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Does Scripture Matter?


We face challenges and we’ve been given eternity with God. So the victory is won, but we still feel the weight of sin and brokenness in the world.


Ultimately, as Christians, time and experience both have told us who we are and who God is.


But something deeper tells us this story, something timeless that millennia of people from nearly every people group bears witness to: the Gospel.


Communicating the truth of the Gospel has been seated in challenge. Yet in contrast to the Gospel, there are many ancient religions that did not persist. The code of Hammurabi. Baal worship, which we discussed last week, is virtually unknown.

These ancient opponents pale - don’t even show up - on the modern scene in any pervasive way.


Think about it - no one knows the ancient Egyptian religions that drove Pharaoh to enslave the Israelites. When was the last time you were at Safeway or QFC or Costco and you thought about the false gods of the Amalekites? The Philistines? The blasphemy of Jezebel and Ahab?


To be blunt - Pastor Mark referenced the religion of one of these groups of people in a recent sermon, but could you identify which ancient religious practice was at the center of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19?


My guess is that your average young person is not worried about any of these

Biblical false religions. They’re concerned about their relationships in their families, the homework they have to finish, and the friend who keeps ‘spilling the tea’ (gossiping for us millennials and older), and how it’s going to affect their day. They’re looking for likes on YouTube and subscribers. They’re thinking about their summer plans and college applications, or about their sports and coaches.


My kids just want to see Taylor Swift’s boyfriend win the Super Bowl.


So why does Scripture matter?


Because it’s true.


Scripture is the story of God and his people. Front to back, cover to cover. How do we begin, how do we survive? How do we live our lives in good ways? What happens when we don’t, when we stray from God and our most important relationships with those around us?


Scripture is about all of that.


Noah gets righteously drunk after he survives the flood. Sounds like PTSD.


Abraham is promised children and then he and his wife age-out of child-bearing years. And then they have a child. The miracle becomes a reality and then as 80-year-olds they have to raise a child?


Moses kills a man in a brutal incident where he saves a Hebrew only to kill a fellow Egyptian. How do you come back from that?


David, Solomon, the divided kingdom. Hezekiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah - they all

interweave through eras of faithfulness and faithlessness, and you wonder how we even make it to the New Testament.


Ruth, Esther, Rahab, Miriam - all of these women demonstrate the struggle of ancient women trying to make it and be faithful in times when their roles are diminished because men are seen as the favored gender. I’m not making political statements, either. This is just what life was like. It was real, circumstantial, and very, very ordinary.


So when the disciples saw Jesus minister, free people from illness, demon possession,

prostitution and heartless legalism they recognized something up close and personal,

experienced in real time: God was tangibly faithful both in Scripture and in their ordinary lives, too. The long promised freedom for the ancient Israelites and later Jews in Judea (only the southern half of the original nation of Israel and under Roman occupation) finally surfaced in a man with little financial, political, or socioeconomic power.


Jesus was the culmination of this long and winding story of a nation that seemed unlikely to have survived history.


When we’re looking up memes or answering emails, when we’re booking vacations and caring for aging parents, this story seems wildly irrelevant. And so the God of this story seems that way, too.


Unless you meet Him.


When you encounter the man who died and then lived again, the man who taught with authority and cast out demons, the man who healed the sick and empowered uneducated blue-collar fisherman, you start to see the world, and its story, differently.


We see it differently because he says he’s God in human form, and then he does God’s work in the lives of people around him, and you realize he actually is who he says he is.

The disciples were teaching about Jesus, but not like in a ‘do the tradition for tradition’s sake’ kind of way. They had met someone who defeated death and one of the worst kinds of death we can imagine.


They saw Jesus come to life and promise to share it with them.


Jesus didn’t say, ‘subjugate the world.’ He said, ‘overcome the world.’ He said this because the real enemy was death, a consequence of sin, and when death was vanquished sin was defeated and its power dismantled.


So the disciples teach people about the one who is linked to the story we find in the Old

Testament because in his life, ministry, death, and resurrection Jesus fulfills it. He makes it relevant. And suddenly the One who defeats death re-frames the story so it makes sense of what usually seems senseless.


Hey! You can know God! It’s not in military strength, it’s not in money or possessions, it’s not in sexual activity or identity, it’s not in anything we so often put our minds and efforts toward.


Life is found in a relationship with God where we learn to love God and love others as

ourselves.


If we suffer? It’s ok. God is with us. If we die? It’s ok, we join God in heaven. If we succeed! Wow! God just did amazing things in my life. We become connected to the thread of existence, the Author and Perfecter of who we are.


In Acts 5 the disciples are arrested, and they are taken back to a prison to be held there.

An angel appears - an angel! And the angel appears to deliver them from their circumstances, right?


NO! They are told to return to the temple courts and teach about Jesus more.


See, once we come to faith we aren’t ditching our lives or responsibilities. Anyone who tells us that God will change our struggling portfolios or life & family circumstances 180 degrees sounds like a great salesperson, but that’s about it. God cares about our lives and the people in them enough to help us persevere through any challenge we face, with the wisdom that only God has to hold the past, present, and future in perspective in guiding us through the circumstances we experience.


Instead of freeing the disciples to a deserted island with some r & r in tow, the Lord instructed the disciples to keep teaching; and so they did just that.


In the middle of their fight with the religious leaders of the time, reason and rational thinking come from an unlikely source. Gamaliel, a respected Jewish religious authority of the time, says something astonishing: ”But if [the disciples’ teaching] is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:39 NIV.


Gamaliel testified to the character and might of God: if this movement persists, then you’re only resisting against God. And because Gamaliel believes in Yahweh, he knows that it’s a futile fight. God will win because of who Gamaliel believes God to be. Gamaliel doesn’t believe in Jesus, but he believed in God. So - if the movement is from God it will remain and the message will get out regardless of any attempt to stop it.


That movement has not only persisted but it has laid witness to who God is to this very day.


”Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.“ Acts 5:42 NIV.


These disciples had a bold idea that their faith in Jesus would change the world, and that’s because they had seen Jesus commit to the bold idea that he was One with God, on par, as the fully-human, fully-God, third person of the Trinity.


Bold claim. I mean that’s wild. Could he really be a member of the Trinity?


What does that even mean?


Because the disciples knew scripture, because they believed God had sent Jesus as the

physical embodiment of God Almighty, and because they had seen him die and come back to life, they suddenly realized the culmination of Scripture had come to pass in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.


Why? Because they believed that God was real, that Jesus was more than just a human being, and because God decided to act by calling people to faith, to healing, to life through Jesus.


That same Jesus speaks to us today through this story- through this historical account of God’s relationship to this world. That same Jesus is calling each of us to faith.


While you undergo all that life has to throw at you, would you hear this? Jesus is calling you to follow him. To know his story and to find your place in it.


Religion is just that - religion. But God is not religion. God is someone we can know, we can love, we can follow. And how do we know this? We have his Word. We have his Spirit. He still speaks to us today through it.


There’s a reason we aren’t reading hieroglyphs or the code of Hammurabi. There’s a reason cults come and go and religious fads gain steam and then lose it. They’re simply expressions of a spiritual heart inside of each of us. But if they’re not true, they fade out.


God’s Word has stood the test of time because it’s true - it’s pointing to the one who is True and who is the Standard Bearer of truth. Anyone unfamiliar with this truth is not to be feared, despised, or distanced. It’s the total opposite- they are in need of hearing about the truth of God, to be introduced to the One who is calling them into life, both here and in Heaven.


Anyone who knows this truth shouldn’t be afraid of any cultural swing or historic instability. God has endured every crisis of our world’s existence.


So here’s the one challenge today - if you don’t know God, get to know Him here in the Bible. Billions across millennia have testified that this is the true story of God. God is real and this Word is at the heart and start of knowing who God is.


If you know God, be like the disciples. Have such confidence that God has won that you trust him with anyone, with anything, with any circumstance. If God frees you only to go back to a place that seems like it will overtake you, remember that nothing will outlast or overcome the One who has already overcome sin, death, and the power of the devil.


As we walk together like the disciples, loving, supporting, and encouraging one another we will point each other back to this truth.


Jesus has defeated death, risen again, and offers this life to us here today and forever with him in heaven. If you believe in Him and follow him you will be with him in this life and the next.


Don’t be overcome by the circumstances that seem to be ready to snuff you out because there is a Light that will shine in any hardship or trouble. Draw close to the Word of God because it will inform your journey, guide your steps, and prepare you for life in this world and the next.

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