The People of the Book

Text — 2 Timothy 3:14-17


  1. Introduction
    1. The purpose of the Babylonians, when they took Israel into captivity in 586 B.C. was to disperse them throughout the empire and causing them to be absorbed into the population and disappear as a people.
    2. However, the Babylonian captivity had quite the opposite effect upon the Jewish nation. Two major developments strengthened the Jewish identity and allowed them to remain a people even though they had neither land nor self-governance. Those developments were:
      1. The synagogue as a place of worship, scripture study, education and a community center. Our church buildings are modeled on the Jewish synagogue.
      2. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the scriptures were collected into a single corpus for the first time.
        1. Each man was taught to read and took his turn reading during the Sabbath worship service. Bar Mitzvah is the celebration when a boy becomes a man and takes his place in the worshipping community.
        2. Rabbis, scribes and scholars met regularly to study the scripture. Schools were established to educate the young.
      3. In the end, the Jewish nation survived because they became “The People of the Book.”
    3. There is an important lesson here for all Christians, especially American Christians. While we are proud and thankful for the country God has given us, we are Christians first, then Americans. We hold dual citizenship. Our native land is heaven, for our temporary sojourn here we are Americans. As Christians, if we are to resist being absorbed into the culture around us. We to must be The People of the Book.
      1. That foundation was carried over to the Christian community and we, also, are “The People of the Book.” If you wish to destroy the Christian community, remove access to the Bible from them.
    4. Satan has used various ways to keep the people from the Bible
      1. During the Middle Ages the masses were kept ignorant. Only the scholars could read. The church limited the language to the original languages or Latin, so that the people had even less access to the Bible.
      2. The invention of the printing press and the Protestant Reformation changed that dramatically. Martin Luther advocated schools to teach children to read, so that they could read the Bible for themselves.
      3. At this point, enemies of the people having access to the Bible burned them and burned translators and publishers at the stake. But it didn’t work. Ignorance was banished and the word of God spread throughout the western world.
    5. America’s legal and cultural foundation is the Bible. The Mayflower Compact, The Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution all make references to the Bible or Biblical concepts.
    6. Beginning in the late 1700’s Satan tried a different tactic to destroy the influence of the Bible. He began to try to discredit it.
      1. With the rise of modern science, intellectuals began to question the miracles of the Bible. Thomas Jefferson made himself a Bible where he removed all of the miracles.
      2. Then came the wave of textual criticism where scholars began to question the traditional authorship of the various books. There were efforts to amend certain texts to make them “more accurate.”
      3. Then came, Marx, Freud, Hegel and others who called the whole moral ethic into question and charged that the Bible was the source of social evils as well as a tool for the powerful to control and exploit the masses.
      4. In America, the watershed event was the Scopes Monkey Trial where Clarence Darrow ridiculed the Biblical account of creation as a myth. From that time the Bible steadily lost its authority over the general American population. The result has been abortion, destruction of the family, unprecedented crime in the streets, vulgarity in entertainment, and lies for news.
  2. Barna Research Updated its State of the Bible Research commissioned by the American Bible Society
    1. Engagement Definitions
    2. Bible Engagement is Stabilizing
    3. Average Age increases as Engagement increases (2slides)
    4. Women are more likely to be Bible Friendly and Engaged
    5. Bible users Prefer Print, but Increasingly Us Other Formats
    6. Most Households own a Bible
    7. Most Skeptics are Hostiles
    8. Half of Americans Read, Listen to or Pray with the Bible
    9. One-Third Never Read, Listen to or Pray with the Bible
    10. Most Americans Desire Greater Bible Use
    11. Increased Bible Engagement – Important Part of Faith Journey (2 slides)
  3. Explanation of the text
    1. The good news is that a few are beginning to rediscover the Word of God, but the skeptics have become increasingly vocal, violent, and intolerant using the courts to remove the Christian influence from the public square.
    2. This environment is not too different than when Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy. He was warning him about those who twist the scripture for power and profit. He then gave him this advice: 2 Tim. 3:14-17
      . . . But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    3. Verse 14 Continue in what you have learned. Answer the critics or simply ignore them, but don’t get sidetracked by supposed scholarship.
    4. Verse 16 All scripture is God-breathed.
      1. Be thoroughly convinced that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.
      2. If you really believe that, it will result in action.
      3. Read the Bible.
  4. Conclusion
    1. Like all areas of Christianity, the enemies’ tactics are to discredit and ridicule the Bible.
    2. Read it, then live it and prove the critics stupid and evil.
    3. However, Christianity will only flourish as we are people of the Book.