Skip to content

Philippians 0: Did Paul Write Scriptures?

Today’s sermon was on the topic, “Did Paul Write Scriptures?” I took as a starting point, the question, “Why should I care about some old book, written by pre-scientific peoples?”

We discussed skeptical objections to Scriptures, and the Christian doctrine of revelation.

Listen below, or subscribe to my podcast:


Watch here,

You can scroll down to read my fill-in-the-blanks sermon notes, or scroll down further for my sermon notes. Thank you, and keep reading!

Why Should I Care About ‘Man Made Religion’?

  1. If God ________, and __________, Absolute Truth exists. (Truth is what God knows)
  1. God ______________ mysteries (Romans 16:25-26, John 3:12-13) (Revelation is what God says)
  1. God speaks through the ________ and through _________ (Hebrews 1:1-2)
  1. Where can we, today, have access to the words of God?
    ___________________ (Acts 24:13-35 — especially 27, 32)
  1. Scriptures are:
    Not the product of ________________ (Jeremiah 23:16)
    Not cleverly devised ___________ (2 Peter 1:16)
    Not matter of one’s own _________ (2 Peter 1:20)But: “men ___________ by the Holy Spirit _________ from God.” (2 Peter 1:21)
  1. Did Paul think he was speaking from God? ___________ (1 Corinthians 7:40, 1 Timothy 4:1, Colossians 4:16)
  1. Did the original Apostles think Paul wrote Scriptures?____ ( 2 Peter 3:16)
  1. The Early Church treated Paul’s writings as Scriptures
  1. Science (archeology, historiography, text criticism, etc.) have confirmed them as early, historical documents

Yes, but doesn’t religions fundamentalism lead to…

  1. …religious violence?

It depends what you are being “fundamentalist” about!

        • “Fundamentalism” means a “return to the essentials”
        • Usually, the ___________, holy ___________, and early history
        • A return to _________, to the _________, and to the Early Church is a return to peace, the ethic of love, respect for all human life, and a separation between church & state
  1. …arrogance, ignorance, and a “know-it-all” attitude?
    Yes, it definitely can. Which is why it is important to remember…Scriptures are perfect, but not _______________ (John 16:12)
    1. God also reveals Himself through _____________ (Rom. 1:20-21)
        1. This is called “___________ Revelation” by theologians
        1. Scriptures and Jesus are called “Special ____________”
        1. This opens the door for philosophy, science, medicine, etc. 
    1. Scriptures are meant to be read in _____________ (1 Tim. 4:13)
        1. God gives the __________ in community (John 14:16)
        1. God _________ with us in community (Mat. 18:20)
        1. Teaching is to happen in community, with oversight (1 Tim. 3:1-13)
        1. Community is a safeguard against strange, private, extreme interpretations (1 Cor. 14:29)
    1. Some things in Scripture are more and less important & clear
        1. Peter admitted some things were “______ to understand” (So who are you to say you understand it all? 2 Peter 3:16)
        1. Paul & Jesus both said some doctrines were more and less ____________ (John 16:12, 1 Cor. 15:3-4)
        1. Paul warns against causing divisions over minor points of doctrine (Titus 3:9-10, 1:7, 1 Tim. 3:3, 6:4-5)
    1. …so does this all lead us back to ___________?
        1. No. Because God exists and God speaks, truth exists!
        1. There is a life-saving ___________ in Scriptures!
        1. We can agree on essential, disagree on other issues (Rom. 14)

********* FULL SERMON NOTES ***********

Introduction:

  • This holiday season, many are in a pensive mood
  • Some will turn to religion for answers
  • OFTEN say something like:
      • “I am spiritual, but not religious”
      • They are suspicious of “organized religion”
      • And distrustful of “manmade religion”

“Why should I live my life according to what some old guy put into a book thousands of years ago?”

(Parenthesis 1: The Bible is not ‘Just Some Old Book’)

…well, first of all, the Bible is not ‘just some old book’

The Old Testament is the foundation of the 3 Abrahamic religions

  • 3/5 of the “Major Five Religions of the world” (73% of population)
  • 54% of population belongs to one of these three
  • Christianity is the world’s largest religion, at 33%, or 3.6 billion
  • Foundation of most of what is best about the west
    • The sanctity of all human life, and human rights, which brought:
      • Hospitals for all people
      • Social inclusion of lower classes
      • Abolition of slavery
      • Women’s rights
      • Universties

The Bible

  • Has been translated:
    • In whole into 670 languages
    • New Testament into 1,121 languages
    • Parts into 3,312 languages
      • There are about 7,097 total)
      • The Bible is in about half of all of the world’s languages
    • For many languages, Christians created a written dialect, in order to translate the Bible, bringing literacy through missions
  • It is by far the world’s best-selling book

Christianity

  • Over one third of the world finds hope and inspiration from the life, death & resurrection of Jesus
  • The whole world sets their calendars by His birth

…and so this is not just “some old book”

  • This is “the Good Book”
  • In many ways it is “The world’s book: the story of us”
  • It is the. primary. holy-book of the human race

e.g. Lost in the Woods

…and so if you find yourself pensive this holiday season, why not check out Christianity? 

“If you’re looking for truth, don’t look within yourself. You’re the one who’s confused!” – Frank E. Peretti 

…and so here’s a path. Just because its well-worn and well-traveled, that doesn’t mean it’s right! But

  1. It has been good for the world
  2. It has worked for billions

…perhaps…following it is better than following your own ideas…

(Parenthesis 2: “Ok, maybe I’ll dabble a bit…)

…this is what many people do. They say, “Jesus is a good teacher. Just like Mohammed and Buddha and Chrishna and Oprah are all good teachers. I’ll take some of his advice, and sprinkle that onto my life, and that will be a good thing.”

Two Reasons not to Dabble:

  1. It doesn’t make sense!

– Jesus called Himself God! (Mark 14:61-62)…see sermon

– A good teacher doesn’t lie!

– Either He is a liar, a lunatic…or who He claims to be!

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.[13]

2.You’re still just following yourself!

“If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.” – St. Augustine, 354-430.

…So are you going to actually take the path, or just take a few steps down it, and congratulate yourself on being “spiritual”, then go back to thrashing your own way through the bush (and blame God when it doesn’t work out for you?)

…Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

…so what does Christianity actually teach?

The Doctrine of Revelation

  1. God
    • (Contrary to Buddhism) God exists, you are not him/her
    • (Contrary to Hinduism) There is only one God
    • (Contrary to Judaism, Islam) God is a Trinity
      • …what does this mean, exactly?
        • Will study this in a few weeks
        • …it means a lot of things, but especially…
        • …Jesus is the “Word of God” (John 1)
        • …It means God Speaks

and if you think about this long enough, you will realize that…

  • if God exists
  • …and if God speaks
  • …then relativism explodes all over the place

…because it is all fine and well to say, “You have your opinion, and I have mine.” But if…

  • God (who knows all, and is perfect) has an opinion
  • Makes that opinion known
  • Then truth exists. 
  1. If God exists, and speaks, Absolute Truth exists. (Truth is what God says)
  • Because there may be an infinite number of ways to look at a thing
  • But there are not an infinite number of valid ways
  • And the Truth of God passes judgment on all of our truths

3.God ______________ mysteries (Romans 16:25-26, John 3:12-13)

  • The concept of God speaking is contained in what theologians call the “doctrine of revelation”
  • It is a combination of two concepts: mystery and revelation
  • Mystery simply means “something that you cannot know without someone telling you”
  • And revelation is “someone telling you”
  • e.g. (where I was yesterday…or “what am I thinking”) 1 Cor. 2:11
  • Revelation is God speaking to us His thoughts
  1. God speaks through the prophets and through Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2)
  • (read passage)
  1. Where can we, today, have access to the words of God?___________________ (Acts 24:13-35 — especially 27, 32)
  • We do not have access to Jesus only through direct spiritual experience, or through nature, or through others, as some would claim
  • We have access to the Prophets, and to Jesus in Scriptures
  1. Scriptures are:
    Not the product of human imagination (Jeremiah 23:16)
    Not cleverly devised stories (2 Peter 1:16)
    Not matter of one’s own interpretation (2 Peter 1:20)But: “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:21)
  1. Did Paul think he was speaking from God? yes…
    – He called himself an “apostle” which means “messenger from God” 1 Corinthians 7:40, etc.
    – 1 Timothy 4:1 he said he spoke from God
    – Colossians 4:16 he wanted his letters read by other churches
  1. Did the original Apostles think Paul wrote Scriptures?____ ( 2 Peter 3:16)
    – Peter said that Paul wrote Scriptures
  1. The Early Church treated Paul’s writings as Scriptures
    – Although some books of the New Testament were disputed, there was never a time when the four Gospels, or the books of Paul were disputed
  1. Science (archeology, historiography, text criticism, etc.) have confirmed them as early, historical documents
    – Secular academia has firmly established:
       – The basic outline of Jesus’ life (birth 5-4 BC, baptism , death 30-33 AD)
       – The life of Paul (4 BC) converted (31-36 AD) wrote (50-63 AD) died (62-64)
    – Text criticism has given us a more accurate representation of the original texts
       – This is a slight improvement over the older KJV text, and a significant improvement over the Latin Vulgate text
       – “How can texts get better?”
           – Anyone who is fluent in more than one language  knows that there can be good and better translations 
           – Modern science has devoted itself to achieving the very best translation possible of the earliest, original manuscripts
       – “Wow, where can I get my hands on this better, improved bible?”
           – It is probably already in your hands, unless you have a KJV.
           – The improvements were incredibly small, and nobody really noticed when they were updated. If you would like, you can compare any contemporary bible to a KJV to see some of the minor errors that crept in over the years, and were corrected in the last century.
            – …feel free to talk with me after the sermon on this topic.- But the big picture is…
    1. God exists. God is good. God knows all.
    2. God speaks. To us. In His word.
    3. And so let’s read it! To have life!

Yes, but doesn’t religions fundamentalism lead to…

  1. …religious violence?

It depends what you are being “fundamentalist” about!

        • “Fundamentalism” means a “return to the essentials”
        • Usually, the founder, the holy book, and early history
        • A return to Jesus, to the Bible, and to the Early Church is a return to peace, the ethic of love, respect for all human life, and a separation between church & state
  1. …arrogance, ignorance, and a “know-it-all” attitude?
    Yes, it definitely can. Which is why it is important to remember…Scriptures are perfect, but not exhaustive (John 16:12)
  • There are important things, that we can know, that are not contained in scriptures! Like the periodic table! Like internal combustion engines! Like microbes and penicillin!
    1. God also reveals Himself through nature (Rom. 1:20-21)
        1. This is called “General Revelation” by theologians
        1. Scriptures and Jesus are called “Special Revelation”
        1. This opens the door for philosophy, science, medicine, etc.
    • Someone who is an expert in the Bible is not an expert in all domains of knowledge: you can be an expert in theology, but still need to humbly ask for help when asking for someone to fix their car, their body, or build a house 
    1. Scriptures are meant to be read in community (1 Tim. 4:13)
        1. God gives the spirit in community (John 14:16)
        1. God meets with us in community (Mat. 18:20)
        1. Teaching is to happen in community, with oversight (1 Tim. 3:1-13)
        1. Community is a safeguard against strange, private, extreme interpretations (1 Cor. 14:29)
    1. Some things in Scripture are more and less important & clear
        1. Peter admitted some things were “hard to understand” (So who are you to say you understand it all? 2 Peter 3:16)
        1. Paul & Jesus both said some doctrines were more and less important (John 16:12, 1 Cor. 15:3-4)
  • …that’s not to say that doctrines are not important. Everything is important. But some things are more important. Some things are of “first importance.” But some things — while important — can be skipped over because time is short, and even Jesus needs to end his sermon sometime.
        1. Paul warns against causing divisions over minor points of doctrine (Titus 3:9-10, 1:7, 1 Tim. 3:3, 6:4-5)
  • It’s important to notice that not once, but in four different places Paul warns about the danger of causing division over minor doctrines
  • We need to take this to heart! (and this is, perhaps, especially a word to young men)
    1. …so does this all lead us back to relativism?
  • If…
    • Some things are not clear
    • We read scriptures in community (where everyone is just going to argue about it anyways)
    • We are not supposed to cause divisions over minor points
    • …then shouldn’t we just give up on truth? Each go our own ways?
        1. No. Because God exists and God speaks, truth exists!
        1. There is a life-saving message in Scriptures!
        1. We can agree on essential, disagree on other issues (Rom. 14)
  • Here is a closing illustration:
    • A father tells his two sons, “Go upstairs and clean your rooms!”
    • On the way up, they begin to dispute: “I think that means to put away our toys and make the beds.” “No, I think it means to clean and polish the furniture, and wash the windows.”
    • On and on they fight. Eventually they draw other family members into the dispute, until the whole house is in chaos.
    • Finally, dad goes up, to find the two boys wrestling, and the house in a wreck.
    • He asks, “did you clean your rooms?”
    • They each say, “I know exactly what you mean when you say that, and what my brother thinks you mean is wrong!!” 
    • He asks again, “Well, did you clean your room?”

…so what is the bottom line that God has told us? 

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

…This is what it comes down to. We may disagree in some of the details. And we can agree to disagree, in love, with our brothers (Romans 14). But fundamentally, this is what it comes down to. 

God exists.

God speaks.

There is a life-giving message in Scriptures.

This message creates a path, a way to live. 

At its core, it is a way to love and live in harmony with God, and with our fellow man.

…and so if you are feeling lost, looking for purpose, looking for a path to follow, consider this path. The path which so many have walked before. The path that we as a church will be walking.

Let’s walk the path of Scriptures, starting with the book of Philippians. 

(Let us pray)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: