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Dr. Ed Young - What is the Bible?

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    Dr. Ed Young - What is the Bible?

My wife, Jo Beth was shopping with a friend a few days ago, and they were being waited on by a clerk. She was probably 21, 22 years of age, and Jo-Beth's friend had a tee shirt on that is the theme of our Bible listening session. It says, "For You've Got Time". You've seen that, "For You've Got Time"? She had that tee shirt on, and the clerk said, "What is that about? 'You've Got the Time,' what does that mean"? And she said, "Oh, in our church, we're listening to the New Testament 28 minutes a day, 40 days". And she said, "Wouldn't you like to do that? I'll get you a little Bible stick where you can do it"? She said to the clerk, and the clerk said, "Oh, no, no, no, no, I don't wanna do that". She said, "I've got faith, but not that kind of faith".

And so, and Jo Beth, always being someone who wants to be conciliatory, she said, "Well, maybe one day, you'd like to read or listen to the Bible". And the clerk says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, maybe one day, maybe after, you know, after I get married". I wonder why she had no interest in listening to the New Testament, the Scripture. I don't know the answer to that. I've thought about it, 'cause I thought that was the most interesting conversation. Could it be that somewhere along the way, she had a father or mother or friend, and when she'd do something wrong, they would use the Bible as a whip, "Well, the Bible says," so she resented the Scripture? Or could it be that somewhere along the way, she picked up the Bible and read something from Revelation, and she said, "Boy, I don't understand this, this is a crazy book," and put it aside?

She thought it was above her intellectually, her ability to comprehend? Or I would guess that the reason she was wanting maybe to listen to the Bible and read it when she got married that she was afraid that the Bible would speak to her and would set down principles that perhaps were from God that would keep her from having a good time until she got married. It's almost as if when you get married, you stop having really a good time, and between now and then, "I don't want anything messing up with my pleasure". I would guess that's it, afraid to get a clear word from God. A lot of people are like that with this book. Now, I do not know her name, but let's just say her name was Susan. If Susan were here today and she wanted to talk with me about the Bible, I would take her through a little quiet kind of conversation, the conversation that I wanna have with you today.

And I would say, "Susan, this book is a library. Let me tell you about the books that are in the library. There's the Old Testament. There's 39 books there. There's a New Testament. There are 27 books there". Then I would say, "Susan, let's look at these 39 books. Look, Genesis," everybody has your Bible, look at it. Don't look at me, look down. "You've got Genesis through Deuteronomy, that's the books of Law, the Torah, the Pentateuch, Genesis through Deuteronomy. And then, Susan, you've got the books of history, Joshua through Esther, history. And interesting, you've got the history recorded from Genesis all the way through 2 Kings.

Then you have history is repeated of Israel in 1 Chronicles all the way through Nehemiah. So, you've got five books of law. You've got the books of history. Then beginning with Job, all the way through Song of Solomon, everybody see it, this is the book of poetry, or the book of wisdom, the books of wisdom. And then in the library, there are the major prophets, see it there, Isaiah through Daniel, you got it? Then you've got Hosea through the Malachi, minor prophets. And by the way, the differences in between major prophets and minor prophets is not that the major prophets said something more important. It's that they had longer books. That's the difference in the major and minor prophets, longer books, shorter books.

So, here you have 39 books in these categories: the books of law that comes, the book of history, the book of poetry, the book of wisdom, the major and the minor prophets. That's it, that's the Old Testament, all right? Look at the New Testament, Susan. Look at, you've got 27 books, see 'em there? Everybody look down. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, that's the Gospels, story of Jesus. Acts, that's history of the early church. Then you begin with Romans and go through Philemon. You see it there in your...? That is called the letters of Paul. Paul has written letters to churches, to individuals. Then you've got the general letters or the general epistles. That's from Hebrews all the way to Jude".

I wouldn't tell Susan this, but I think Hebrews belongs up with the letters of Paul. I think Paul wrote that, but that's a controversial factor so I would not tell her that. But that's my opinion. "Then you have Revelation. It's the book of poetry. And what do you do? What is the New Testament? Break it down, it's 5 stories, 21 letters, and a poem, okay? So there you have the Old Testament and the New Testament. Now, Susan, the Old Testament," I would say to her, as I would say to you, "is the story of God uniquely cultivating, building a nation, a peculiar people, a God-fearing people. That's the story of the Old Testament, God tabernacling over, building into the lives of individuals, into the corporate structure, a nation. And God built that nation, that's the Old Testament and that nation is Israel, so that in the New Testament, he could send his Son Jesus. That's the New Testament. A special nation prepared by God, presided over by God, so that he could send his Son in that nation that had been prepared for the birth of his Son Jesus Christ. And who is Jesus? He is God's Son. It is God with flesh on. Therefore, we see in Jesus the full revelation of God to man, the full nation".

And by the way, I would say to Susan, as I would say to you, "If you're going to understand the Bible, you have to understand progressive revelation". It's like, "What is progressive..."? Let me explain. It's very simple. The longer I know Jo Beth, the more I reveal myself to her. I am progressively revealing myself to her over 49 years. She said to me today, she said, "Show me the other side. I've seen enough of this..." No, no, no, but that is progressive revelation. It doesn't mean that one part of the Bible is more inspired than the other. It's not progressive inspiration. It's progressive revelation. Therefore, there is a gradual process. If I had revealed myself totally to Jo Beth when we were dating, she wouldn't have gone out with me again.

See, I've just slowly, God, in his infinite patience, through time and years, progressively revealed himself. And this is what you see in the Bible. "By the way, Susan, did you know you can read through the entire Bible in 78 to 80 hour, pulpit rate? Did you know that? Read through the entire Scripture in 78 hours, a little slower, 80 hours, read through all the Scripture, interesting. And the Bible," I would say to Susan, "it's a miraculous piece of literature. It really is". The Bible was written by over 40 authors, over 1600 years. It is written in Hebrew and Greek and a little bit of Aramaic. It was written by scholars and by fishermen. It was written by prophets and priests and by tax collectors and common workmen. It was written by farmers. It was written by those who sat at the feet of the scholar Gamaliel in Jerusalem.

The Bible was written by people in all walks of life in all places. Some of it was written on top of a high mountain, Sinai. Some of it was written in the wilderness of Judea. Some of it was written in the desert of Arabia. And others were written in a marketplace. Some of it was written in a prison. Some of it was written in a palace. Some of it was written when everything was going wonderfully well for the people and for the nation. And some of it was written when the bottom had fallen out of the life of anybody and everybody. Some of it was written when some of these were young writers. Some of them were very old, and probably the last thing they did was to write down these particular words. Some of it was written, if you look at the modern nations of the world, some of it was written in Lebanon. Some was written in Syria. Some was written in Iraq. Some was written in Iran. Some was written in Greece. Some was written in Rome. Some was written possibly in Egypt.

It was written on three different continents. By all these were varieties of people, different cultures, different understanding, different situations in life. This is an amazing book. And by the way, it was written without a human plan. In other words, there wasn't some master plan. Some architect of truth would say, "All right, we want a Word from God written down through all this period of time. It would have some kind of pattern to it". Now, what would you expect to find a book written over 1600 years by 40-plus authors in all these different situations with all of these different environments? What kind of book would you expect to find? You would expect to find a book that was filled with numerous contradictions and numerous kinds of inconsistencies. It would be sort of a helter skelter kind of thing you couldn't understand.

But what do we find? We find a book that has a master theme from Genesis to Revelation, and the theme is Jesus Christ, God's revelation to man. You can virtually find him with some biblical insight on every pages of this remarkable book. Also, it's a remarkable book of literature. You have poetry here in the Bible. You have didactic poetry. You have epic poetry. You have all kinds of prose here. You have historic prose. You have theological prose. You also have didactic prose here. And you have so many forms of speech. You have letters. You have parables. In the Bible, you have proverbs. In the Bible, there is allegory. In the Bible, there is hyperbole. You have all forms of speech in the Bible. You have a kind of prose that would be written down like someone would be giving an oration or a speech.

So, here's the Bible, it is an amazing book of literature in and of itself. And the fact it has in its diversity this great unity that is around the person of Jesus Christ is absolutely miraculous. So, Susan needs to understand that. Perhaps Susan and perhaps many of you have never really put all this together before. So, the Bible is a library, but it's not just a library. The Bible also, Susan, all of you Susans, all of us Susans, it's a landscape. You know, what is a landscape? A landscape, you see a great perspective. You see the whole view. You see 360 degrees. The Bible is a landscape. When you read and study the Bible, that's fine, but sometimes you move from reading and studying to exploring, and that's a better word.

When you begin to explore the Bible, you know what happens to you? Slowly but surely, you see that you're in a conversation with God. Slowly but surely, you'll begin to see, you know, God is saying something to me here. I see it in this event. I see it in that person. I see it in that story. I see it in what's happening. I relate to that. God has enough patience and insight with you and me to speak to us, and we learn how to listen to him. And we see things that, you know, I'm not particularly smart, but, oh, I get that. There's a wisdom that comes as a byproduct of this that's absolutely supernatural, absolutely supernatural.

Oswald Chambers said, when you study the Scripture, he takes just those books of poetry, the books of wisdom in the Old Testament, he said, "You wanna know how to suffer? Read Job". We're gonna study Job in a few months, by the way. "Wanna know how to suffer? Read Job. Wanna know how to pray? Read Psalms," you'll learn how to pray, how to listen to God. You'll see passion, you'll see tears poured out to God. Read Psalms, "Wanna know how to pray, talk to God, listen to God? Read Psalms. You wanna know how to live practical, down-to-earth life? Read Proverbs". Yeah, tell you about happy marriage. Tell you about how to conduct your business. Tell you how to bring up a family. It'll tell you how to relate to people. It'll tell you how, when things are broken, you can back, I mean, read Proverbs. Read Ecclesiastes, you'll learn how to enjoy life. Read Song of Solomon and you'll learn how to be a lover.

A lot of you men need to read that this afternoon. You see, the Bible is a living, moving book, a Word. It is a library. It is a landscape, Susan, it really is. It really is. And more than that, the Bible is a law. You said, "Oh". Susan, "That's what I was afraid of. It's gonna lay down..." No, the Bible is a law. It's like the Hebrew word "Torah". And the law there is a loving Father who has lived a long time gives principles down upon which the family is to use in having an effective life. See, a Torah is a loving Father who's got a lot of experience that says, "This is how you live". That's the law. That's the principles. And that's God Almighty.

And so, this is stuff here we put down that we come to an intersection of a decision-making moment and we know which way to take because we have these principles built in us. We have hidden some of it in our life. Oh, what else is the Bible? We've talked about that it is a light, a light, a light. By the way, I carry one of these around with me all times. You just can't be too sure or too cautious. For a long, long time, ethics were prescribed and laid down on the basis of transcendent values that became imminent that were recorded in this book. No one can intellectually argue with the fact that, since the birth of Jesus, this book has been the heart of how ethical principles are come to be valid in all of Western civilization.

This book, nobody can debate that. That is an intellectual fact. We get these transcendent values, these infinite values from Almighty God, then we're goin', "What happened to that"? The 18th century tells this story. Three philosophers, the first one is a guy named Immanuel Kant. Immanuel Kant said, "You do not get transcendent values from up there". He said, "You get transcendent values from in here". And he says, "The way you decide what's right and wrong and you get morality and ethics, you just use your head. You just think, use your brain. That's how you make decisions". And that's where we get the whole school of rationalism.

And a lot of people right here think that same way. "Well, I could tell whether that's right or wrong. I just figured it out. I just decided for myself. I used the firepower, the intellectual ability I have and my experience, and I've decided what's right and what's wrong". That's rationalism, that's Immanuel Kant. Then another guy came along by the name of Rousseau, still the 18th century. Rousseau said, "You do not get transcendent values from Almighty God, from up there. They're not recorded in this Bible". He said, "You get values from your heart". He said, "Just use your feelings". That's romanticism, by the way. That's the school of romanticism. You just use your feelings and your emotions.

That's when somebody says, "Well, if it feels good, it must be all right, you know, you know? It feels good, you know? If it seems to be okay, it's okay. Just use your emotions, use your feeling, use your..." Rousseau said that "every baby was born, that baby was perfectly pure and had a perfectly pure heart". He said, "It is the parents who twist the heart of that child. It's the environment who corrupts that heart". He says, "You need to take a child and just let the child go with their feelings and emotions with no rules, with no discipline. Just let that child just flow right through life. Don't mess them up. Just let them... they're pure when they're born".

Footnote, Rousseau had five children. All five of them, at different times, he gave them up to be brought up in an orphanage, romanticism. The third guy was a guy name Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. Nietzsche said, "You don't transcendent values from up there, from out there, that are recorded in this book". He said, "In fact, there's nobody up there". He said, "God's dead". Nietzsche said, "The way you decide is that there's a will to power". He said, "Use your will. Man, just suck it up. Just get after it. If you're strong enough, smart enough, intellectual enough, can get enough influence, you just will to power. You make that decision yourself. Use the constitution that you've been given. That's the will to power".

Incidentally, Nietzsche was Adolf Hitler's philosophy and theologian, "No God". Now, these guys have come along, and we see this operating today in the lives of many of us. How do we make moral choices? "Oh, I use my mind," that's rationalism, that's rationalism. "Oh, I just follow my feelings, you know, my conscience. I let my conscience be my guide". Well, we sure have messed-up consciences, but you'll figure that out. Or, "I just have my will and my plan, and I do it when I can. I'm strong enough". You see how this has come down to us?

Ladies and gentlemen, understand something. If we live in a gray world, everything is gray as far as crossroads and decisions, everything is gray, we make decisions on the basis of that which is gray, we have a choice between darkness and light, and we move in a gray world, consistently, you'll make the lowest moral choice possible when you live in a gray world. Everybody will, everybody will. But the Bible is a light that takes the gray world and the darkness and illuminates it. This is a flashlight that Jo Beth put by on my little bedside table, I don't know, 2 or 3 years ago. It's just been sittin' there for years. When the lights went out a few nights ago, they did at my house, I thought, "Aha, I'm ready".

And I reached over there and got out this little flashlight, and mashed it. It didn't come on. I said, "Jo Beth," in the darkness, "where are the batteries"? She had her flashlight that had batteries. It was working. And she said, "Oh, that's one of those solar-powered flashlights," and it's been under there a long time. I didn't know I was green, but I am green, I'm green. And so, it wouldn't work. And day before yesterday, she took it and put it out in the sun. And guess what? It works, hmm. Amazing to me, solar powered, yeah. But unless it stays in the light, it won't work. "If you walk in the light as he in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ keeps on cleansing us of all sin".

You see, the Bible is a lamp that helps us see here. It is a light that helps us see way down the road. Therefore, we need to understand, if you want light to be in your life, the source of the light is from the S-O-N that's revealed in the B-Double-O-K, which is the Bible. And then you'll have light to see here and light to see there every time you come to a decision-making moment. Say it after me: "Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path". Susan, it really is, it really is, it really is.
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