We come, at last, to the culmination of the Sermon on the Mount. For the last 5 months we have looked and learned as Jesus described, to us, the differences between saving faith and self righteous false religion. Now, at the culmination of the Sermon on the Mount we are admonished by Jesus to build our lives on a firm foundation, His teaching.
There is a group of people who call themselves “Red Letter Christians” and they emphasize only the “words in red” which are the words of Scripture that are attributed to Christ. They focus primarily on Jesus’ teachings about social issues. I find two problems with that.
- Social Justice is not the Gospel; Jesus did not come to earth, suffer and die, and rise again to correct social ills. He came to pay the bride price for His beloved, the Church, who has been betrothed to Him since the foundation of the world and who will, one day, join her beloved in glory.
- Since Jesus is God, all the words that are attributed to God, in both testaments are His. Jesus not only believes that God revealed everything we need to know to live a God pleasing life in the Scriptures, He is also certain that He is that very God who did so.
My point, after that brief digression, is that all the Bible is, in a sense, the teaching of Jesus and worthy of building a life upon. Remember, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not only contrasting self-righteous false religion, He is also explaining the Law.
Let’s consider our text, Matthew 7:24-29
24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.
When I read these words, my mind automatically goes to the words of the old hymn, “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent word.” As Jesus is apt to do, He instructs us, again, with a metaphor: our life is a house where there are only two choices of a foundation, the Word of God or self and the rains are Divine Judgment. Note: Divine Judgment does not always indicate wrath; proving/testing character is, in fact, an element of judging. To put that another way:
“The adjectives sensible and foolish describe a person’s spiritual and moral state, not his intellect. Whether one is considered sensible or foolish is determined by his response to Jesus’ teaching. Since OT writers described God’s wrath using the image of a great storm (Isaiah 28:16-17; Ezekiel 13:10-13), the storm that destroys the house on the sand is a picture of divine judgment. Hence, the person who hears and acts on Jesus’ teaching is prepared for judgment. The one who hears but doesn’t act on Jesus’ words will be destroyed in the storm of judgment.” ~ HCSB Study Bible annotations.
We will all, every last one of us, at some point, face a proving of our faith. How do I know this? Both the Lord, Himself, and James point this out. In his epistle to the churches, James writes, “My brethren count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” (James 1:2) and the Lord tells us, in John’s Gospel (16:33), “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” A testing of our faith is assured. Let me give you the rest of James’ context before we get into our lesson:
“2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
We often refer to times of trials and testing as the “storms of life” and (now you know where we get the picture from) many times we are left to wonder why some people, and especially their faith, are able to stand, perhaps even come out stronger, and others seem to be destroyed. It comes down to a question of foundations; have you build your life and your faith on the rock of God’s Word or not? Those that have will stand while those that have not will eventually be destroyed.
The Bible is Inspired so we can rely on it
The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct. (2 Timothy 3:15-17, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Peter 1:21) The term used by Paul is theopnuestos, literally breathed out by God. It is no accident that this is the term used by Paul as in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is called Ruach (breath) ha’Kodesh (the Holy One). Using that metaphor for the Holy Spirit, we can say that everything He inspired was breathed out by Him.
Verbal Plenary Inspiration:
“Verbal plenary inspiration means that every word found in the Bible is given to us by God (verbal), everything in the Bible is authoritative (plenary), and every word is also divinely directed (inspired). But, this does not mean that everything referenced in the Bible is also morally proper. For example, the Bible might record someone’s lie or a murder even though lying and murder are not approved of in Scripture. But the recording of the events is under the direction of God and is accurate.
The verbal plenary inspiration applies to the original manuscripts, also known as the autographs. It was the originals that were penned by the prophets and apostles that were given by God, authoritative, and divinely directed. Presently we have copies of the original manuscripts but the copies are not perfect, though close to it. So, we have copies of inspired documents and for all intents and purposes the copies are inspired.
- “The older phrase “plenary inspiration” meant that all the words of Scripture are God’s words (the word plenary means “full”), a fact that I affirm in this chapter without using the phrase.”
- “Inspiration, plenary The “full” (plenary) inspiration of the Scriptures, in the sense that the whole Bible is inspired, not simply portions of it.
- “inspiration, verbal theory of The view that God through the Holy Spirit directly guided the exact words recorded by the biblical writers as they wrote the Scriptures.”
Verbal plenary inspiration stands in opposition to partial inspiration which limits the inspired quality of the Bible in various ways whether it be restricting inspiration to doctrinal matters, or one author was inspired where another was not, or there are mistakes in historical events and geographical locations but the main thoughts are correct.” ~CARM
The Bible is Authoritative, so we may build a life hidden in Christ upon it
Notice that Jesus spoke with authority, not as the scribes did. The scribes often quoted the Rabbis and Sages to establish their authority. On the other hand, since Jesus is Himself God, He has no higher authority to appeal to (Hebrews 6:13) and therefore His words are final. I read this in the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary as I was preparing this lesson: It is important to note that both the wise and foolish builders hear the teaching of Jesus. It is his teaching, no longer that of Moses, that is the standard of judgment. But it is not enough to have heard the teaching of Jesus. Hearing and knowing the teaching of Jesus are worthwhile activities only when they result in application. The false prophets, whatever their appearance and words, are lawless. The wide gate, though attractive, leads to destruction. Eschatological judgment utterly destroys houses built on sand, but houses built on rock withstand it.
Cornerstone Biblical Commentary Volume 11: Matthew and Mark.
In the original manuscripts the Bible is both inerrant and infallible ” To confess that the bible is infallible is to confess that the Scriptures are incapable of teaching any error. Taken in itself, this is a term that strongly presents the perfection of Scripture. The prophets and apostles not only did not err—they could not err when writing Scripture.” ~ RC Sproul
“Inerrancy is a natural outflow of infallibility in the traditional, orthodox sense. Since the authors could not err when writing Scripture, the bible contains no affirmations of anything that is contrary to fact. Inerrancy is a quality of the original text of the bible. Translations may err, but the original manuscripts penned by the prophets and apostles do not.”~ RC Sproul
Many, if not most, people today have little idea, if any at all, what the truth is. To some nothing is truth and to others, truth is in the eye of the beholder. You might hear them say, “Well that’s your truth (emphasis added),” which is to imply that truth is subjective. We reject that entirely and echo the words of Jesus, “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Since that is the case, it is of utmost importance that we embrace the inerrancy of the Scripture if we are to build a life on it. Here is why:
The Bible itself claims to be perfect. “And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6). “The law of the Lord is perfect” (Psalm 19:7). “Every word of God is pure” (Proverbs 30:5 KJV). These claims of purity and perfection are absolute statements. Note that it doesn’t say God’s Word is “mostly” pure or scripture is “nearly” perfect. The Bible argues for complete perfection, leaving no room for “partial perfection” theories.
The Bible stands or falls as a whole. If a major newspaper were routinely discovered to contain errors, it would be quickly discredited. It would make no difference to say, “All the errors are confined to page three.” For a paper to be reliable in any of its parts, it must be factual throughout. In the same way, if the Bible is inaccurate when it speaks of geology, why should its theology be trusted? It is either a trustworthy document, or it is not.
The Bible is a reflection of its Author. All books are. The Bible was written by God Himself as He worked through human authors in a process called “inspiration.” “All scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). See also 2 Peter 1:21 and Jeremiah 1:2.
We believe that the God who created the universe is capable of writing a book. And the God who is perfect is capable of writing a perfect book. The issue is not simply “Does the Bible have a mistake?” but “Can God make a mistake?” If the Bible contains factual errors, then God is not omniscient and is capable of making errors Himself. If the Bible contains misinformation, then God is not truthful but is instead a liar. If the Bible contains contradictions, then God is the author of confusion. In other words, if biblical inerrancy is not true, then God is not God.
The Bible judges us, not vice versa. “For the word of God…judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Notice the relationship between “the heart” and “the Word.” The Word examines; the heart is being examined. To discount parts of the Word for any reason is to reverse this process. We become the examiners, and the Word must submit to our “superior insight.” Yet God says, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?” (Romans 9:20).
The Bible’s message must be taken as a whole. It is not a mixture of doctrine that we are free to select from. Many people like the verses that say God loves them, but they dislike the verses that say God will judge sinners. But we simply cannot pick and choose what we like about the Bible and throw the rest away. If the Bible is wrong about hell, for example, then who is to say it is right about heaven—or about anything else? If the Bible cannot get the details right about creation, then maybe the details about salvation cannot be trusted either. If the story of Jonah is a myth, then perhaps so is the story of Jesus. On the contrary, God has said what He has said, and the Bible presents us a full picture of who God is. “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89).
The Bible is our only rule for faith and practice. If it is not reliable, then on what do we base our beliefs? Jesus asks for our trust, and that includes trust in what He says in His Word. John 6:67-69 is a beautiful passage. Jesus had just witnessed the departure of many who had claimed to follow Him. Then He turns to the twelve apostles and asks, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” At this, Peter speaks for the rest when he says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” May we have the same trust in the Lord and in His words of life. (Got Questions)
The Bible is Sufficient The sufficiency of Scripture can be simply defined as follows: In the Bible alone, God has given humankind all things that are necessary for the proper understanding of who God is, who we are, how God has acted in the past, and what God expects from us. The basic idea behind the sufficiency of Scripture is that nothing else needs to be revealed to humanity about God or his plan for the human race. In addition, through the various stages of history, God have His people sufficient information to believe in Him.
The answers to the basic problems that humanity faces, such as identity, purpose, and destiny, can be found in the pages of Scripture. Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Here, Paul says that those who study the Scripture can be thoroughly equipped for “every good work.” Scripture is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. We need nothing else. The Bible, alone, has the answers we need for living a God pleasing life that is hidden in Christ. The sufficiency of Scripture means that the Bible contains what God thought that we should know on a number of different topics. His teaching on any subject is sufficient for us. We do not have to go elsewhere to find answers.
The Bible alone holds the key to salvation. Paul wrote to Timothy.
How from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).
While the Scriptures contain everything humanity needs to know about God, it does not reveal everything that we want to know. Indeed, it cannot because then God would cease to be infinite. Most probably we will see new aspects of His person for 10,000 eons in Heaven. The truth that God has revealed is sufficient but not exhaustive.
We affirm the Priesthood of the Believer which is to say that we do not need some special person or authority to interpret the Scripture for us. Some people, especially the Roman Catholic Church, argue that Scriptures are not clear in and of themselves and that believers need some type of external authority to properly interpret and understand it. However, the facts speak otherwise and it is unreasonable to assert that God would give humanity a revelation of Himself that could not be understood by every day Christians. The Bible is written in such a way that people in every age are able to understand it. Every believer is commanded to study the Scriptures for themselves because if God can be known, and He can, it is through the revelation of Scripture that we will know Him