Bible: End or Means? - Gospel in Life

Bible: End or Means?

Tim Keller |  November 30, 1997

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  • The Bible
  • Understanding the Gospel
John 5:31-47
RS 85-1


If you read through the gospel stories, one of the things that strikes you almost immediately is how often Jesus Christ debated with those around him — not only how often he came into debates but how often he started them too. Today’s message comes from a series on some of these great debates when Jesus was on earth.

We’re looking at a passage in which Jesus is arguing about Scripture. He’s going to teach us about the Bible through a debate — surprisingly, a debate with diligent Bible students. He comes up to the most astute Bible students, and he says they are as dead wrong as people who don’t believe in the Bible at all. They are as deaf to what God is saying as people who are absolutely skeptical about the nature of the Bible. We learn four things: 1) God speaks to us; 2) how God speaks to us; 3) why we don’t hear what God speaks to us; and 4) how we can hear it.

John 5:31–47

Jesus often found himself in discussions where he would question both those who doubted him and those who followed religious rules too strictly. He even debated with people who were very familiar with the Bible, showing that it’s possible to read the Scriptures and still miss what God is trying to say to us. Through these conversations, we learn about how God talks to us, why we sometimes don’t hear Him, and how we can better tune in.

1. That God speaks to us

Jesus emphasizes the need for proof as a basis for faith in him. He suggests three types of evidence: personal evidence seen in how believers live their lives; factual evidence coming from his life, miracles, and resurrection; and evidence from the Scriptures. Engaging with these proofs is key for anyone trying to understand and believe in Jesus.

2. How God speaks

Jesus teaches that the Bible is a more reliable and authoritative source of truth than human testimonies or personal experiences. The Bible, although written by people, is a message from God and should be accepted as truth. Reading the Bible, grappling with its challenging ideas, and not dismissing any parts as outdated or irrelevant, is important for truly understanding Jesus.

3. Why we don’t hear God speaking

Jesus warns that there will be consequences for those who ignore the teachings of Moses and the Bible. He criticizes those who study the Bible just to win God’s approval, rather than to understand its real meaning. It’s important to remember that every part of the Bible points to Jesus, and we shouldn’t read the Bible just for its rules and stories.

4. How we can

All of the Bible – every character and verse – points to Jesus and his mission of salvation. The Bible tells us that Jesus lived a human life for us. When we’re connected with him, we’re accepted and loved by God. We should respect the authority of the Bible, even when it’s challenging, because it’s through the Bible that we can find healing and transformation and meet Jesus, God’s Word.



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