經文﹕提摩太後書 3 ﹕ 15-17
主旨﹕因為基督徒的神在聖經裡向我們說了話 , 所以聖經必須在個人和群體的生活
這張幻燈片向我們介紹了 HCC 的使命。它詳細闡述了我們的身份和我們的工作內容。在不同的時期﹐不同的教會 可有不同的異象 ﹐比如﹕沒有圍牆的教會﹐以關係為基石的教會﹔但是﹐基督教會的使命從未改變。在二月份﹐我們試著從不同的角度來了解 HCC 的使命。上個星期我們學習了有關敬拜的使命﹐今天早上﹐讓我們專注在聖經﹐神的話語上。
最近幾年﹐有一種關於聖經歷史的說法十分流行。我們經常可以在電視節目﹐ Times ﹐ Newsweek 和 US News 上看到。據說﹐四世紀的時候﹐在基督教會中流傳著許多基督徒的書信和作品。因此﹐一群基督教領袖在 Nicene 聚會﹐商量哪些才是合乎真理和帶有權威的。討論的結果是﹕從中挑選 66 本書組成今天我們所使用的聖經。因此﹐在今天﹐我們也可以輕易地推翻當時的決定﹐要麼刪掉一些經卷﹐要麼加入一些新內容。總之﹐現在的聖經只是 1700 年前由一小群人商討的產物。既然如此 , 為什麼我們今天仍然要被他們的決定所約束 ?
從 1985 年到 1993 年﹐有一群所謂的“聖經學者” 定期聚會﹐商量福音書裡究竟應該包括哪些耶穌的教導。他們的結論是﹕百分之八十有關耶穌的教導應該從現在的聖經中刪掉。這個結論和十九世紀早期 Thomas Jefferson 的觀點相似。他刪掉了有關耶穌神跡的經文和學說性的教導﹐僅僅保留他有關道德和倫理的教訓。這就是所謂的“ Jefferson 聖經” 。
當我們查閱其他宗教的經卷﹐會發現基督教是唯一一個相信神用人類能明白的語言親自對人說話的宗教。如果我們打開 < 創世紀 > 的第一章﹐“神說” 這個單詞出現了至少 11 次。接著﹐我們還看到上帝親自對亞當﹐夏娃﹐該隱﹐亞伯和他們的孩子說話。上帝對亞伯拉汗和他的后代說話。他對摩西﹐約書亞﹐撒母耳﹐大衛以及其他先知說話。這是一位說話的神。當上帝對先知說話的時候﹐他們就把神的話記錄下來。當先知用文字記下神的話語後﹐以色列人就把它們當作神親自對他們的說話﹐完全順服經文上所記載的誡命。在主前 400 年的時候﹐ 39 本舊約書卷就已經完成了﹐以色列人已經將其視為上帝親口說的話。這就是 < 提摩太後書 >3 ﹕ 16 所說﹕“全部聖經都是 神所默示的…”
耶穌在世的時候﹐他向門徒和週圍的人群教導神國的道理。他在世上最後的一段時間裡﹐對門徒說﹕“但…聖靈，他要把一切事教導你們，也要使你們想起我對你們所說過的一切話。” ( 約翰福音 14 ﹕ 26) “… .. ，他要引導你們進入一切真理。” ( 約翰福音 16 ﹕ 13) 之後﹐使徒們記下了從耶穌那裡聽來的教導和聖靈對他們的啟示。
“ 15. ...... 這聖經能夠使你有智慧，可以因信基督耶穌得著救恩。”保羅提醒提摩太舊約如何的幫助他相信耶穌基督。舊約指向耶穌和他的事工。新約福音書和使徒行傳記載了耶穌基督的事跡和他的使徒在世上的工作。使徒書信進一步解釋和擴展基督的教訓。因此﹐整本聖經 , 從創世記到啟示錄 , 都是有關上帝的救贖計劃。
在神的救贖計劃之下﹐聖經也同時教導我們信仰的真諦和真理。“ 16 全部聖經都是 神所默示的，在教訓、責備、矯正和公義的訓練各方面，都是有益的。 17 為要使屬 神的人裝備好，可以完成各樣的善工。”“教訓和責備” 是指教義而言的。聖經教導我們什麼是真理﹐如何正確認識神的屬性。你想認識神嗎﹖那就要去學習聖經﹐因為神在神經裡向我們啟示了自己。任何與聖經相違背的教導都是錯誤的﹐應該遭到拒絕。
“ 16 全部聖經都是 神所默示的，在教訓、責備、矯正和公義的訓練各方面，都是有益的。”聖經幫助我們糾正錯誤的行為和態度。它向我們揭示了應當如何生活。聖經教導我們如何去愛﹐照顧和饒恕其他人。當我們讀了聖經並且遵守它的教導﹐我們的生命就會改變﹐變得像耶穌基督。這節經文還告訴我們將在各方面得到裝備﹐能夠勝任各樣的工作。這當然就包括在教會內外的事奉。
這裡有一個提醒。我們應該如何裝備別人勝任不同的事工﹖教導不同的事工技巧。我曾經就是這麼做的﹐現在仍然這麼做。但是﹐看了這節經文﹐我意識到﹐在我們談論事工技巧之前﹐首先要教導和學習神的話語。神的話必須成為一切事工的基礎。如果沒有首先做到這一點﹐那我們就只是在製造一批事工的技師﹐他們只是教會工作的技術能手。他們很能設計事工 , 推動和維持事工 , 但對神的話語卻缺少認識 . 所有的事奉都要以神的話作為基礎。
在舊約時代﹐以色列人誦讀﹐教導並且遵守神的話語。他們曾經經歷失敗﹐但是﹐當他們再次轉向神的時候﹐學習和教導聖經總是對他們而言是最重要的。 < 以斯拉記 >7 ﹕ 10 “因為以斯拉專心尋求研究耶和華的律法，並且遵行，在以色列中教導律例和典章。”耶穌也讀過並且教導舊約。他差遣門徒去教導他的話。在 < 使徒行傳 > 中﹐我們看到﹐ 17 ﹕ 2 “保羅照他的習慣進去，一連三個安息日，根據聖經與他們辯論。” 17 ﹕ 11 “這裡的人，比帖撒羅尼迦人開明，熱切接受主的道，天天考查聖經，要知道所聽的是否與聖經相符。”比裡亞人聽到保羅的教導﹐就去考查是否與聖經一致。 我想向大家提幾點建議﹕
1 HCC 必須繼續將神的話置于首位。我們這些牧師在主日佈道的時候﹐必須忠于聖經的教導。我們要從聖經出發去準備我們的講道﹐而不是把聖經當作一本參考書﹐來驗證我們的觀點。我們的教導也要注意平衡﹐舊約與新約 , 福音與書信 . 因此﹐我們的講道一般是解經式的講道 , 也就是要按照聖經內容一本一本地講。這樣可以幫助會眾對神的話語有全面的認識和理解。
2 神話語慇懃的學生。作為個人﹐我們要認真學習聖經。當我們學習聖經的時候﹐重要的是牢記我們的目的是明白經文的意義﹐而不是表達我對經文的個人的意見。有一條需要我們記住的基本原則﹕聖經的經文只有一個解釋﹐但是可以有多方面的應用。我們學習聖經的主要任務是了解真正的意義﹐並將神的真理應用在不同的生活中。我們可以單獨地透過每日靈修讀聖經﹐也可以參加團契查經和主日學 . 有些人還加入了查經團契。
3 還有一點是需要我們知道的。我想再次回到 < 使徒行傳 >6 ﹕ 7 ﹐ 12 ﹕ 24 和 19 ﹕ 20 “神的道傳開了；在耶路撒冷，門徒人數大大增加，……”使徒們得到神的真理﹐學習神的真理﹐並且將真理傳開。真理不是拿來私藏的。我們來這裡聽主日講道﹐在主日學裡﹐團契中和小組間學習聖經。這很好。但是﹐我們也需要把這些真理傳開去。該怎麼做呢﹖從身邊做起。首先向家人 , 孩子 教導真理﹐在主日學和團契中教導。但不能就此停止。我們也要在自己學習和工作的地方教導神的話。我想到在美國和世界各地的校園。幾乎只要有中國人的地方﹐都有一個查經班﹐幫助未信的人認識耶穌。在一些公司裡 , 也有信徒利用午餐時間與非信徒一起讀聖經 . 在北美有些中國教會經常差派長執去德國某些地區帶領聖經研習的課程。我們得到了神的真理﹐就要把他傳遞開去。
在國內文革的期間 , 在一個農村裡祗有一本聖經 . 當地的信徒 , 就用手抄的方式復制聖經帶回家去讀及教導別人 .
我期望我們能很慎重的對待神的話 . 是我們要讀 , 順服和教導的一本書 . 我們是一本書的群體 . 在入口處﹐張貼著一張 Cindy 設計的海報。願在 2006 年﹐我們每個人都成為神的話語的書蟲。如果我們要成為聖經的書蟲﹐我們都需要做一些改變。 讓我們一起禱告。
Text: 2 Timothy 3:15-17
Title: A People of the Book
Theme: Since the Christian God is one who has spoken to us in the Bible, therefore His Word must be at the center of our personal and corporate life.
This slide explains the mission of HCC. It tells us about who we are and what we do. At different times, different churches may have different visions, such as: a church without walls, a church where relationship is the cornerstone, but the mission seldom changes. In February we’re looking at different aspects of this church’s mission. Last Sunday we learned about Worship. This morning we want to focus on the Word, the Bible, the ministry of the Word.
In recent years, there is a popular idea about how the we acquired our Bible. We see TV programs and feature articles in Time, Newsweek and US News and World report. The theory is: by the 4th century, there were many Christian writings circulating in the Christian church. So a group of Christian leaders met at Nicene and decided which of them were proper and authoritative. As a result of this meeting, 66 books were chosen and formed the Bible we have today. Therefore, today, we can easily override their decisions, either to ignore or add to what is already in the Bible. After all, the original decision was made by a group of men 17 centuries ago. Why should their decision be binding today?
From 1985 to 1993, there was a group of so called ‘Biblical Scholars’ who met periodically to decide which of Jesus' teaching should be included in the Gospels. The result was that 80% of Jesus'' saying should be taken out of the Bible. This is similar to what Thomas Jefferson did in the early 19th century. He took out the miracle accounts and doctrinal statements; and kept Jesus' ethical teachings. This was called the Jefferson Bible.
So, what is the Bible and what shall we do with it?
I. God speaks to us in the Bible.
Besides showing you what the Bible is, I want to explain and discuss with you some of the basic presuppositions underlying this subject. As Christians living in this 21st century, we need to equip ourselves so we can explain to our children and non-Christian friends not only what we believe but also why.
Certainly, the existence of God is the very basic premise of our discussions. If there is no God, then the discussion on the Bible is really irrelevant. If there is a God, what would he be like? When people find themselves in desperate situations, what would they do? They pray to a God. What is the basic assumption behind this? If there is a God, this God should be able to hear us, right? If there is a God, how can we know him? By definition, God is infinite and therefore as finite human beings, there is no way we can know or understand him. The only way we can know God is for him to tells us about himself. Not only this, he must also talk to us in words and language we understand. Without this, we just can’t know him. All we have is speculations.
When we take a look at the sacred books of different religions, we’ll find that Christianity is the only religion that believes a God who speaks to man in words we can understand. If we would just turn to the first chapter of Genesis, the phrase ‘God said’ or ‘God called’ appeared at least 11 times. Then we read about God speaking to Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel and their children. God spoke to Abraham and his descendents. He spoke to Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and later to David and other prophets. This is a God that speaks. And as God spoke to his prophets they recorded it in written words. As these words were written, they were accepted by the Israelites as God's word which they obeyed. By 400 BC, the 39 books of OT as we have it today were completed and treated by the Israelites as God's Word. This is what 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is breathed out by God...”
While on earth, Jesus taught his disciples and the people around him about the kingdom of God. At the end of his earthly ministry, he told his disciples, Jn 14:26; 16:13, “But …the Holy Spirit, …. will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you….. …… he will guide you into all the truth, ….. he will declare to you the things that are to come." Later, the disciples wrote down what they heard from Jesus and the new revelations from the Holy Spirit.
So the apostles were Jesus'' spokesman. Their words had the same authority as Jesus words. Therefore as they wrote their books and letters, the 1st century Christians accepted them as God's word. By the end of 1st century, the early church already had a collection of books that are considered sacred, from God and were authoritative. However, by the 4th century, there were many other letters and books claimed to be written by the apostles. So, in the 4th century, a group of Christian leaders met and decided to protect what was already accepted as God's word from the other writings that were circulating. And this is the Bible we have today. This Bible is God's word; it is without error and therefore, authoritative.
II. God speaks to us in the Bible about Himself and His work.
Now, having explained the origin of this Bible, we now come to take a look at what is inside the Bible.
1. The Bible teaches us about God's redemptive work.
Vs.15, “….sacred writings which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Paul reminded Timothy how the OT scriptures helped him to trust in Jesus Christ. The OT writings point us to Jesus Christ and his work. The NT Gospels and the book of Acts demonstrated the reality of Christ and his disciples’ ministries on earth. The epistles further explain and expand Christ's teaching. The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is about God's redemptive or salvation plan.
2. The Bible teaches us about matters of faith.
In this redemptive plan, the Bible also teaches us on matters of faith, or Truth. “16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” ‘for teaching, for reproof’ refers to doctrinal matters. The Bible teaches us what truth is; what is right and accurate about God. Do you want to know about God? Go study the Bible, because in the Bible God tells us about himself.
Many of us, besides listening to sermons preached here, also listen to sermons preached on TV, radio and tapes. Many best selling books are also sermons. As we read and listen, we are to constantly check with what is in the Bible. Many of the contents are inconsistent or even contrary to what is in the Bible. It is good to remember that a good communicator does not necessarily provide accurate and correct content. Since the Bible is God's word, it is authoritative and the final standard of our faith, everything we hear and read should be measured against this book.
3. The Bible teaches us how to live.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable ….. for correction, and for training in righteousness,…..” The Bible helps us to correct, change and reform our wrong behaviors and attitudes. It shows us how to live. The Bible teaches us how to love, care and forgive one another. As we read, study and obey the word of God, our lives will be transformed into Christ's image. Moreover, this verse also tells us that we’ll be competent and equipped for every good work. This certainly includes serving within and with out the church.
Here is a good reminder to us. How do we equip people for different kinds of ministry? Teach the congregation different ministry skills. I used to do this and still am doing it. However, looking at this passage, I am also reminded that before we talk about ministry skills, we need to teach and learn the Word. The word of God must be the foundation of our ministry. If not, we are training a group of people who are skilled in doing all kinds of ministry. They are good in designing, promoting and maintaining all kinds of programs. They are what I called “the technocrats” in God's church. They may be skilled in ministry, yet with little understanding of the Word. Ministry skills must find there foundation in God's word.
In summary, the scripture contains matters of Salvation, doctrine and behavior. They are all inspired from God, therefore without error. Sometimes we hear Christians say, “I accept the bible as God’s word in the area of Salvation. But when it comes to creed, moral and ethical issues, the bible is outdated, therefore no longer applicable to the 20th century. We can only use it as a reference and not a standard.” But in this passage, Paul clearly stated that all scripture, that is all that is in the bible, is from God, therefore without error. Since its God’s word, it is our standard in salvation, doctrine and conduct.
III. Our response to God's word.
Since the Bible is the word of God, our ultimate reference point in life, what does it mean to us?
In the OT, the Israelites read, taught and obey the word. Yes, they failed numerous times, but when they turned to God, the reading and teaching of the word was always the priority. Ezra 7:10, “10For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” Jesus read and taught the OT scriptures. He directed his disciples to teach his word. In the book of Acts, we read, 17:2, “2And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” vs.11, “……., they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” The Bereans heard Paul’s teaching and checked it out against the OT scriptures. In light of this, I want to suggest several applications:
As a church, HCC must continue to uphold the word. It means that when we pastors preach on Sunday mornings, we must be faithful to what the Bible says. We’re to let the text determine our message and not use the Bible as a proof text to support the topic we want to preach. We are to preach the content with proper balance between the Old and New Testament; the gospels and the epistles. For this reason, our sermons in general are expository in nature, often meaning preaching through one book at a time. This will help the congregation to have a more wholistic understanding of the word.
As individual Christians, we are to be diligent students of the Word. When we study the word, we remember that the purpose is to understand the meaning of the text. Not what I think and how I feel about it. There is a basic principle we need to remember, there is only one meaning in any given text, , but it may be applied in different ways. And our main responsibility in Bible study is to find out the meaning of the text and learn to encourage one another on how to apply God's word to different life situations. We study the Word personally with our daily reading of the word. We also study the Word with other believers via fellowship and small groups. This is also why going to Sunday school is so important in this and many other churches.
Beginning in March there is a new SS class called the Bible in 90 Days. “Vido clipping”. There is more information and sign up sheet in the lobby.
I am always encouraged to see some of you taking part in the Bible Study Fellowship or other silimar Bible study programs across Houston.
There is another important aspect of the Word we need to know. In Acts 6:7, 12:24, 19:20, “…the word of God continued to increase…”The disciples had the word, studied the word and they passed it on. The word is not for us to keep. Yes, we hear the word preached and taught on Sunday mornings. We studied the word in SS, in our weekly or monthly fellowship and small group gatherings. This is important and excellent. However, it is equally important to pass it on. How? We begin right where we are. We teach the word to our family members, we teach the word to children, youth and adults in the context of Sunday School in this and other churches. We don’t stop here. We also need to teach and share the word where we work and study. I think of the many Bible study groups in different universities in this and other countries. Nearly everywhere you have a group of Chinese students, you can always find a Bible study group, helping many to come to know Christ. There are also Bible study groups in some major companies where Christians come together during the lunch hour and study the Word with their non-Christian friends. I think of some Chinese churches in NA regularly sending their elders and teachers to different parts of Germany to teach the word, to lead and train Bible study leaders. We have the word, and we also pass it on to others.
Why do we put such a high premium on the Bible? Because as Christians, we believe there is a God and He is not silent. He not only is high above us, but also speaks to us in a language we can understand. His words are recorded in the Bible. Because the Bible is his word, therefore it is to be the absolute standard for our salvation, faith and conduct. It is true and without errors.
There was a story about a group of Christians in a Chinese village during the Cultural Revolution. The Bible was forbidden. In this village, there was only one copy of the Bible. So the Christians come together and hand copy it. This is how they continued to read and teach the Word.
It is my prayer that we take God's Word seriously. It is a book that we study, obey and teach others. We are to be a people of The Book. In the entrance is a poster designed by Cindy. May 2006 be a year that we are worms in God's Word. If we are to be a worm in God's word, then we all need to make some changes. Let us pray.http://archive.hcchome.org/
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