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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Can the Bible Be Trusted?

James Meehan - Can the Bible Be Trusted?

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    James Meehan - Can the Bible Be Trusted?

So we are in Week 2 of our series of the Bible, Fake News or Good News. And I am here with you today, my name is James Meehan, and it's an absolute honor to just get to spend some time with you talking about something as significant as the Bible. Because this is a book that you may not know, this is actually the most widely sold book in history and at the same time, the most widely stolen book in history. And maybe you're showing up here at Switch IRL or Switch Online. And you've got some thoughts about the Bible that you're not really sure what to do with. Maybe some questions about if it's even good or if it can be trusted. That's what this series is all about to help us as followers of Jesus, think a little bit more wisely about what the Bible is, about what makes it special, about the weird parts of the Bible that sometimes we just don't know what to do with and how we as followers of Jesus can allow the truth of the Bible to shape us and change us from the inside out.

Now, I think about my story with the Bible. I think about as a little kid, having this mindset that the Bible was outdated and irrelevant. It was a book full of weird stories that didn't really make much sense to me and didn't seem to have anything to do with my life. All of that changed though, when I think I was like 10 or 11 years old, and I got my first ever comic book version of the Bible, and that, that was pretty cool. Like getting to read the stories of the Bible in comic book form. Like I didn't really know what I felt about all things, church and God, but man comic book Bible, I was here for that.

And then it wasn't too long after that until I found myself in a place in my life where I stopped identifying as a Christian. At first, I just wasn't sure what to believe and then I eventually got to a place where I didn't believe altogether. And during that period of my life, I would have told you that the Bible is fake news, that it's not true, it's not good. And as a matter of fact, I would have told you that it had caused more harm throughout history than good. But then I was 19 years old I was attending Life Church. And I remember hearing the Gospel, the good news of Jesus being presented in a way that connected with me, in ways that I never would have guessed or have experienced before. And it was in that moment that I made the decision, I'm gonna give this Jesus thing a shot. And from that day on I committed to learning as much as I can about God, the Bible and what it means to follow Jesus so that I can do this thing and do it right.

Now for a long time, I would have told you that the Bible was difficult news because as an early Christian, I didn't know how to read the Bible or what to do with it. And so I just remember committing to reading it for 30 minutes every night before I went to sleep. And for months I did that, I was super disciplined. And months into that journey, I realized I had no idea what any of this was talking about. And then over the years since then, I've had great mentors. And I've learned from other people who have been following Jesus and writing about the things of God that have helped me better understand how to read the Bible well, how to approach the truth of God's word in a way where I can actually encounter the presence of God. So if you were to ask me today, I would tell you that the Bible is good news. That it's not just good news, but actually it's the best news in history.

Last week, we kicked off this series by talking about how the Bible is a story. It's a story that leads to Jesus and it invites us to become like Jesus. But the thing about the story the Bible tells, it's not just any story. It's not some made up fairytale, but we believe that this is the story, the true story about the way the world really works. And that when we engage in the story that God is telling through the Bible, we discover who we really are. We discover who God really is. And we discover how the world really works. Because as we continue in this series, we're gonna talk a little bit more today about what exactly it is that makes the Bible special.

But before that, I wanna show you a video from some of our high school students that are a part of our ministry, who actually came together to talk about the different questions and struggles that they've experienced in their journey of trying to understand the Bible. Because at Switch, we are a ministry committed to creating a space for you as a young person, to wrestle with your questions, to not try to cover them up or pretend like you have all the right answers, because in reality, none of us do, but to create a space where you can feel safe, you can feel comfortable and you can feel confident to bring your questions to God, to process your doubts with people you trust and along the journey, discover just how good this news really is. So with all that being said, check out this video.

What do your friends think about Bible?

My friends, they think of the Bible as like a chore or just another book.

Some of my friends think the Bible can be used to help them heal and other friends think that they can have a relationship with God without the Bible.

Say some of them think that it's nothing really to 'em, but I would also say that some of them do find the most healing there in the Bible.

I thought that the Bible was something that was very complicated and that you had to know each chapter of it.

Well, my friends, they used to think of it, they used to think of the Bible is like a chore or just like another book on a bookshelf. And honestly, like I used to kind of think of it like that way too, just because it felt so intimidating to me. Like this big, giant book that had like all the answers, but I had to like interpret it the right way or I would be getting it wrong. So it was kind of scary.

For me, it definitely started off more of like a checklist thing. Like wake up, I read the Bible. And I did that for- I read the whole entire Bible and I did it as a checklist thing. I don't think I got a single thing from it. But now I'm actually starting to study it and actually learn stuff and learn God's character.

For me, I mean, I almost 50,50, not that I don't care, I know that the word itself has moved me, but I'm not treating it as I should be. I'm treating it as just like it's just a book. Like I'll hear it on Sunday and then I'll count it. I don't go to my Bible plan that I should be. And I guess that's just a problem that I am struggling with right now. I don't know, part of me can't find the reason to keep reading it. I hear it on Sundays, well I get it on a Sunday and I call it good. And I wish that part of me would change right now 'cause I wanna find more of my power in the word.

I used think it was very complicated and you had to read it from start to beginning in order to actually know Christ. But once I finally gave my life to Christ, I figured out, that's not what it's about. You can read at any part, any chapter of the Bible and you can still get a good understanding of the Bible.

What's a story in the Bible that you've wrestled with?

I'd say for me, mine's, it's Shadrach Meshach and Abednego, them in the fire. That I mean, the first time I heard that I was like, bro, you got be making this up. I don't know, I took that spiritual truth from it and understood it that God was their protector. But I honestly still to this day, I believe in it, but it still just blows my mind that the fact that these guys went into the furnace and then Angel stood there and protected them with them and they walked out with nothing on them. And I don't know, it's just something that kinda blows my mind.

Like in the Bible and like anybody you talk to, they're always like, God is like a merciful God, He does everything for a reason. He loves us. But then whenever you read about Adam and Eve and how Eve she took a bite of the forbidden fruit. Well then, I don't know, sometimes I used to think, well, that was the beginning of everything. Why couldn't have God just been like, "Okay, let me give you a second chance". Or like, "Okay, you know what? I'm not gonna do that anymore. I just want everybody to be happy and to be free". That's something that kinda makes me question just kinda like, well, why did he do that if he knew it was gonna lead to all this? I know he gave us like the freedom. He gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose, but it kinda makes me think, well, he could have also changed it up so we could all not have to suffer and stuff like that.

It was very hard for me to comprehend that he was just there. Nobody like actually made him or created him, He was just already.

Existed and he's always existed.


And what do you do with those doubts or questions that you have about the Bible?

I'd say for me, honestly, sometimes I hold it in, I don't usually ask a lot of questions about the Bible because I'm just like, Oh, well they already said it. So, I mean, if they say, it must be true, but if I still question it I feel like I'm being judged if I questioned the word of God kind of thing. I don't like lightning to strike me down because of it. But one of those things that if I do, I realize now that if I do have a question about the Bible, I need to go find that person and just be straight up with them. Why does God, blah, blah, blah, and do this and so?

Whenever I doubt or anybody does or questions things, I don't to see it as a weakness. I feel like it's more of you showing that you're interested in learning more and then you're interested in furthering your relationship with God and trusting him more. But I think those people are always really great to go to because they're our community and they're people we can trust and the people that we have that kind of relationship with and that they wanna guide us towards God and towards the better things. So whenever I do have questions and doubts, kinda just ask God or the people around me or just ask myself. And that's like another way to kinda deal with that.

What's the question that you have about the Bible or about a passage of scripture right now that you would wanna investigate more?

For me, it's probably Corinthians. To me, that's kinda the book of love and stuff. I think it talks a lot about that. And it's my favorite book because it answers a lot of my questions that I have, but it also creates a lot of more questions and kinda doubt in myself because I'm like, okay, this is how we're supposed to love each other? It's how we're supposed to spread love and show love and show and represent God in a way. So it's kinda like wow, that's kind of hard if you really try to put it into action.

Honestly, I don't think it's just a certain chapter in the Bible. I really think it's the whole thing for me 'cause I'm still kinda at that point where it's still a little complicated for me to just read.

What's something that you learned from this conversation?

That it's okay to struggle with the Bible to not really know how to read it or not really know all of it and it's okay to have questions.

Realizing that everybody's relationship with God is always different. I mean, we may find similar things, but even for me, I realized that everybody else could be reading the Bible, but for me it's taking into realizations in my life that God has given me.

Everybody has questions about the Bible and doubts and stuff. And you're not the only person that is asking. No, that didn't happen.

So I'm going to make a shameless plug right now to the Switch Youth YouTube channel, because on our channel, you can find other videos just like that one where we have our students coming together to talk about the difficult topics of life and of faith. We've also got videos where we talk about all the things happening in culture. We've got another YouTube series where we wrestle with the big questions about the Bible, kind of like what we're doing in this message series, but we do it every week on our YouTube channel. And every single one of those YouTube shows is designed to help you better understand what it means to follow Jesus in our modern world. And all of the content of those shows is based off of the questions that you are asking, whether to your small group leaders, to your youth pastors, or just on the comments of our YouTube section. So if you happen to be watching this on YouTube right now, and you have questions about all things, the Bible, faith, and following Jesus, leave those down below because we're gonna answer them in some form or fashion on one of these YouTube shows and we would love for you to be a part of our online community.

Now, shameless plug out of the way, Switch Youth YouTube channel, go subscribe. We're gonna jump back into the message for this week, it's Week 2 of the Bible, Fake News or Good News. Last week, we talked all about the question, what is the Bible? And together we explored the idea that the Bible is a story that leads to Jesus and invites us to become like Jesus. It's not just any story, but it is the story, the story of God and the story of his creation. Now this week, what I wanna do is explore what it is about the Bible that makes it special by adding just a little bit more to that statement. So here's what we're talking about this week, the fact that the Bible is a story written by people and inspired by God that leads to Jesus and invites us to become like Jesus. The Bible is a story written by people and inspired by God that leads to Jesus and invites us to become like Jesus.

Now that little bit right there, that tension of being written by people and inspired by God is I think one of the most important concepts that we can wrap our minds around as followers of Jesus to help us engage with the Bible wisely. Because the thing about the Bible is it is a collection of writings written by people and too people. Like Luke in his gospel, starting in verse one of chapter one says this. He says that there were many people who have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye witnesses and servants of the word. Now, with this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things that you have been taught. Luke is telling us that he is the one who wrote his gospel account and he wrote it to Theophilus, this person that he wanted to know about the truth of Jesus, the things he did, the things he said in the life that he lived.

And at the same time as Christians from the beginning of our faith, we have believed that these words that were written by people were inspired by God. The Apostle Paul talks about it this way in Second Timothy chapter three, where he says that all scripture is God breathed. It is God inspired and it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God that's me and you, that we could be thoroughly equipped for every good work. The Bible is a story written by people and inspired by God. It leads us to Jesus and invites us to become like Jesus. Now that idea I think is helpful for the fact of just simply understanding the Bible and how to engage with it, knowing that yes, it was written by people and to people who lived in a specific time and place and also it has been inspired by the Spirit of God so that those words written so long ago still have power and truth that is meant for us in our world today.

But what's so powerful about this idea that the Bible was written by people and inspired by God is that, that theme that defines the makeup of the Bible shows up all throughout the biblical story. Because this joining together of heaven and earth, the partnership between God and people is the way that God has chosen to work from the beginning. So the story the Bible is telling us, from Genesis to Revelation, and the way that the Bible is put together and the way that we are supposed to engage with the Bible to read it wisely, all come back to this theme of heaven and earth joining together. So one of the ways that we talked about it is this, we'd say that the Bible tells the story of heaven and earth being created by God, pulled apart by sin and brought back together by Jesus. This idea of the story the Bible is telling from Genesis to Revelation is a theme that shows up all throughout the Bible. And that theme also helps us understand how we can read the Bible wisely as this beautiful, messy joining together of human authorship and divine inspiration.

Words written by people and to people thousands of years ago. But because they were inspired by God still have the power to speak to us in our world today. And when we can get caught up is when we forget, either that the Bible was written by people or that it was inspired by God. It's only when we hold both of those ideas together, that we can really understand how to read the Bible wisely and allow the truth within those pages to transform us from the inside out. So what I wanna do is I wanna just walk you through a basic overview of the biblical story. We're gonna cover a lot of ground, but we're gonna move quickly so make sure you are paying attention. Right back here, here's what you're gonna see. You're gonna see this picture of heaven and earth. In the beginning at creation, you're gonna see that heaven and earth, those two circles are fully overlapped, they are joined together.

And Genesis 1:1 tells us this, "That in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth". Then in Genesis 2:7, we hear about the creation of human beings that the Lord, God formed a man from the dust of the ground and he breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life. And the man became a living being. In the beginning what we're told is that as human beings, we are this beautiful combination of dirt and divinity of heaven and earth. But then, the biblical story takes a turn for the worst when we, as human beings, reject God as our king, we sin against him. And that is when sin enters the story. And what we see is that heaven and earth are actually pulled apart. What was United, what was good, where peace and justice and the goodness of God were present in every aspect of creation now, instead there is sin, there is death, there is suffering and there is evil. But God's plan from that moment on is to find a way to bring heaven and earth back together. And the way that God does that is through a partnership with people.

One of the most famous examples of this in the Bible shows up in Genesis chapter 12, where God speaks to a man named Abraham. And starting in verse one of chapter 12, we read the Lord talking to Abraham, saying, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you, I will curse. And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you".

See what God is saying is that he is going to bless the world, but the way he is going to bring about that blessing, is through this man named Abraham. Because God's desire is to partner with his creation, human beings, to bring about good for the world. This idea of a partnership with God it shows up throughout the Bible, as the word covenant. Covenant is a divine partnership between God and people. It is one more example of this theme of heaven and earth joining together. Because in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He formed human beings out of the dirt and he breathed his divine spirit into us. He started this partnership with his people, starting with a man named Abraham who eventually became the nation of Israel so that one day the God of heaven would enter history and he would become a human being named Jesus.

And in John's Gospel chapter one verse one, we are told that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Then a little bit further in verse 14, we're told that the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. The God of heaven put on skin and bones, He became a person, He made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son who came from the father full of grace and truth. And in this image behind me, what we see is that when Jesus arrives, the process of heaven and earth being brought back together is put into motion because God's desire is that eventually, heaven and earth would be fully reunited that we as human beings would dwell in eternity with God, for ever. That has always been God's mission. But because of sin, heaven and earth were pulled apart. A relationship with God was severed, but through Jesus, the damage of sin is being undone. Our relationship with God is being made right.

And the end of the biblical story tells us of the day when heaven and earth are fully reunited in Revelation, chapter 21 verses one through four. Here's what we read, "And then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. There was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look, God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'"

You see the story of the Bible is the story of heaven and earth being created by God, united, until they're pulled apart by sin. But through Jesus, the process has been set in motion for heaven and earth to be reunited. For God to make a new heaven and a new earth to bring those together. And in this new heaven and new earth, God and his people will dwell together forever. This is the story that the Bible is telling us that through Jesus, this new way of living, this new way of seeing the world, this new future, has been set in motion and been made available to us.

And so, as we read the Bible, we can never forget that key to understanding the Bible is this joining together of heaven and earth. It shows up in the beginning. It shows up in the covenants throughout the Old Testament. It shows up in the person of Jesus who is fully God and fully man. And it shows up at the very end of the story when heaven and earth are brought back together. And it shows up in the way the Bible was formed as a story written by people and inspired by God. The joining together of heaven and earth, dirt and divinity. And this story leads us to Jesus, who is God in human form. And through encountering Jesus, we are transformed from the inside out to become more like him. This is the story of the Bible is telling. And it is a story that is absolutely good news. Let's pray together.

Heavenly Father, I thank you so much that we get to be a part of this story that you have written from the beginning. God, I pray that every single one of us would have our hearts and our minds open to the truth of who you are and what it is that you want to do in us and what you want to do through us.

I know that there are probably some of you right now who as you're watching this message, you're hearing about this joining together of heaven and earth, dirt and divinity, but the reality is is that even though you consider yourself a Christian, you would acknowledge that you haven't been living as if that story was true. But today is the day that you want to, you want to choose to play your part in this covenant that God began with you, a partnership. Where he's inviting you to be a part of his plan, to bring heaven and earth back together by the way that you love your neighbor, the way that you forgive those who hurt you, by the way that you work for justice in your community. If that's you, and you'd say, yeah, I'm a Christian, but I want God's help to actually play my part in the story that he is writing. Then if you're at Switch in real life, make sure you raise your hand, if you're online, type it in the chat, let us know. And I just wanna pray for all of us right now to step into the calling that God has given us.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your good news. Thank you that through your son, Jesus, we can be rescued from the bondage of sin and restored to our partnership with you. I pray that every single one of us would acknowledge the part you've invited us to play, would trust in your goodness and that we would do what we can, where we are to bring heaven to earth, because that is what you've called us to do. I pray for these students that you give them courage, you give them wisdom and you give them the boldness to live out the life you've invited them into.

Still in an attitude of prayer, there are others of you who may be, as you're hearing this message, as you're thinking about the Bible, you would acknowledge that for the majority of your life, or maybe just recently, you've seen the Bible as fake news. You're not convinced that God is good, that the Bible is true or that any of this stuff is even real. But there's something that's stirring inside of you that you can't quite explain. There's this longing in you for a need that no matter what you've tried, you've never been able to find that need be met. That longing is a longing for eternity. It is the longing for a relationship with your creator because all of us as human beings, we're created by God to live in relationship with him forever. But because of our sin, we have been separated from him. But through Jesus, the good news is that we can be made right with him.

This is why God entered the world, as the person, Jesus, he lived a perfect life, He died a blameless death on the cross. And on the cross through his own death, he took on sin, death and the devil and he disarmed them. And then on the third day, He rose from the grave so that anybody who puts their trust in him could be made new. And that's exactly why you're here today, to begin a relationship with your Heavenly Father. To have the gap that was created by sin be undone so that you can live united with the God of heaven. That's what he wants for you. And that is exactly what God's spirit is prompting in you to say yes to a relationship with Jesus, to turn your back on your old way of living and turn to God.

If that's you, and you're saying, "Jesus, I want a relationship with you. I want to be made you. I want to become your follower", then all across if that's you lift your hand right now. All over the place if you're at Switch, online, if you're on YouTube, type it in the chat, let us know that you're making the decision to begin a relationship with Jesus. That is the most important choice you could make in your entire life. There is no better choice than that, to say yes to a relationship with Jesus. This is what you were created for. And as people are making that decision, letting us know in the chat, what I'll hope you'll understand is that we are a family. And as you're making that choice, yes, you had to make it on your own, but we're going to pray all together because we are a family here at Switch. So across the country, around the globe, as people are making that decision, all of us together, out loud, repeat this prayer after me:

Heavenly Father, forgive me. I'm turning from my sin. I'm turning towards you. I need your love. I need your grace. I need your mercy. Today, I give you my life in Jesus name. Amen, Amen, and Amen.

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