Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Bible in One Sentence

The Bible in One Sentence
Sunday, March 18, 2012 - Lent 4
John 3:16
Props: A large Bible, such as the pulpit or a family Bible
           A pew Bible
           A pocket Bible
           A children's Bible
           A laptop or Kindle-type reader, loaded with the Bible

Good morning, boys and girls!  I have something to show you this morning--several things, actually.  This I took from one of the pews in the sanctuary--it's a Bible.  And this I borrowed from the Lectern over there (point to lectern)--it's a Bible, too.  The pew Bible is what we might consider a normal-sized book, and this Bible is huge by comparison.  Now look at this tiny Bible!  (Show pocket Bible.)  When I open to the text, I think you can see why the pulpit version is so huge, and the pocket version is so small.  Look at the size of the print.  See how big these words are, so people reading to the congregation can see it easily and not lose their place.  And the print on the pocket Bible is teeny-tiny so the book is small and can be carried around easily. 

Here's a Bible published especially for children.  It has a lot of pictures in it.  (Flip through and show some pictures.)  With today's technology, you can even read the Bible without turning a page!  (Show electronic form.)  See?  I can read the Bible on this screen.  And if I want to look up a particular story or verse of the Bible, I can put it in the search field, and the part I want to read will come up on the screen immediately.

The Bible was written a long, long time ago by many different people, and not all at once.  It was written by people of faith telling about God and their experiences with God.  Some of the writings are stories, like the stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Moses and the Egyptians, stories about Jesus.  Some of the writings are rules, like the 10 Commandments.  Some of the writings are poetry, like the Psalms, and some are letters.  All of the writings tell us about who God is and what God has done in the world.

All of the stories, poems, lists, rules and letters were compiled into one book by the leaders of the church about 1700 years ago--the book we call the Bible.  The complete Bible has been translated into 450 languages, and sections of the Bible have been translated into over 2,000 languages.  In the King James Version of the Bible, written in English, there are 66 sections, or books, 1,189 chapters, and, can you guess how many words?  (Let children guess.)  There are 783,137 words in the King James Bible!  That's a lot of words to read, right?

With all of those 783,137 words, 1,189 chapters and 66 books of Holy Scripture, the message of the Bible can be summarized in one sentence--25 short words.  This sentence can be found in the Gospel According to John, chapter 3, verse 16, and it reads like this (Look up the verse in one of the Bibles--electronic or print):

   16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His [a]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

That's it--the Gospel message in a nutshell.  All of the words and verses and chapters and books of the Bible are there to convey this one message:  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." 

Eugene Peterson, a pastor who lives in Montana, wrote a modern translation of the Bible that was first published in 1998.  He called it The Message.  He translates John 3:16 this way:

"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life."

Who is the Son that is mentioned in John 3:16?  It's Jesus.  So, God loved the world so very much, that God gave Jesus to the world.  By believing in Jesus, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

Of course there are many, many other important lessons we can learn by reading the Bible.  This one sentence, however, is so important that you might even want to memorize it.  Then you can remember what the Bible says about God's love for the world and the gift of God's Son any place, any time.  Let's say it together now.  Repeat after me, please:

"For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him
shall not perish,
but have eternal life."


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