THE BIBLE IS ORGANIC
A. Introduction: We are working on a series aimed at helping us become regular, effective Bible readers. We
need to know for ourselves what the Bible says so that we can recognize false doctrines and false Christs, and
be able to navigate through the challenging times ahead for this world. Matt 24:4-5
1. Many sincere Christians struggle with reading the Bible because no one has clearly explained to them the
purpose of the Bible or how to read it. Therefore, what reading they do is often ineffective.
a. A lot of people play Bible roulette. They open this big book at a random spot and hope they get a
good verse that will answer their most immediate problem or help get them through their day.
1. But the Bible is not a collection of random verses. It is a collection of 66 books, and each book
is meant to be read from beginning to end, just like any other book.
2. The Bible was not written in chapters and verses. Chapters and verses were added many
centuries after the Bible was completed. The last book in the Bible was written by AD 100 and
chapter and verse notations were added between AD 1200 and AD 1551.
b. Altogether, these 66 books tell the story of God’s desire for a family of holy, righteous sons and
daughters, and the lengths to which the Lord has gone to obtain His family through Jesus.
1. All human beings are guilty of sin before a holy God and unfit for God’s family. Two
thousand years ago the Lord Jesus Christ incarnated, or took on a human nature in the womb of
a virgin named Mary, and was born into this world. John 1:1; John 1:14
2. Jesus took on flesh so that He could die as a perfect sacrifice for sin and redeem or deliver all
who acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior, from the guilt, penalty, and power of sin.
c. The Bible is progressive revelation. God has gradually revealed His plan for a family through
redemption, until we have the full revelation of it given in and through Jesus.
1. Therefore, effective Bible reading begins with the New Testament because it is an account of
Jesus on earth, and how He accomplished humanity’s redemption.
2. Each book in the Bible adds to or advances the story of redemption in some way. The Bible is
50% history, 25% prophecy, and 25% instruction for living.
2. People say that we can’t trust the Bible because we don’t have the original words, it’s filled with myths
and contradictions, the books were picked by religious leaders with agendas, etc. So, we’re taking time
to discuss why we can trust the contents of the Bible to help motivate us to read it. We said last week:
a. There’s a bias against believing the Bible record because of its supernatural element. But much of
the history recorded in the Bible is verifiable through secular records and archeological evidence.
b. Christianity is actually founded on a verifiable historical event—the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When the resurrection is examined with the same criteria used to assess other historical events, the
evidence makes a powerful argument for its reality. (Review last week’s lesson if necessary.)
3. When we understand who wrote the Bible why, along with the historical evidence for how it was
transmitted and preserved, it’s clear that we can trust the Bible. We have more to say tonight.
B. Let’s begin with some basic information about the New Testament authors—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John,
Paul, James, Peter, and Jude. These men were eyewitnesses of Jesus (or close associates of eyewitnesses),
men who saw Him die and then saw Him alive again. What they witnessed changed their lives.
1. When Jesus began His ministry, He named twelve of His followers apostles, including Matthew, John,
and Peter. Apostle means one who is sent with a special message or commission. Luke 6:13-16
a. Jesus spent over three years instructing these twelve men. They heard Him preach and teach, and
saw Him cast out devils, heal people, and perform miracles. Because of their close interaction with
Jesus they were uniquely suited to give testimony of the facts of His life and ministry. Mark 3:13-14
b. Mark was not one of the original twelve, but he lived in Jerusalem at the time Jesus ministered there
and may have heard Him teach. Mark was converted, possibly through Peter’s influence. I Pet 5:13
c. Paul was converted when Jesus appeared to him two years after the resurrection, as Paul was on his
way to arrest and jail Christians. Jesus commissioned Paul as an apostle, and appeared to him on
other occasions to personally instruct Paul on the message he preached. Acts 9:1-6; Gal 1:11-12
d. Luke was not an eyewitness (and probably not Jewish). We don’t know how he came to faith in
Jesus. At some point, Luke met Paul and travelled with him on missionary journeys. He did
extensive research for his , interviewing a number of eyewitnesses. Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-3
e. James and Jude were half-brothers of Jesus. They did not follow Jesus before His death. Both of
them became believers when Jesus rose from the dead. Gal 1:19; I Cor 15:7
2. Jesus, at His first post-resurrection appearance to these men, charged them to go out and tell the world
what they witnessed, and tell people that His resurrection meant the remission (or wiping out) of sins for
all who repent (turn from their sin) and believe on Him as the Savior and Lord. Luke 24:44-48
a. Jesus spent forty more days with them, talking about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Just before
He went back to Heaven, Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit was going to come upon them and
“you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, in Judea, in
Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NLT).
1. Ten days after Jesus returned to Heaven the Holy Spirit came on His disciples in a dramatic and
supernatural way, a crowd gathered, and Peter proclaimed his message to the crowd. Acts 2:1-4
2. You saw the miracles Jesus did. You saw Him die. And you know that the tomb is empty.
None of this was done in secret. Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 2:22; 37-41
b. The apostles spread their message orally at first because they lived in an oral culture. Less than half
of the population in the Roman Empire (which controlled Israel at that time) could read.
1. In that culture, repetition and memorization was the primary way information was taught.
2. People were trained from childhood to memorize stories, songs, poetry, and even books.
Rabbis (teachers) were famous for memorizing the entire Old Testament (over 309,000 words).
c. Can we trust the apostles’ memories? They had strong motivation to get the message right. They
believed from the beginning that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and that salvation was at stake.
So, they would have been careful to accurately memorize and repeat what they saw and heard.
1. Jesus’ teachings were given in concise, easy to remember segments. He repeated many of His
teachings over and over during His three year ministry. And, although memorization was the
primary tool of learning, some rabbis encouraged note taking. Several of the apostles
(including Matthew, a former tax collector) would have known how to write.
2. Enemies of their message would have loved for the apostles to get something wrong so that it
could be easily discredited. Multitudes of people saw and heard Jesus during His three year
ministry. If the apostles got something wrong or added made-up details, there were plenty of
people around who could say: That’s not what happened. That’s not what Jesus said or did.
3. And, the night before Jesus was crucified, as He prepared His twelve apostles for the fact that
He was soon going to leave them, He assured them that the Holy Spirit “will teach you
everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you” (John 14:26, NLT).
3. The men who wrote the New Testament documents did not set out to write a religious book. They wrote
to facilitate the spread of their message. The Bible developed organically. By that I mean it was a
natural outgrowth of the eyewitnesses fulfilling what Jesus commissioned them to do.
a. As the apostles preached their message, communities of believers were established. They became
known as churches. The Greek word translated church (ekklesia) means a calling out and came to
be used for an assembly made up of believers in Jesus. The church meant people, not buildings.
b. As the apostles moved from one place to another proclaiming Jesus, they continued to communicate
with already established assemblies (churches) though epistles (letters). Rome had an efficient
road and postal system throughout its empire, making communication relatively easy.
1. The epistles further explained what Christians believe (doctrine), gave instruction on how
Christians are supposed to live, and addressed problems and questions that arose in the groups.
2. These epistles were more like sermons than letters. They were meant to be read aloud by a
leader or a co-worker of the writer, to a number of people at one time. Once an epistle was
read, it was copied and shared with other groups (churches) in the area.
3. The epistles were the first New Testament documents to be written. James (AD 46-49),
Galatians (AD 48-49), I & II Thessalonians (AD 51-52), Romans (AD 57).
c. The New Testament books that are known as the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were
also written for practical reasons, between AD 55 and AD 90.
1. Christians wanted a written record of what Jesus said and did, and the eyewitnesses wanted a
written record of what they saw and heard, to insure that the accurate message would continue
to spread after they died. II Pet 1:15; II Pet 3:1-2
2. The gospels are actually biographies of Jesus. Ancient biographies didn’t give equal time to
every part of an individual’s life. The purpose in recording their history was to learn from the
person’s achievements, so the writing was devoted to the most important events in his life.
Therefore, not much is written about Jesus’ life before He began His ministry.
3. When the gospels are harmonized (put together with all the events recorded in order, nothing
repeated or left out) only about fifty days of Jesus’ three and a half year ministry are covered,
with the focus being on the period leading up to His death and resurrection.
4. Next week we’ll examine why we can be certain we have the words that these men wrote, but for now,
consider several statements that help us see why we can trust the truthfulness of what these men wrote.
a. Shortly after Jesus returned to Heaven, Peter and John healed a man who was lame from birth, by the
power of God, in the name of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem. Acts 3:1-8
1. A crowd gathered when they saw what happened. Peter took the opportunity to proclaim Jesus
and His resurrection to the crowd and urge them to turn away from their sins. Acts 3:9-26
2. The two men were arrested by religious authorities, jailed overnight, and the next day officials
questioned them, sternly warning them never to speak or teach about Jesus. Acts 4:1-18
3. Note Peter and John’s response: Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him?
We cannot stop talking about the wonderful things we have seen and heard (Acts 4:19, NLT).
b. This incident is recorded in the Book of Acts, written by Luke (writer of the gospel that bears his
name). Luke wrote his gospel and the Book of Acts to assure a new believer (Theophilus) of the
truthfulness of what he had believed. (Remember, Luke interviewed many eyewitnesses for his
gospel and lived through many of the events he wrote about in Acts.)
1. Acts is a history of the apostles as they went out to proclaim Jesus in the Mediterranean world.
It is filled with specific historical details about places and people in the region. Since the end
of the 1800s, modern archeology has verified every city mentioned in the Book of Acts.
2. The leading archeologist of that day, Sir William Ramsay (1851-1939) ridiculed the Bible for
lack of evidence. However, he became a believer in Jesus when he set out on an archeological
dig aimed at proving the inaccuracies in the Book of Acts. Instead, his finds confirmed Luke’s
record. Ramsay later said that Luke ranks among the greatest historians of the ancient world.
c. There is an air of authenticity to the New Testament writings. The gospels authors give details that
put them in a bad light. Matthew refers to himself as a publican (tax collector, Matt 10:3). All the
apostles abandoned Jesus when He was arrested (Matt 26:56). Peter is reported to have denied that
he knew Jesus three times on the night before Jesus died (Matt 26:69-75).
C. Conclusion: The New Testament writers came from a culture that understood the importance of the written
Word of God. They realized that God reveals Himself through His Word (review last week, if necessary).
1. Jesus Himself said that the Scriptures testify of Him (John 5:39). On resurrection day Jesus appeared to
two of His disciples as they walked toward the village of Emmaus, a town about seven and a half miles
from Jerusalem. The men were distraught over Jesus’ crucifixion.
a. They didn’t realize it was Jesus “because God kept them from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16, NLT).
When the two told Jesus why they were upset, He rebuked them for not believing the Scriptures.
b. Luke 24:27—Then Jesus quoted all the passages from the writings of Moses and all the prophets,
explaining what all the Scriptures said about him (NLT).
2. At the Last Supper, the night before Jesus was crucified, He spent time preparing His twelve apostles for
the fact that He was soon going to leave them. Jesus told them:
a. Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me. Because they love me, my Father
will love them, and I will love them. I will reveal myself to each one of them (John 14:21, NLT).
1. We express our love for God through obedience to His commandments. His commandments
(what He wants us to do) are found in His written Word, the Bible.
2. Jesus promised to make Himself know to His followers through His written Word. You get to
know someone by observing them, listening to them, watching their actions and hearing their
words. We can do this with Jesus through the Bible, because the Scriptures testify of Him.
b. Jesus had previously told these same men: All the words through which I have offered myself to
you are meant to be channels of the Spirit and of life to you, since in believing those words you
would be brought into contact with the life in me (John 6:63, J. S. Riggs, Paraphrase).
1. When Peter and John stood before the religious authorities after their arrested for preaching
Jesus at the Temple, note the authorities reaction: When the Council saw the boldness of Peter
and John, and could see that they were obviously uneducated non-professionals, they were
amazed and realized what being with Jesus had done for them (Acts 4:13, TLB),
2. We too can be with Jesus and be changed by Him, as He imparts life to us through His written
Word. This is one of the primary reasons that we need to become regular Bible readers—
especially the New Testament which is the clearest revelation of Jesus.
c. The Bible is a unique Book because it is God breathed (II Tim 3:16). Through His Word, God
works in us to cleanse and change us. He imparts wisdom, strength, faith, hope, and peace to us
and gives us the same kind of confidence that Peter and John had in the face of challenges.
3. As Christians, we live by faith or trust in Almighty God who has revealed Himself in and through Jesus.
It’s hard to trust the Lord if you don’t have confidence in the primary way He shows Himself to us—
through His written Word, the Bible.
a. That’s we’re taking the time to discuss who wrote the Bible and why, as well as how we know that
we can trust the Book that has come down to us.
b. We aren’t doing it just to give a bunch of facts about history, archeology, and how historical
evidence is assessed. We need to have confidence in the Book because of who it reveals to us.
1. We’re living at a time when objective truth (two plus two is four) has been abandoned in favor
of feelings (I just feel that two plus two is five—that’s my truth).
2. Truth is a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ—who is revealed in a Book that is the Truth—the
Scriptures, the Bible. John 14:6; John 17:17
c. We’re living in a time of unparalleled deception in every arena of life, with increasing chaos all
around us. If there was ever a time to know the Truth for yourself, it’s now.
4. We have much more to say next week, but let’s close with this. Become a regular reader of the New
Testament. It’s not easy and it takes effort. But the benefits far outweigh any cost or inconvenience.