If you only had about fifteen minutes to teach someone one doctrine of the Christian faith, and the certainty that you would never get another chance, which doctrine would it be?
Let’s say that you are a Christian in a nation hostile to Christian faith. You have been convicted of being a Christian and sentenced to die tomorrow morning by firing squad. Around midnight, your jailer comes quietly into your cell with a Bible in his hands and says, “I’m moved by what I read in the Bible, especially about Jesus, but isn’t it just another book? How can I risk my life for what some other men have written?”
Your jailer’s absence from his post will likely be noticed in fifteen minutes; twenty at the most. That’s how long you have to give him a solid foundation for Christian faith. The soundness and joy of his faith, his witness for Jesus, fellowship with other Christians and with the Lord, his victory over sins, may all rest with you. You must not fail!
Ready, set, GO!
OK, stop whimpering and uncurl from the fetal position. There is one doctrine you can teach him in a relatively short time that will allow the Holy Spirit to guide him into everything else: the inerrancy of Scripture.
If you can show him that the Bible claims inspiration by God and is without any errors, he has the key to the (spiritual) supply depot.
There are two points in the doctrine of inerrancy as held by everyone I know:
1) The originals of the books of the Bible were completely free of error of any kind. The few differences between different translations are insignificant.
2) No critical Christian doctrine is doubtful, because of redundancy. Example: Mary is referred to only as a “young woman” in some translations. But even in those translations, Mary asks the angel how she can become pregnant, since she has never “known a man”. The angle’s explanation is that she will become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. Also it is noted elsewhere that Joseph “did not know his wife Mary until after the child was born.” Virgin birth. End of discussion.
What authority is claimed within the Bible about its own truthfulness and importance?
2nd Peter 1:19-21: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.“
2nd Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
In 2nd Peter 3:16, Peter acknowledged Paul’s letters as Scripture when he wrote that they contained “… some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.“
Jesus often quoted the Hebrew Scriptures as inspired, and He claimed that they spoke about Himself: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)
After Jesus’ crucifixion, He met two of His disciples who didn’t yet understand what had happened. “Then He said to them, ‘Oh foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:25-27) Jesus rested His authority on the prophecies of Scripture as well as His resurrection.
Jesus had already told His disciples “… the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26:)
He had also told them, ” … I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:12-13)
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:47-49)
There you have it. If you have more than 15 minutes to explain these verses, do. You could preach a couple dozen sermons on just these verses. And tell your jailer to hide that Bible, quickly!
Next week we’ll look at some scientific and archaeological information which confirms the historic and scientific accuracy of the Bible.