Sermon:  The Purpose of Scripture


Summary:  Jesus demonstrates that he has authority to grant healing, to give life and to judge.  His miraculous activity, the message of John the Baptist, and the testimony of scripture, all indicate that he is the divine savior.  The way we come to know him and receive the abundant and enduring life is offers is through the guidance of scripture which points not to itself, but to Christ, the fulfillment of scriptures.


Text:  Jn 5


Scripture Reading: Gal 3:24-27



1.  What is a "credo"

          a.  I remember this in a discussion years ago. 

                    - Old Latin word, people use Latin, sounds old, classical

                    - The Latin word means, "belief"

          b.  Definition of English word Creed:

                    - A statement of basic beliefs of a religion

                    - A guiding principle

                    - eg:  "Central to the creed of this medical organization is the belief

                      that all people should have access to health care."

          c.  Jews had something like creeds

                    - Some taught there was an oral Torah, teaching of Rabbis

                    - In writing, it  became known as Mishnah, then Talmud

                    - Other groups no longer exist, such as Essenes, Sadducees,

          d.  Earliest creeds created to unite church & combat heretics

                    - Reformation - they became much more elaborate

                    - Each new creed seemed to give rise to a denomination

                    - Irony - Creeds, which intended to unite, divided instead

                    - A denomination's identity bound up with a creed!

2.  Is it possible, even with best of intentions, to miss the point with a creed?

          a.  It occurs to me that creeds are only as good as those who create them

          b.  There are both benefits and pitfalls, depending on how you view them

          c.  But the question is much deeper that whether to make summary

               statements of biblical teaching

          d.  More significant question is what is the place of scripture in our lives

3.  Today's miracle story touches on the place of scripture in our lives

          a.  Not see it so much in the miracle itself, but in the teaching that

                accompanies it

          b.  (John 5:1-9) The miracle - Jesus heals a man would couldn't walk

                    - Sick for 38 years, imagine what that must have been like!

                    - Had to be carried, or crawl, no control bodily functions, beggar

                    - Jesus asked, "Do you WISH to get well?"  - Some people don't

                    - Jesus heals him instantaneously - Pick up pallet and walk

          c.  (John 5:10-18) Jews' objection

                    - Man carrying his bed roll, and it was Sabbath.  Can't carry burden

                    - But Jesus told me too!  Man probably did so gladly!

                    - Pharisees persecuted Jesus.

                    - The fact of the miracle seems to have been lost on Pharisees

          d.  Chapter has lot of legal language - like judge, testimony, witness. etc

                    - The Jews were seeking to condemn Jesus as law breaker

                    - Jews were seeking to kill him since he make self equal to God

4. This miracle gives Jesus opportunity to give his testimony


I.  Jesus testifies to who he is

          A.  (v.19) Jesus' activities are uniquely the Father's activities

                    1.  (v.20-21) Jesus raises the dead and gives life

                              a.  Only the living God can give life

                              b.  Jesus gives life, raises the dead

                    2.  (v.22) All judgment given to the son

                              a.  God is the judge

                              b.  God has given all judgment to the Son 

                    3.  (v.23-24)  Here is part of the therefore

                              a.  If you honor Son, honor the Father, and vice-versa

                              b.  If you believe in Jesus, then you believe in God

                              c.  If you listen to Jesus, you have life

                    4.  (v.25-30) Jesus says it all again to emphasize it

                              a.  Son has authority to give life

                              b.  Jesus is the judge and it is just

                              c.  Therefore. . . what?

          B.  (v.31-32) Jesus doesn't just testify about himself, there are witnesses

                    1.  (v.33-35) John the Baptist, his preaching lit the way to Christ

                              a.  If that is all there were, it would be weak evidence

                              b.  But Jesus says his testimony is not from man

                    2.  (v.36-38) Jesus' works testify  about him

                              a.  Jesus healed the sick

                              b.  Jesus cast out demons with a word, gesture, etc.

                              c.  Jesus raised the dead

                              d.  This is not activity any man (or demon) does

                    3.  (v.39-40) Finally - Scriptures testify of him

                              a.  Numerous prophecies and allusions to him

                                        - Mic 5:2 - A ruler born in Bethlehem

                                        - Gen 49:10 - Scepter not depart from Judah

                                        - Isa 11; 61 - Spirit of Lord upon him, free captives                                                   - Ezek 37 - Descendant of David will shepherd

                              b.  Yet Jews refused to come to Christ for life

                              c.  They will try get their life from scripture, not Christ!

          C.  Question:  Why heal on the Sabbath?

                    1.  Could have avoided all of this trouble and opposition

                    2.  Answer - He cares about people - will do good for them

          D.  Jesus demonstrates the activities and heart of God

                    1.  He does things that only God can do

                    2.  He also demonstrates the compassion of God

                    3.  But they can't see past their own rules


II.  They tried build case against Jesus, now he builds case against them

          A.  (v.39-40) The "searched" the scriptures, but missed it

                    1.  eraunaw - To examine, investigate, inspect, etc.

                    2.  They sought to master the material

                    3. They believed that to master the Torah is life

                    4.  But they missed the goal of scripture - Christ

                              a. Wasn't because Jesus was too hard to understand

                              b. It was plain stubbornness, and rebellion

          B.  (v.42) They did not have the love of God in themselves

                    1.  Their focus was on rules

                    2.  God is a relational God, and they missed that

                    3.  Love is at the center of God's character

                    4.  To know God is to love as he loves -most important rule

                              a. Lev 19:18 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

                              b. Mic 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

                              c. Jer 22:16 "He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; Then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?" Declares the LORD.

          C.  (v.43-44) Really didn't care about God, only about their rules

                    1.  When if God came down and told them they missed it? 

                              a.  Actually, he did come down in Christ!

                              b.  Their pride, stubbornness, rebellion and rejection

                    2.  They concerned with glory, respect, and admiration of men

                    3.  (v.45-47) Result - They are condemned by own scriptures

                              a. Scriptures testified of Christ

                              b. They refused to accept him

                              c.  In doing so, they rejected God

          D.  These problems stem from an improper view of God, which was related to an improper view of scripture

                    1.  Goal of scripture is not to know scripture

                    2.  Goal of scripture is not just to keep the rules

                    3.  They had reduced God to a set of rules

                    4.  They knew the scriptures, but really didn't know God


III.  Important Lesson - The Goal of Scripture is Christ

          A.  Scripture is the word of God, but is not itself God

                    1.  Seems like such a simple assertion

                    2.  The written word is a tool to bring us to know God

                    3.  We need to avoid the extremes

          B.  Need to avoid "bibliolatry"

                    1.  This is what many of those Jews were guilty of

                              a.  They put all energy in know and doing law of God

                              b.  Irony - One who have them the law shows up, they didn't

                                   recognize him

                    2.  ILL:  Wife & I retreat at cabin in New Hampshire, picture widow

                              a.  Imagine a little nerdy guy analyzing the picture window

                                        - Test equipment, samples of the glass

                                        - Can tell you when it was made, its composition

                                        - Invites others to come and see this wondrous glass

                                        - Reproduces the glass, copies it, share it with others

                              b.  Misses the point of the picture window

                              c.  Not about the glass, but what glass allows you to see

                    3.  Scripture is God's picture window so we can know him

                              a.  There is benefit to analyzing the glass

                                        - How scripture was written and when

                                        - Word, grammatical, linguistic studies

                                        - Cultural, historical, background studies

                                        - Doctrinal studies, theology (old days - CENI)

                              b.  But if I don't move beyond this, I can easily miss the point

                              c.  Goal is to know God, not know about the glass

                    4.  Jesus could say to us, "the scriptures testify of ME"

                              a.  Always reflect on God in your reading

                              b.  What do I learn about our Lord, my relationship with Him?

                              c.  How does this passage show me to love God?

                              d.  How do I come to understand God better when I put his

                                    instructions into action?

          C.  Need avoid other extreme - "heartolotry"

                    1.  This is an attempt to know God by your heart

                              a.  "I know in my heart this is what God wants"

                              b.  "God has placed it on my heart to do this"

                              c.  "God has inspired me to follow my heart"

                    2.  This is very, very dangerous

                              a.  My questions

                                        - How do you know its God & not something else?

                                        - Is there any way to tell if it is of God?

                                        - Can you know what it means to be godly?

                              b.  Jer 17:9 - Heart is more deceitful than all else

                                        - Don't trust your heart

                                        - Need something objective

                              c.  Answer - The litmus test is scripture

                                        - Can't know God's will without it

                                        - You cannot know fully know God without scripture

                    3.  ILL:  What if you take away the picture window, then what?

                              a.  You could try and paint your own picture

                              b.  What you have, then, is art

                                        - Paintings are interpretations or a "study" of a subject

                                        - They are not a view of the actual subject

                              c.  Acts 17:29 "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.

                              d.  When you try to know God based on your heart and not scripture, you are painting and sculpting a caricature of God

                    4.  Jesus could say, "The SCRIPTURES testify of me"

                              a.  If you want to know our Lord, you have to be in the word

                              b.  Includes all parts of scripture, not just N.T.

                              c.  1 Tim 3:15 - All scripture is inspired of God and profitable

                                        - Doesn't say, "The New Testament is inspired"

                                        - Includes all of scripture

                              d.  So spend time with God through scripture and prayer

                                        - Stories of God's activities with Abraham, David, etc

                                        - The poetry of the Psalms

                                        - Account of Christ, his examples, teachings

                                        - The New Testament epistles and Revelation

          D.  If goal of scripture is Christ, then our creed is Christ

                    1.  If remember is not just rules, but about a person, then

                              a.  We can come to know and understand our Lord

                              b.  Weightier matters will be weightier

                                        - If Christ not at the center, something else will be

                                        - Avoids peripheral rules at center, like Jews did

                              c.  Relationship will be at the center

                                        - Love for God

                                        - Love for neighbor

                    2.  Christ is the interpretation of scripture

                              a.  How should I love God?  Look to Christ

                              b.  How should I love enemies?  Look to Christ

                              c.  How should I pray?  Look to Christ

                              d.  How should I serve?  Look to Christ

                              e.  How should I forgive?  Look to Christ

                              f.  How should I be humble?  Look to Christ

                    3.  We are the Church "of Christ" - Christ is our creed



1.  Jesus has demonstrated that it is all about him

          a.  Jesus has left more than enough evidence and signs to show who he is

          b.  Everyone is stuck in sin, like man at Bethesda by the pool

          c.  Only one that can free you is Christ

          d.  He is coming back, all will raise, some to life, others to judgment.

2.  What about you?  What will you raise to?  Answer based on scripture, or what is in your heart? (inv)

3.  Is Christ your creed?

          a. Spend time in scripture - purpose to know our Lord and serve him

          b.  Studying it is good, reading it is better, dialogue with it in prayer is best