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What’s In The Bible?

June 2015
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The-Mission-Genesis-to-Revelation-v2.0The other day I ventured out to the Heathrow/Sanford/Lake Mary areas which are northern suburbs of Orlando, Florida, and are located right next to each other. In fact, it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. It was a year ago this June that I went to St. Andrew’s Conservatory of Music in Sanford to interview for a part time administrative assistant position which is also where St. Andrew’s Chapel is located. The buildings and grounds surrounding St. Andrew’s Chapel are breathtakingly beautiful and it is also home to Ligioner Ministries, the teaching fellowship of Dr. R.C. Sproul, who is the founder and chairman.

St. Andrews Outside2

Main Entrance to St. Andrew’s Chapel

While I didn’t get the part time administrative assistant position I interviewed for back then, I never forgot how beautiful the buildings and grounds were and I decided that since I was in the area I wanted to stop and visit them again. I had been familiar with Dr. Sproul’s Ligioner Ministries for many years even before I moved to Florida back in 1992, although until the time of my interview a year ago I was unaware that the music conservatory, chapel and Ligonier Ministries were all located at the same location. The St. Andrew’s Congregation in Sanford was founded in 1997.

This time around I had a smartphone–my first smartphone which is an inexpensive android which I had purchased in July 2014–so I got it out to take some pictures of St. Andrew’s Chapel and surrounding area while I was there. I ended up with 75 pics total and I’m including a few of them on this post. The links above to the chapel, music conservatory and Ligioner Ministries include much better pictures of the beautiful buildings and landscaping on their websites.

So are you wondering what all of this has to do with the question put forth in the title of this blog post? Well, I’m glad you asked! After I left the Sanford area I went back down to Colonial (Hwy 50) in Orlando which is the main drag east to west (or west to east if you prefer) going through the middle section of Orlando, unless, of course, you want to take the toll road (which I don’t). At one of large shopping areas along the many miles that make up Colonial–this one in particular is not far from the downtown area–there is a LifeWay Christian Bookstore that I frequent and I decided to stop there while I was out and about. They were having some really good sales on books by many well known Christian authors, and there was a book that looked interesting on sale for $5.00 (regular price $14.99), but I decided to wait.

Well, I went back last night and purchased it for $5.00. The book is titled, What’s In The Bible? A Tour of Scripture from the Dust of Creation to the Glory of Revelation,” (2011), and it’s by R.C. Sproul and Robert Woldemuth. The following is taken from the back cover:

When a theologian (Sproul) and a businessman (Woldemuth) collaborate on an overview of the Bible the result is a treasure that is doctrinally sound, wonderfully interesting, and thoroughly understandable!

What’s in the Bible is a one-volume guidebook to God’s Word that will help you comprehend its message as never before. A brand new index helps you search for themes, stories, and important people where they appear throughout the Bible.

Explore the most monumental story ever recorded; a story filled with intrigue, drama, and real-life accounts of God at work in the universe. Theologial R.C. Sproul and best-selling author Robert Wolgemuth highlight the essence of God’s voice, activity, and purpose throughout the Old and New Testaments in a thoroughly readable form. What’s in the Bible is a road map that will help you better comprehend the whole of Scripture. It is a complete guide to God’s Word (the Bible) and indexed for easy study.

While there are been plenty of books written over the past several decades on the same subject and usually in one volume as an overview of the entire Bible (and to be quite honest I almost walked past it for that very reason), when I picked it up and started looking through it I knew this was one book worth reading. It’s engaging and it pulls the reader right into the middle of the action, page after page. It’s not just another a dry thesis on what the Bible is all about. It makes us, the readers, a very real part of that action in a way we can understand and, yes, even assimilate into our own lives.

As I was looking for examples from the book to include in this blog post, I kept finding too many to be able to put into one blog post. However, I have to tell you that this is a wonderful book for anyone wanting to find out what’s in the Bible and why it should matter to us. Since I can’t find just one story to focus on without wanting to add more (which would make this blog post unbearably long), I’ve included information from the “Introduction” and the “Authors’ Preface,” at the beginning of the book with the hope that it will whet your appetite for more . . . much, much more. So without further ado, here are the two authors’ words:

From the Introduction:

The Bible can look like quite an ominous tome–sixty-six different books, penned by forty-five writers over a period of time spanning fifteen hundred years, and packed into a single volume of almost two thousand pages. Like we said, “ominous.”

Because it’s been around for so long, nearly everyone knows something about the Bible, but very few people actually know it in its entirety. As history’s all-time best-selling book, nearly everyone owns a copy, but most of these copies have never been read as a whole. Maybe this describes the Bible on your shelf.

This book is an overview. R.C. Sproul and Robert Wolgemuth have highlighted the essence of God’s voice, activity, and purpose throughout the Old and New Testaments. And they’ve done their best to deliver this to you in an interesting and thoroughly readable form.

The book is divided into seventeen chapters, which cover major groupings of Bible books. Each chapter is broken down into smaller sections, focusing on a more specific period of time, a pivotal theme, or a major Bible character.

At the close of each chapter you’ll find a brief summary so you can look back and get an overview of what you’ve just read.

You may choose to read What’s in the Bible from cover to cover, or you may want to study it a section at a time. Either way, R.C. and Robert’s hope is that the book will provide you with a road map that will help you to better comprehend the whole of Scripture and to begin–or enhance–your daily walk with its Author, the Sovereign God of the universe.

God bless you.

And from the Authors’ Preface:

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN LOST?

Inside the sanctuary looking toward the back area

Inside the sanctuary looking toward the back area

Because you have been lost, you know it’s not an enjoyable experience. If you’re in your car, you know how it feels when your stomach tightens and your hands grip the steering wheel until your knuckles are white. You’re moving down the road but you have no idea where you are.

Over the years we both (R.C. and Robert) have experienced this very uncomfortable thing. Of course, the stress of the situation has been intensified when we’ve been late for a meeting or when our wives have been in the car with us and encouraged us (begged us) to stop and ask for directions.

Being lost is no fun at all.

In the late eighties, I (Robert) was in Phoenix on a business trip. Because I had the evening free, I decided to visit one of Arizona’s largest shopping malls. Once inside the mall I walked straight to the big colorful lighted box that had the world “Directory” plainly printed on the top. I was looking for a bookstore and knew this was the best way to find it.

Scanning the list of stores, I found the one I was looking for–in the blue section of the mall. Based on the size of the store on the map, I knew I was in for a treat . . . a nice big bookstore.

All I needed to do was to get from where I was to where the store was. But I had a problem. Someone had peeled the “You Are Here” sticker off the face of the Directory. I knew where I was going but I had no idea where I was.

Frustrated and muttering under my breath, I started walking the mall, hoping to accidentally stumble across my bookstore. As I said, being lost is no fun at all.

THE BIBLE

If we were to scan the faces of the many people who regularly attend church–almost fifty million of them in the United States alone–we would find lots of “lost” people.

Now we’re not necessarily talking about people who are lost because they have no personal faith. We’re referring to those people who are unsuccessfully trying to keep up with the reading of the Scripture and the context of the sermon. But, because they don’t have an understanding of the whole story of the Bible, their faces are telling us that they’re wandering the corridors of biblical illiteracy, hoping to bump into something they recognize . . . like trying to find the illusive bookstore in the blue section of the Phoenix Mall.

Maybe this lost person is you?

If so, we think you’re in for a treat. We have written a book to help you find your way–directions to help you get “un-lost” in the sometimes confusing maze of historical records, poetry, prophecy, and stories that make up the Holy Bible.

BUT WHY? . . . WHAT’S THE POINT?

“Okay,” you might be saying, “I admit it. I’m the one with the blank look in church. When the minister refers to ‘the Patriarchs’ or ‘the Exile’ or ‘the Incarnation’ or ‘the messianic secret,’ I really don’t understand what he’s talking about. But what difference does it make? Why do I need to know any more about the Bible than I already know?”

That’s a good question because if you don’t know why you need to know more, although this book may be interesting to read, it’s probably going to be a waste of your time.

First, we have a confession to make. There was a time in our lives when we felt just like this. We knew that our ministers, our professors, and the authors of some of the books on our shelves knew all about the Bible. And as long as they knew, we really didn’t need to know.

So, what changed our minds? Why did we decide to get to know the whole Bible for ourselves? Here are some of the reasons. Maybe they’ll be helpful for you.

THE BEST-SELLING BOOK OF ALL TIME

When a book reaches the “New York Times” Bestseller List, authors and publishers celebrate. In order to reach this list–depending on what other titles are there and how well they are selling–a book usually sells around 100,000 copies. And when a particular book sits on that list for a long time, sales may reach a million copies.

On a very rare occasion, a book reaches multiple millions in sales. When it does, nearly everyone knows about it. You’ll overhear people at lunch chatting about it. Book reviewers of every stripe will write about this book. Teachers, professional speakers, writers, and ministers will quote from this book. When millions of copies of a book are sold, it cannot be overlooked.

From the time of the scribes in the first century–tediously duplicating copies of the original biblical manuscripts by hand–until the present day, where we can log on to a website and download an entire book in seconds, billions of copies of the Bible have been distributed. Yes, we said “billions.”

Not only has the Bible been printed and distributed millions of times, it has been printed millions of millions of times.

The sheer fact of this massive distribution of a single book should at least raises our level of interest, if for no reason other than mere curiosity.

THE MARTYRS

St. Andrews portion of roof

St. Andrew’s Chapel portion of roof

We know this sounds preposterous, but down through the centuries, people were willing to sacrifice everything–even their own lives and the lives of their children–rather than deny the truth of the Bible. Imagine being able to avoid burning at a stake or having your family ripped apart by lions simply by saying that the whole Bible is not truth. Not only did these heroes refuse to deny the perfection of the Scripture, they dared to stand nose to nose with those who denied its infallibility. It was the combination of these two steadfast positions that cost so many so much.

For example, one of the pivotal truths of the Christian faith that these brave people surely believed is found in both the Old and New Testaments.The just shall live by faith. [See this link at GotQuestions?org].

This is a straightforward statement. There should be no confusion about its meaning. Being right in God’s eyes–“just-ness”–only comes by faith. It does not come by way of anything we can do apart from confession and complete trust in God’s work of grace in Jesus Christ. No other effort on our part is sufficient.

Now suppose that some evening while you were scanning the available channels on your television you came across a preacher. He was looking directly into the camera and unabashedly declaring that if you sent a check to him, he would have the power to forgive your sin. And then he posted a price list. The greater the sin the more you had to pay to be forgiven. He declared that as God’s emissary he had the right to strike this deal with you.

You’d probably come out of your chair in utter shock and disbelief. We can imagine you might even call your spouse in from the other room and tell them what you had heard. If you have any understanding of the bible at all, you’d be thoroughly scandalized by this horrific claim.

Well, listen to this.

In the early sixteenth century, during the reign of Pope Leo X, a man by the name of Tetzel published a list of indulgences. This was literally a pay-as-you-sin price list. For example, Tetzel claimed that if you committed fornication, you could be forgiven by dropping an extra nine shillings into the offering plate. If you killed a commoner, paying seven shillings and a sixpence could erase the consequences of your crime. If you murdered your wife or your parents, the cost was ten shillings and a sixpence. Anyone, including a priest, could keep a mistress in exchange for the same price. Once you paid this fee, you were declared clean.

If the face of this incredible fund-raising scam, using the Bible as their only authority, courageous people stepped forward and challenged this practice. What gave them the right to challenge it? Who or what was their witness? It was the Bible, pure and simple.

These staunch believers distributed a list of twenty truths, called “Certain Principles Founded upon the Truth of God’s Word.” Truth by truth, the activities of a corrupt church were exposed by this list. (Number 14 was “A man is justified by faith, without works, freely by grace, nor of ourselves.”)

And for this, people were dragged from their homes and given an opportunity to apologize and recant–or lose their lives. Hundreds chose execution. The Bible’s accuracy was not to be questioned, no matter what the cost.

Again, remember that these people–let’s call them saints–were willing to lose everything because of something they believed: The Bible, God’s Word, is truth.

We believe that getting to know more about a book that people were willing to die for is a very good idea.

GOD

As you will see in the pages that follow, the Bible is the source of information about God, the Sovereign and Holy Creator of the universe. No other book gives us more information about Him than Scripture.

“But why is this important?” you might ask.

Our culture is fascinated with entrepreneurs and leaders. Almost every day there’s a story in the newspaper about Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, or Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electric. Who are these people? What are they like? How did they get to be so powerful?

From the first time we peeked into a microscope to the last time we went for an evening walk under a crystal sky, we have been filled with wonder. Who made all of this? What is He like? What does He do with all His power?

Beginning with the dust of creation and concluding with His promise of our joining Him in heaven’s glory, the Bible tells us about God. It tells of His creativity and His sustaining might, His judgment and His mercy, His holiness and His grace, our rebellion and His redemptive plan.

Why wouldn’t we want to read the story about this One?

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT ITSELF

Stained glass window inside the main entrance

Stained glass window inside the main entrance

One of the most interesting features of the Bible is what it says about itself. Here are a few examples. Notice how many of these characteristics speak to Scripture’s impact on us, the readers.

All Scripture is given
by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, 
for correction,
for instruction in righteousness,

that the man of God
may be complete,

thoroughly equipped
for every good work.

~2 Timothy 3:16-17

Doctrine

The Bible is truth. Like any authoritative document, the Scripture is unequivocal about good and evil, right and wrong. and with the skill of a master teacher, through historical accounts and parables, the Bible skillfully connects with those of us who read it.

Reproof

When we were youngsters, our mothers used to get our attention by loudly calling our names. From any location in our homes, we could hear that voice and know we were in for a serious bout with reality. Throughout its pages, the bible does the same thing. As powerfully as our mother’s voices, the Scripture calls our names. “Listen up,” it says. “I’m talking to you.” That’s reproof.

Correction

Once our mothers had our attention and we were in their presence, they made it painfully clear what we had done to deserve this interruption to our complacency or disobedience. The Bible does this as well. It clearly spells out the nature of our infractions–often through the real-life examples of folks just like us–and the predictable consequences.

Instruction in Righteousness

Once the Bible has our attention and has clarified the truth of our failure and its aftereffect, then the Scripture tells us what to do–how to act, how to speak, how to think.

A Harvest of Right Living

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
~Psalm 119:11

Time and time again the men and women of the Bible found themselves steeped in self-inflicted trouble. We all can relate. So what can be done about this? The Scripture encourages us to take it’s truth and plant it into our hearts like seeds. The crop will be a harvest of right acting, right speaking, and right thinking. Sheer force and discipline cannot achieve these things. They are by-products–the Bible calls them “fruits”–of having planted good seed. God’s Word is good seed.

Lost and Found

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
~Psalm 119:105

The Bible keeps us from stumbling, from falling, and from getting lost. If you have ever tried to walk on an unfamiliar trail in the dark of night, you know what comfort there is in having a working flashlight. Without it you’re sure to get in trouble. God’s Word is exactly that–a wonderfully reliable light source to keep us on the right track. The Bible is light.

Who wouldn’t want to understand the Bible and experience all of these things?

DECADES OF “AHAS”

Area leading into the sanctuary

Area leading into the sanctuary

Both of us (R.C. and Robert) have stood before groups of people, large and small. We have done this hundreds of times from coast to coast and around the world. We have had the privilege of opening the Bible and talking about the integrity of its message. And, as we have looked out into the audience, we have seen the lights go on–the unmistakable “ahas” on people’s faces. We readily admit that our communication prowess has nothing to do with this dawning look of understanding. God–through His Holy Spirit–changes people through the power of His Word. We have seen this happen in many people. And we have experiences this ourselves.

There just something about the Bible that compels people . . . and changes them.

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And so, because we believe that the Bible is worth knowing about, we have written this book. If you have spent a lifetime in church, we hope there will be things that will be helpful to you in gaining the larger picture of Scripture. And if you’re a beginner, we believe that you’ll find this book to be extremely helpful in gaining a new and deeper understanding of God’s story.

ONE MORE THING . . .

When a book is written by more than one writer, sometimes there’s confusion as to who is doing the speaking. So we have decided to write the remainder of this book using only R.C.’s voice throughout. Even though many of the illustrations are Robert’s, it was our decision to tuck all the words into one writer’s pen. This way there should be no confusion as to who is “talking.”

This book is, in every sense, a collaboration between two friends. And our goal is to have you join us as our companion in this adventure of gaining a deeper understanding of what’s in the Bible.

Welcome.

That ends the “Authors’ Preface” and it is where the book begins. It is my hope that this information has whetted your appetite to go beyond the daily grind of life and not put off one more day in getting to know this great God of ours through His Son Jesus Christ through a personal relationship with Him that you will never regret. Nothing else compares to it.

Not . . . even . . . close . . . .

The book, What’s In The Bible? A Tour of Scripture From the Dust of Creation to the Glory of Revelation,” by R.C. Sproul and Robert Wolgemuth is available through online and regular bookstores everywhere. Just Google the title and you’re on your way!

But don’t wait . . . .

Start now . . . . 

YouTube Video: “Holy Is The Lord God Almighty,” by Chris Tomlin:

Top photo credit here
Remaining photos taken by “Sara’s Musings” blogger (me) . . . 😉

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1 Comment

  1. nhiemstra says:

    Reblogged this on Flotsam and Jetsam.

    Like

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