of Jesus and other biblical characters - that the Gnostics believed held clues to this secret knowledge. The orthodox church leaders rejected Gnosticism because it contained too many contradictions to God as we know Him through the Old Testament, and to the Jesus we know from our four Gospels. Contrary to popular books and TV shows, the church did not denounce these books as heresy simply because they threatened the power of the church. They denounced them because they were a perversion of the Gospel message that the church believed was the true message of Jesus.
- We looked at Hebrews 12:1-3 where we see that the men and women who went before us are a great cloud of witnesses. We recognized that they are the everyday people like us who gave everything they had so that we might receive the faith, especially as it is found in the Bible. The first step in trusting the Bible is trusting the people who gave it to us.
- We asked if Christians might be able to talk to people who are wary of the faith in a way that could open doors for them to know Jesus. Rhonda sang a song called " What If? ", written by Nichole Nordeman, in which she asks a friend who rejects Christianity, "What if you're wrong?" In the song, she's not threatening the friend with the "eternal consequences" of her decision (Jesus never scared anyone into faith!), but she asks her friend, "What if there's more? What if there's hope you never dreamed of hoping for?"
- We shared communion with the risen Jesus, thanking him for his extravagant love.