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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Is the Bible Relevant?

James Meehan - Is the Bible Relevant?

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    James Meehan - Is the Bible Relevant?

Now when I think about my story with the Bible, I think about as a little kid having this mindset that the Bible was outdated and irrelevant.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. 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've 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 when 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've guessed or had experienced before. And it was in that moment that I made the decision, you know what? 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've 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, right? 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.

So as we continue in the 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 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.

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 to people, right? Like Luke and his gospel, starting in verse 1 of chapter 1 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 eyewitnesses 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, and 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 2 Timothy chapter 3, 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 in 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 talk 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 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 1 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 1, verse 1, 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 forever. That has always been God's mission. But because of sin, heaven and earth were pulled apart.

Our 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 1 through 4, here's what we read, "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 self 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 the 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's 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 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 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 our live, 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.

And still in an attitude of prayer, there are others of you who maybe as you are 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 the 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, I want to become your follower, then all across the room, 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 are 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 for 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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