Happy New Year!
I am glad to meet all of you. It is always exciting to meet new friends because of all the creations, each human being is the crown of God's creation. And each person is different. No two persons are the same. Each person is God's master piece.
Today we would like to think about why we ought to study the Bible.
I came from Los Angeles. I attended a conference in S. Africa. Then before I came to Manila, Dr. Paul Koh asked me to talk about why we need to study the Bible. I think this is an excellent question, for studying the Bible is the key to knowing who we are and what we are.
In this world there are many books. But unlike all other books in this world, the Bible is different than all of them in that its author is God himself. God is the Creator of all men. So since God is the Creator, and he gave us the Bible, when we study the Bible, we can know who we are and what we are.
Figuratively speaking the Bible is the owner's manual of life - the manual that helps us understand what our life is all about.
I am not sure how many people in this room own a cell phone. If you buy a cellular phone, the manufacturer provides you with an owner's manual. Before you use it, you read the owner's manual. Then you can enjoy the cellular phone better.
The Bible is just like the owner's manual for life. Unlike a cellular phone, man's life is a lot more sophisticated than any other machines. In fact you and I are more sophisticated than all the computers combined.
Although man's life is more sophisticated and delicate than any creatures, the Bible has a wonderful way for us to understand really good what our life is all about. And today we would like to think about this wonder of God by reading one Bible passage that is, John 5:39. Let us open the Bible and read the passage.
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.
Notice here that Jesus is talking to his Bible students. This passage says that the Lord God designed the Bible in such a way that we can easily understand not just what our life is all about but also the way to have life that is 'eternal'. And the Lord God did this by presenting to us the Son of God called Jesus.
In John 5:39 Jesus shared two points: point no. 1 -- by studying the Scriptures (the Bible) you possess eternal life. That is right. The Bible shows us how to have the eternal life.
Point no. 2 -- the Lord God gives you eternal life through His Son Jesus. That is what Jesus means by saying, "these scriptures testify about me." So the Bible is all about Jesus Christ through whom we receive eternal life as a gift.
There is one supreme example to understand how it works. Let us go to the book of Numbers 25 and read it responsively.
Now let us focus on Numbers 25:13 which reads,
"He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites."
In this passage we see something very interesting: The Israelites committed the sin of sexual immorality, right? Due to sins committed, God caused the plague to spread, so people started to die. And the number increased like 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, and the plague did not stop, so the casualties increased to even 24,000.
Imagine 24,000 people dying in a matter of few days!
Then, all of sudden the plague stopped. Why? We know the answer. Phinehas killed the Israelite and the Midianite woman in holy anger. Here a question arises: why did this act of holy anger stop the plague? What is so special of his holy action? We find the answer to this question in "a covenant of a lasting priesthood". As Jesus mentioned the covenant of a lasting priesthood testify about Jesus the Son of God. Phinehas the son of Aaron the priest is the pre-figure of Jesus the true Priest. Priest stands between God and sinners. Standing between the two, the priest makes peace so God and sinners can reconcile the differences. Then as the two restore a peaceful relationship with each other, God who is the source of eternal life gives the forgiven sinners eternal life.
So just as Phinehas in holy anger intervened, and the plague stopped, so also about 2000 plus some years ago, our Lord Jesus came Israel, and in his holy zeal to honor God's name, he offered died for our sins on a tree. He was sinless. You know sin grieves God so much that he cannot bear even a hint of sin. So he cannot help put punish the sinners not because he hates man, but he hates sin. Jesus understood God's holy character, so instead of leaving God to murder all sinners and send them to eternal hell fire, He offered himself as an atoning sacrifice for all the sins of all the sinners. So for all who sincerely repent of their sins, believe in Jesus, and turn to God by faith in God's sin-forgiving love, God not only forgives them of their sins but also cleanses them of their sins, so they would no longer sin, but leave the life of sin, and have eternal life in Jesus.
In John 3:16, the Lord God explained the way of eternal life more fully, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Today then we learned two things: first in order to possess the eternal life we need to study the Bible; second, we can find the eternal life in and through Jesus.
Now here is the homework for you because the Bible is all about Jesus whom God sent to give you the eternal life, you must diligently study the Bible, knowing that all the Scriptures testify about Jesus who came to give you eternal life.
Conclusion: the Scriptures testify about Jesus. God sent Jesus to give us eternal life. So let us study the Bible diligently to know more about Jesus who came to give us eternal life.