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The Scriptures (Part 2 – What is the Bible)
March 7, 2021

The Scriptures (Part 2 – What is the Bible)

March 7, 2021

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The Scriptures

(Part 2)

Welcome back… good morning everyone online

Last week we left off with a verse from John 5

Jn. 5:39 (NIV)

When I read scriptures – Have ton of questions

  • Why the Bible
    • Live by… invest time in it… trust it
  • What is the Bible
  • What is it for
    • What role does it play in kingdom of God/Life/Everything
  • Where does it come from
    • Rumor has it we don’t even have original manuscripts
    • All we have is 1000’s of copies of original manuscripts
    • Is it reliable or full of errors and contradictions
  • How do I read it (ever think that)
    • How do you hear from God
    • How do you read w/ intelligence
    • How do you read w/ understanding
    • How do you read w/ a right heart

Hope is to tackle all of these questions in the weeks to come

    • Short answer: Because we are followers of Jesus
      • Jesus was obsessed with the Bible (Bible Teacher)
      • So we follow in his footsteps
  • And the Bible most of us own: Is the best selling book… never read
    • We base our lives on its words
    • We trust it and share it with others
    • But most of us don’t actually read it
  • And when we do read it… we read the parts we like
    • And the rest we tend to skip over
    • Or ignore
  • But we have to understand the necessity of the Bible in our lives
    • If we are followers of Jesus… we must also follow the Bible

Because Jesus is our authority

Matt. 28:18

  • So Jesus is our authority
    • But he has chosen to mediate that authority through the Bible
    • So the authority of the Bible is found in the authority of Jesus
      • And if we choose to reject the authority of the Bible
      • We are also choosing to reject the authority of Jesus
  • To trust in the scriptures is to trust in Jesus



One of my earliest memories of wanting to read the Bible

  • We had this babysitter… and I remember one day talking to him
    • And I think he was using some reverse psychology on me
    • Because he told me I wasn’t allowed to read Revelation
  • And when I asked him why… he said it was too scary
    • That it speaks about the end of the world
    • There are dragons and epic celestial wards
  • And I wasn’t “OLD ENOUGH” to read that part of the Bible
    • Well naturally what do you think I did…
    • Went home and read Book of Revelation

Because to me at that point… reading the Bible was about information

  • It was a source of the future

THIS WEEK: Want us to look at… what is the Bible

  • Is it an encyclopedia of truth
    • Look up subject of interest and learn everything
    • God… Marriage… Success
  • Or is it an allegory about you and Jesus
    • And the right way to read is look for deep symbolic meanings
    • So if you read about Moses in the river
      • Actually river symbolic for Holy Spirit
      • How we flow in the Holy Spirit
  • Or is it like what many ancient lit professors would say…
    • That it’s no more than ancient book like the Iliad
      • Written by humans w/ errors
      • There are tons of contradictions
      • Interesting if want to know what ancient men thought

TAG: Or is it something else…

Reason this is so important

If we misunderstand what Bible is…

  • Odds are – We will turn it into something its not
    • And we will use it and abuse it to our own end
  • Had a buddy in high school with a little sister
    • The sister was probably 4 – Older brother was 16
    • Went into pantry to get an apple
      • Came out with a red onion
      • We told her to go for it – Went from smile to scream
  • Point is if you come to Bible and misunderstand what it is
    • Odds are – It will taste weird in your mouth
    • It will come off wrong

So what is the Bible: The Bible is a library of writings that are both Devine and Human that together tell us a unified story that leads us to Jesus.

The Bible is a Library (Not a book)

The title Bible can be misleading (Lat – Biblia or book)

  • Bible doesn’t calls itself a book (Ironic)… Bible is unbiblical name
    • And its not wrong to call it that
    • Easy to forget b/c its all put together in 1 book
  • But remember it wasn’t put together until centuries after Jesus
    • With invention of the CODEX
    • And ut was Millennia after that til u could carry around Bible
  • Before that it was made on scrolls made of papyrus
    • 24 Scrolls for the OT alone
    • Not to mention all the letters from the NT
    • So it was a library

Important to understand it as a library – B/C Effects how u read Bible

  • Think about how u come at library vs book
    • Book usually has 1 genre (novel, biography, cookbook)
    • Library has it all and more
      • But you read each type of literature differently
      • Not many sit on couch w/ coffee to read a cookbook
        • Less take notes and underline in Sifi thriller
  • Same way – Scriptures are diverse w/ all types of writing
    • Example of books in my library
      • Satan and the Problem of Evil – Thick heady theology
      • Screwtape letters – C.S. Lewis masterpiece
      • Wild at heart – Book on rediscovering manhood
      • The Silmarillion – Prequal to Lord of the Rings
  • Here is the point: Each of these books conveys truth about
    • God… Human Nature… Science… Good vs Evil
      • But each does it in a very different way
      • Because of that I read each one differently

This is how we need to approach the Bible

  • Problems come when we dont recognize the Bible is a library full of
    • Different Authors
    • Different Languages
    • Different Cultures
    • Different Genre (history/poetry/memoir/prophcy/Apocalyptic)

So we must read Bible more literarily than literally

Meaning we need read Bible according 2 genre

  • According to what author was actually trying to get across
    • That’s why we don’t only reads the Bible literally
      • Lots of people brag/claim they do that…
      • Nobody actually does that (at face value)
      • B/C Bible is full of metaphor, word pictures and ideas
  • Most time Bible is clear on if to read literally or metaphoric

Is. 55:12 (Example)

…The mountains and hills will burst into song before you and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

  • No one is waiting for hills to come alive w/ sound of music
    • Trees to grow fingers so they can clap
  • Pretty obvious that is Hebrew Poetry: Beautiful way of saying…
    • When Jesus is King – It will be felt at a cosmic/ecological level
    • Creation itself will celebrate the freedom of Jesus as King

There are some times that it isn’t super clear

Rev. 1:7 – “Look, he is coming with he clouds”…

  • Could this be Jesus taking a cloud elevator: Sure it could be
    • Because doesn’t the Bible say Heaven is above the clouds
    • Somewhere up high with the Jedi/angel babies and such
  • OR… Could be metaphor that Jesus come’s back for all to see
    • And it will be a world wide event
    • That will be impossible for anyone to not be effected

Point: We have to read Bible literarily over literally

Or else we create unnecessary problems

  • Where we have to pick between
    • Bible and Science
    • Bible and History
  • But think about it: If u a reading sifi novel like Chronicles of Narnia
    • Find out half way through that C.S. Lewis made it up
    • There is no white witch or giant lion
      • That is not shattering b/c it’s not a history book
      • It’s a fantasy novel
  • Here’s the thing: That doesn’t mean its not true
    • Reality is most of us have read that story
    • Understand that it is true and profound
  • In the same way Bible is full of genre’s of literature
    • They are true but not always read at face value level
    • Like trees clapping their hands

FOR EXAMPLE – Huge debate & controversy over Genesis 1-11

  • From Gen 12 on: Genesis reads as history like 1&2 Kings/1&2 Sam
    • Most is backed up by archeology
    • Other documents mention many of the writings
  • But Gen 1-11 we find something way more ancient
    • It goes back millennia before Christ
    • No scholar can be 100% sure how to read it
      • Or even what the genre is
  • So looking at Gen 1-11: 1st question isn’t… Is Bible right or science
    • Was earth created 10,000 years ago in 6 literal days
      • Is that a metaphor, word picture, other
      • Was the flood global or local
      • What about Adam and Eve – Were they alone
        • If so why does Cain fear others will kill him

1st question not “Is it true”… it’s “What type of literature is this”

  • It it history… if so: does ancient history use same rules as modern
    • Should I expect same behavior from ancient historian
    • As I do from a modern day journalist
      • Yes or No
  • Maybe not history – Is it Myth (not myth as made up)
    • But academic myth – Premodern/Prescientific story of origin
      • Something that asks big questions of life
      • Who are we/where do we come from/Is there a God
  • Or is it an allegory – Is it poetry – Is it hyperbolic

Point today: 1st question we ask is what type of literature

  • Then you go from there b/c we have to read the Bible literarily

Next: It is a Library of writings both Devine & Human

Devine – God is behind each word and phrase

2 Tim 3:16 (NIV)

Phrase: God-Breathed – Thet-o-panustos (usually translated “inspired”)

  • Scriptures not just inspiring… like a shot in the arm
    • They are actually inspired by the creator of inspiration

NT Wright definition of inspiration

Inspiration is a shorthand way of talking about the belief that by his Spirit, God guided the very different writers and editors so that the books they produced became the books God intended His people to have.

  • So literally the phrase “Inspired by God” means… God Breathed

2 Pt 1:20-21

  • So if you think of 10 commandments and Moses
    • Not like he was just up there on a mountain by himself
    • Make stuff up that would make his job easier
    • Lets figure out a law and put God’s name behind
  • No – No scripture came by prophets own interpretation
  • Let that sink in 4 a moment… when you read this library of writings
    • Literally reading words of God Himself
    • But… naw I’d rather watch reruns on netflix

So divine… AND Human

You are also reading the words of Moses/David/Luke

  • So on one side… Bible wasn’t just guys making stuff up
    • But also not Moses w/ eyes rolled back in freaky trance
      • Thou shalt not kill…
      • Thou shall not lie…
  • We laugh but many think about the Bible like this
    • But this never been what followers of God have believed
      • That is what Muslims believe about Koran
      • That is what Mormons believe about Book of Mormon
  • Never been what followers of Jesus have said about Bible
    • If you read the Bible – That’s not how He works
    • U would never think that by reading how he interacts

God works thru free/creative/intelligent/relational beings

  • God is all about collaboration
    • God breathed out and inspired the Bible
    • BUT He did it through Humans
  • In doing so He didn’t erase their
    • Personality… intellect… vocabulary
    • Style… Stage in life… world view

EXAMPLE: Look at all of these different authors

  • Paul in the New Testament: He is a genius
    • Also places a lot of detail on minor issues at times
    • Even see his progression of thoughts on Rome thru letters
  • Ezekiel in the Old Testament
    • That guy has a WILD imagination
    • But God speak to him in a way that works for Ezekiel
  • Gospel of Mark
    • Mark is in a rush/to the point/stressed out/ADD
    • But a brilliant story teller
  • Gospel of Luke
    • Meticulous historian down to every last detail

When God inspired Biblical writers: Gave lots room 4 each personality

  • This is amazing… often human aspect of Bible is used by liberals
    • As Proof Bible isn’t trustworthy
    • They say it’s the reason we can throw out parts of the Bible
  • Often human aspect of the Bible seen by conservatives
    • See it as a dirty little secret
    • We have to sweep under rug and ignore
  • This isn’t a dirty secret – Writers of Bible didn’t hide it
    • They have no problem w/ humanness of the Bible

1 Cor 1:1 (EXAMPLE)

Paul, to the church of God in Corinth…

  • Not God, to the church of God in Corinth
    • Then later he says “I don’t remember who I baptized”
    • How great is that?!?!
      • Breathed by God – But there is some Paul there too
  • Ch 7 – Says “I don’t give this command, but the Lord”
    • This command comes from God
  • Next paragraph says “To the rest I say this, I, not the LORD”
    • How does that work
  • And at the end says “What I write u is command of Jesus”
    • DO you see the tension there???
    • Is Paul trying to hide this – NO
    • But there is tension and that is okay

Best model to 2 Devine/Human tension: Incarnational model

  • Says Jesus Himself is template of how we think of scripture
    • Incarnation is a paradox but believed by all Xians
      • Jesus is fully Man
        • Not just Superman that never got tired
        • No… he was fully human (hungry, irritated, funny)
      • Jesus is ALSO fully God
  • Jesus is divinity AND humanity existing in same place
    • And if you are confused… join the club
  • In same way – Bible is BOTH Devine and Human
    • It’s from the source that is God himself
    • He breathed it out and inspired it
      • And its from Paul, Moses, Peter, John

If we don’t hold both we will have “Golden Tablets” view of Bible

  • Idea that Bible dropped out of Heaven from God to Moses
    • Like a drone dropping an amazon package
    • Actually what Mormons believe about Book of Mormon
  • This has never been what Christian church believed
    • Yet more and more conservatives believe this
    • Because progressives come along and poke holes
      • Takes 2 seconds to say: What about this/that
  • If you buy into golden tablets view it creates huge issues


Ps. 148:1-4 (NIV)

  • What is that? Waters above the skies???
    • This is 1 of many examples in Bible of ancient cosmology
    • (DIAGRAM) – How ancient Hebrews thought of Cosmos
      • Under earth were waters of the great deep
      • Earth was standing on 4 pillars
      • Above sky were waters over the sky
        • That is why the sky is blue – ocean up there!
  • So if u buy into golden tablets view
    • This is one of many of problems in the Bible
    • Because are there waters above the skies – NOPE
      • And it means the BIBLE is wrong
  • But if you buy into an incarnational model of the Bible
    • This is exactly what you would expect
    • And this becomes beautiful – God inspired this ancient artist
      • Through an amazing poem… calling all creation to worship

Not lower view of Bible– I think its higher (definitely more Jesus like)

  • It’s definitely more Jesus like
    • Think of the poem in Phil 2…

Phil. 2:8 (NIV)

  • Jesus had to set aside things like being Omni-present
    • God is at all places at all times
    • Was Jesus – No he was in a body
  • In same way God humbled himself to write Bible thru men
    • With there limited understanding of the universe
    • And this is another way Bible reflects character of Jesus
  • This is what God is like
    • He comes and meets us right where we are at
    • Uses us in all of our lack

TAG: So this is a library of writings that are both divine and human

That together tell a unified story – Bible is a story

  • Some parentages of what you will find in the Bible
    • 44% of the Bible is narrative
    • 33% of the Bible is poetry
    • 23% of the Bible is teaching
  • By far the largest chunk of Bible is narrative
    • Most of Bible doesn’t read – Thou shall or shall not
      • It’s in there
      • But its not the majority
  • Most of the Bible reads – There was a guy named Moses
    • And even the poetry and everything else is part of
      • This meta-narrative…
      • A large complex story all writers tell together
  • Even the Torah (613 commandments)
    • Comes after 60 chapters of narrative
    • Story – Adam/Eve/Abraham/Isaac/Moses/Exodus
      • Finally after all that you get to commandments

Reading Bible as story is best way to deal w/ “so called” contradictions

  • Are there contradictions in the Bible – True or False
    • Well the answer is not a yes or no question (not that easy)
    • Answer depends on how you read the Bible
      • If read Bible as encyclopedia of truth – YES
      • If you are reading it as a story – NO


  • Empire strikes back – Yoda is training Luke the Jedi ways
    • Says “You can’t go face Vader – You are not ready yet”
      • Luke is a teenager and goes off to do what he wants
      • Because teenagers know everything
  • Return of the Jedi – Luke comes back to Yoda
    • Says “You must face Vader – It’s ur destiny”
    • So Yoda says both… is it a contradiction or error
    • No because it’s a STORY
      • At one point Luke could not face Vader
      • But at another point Luke has to face Vader

In the same way… the Bible is full of stuff like that

  • As followers of Jesus we don’t keep food laws from the Torah
    • Most of us eat bacon… it is not a sin (opposite of sin)
      • What was forbidden at one point
      • Is not forbidden now
    • The food laws were necessary for earlier part of story
      • They weren’t bad – They were a good ting
      • No longer have bearing on us as Jesus followers
  • Look what Paul has to say about why we don’t keep Torah

Gal. 3:23-25 (NIV)

  • So Torah was like a Nanny – There to raise Israel… grow it up
    • Waiting for the coming of Jesus
    • But now that Jesus has come… we don’t need it any more
  • Most of us in this room today do not have a nanny
    • Maybe you did – Was that wrong?
    • No – but its probably an issue if you’re 35 w/ a nanny
  • This makes sense to anyone who is a parent
    • We have rules in our house for our kids
    • Some of those rules are good advice forever
      • Like “NO LYING”… healthy relationships built on trust
      • That is always good regardless of age (Joey/Lyla)
  • We also have a rule that you have to go to ur room at 8:30pm
    • Usually they sleep until 7am
    • That’s a great rule for a 9 & 12 year old
      • What about when they are 25???
      • No – That would be lazy… get up and do something
  • The very rule that was a good thing for a time
    • Eventually will become a bad thing

The Bible is full of stuff like this

  • Some of the laws are still very relevant
    • Thou shall not murder… still great command to live by
  • But there are some laws that are very unrelevant
    • Like laws about shellfish
    • Or wearing clothing made of polyester and cotton

There was a time that was necessary/healthy and good

  • But that time is over – That’s what Paul is writing about
    • In fact it actually became a problem
    • Most of the laws were to keep Israel separate
    • Which became a contradiction to Jesus’ last command
      • Says – Go into all the world
  • Rules that were good… became a problem based on Jesus words
    • Not that rules were bad – They were for a time
    • Why – because scriptures at their core are a story

Tim Keller

The reason for our confusion over the Bible is that we usually read the Bible as a series of disconnected stories, each with a moral of how we should live our lives. It is not, rather it comprises a single story telling us how the human race got into its present condition and how God through Jesus Christ has come and will come to make things right.

And the beauty of a story is… everyone loves a good story

  • And the thing about a good story… it evokes the imagination
    • It opens up ur heart and mind to new way of seeing world
    • It give you freedom to think differently
  • Favorite movie growing up was never ending story
    • As Sabastian is reading the story
    • It is opening his mind to a new world
    • And as he reads it – Realizes He is part of the story
      • That is what the Bible is to us
  • And I said it’s a library – which it is
    • But we read it as a story of which we are a part
    • And we do a disservice to read it as anything else

TAG: The Bible a library of writings, both human and divine that together tell a unified story which leads us to Jesus

Which leads us to Jesus

This library is all about Jesus… (clarification) Jesus isn’t on every page

  • This isn’t just a huge allegory to show Jesus… these are real stories
    • That happened to real people
    • To read it that was misrepresents what Bible is
  • What is right about that – Every line in the Bible leads up to Jesus
    • Two most popular names for Scripture
      • The Bible / Word of God
  • Bible rarely if ever calls itself the “Word of God”
    • In NT – Phrase “Word of God” usually refers to Jesus

Jn. 1:1

  • Is that talking about the Bible… No it’s talking about Jesus
    • In fact most times “WORD” is either Jesus or His Gospel
    • Which is the Good news about Jesus

2 Tim 4:2

  • That doesn’t mean teach the Bible in/out of season
    • It means preach the message that Jesus is King/Savior
    • Tell people about Jesus

Classic misinterpretation of this is

Heb. 4:12

  • This almost always pointed to as talking about the Bible
    • It isn’t at all about the Bible
    • In context it is about Jesus and His message
  • This library is not living or breathing… Jesus is… Holy Spirit is…
    • It is an amazing story that points to the one who is living
    • Because Jesus is the WORD of GOD

This is so important to understand… otherwise…

  • Love of the Bible (good thing) can’t warp into worship of the Bible
    • Really don’t think that’s a problem here
    • But it is dangerous… it does happen
  • But to that end lets end where we started…

Jn. 5:39

  • Jesus talking to Pharisees – Religious rulers of the day
    • Had a crazy high view of the Bible
    • But had lost the plot line of the Bible
  • Jesus is calling them back – Saying u lost sight of the point
    • This library is sacred and holy… it is incredible
    • But it does not have eternal life

Say that because as we dive into and commit to the Bible

  • We can’t become cold/smart/mean Bible nerds
    • You can know the Bible and not know Jesus
    • You can read it cover to cover
    • Not look anything like our Savior
  • This book is essential to knowing Him
    • But it is not Him
    • It’s a map that leads us to Him

So what is the Bible

It’s a library of writings, both human and divine that together tell a unified story which leads us to Jesus

  • So important to understand how we relate to the Bible
    • If we don’t understand it
      • We will either ignore the issues
      • We will reject Bible because of the issues
  • You are apart of the story…
    • Because its more than encyclopedia of truth
    • Because its more than a text book
    • It’s a story that you are a part of
      • That will lead you to Jesus Himself
      • The main character of the Bible



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