Jesus, Our Rock
Sunday, July 3, 2022
Pastor Deb Kielsmeier
Have you ever built a house of cards? It is fun to see how high you get, but my guess is you never attempted anything close to Bryan Berg, the Guinness world Record holder. He built a house of cards measuring 25 feet tall and requiring more than 1,000 decks of cards to construct. Yikes… what if the guy sneezed?
We all know a house made of cards can fall apart with the slightest breeze.
Something like our house built upon the sand in today’s parable.
We are currently preaching a series on Faith and Doubt. So far, we have looked at what we mean by faith. Faith is not the opposite of doubt. Nor is it trying to be certain of something you have questions about.
Faith involves trust. It is a relational term – a “commitment move”
Jason spoke about trusting when God seems silent or absent –the Psalms help us pray through that reality. But sometimes it isn’t a sense of God’s absence that causes us to doubt but trying to make sense of what we read in the Bible.
Do you know someone who has walked away from faith when they could not make the science, the numbers and the historicity of Scripture match up with modern archeological discovery or scientific fact? Yeah, me too.
AND, I am guessing you have struggled with these issues too – I know I have.
In one church where I served, a very disgruntled Sunday school teacher met with the church council because some of the parents were worried about his insistence that the children believe in a literal six day creation. He argued that if the world was not created in six 24-hour days as is plainly stated in Genesis, then how can we trust other parts of scripture, such as Mark 16:6 which tell us Jesus rose from the dead. Or John 10:30 stating that Jesus is one with the Father. The bible must be completely 100 percent inerrant and literally true, or else it is false. And the whole thing falls like a house of cards.
His faith was built upon the inerrancy of the Bible – and one little inconsistency in the science or historical accuracy or the number of women visiting the tomb… would cause the entire thing to crash down around his feet.
And he is far from alone. A 2017 Gallup Poll tell us that one in four Christians hold to the literal inerrancy of Scripture.
It is a bit of a dilemma. If the Bible is not scientifically or historically accurate in places, can we trust it? How is it true and how does it inform our faith?
This is a bit more of a head sermon that a heart sermon today. But hang in there…okay?
First. Not all scripture is equally authoritative or equally important.
Here are a few verses that you probably have not memorized or hanging on your wall.
- Unlikely Compliment from the Song of Solomon: ‘Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead.’
- One to send to students in summer school this year:
Ecclesiastes 12:12 ‘Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.’
- Proverbs 27:14 for all those who are not morning people: ‘Whoever blesses a neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, shall be counted as cursing.’
In John 5:36 Jesus says, “I have testimony weightier than that of John.” (repeat)
Jesus’ word is more authoritative, more important that John’s. And John was important. Jesus said “ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.”
Still, Jesus’ is saying his testimony surpasses everything else. His word, his teachings, His witness is more authoritative and more important than the rest of scripture. Just lock that one in.
We believe that Scripture is inspired. The Spirit breathes through all of it. But not all verses are of equal import. Not all witnesses or prophets or teachers are created equal.
Jesus surpasses all others.
The Bible was written by people who lived several millennia ago. They did not think like us modern 21st century folks. Our Bibles look so new and shiny, we can forget how utterly ancient these words are.
And ancient authors didn’t care about our rules regarding historical viability or scientific accuracy. They made points by telling non-‐literal stories. Genesis one is structured as poetry concerned more with form than fact.
And the worldview of these ancient writers was vastly different. The earth was flat, surrounded by water filled with monsters. It was held up by pillars which caused earthquakes if they shook. The sky was a hard dome, that held up the water. When it rained, water came through windows in the sky. Friends, all this is reflected in scripture. These ancient writers knew nothing about the solar system and planets revolving around the sun. Never mind more recent scientific discoveries.
The bible written by ancient human beings, but its authority doesn’t hinge on scientific measures of accuracy. No, its authority rests in the fact that God breathes and leads us through Scripture. Jesus affirmed scripture and endorsed it as trustworthy.
And scripture is a witness to Jesus’ identity which is wrapped up in the biblical story. To know who Jesus is, we need to know the story.
According to Martin Luther: The Bible is the Cradle wherein Christ is laid. (repeat)
A house that is built upon Jesus as the center and the rock will not tumble down when storms come like a house of cards.
We are called to place our faith firmly upon Christ. Not the historical or scientific inerrancy of the Bible. Nor upon the finer points of doctrine or theological debate of the day.
I would like you to imagine a bull’s eye with three rings around it. Kind of like the Target logo. The very center of the target, the bull’s eye is Jesus. God incarnate. This is the rock and the center of our faith. Our sure foundation.
The ring outside the bull’s eye is Scripture. Our holy book. Full of poetry, stories, history, parables, and songs, that witness to who God’s history with humankind. Not a science book. But a witness.
The third ring is doctrine, represented by our ecumenical creeds. Apostles’ creed, Nicene Creed. These might be called the church’s agreed upon core beliefs that interpret the story of the Bible.
The fourth ring includes all kinds of other theological issues that the church is still debating today.
But ultimately scripture, creeds, and doctrine are important ONLY because the point us to Jesus. The bull’s eye, the center, the rock of our faith is not a book. But a person, the person of Jesus Christ.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Jesus is our sure foundation. Worthy of our faith. He is the Son of God, God manifested on earth.
Do you know that Jesus never asked people what they believed when he called them to follow him? He just called them to follow. To trust him. Scripture, creeds, doctrine are all important, but the main thing is Jesus. Let’s build our faith him.
And all God’s children said… AMEN