Yesterday, one of the most famous Apologists, a superior defender of the faith, Ravi Zacharias, died from cancer. It was God’s appointed time to bring him home. The neat thing that I read about him was what we have been discussing in our study of John. John 20:31 tells us John wrote this Gospel so that people would believe in Jesus as the Messiah and have eternal life. Ravi, when he was younger, discovered John 14:19 (“Because I live, you also will live”) and became a believer. Isn’t that awesome? The purpose of the Gospel of John has been fulfilled over and over throughout the centuries as people have discovered Jesus through His glorious Word.
So, last Sunday a friend of mine who just graduated medical school and is moving to Tennessee, gave his farewell speech at his church and told them how glad he was to find a church when he first moved into town that taught the Word of God and had correct doctrine. He is a Southern Baptist who previously had gone to seminary at Midwestern Baptist (our SBC school in Kansas City). He said that the problem with Southern Baptist churches is that you can find all sorts of doctrinal leanings amongst many of them because the Baptist Faith and Message is so broad (ain’t that the truth?!). He wanted a church that taught expositionally and exegetically, and was doctrinally sound. He was blessed to find one that did just that.
- “Regular expository preaching of the Bible is the staple diet of a healthy church.”—Alistair Begg
The important feature of teaching the Bible is to draw out God’s intended meaning and message, not the pastor’s. This is why proper exegesis (determining what the Scripture is really saying) and exposition (teaching God’s intended meaning) is all about. Your pastors do not dare teach their thoughts or ideas as Scripture, or to replace God’s Word with warm and fuzzy feelings and wisdom of men. We definitely dare not misinterpret and misrepresent what God is saying in His Word!
This is why this week’s lesson on the woman caught in adultery is so hard. It required me to research my commentaries, the wisdom of other great preachers, and then come to a decision that would honor God despite my love for this story.
- “No Christian can avoid theology. Every Christian has a theology. The issue, then, is not, do we want to have a theology? That’s a given. The real issue is, do we have a sound theology? Do we embrace true or false doctrine?”—R.C. Sproul
In theology, the Doctrine of Bibliology (or Doctrine of the Bible) concerns itself with the evidences for the proof of Scripture from many different direction. While the Jewish Old Testament (Torah) was already in play when Jesus was born, the New Testament was not formally adopted until after Constantine. Unlike the spurious Davinci Codefrom Dan Brown that made authoritative statements that authentic parts of the New Testament were left out (when in fact they were not), the New Testament was finally agreed upon after Athanasius’ letter in A.D. 367 and ratified at both the Council of Hippo in 393 and the Council of Carthage in 397. This is known as the New Testament Canon (canon means “rule”). Thus, they didn’t do a willy-nilly, “I like this book, I don’t like that book” decision-making process. They followed strict rules to ascertain if the books were written by apostles, to decide if the doctrine within each book was orthodox, to ensure the heresies of the day were not represented/supported in the texts, and so forth. All 27 books of the New Testament were written by authors who lived and died in the first century A.D (which, by the way, excludes the so-called “Gospel of Thomas” which appears to have been written in the second century).
Hence, even though the story of the woman caught in adultery has been ascertained by some of the best Christian scholars to be inauthentic and should not be part of our Holy Spirit-inspired, inerrant Bible, we can be confident that the hard work of these scholars has been done to ensure that the New Testament is following the rules of those fourth century Christians who fought to ensure the true Bible was compiled.
- Do you feel confident in your Bible as being the Word of God, or do you have questions and challenges to its authority? ________________________________________________________
- Remember, even if the story of the woman caught in adultery is notScripture, not one part of the story affects any doctrine of the rest of the Bible. Thus, it did not interfere with the Scripture’s integrity.
- Can you see why a good study Bible (from reputable, conservative scholars) is so valuable? ________________________
- If you have one, I bet you’ll find some discussion on this story in John 8. Doesn’t that help you in your understanding of this passage? ____________________________________
- Do you realize that no other religion in the world is so dedicated or even concerned with textual integrity as Christianity is?
- Did you know Hinduism doesn’t care that its scriptures contradict each other? ________________________________
- Did you know Islam explains away its many contradictions and errors, and doesn’t even try to authenticate its teachings? _________________________________________________
- No one in Buddhism is trying to find the oldest sources of Buddha or his writings and then to compare these writings to ensure they have the most accurate transmission (most Buddhist scholars concerned with their scriptures are usually working to refute the collection of scriptures followed by other schools of Buddhism).
- What are some of the reasons that being taught the Word of God is so important above all else? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The Truth Shall Win Hymn by Haldor Lillenas
1 God’s truth is like a hammer,
That rocks asunder breaks,
Before it error’s mountains must crumble and must quake;
It marches on to vict’ry tho’ trampled in the dust,
Yet, truth shall win forevermore, it must, it must, it must!
God’s truth shall win at last, as bread on waters cast;
It will return it will return, it will return some day,
Then forward to the fight,
Dispelling error’s night,
O praise the Lord forevermore,
The Truth shall win at last.
2 They say there’s no Creator;
That earth sung into space,
And by its own attractions, it chanced to take its place;
But God is its creator, His word shall never rust,
And truth shall win forevermore, it must, it must, it must!
3 They say our Lord and Savior
Was human, not Divine,
His life but an example, a guiding star to shine;
But there is full atonement, when in His blood we trust,
The truth shall win forevermore, it must, it must, it must!