Defeating Your Dragon

Defeating Your Dragon

Revelation 12:1-9

Dr. Jim Denison

A woman rubbed a magic lamp, and out popped a genie. The amazed woman asked if she got three wishes. The genie was indignant: “Three-wish genies are a storybook myth. I’m a one-wish genie. So, what will it be?”

The woman did not hesitate: “I want peace in the Middle East. See this map? I want these countries to stop fighting with each other and I want the Arabs and Jews and Sunnis and Shiites to get along. I want world peace and harmony.”

The genie looked at the map and complained, “Lady, please be reasonable. These countries have been at war for thousands of years. I’m out of shape after being in a bottle for 500 years. I’m good, but not that good. I don’t think it can be done. Please make another wish, and make it reasonable.”

The woman thought for a moment and said, “Well, I’ve never been able to find the right man. You know–one that’s considerate and fun, likes to cook and help with the house cleaning, gets along with my family, doesn’t watch sports all the time. That is what I wish for–a good man.”

The genie let out a sigh and said, “Let me see the map again.”

The genie is right: there have been wars since history began.

This Memorial Day weekend we pause to remember with tremendous gratitude those who have died serving our country in those wars.

And in worship, we remember that we are in a war as well. Not in Iraq or Afghanistan or Palestine, but in our souls. There is a spiritual war which has been going on since time began. You’re right in the middle of it this morning.

Knowing that fact will help you understand why you face the battles, temptations, and struggles you do. Learning how to win this battle is crucial to finding the abundant life of Jesus, the joy of the Lord, the power of the Spirit, the victory you are intended to experience every day. So let’s watch the battle of the ages unfold, and learn how to make its victory ours.

Know that you win

So far in Revelation we’ve focused on Jesus as he truly is. In contrast to The Da Vinci Code’s human prophet, we have watched him rule the universe from his throne, open the word of God with his power, and receive the worship of heaven and all eternity. Now we watch his enemy and ours stride on the stage of heaven and history.

“A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven” (Revelation 12:1a). “Sign” is used in the Bible to warn us that something of cataclysmic importance is about to happen.

Here it is: “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head” (v. 1b). “Clothed with the sun” is a reference to divine favor and blessing; “the moon under her feet” shows that she has been raised and exalted by God. The “twelve stars” most likely refer to the twelve tribes of Israel and/or the twelve signs of the Zodiac, indicating that she is crowned by the One who rules the nations and the universe.

Some think this image refers to the believing community which anticipated the Messiah, or the early Christian movement. The more obvious reference is to Mary and Herod’s attempt to murder her family. Whichever we choose, here we learn that God’s people are protected by his purpose and power.

“Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads” (v. 3). The “dragon” is a typical symbol of Satan in the Old Testament and ancient literature (cf. Isaiah 51:9). “Seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns” symbolize great knowledge, power, and authority. This dragon did his best to devour the Child of God, but he was defeated (v. 5).

Defeated on earth, and in heaven. Michael cast him from heaven’s glory to his eventual doom. As he was defeated in Revelation 12, so he will finally be destroyed in Revelation 20:10: “the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

I saw a t-shirt which conveyed some excellent theology: “The next time Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.” He loses and we win–this is the promise of God. Now, how does this battle relate to your battles today?

Defeat your enemy today

C. S. Lewis once suggested that we make two mistakes regarding the devil. One is to give him more authority than he deserves–then he can do what he wants. The other is to deny that he exists–then he can do what he wants. People today typically think of Satan as a symbol of evil, wearing red tights and a tail, the stuff of Saturday cartoons. He’s just as happy to be ignored as to be feared.

But it’s impossible to ignore his work–broken hearts and homes, abuse, disease and immorality. In some places in America, the worship of Satan is growing ten times faster than any Christian church. In recent years, the Satanic Bible has outsold the Holy Bible in many university bookstores.

How are we to do battle with Satan today?

First, know your enemy. Jesus described his nature and agenda in frightening detail (John 8:42-47).

Satan wants to control us. He claims ownership over every unsaved soul. Jesus referred to his enemies as children of their Satanic “father” (v. 44). He is the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4), the “prince of this world” (John 12:31). Christians live in a world dominated by the devil. We are soldiers stationed on enemy soil, living in an occupied country.

The devil wants to manipulate us. He blinds our minds to the truth, for he is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). This is why the person who has not received the Holy Spirit cannot understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). From the Garden of Eden to Jesus’ wilderness temptations to the present, he manipulates truth to lead us astray.

Satan wants to destroy us. He is a “murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). He is a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He wants nothing less than the wholesale destruction of the human race and especially the people of God. To wage his war, Satan rules demons–fallen angels which serve as his minions and foot soldiers in his ongoing war against the Lord and his children.

Know your enemy: he wants to own us, deceive us, and destroy us.

Second, expect to be attacked. Lions roar only when they are about to attack their prey. Expect to be tempted and tested. If Jesus is your Lord, Satan has lost your soul. But he will stop at nothing to steal your ministry, lest he lose others to your faith. You have a target painted on your back. If you and Satan are not in conflict, that can only mean that he’s pleased with your spiritual life and health today. Expect him to attack you this week.

Third, resist him in God’s strength.

Satan is real, but he is also defeated. Jesus came to earth to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8). When our Lord died on the cross, sin died. When he rose from the grave, the grave lost. One day Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire, to be tormented day and night for all time (Revelation 20:10). Satan will not reign in hell–he will be punished there, forever.

So “submit yourselves to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The moment you are tempted, submit the issue to God and choose to resist: “Do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27). It will never be easier to refuse sin than when it first appears in your mind or heart.

And claim your victory in God’s power. Your Father promises that he will allow no temptation without giving you the strength to defeat it (1 Corinthians 10:13). The moment the enemy appears in your life, stand on that promise. Assume the victory which it promises.

Last, if you fall, get back up. Go to your Father for forgiveness, grace, and victory.

Remember that Peter failed Jesus three times during his trials and death, but then won the great victory of Pentecost a few weeks later and helped lead the charge against the gates of hell. Saul of Tarsus helped to murder Christians before he led the Christian army to global victory.

If you have allowed yourself to be trapped by habitual sin, turn to Jesus now. If you have hurt your Heavenly Father or his children by lies, slander, or gossip, confess them now. If you have been away from your Lord’s presence, return to it now. It will never be easier to come back to God than it is today. Every step into the enemy’s territory makes a longer journey home. Start back now.


Where has the dragon found you? What temptation has he whispered in your ear lately? What gossip or slander or malice does he want you to speak against one of God’s children? What bitterness or unforgiven wrong does he want you to cherish in your heart? What desire for power and prestige has he birthed in your mind? What lust has he enflamed in your spirit?

The fact that you’re tempted and tested just makes you human. Join the crowd. We’re all in this battle. You’ve done nothing wrong. In fact, if you belong to Jesus you’ve done something very right, and Satan hates you for it. I used to think that temptation meant I was a bad Christian. In fact, it means that I’m strong enough in my faith to threaten the enemy. He would leave me alone if my faith and service didn’t bother him. Be glad that he considers you a threat.

But know that this battle is deadly serious. The dragon wants to control you, manipulate you, and destroy you. Our postmodern, relativistic society claims there is no absolute truth or objective right and wrong–so long as you don’t hurt anyone else, you’re free to do as you want. That’s a lie. You’re being attacked by the enemy of all that is good. The same evil which crucified Jesus is after you. Gossip destroys reputations; bitterness poisons hearts; power and pride corrupts our minds; lust kills homes and marriages and ministries.

So take your enemy’s temptations immediately to Jesus. Refuse the self-reliance of our culture, for you cannot outsmart or outduel this dragon. You don’t have his experience and power, but Jesus does. Michael has defeated him, and the risen and returning Jesus will one day destroy him. You cannot win this battle, but he already has.

Refuse to give up, for the victory belongs to your Father and his children. As I was finishing this message, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a story I first heard and told years ago. It’s about a garage sale in hell.

All of Satan’s tools were on display. Murder, anger, lust, lies, slander–they were all there, labeled and priced. At the end of the long table was an unnamed tool, more worn with use than any other. Its price was much higher than anything else on display.

Someone asked the devil what it was. “Discouragement” was his answer. “Why is it priced so high?” “Because no one knows it’s mine.”

Now you do.

Four Words Which Changed My Life

Four Words Which Changed My Life

Revelation 7:9-17

Dr. Jim Denison

A friend once sent me some advice from kids. It gives us a sense of what mothers must deal with: Never trust a dog to watch your food (Patrick, age 10); When your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don’t answer him (Michael, 14); Never tell your mom her diet’s not working (Michael, 14); Stay away from prunes (Randy, 9); When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair (Taylia, 11); Never allow your three-year-old brother in the same room as your school assignment (Traci, 14); Don’t sneeze in front of mom when you’re eating crackers (Mitchell, 12); Puppies still have bad breath even after eating a tic tac (Andrew, 9); If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse (Naomi, 15); Never try to baptize a cat (Eileen, 8); Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat (Joel, 10); Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time (Kyoyo, 9).

This morning I am going to give mothers and the rest of us the best advice I know. The greatest solution to the challenges you face in raising your children and dealing with your problems, whatever they may be. The greatest help for the rest of us, wherever we need God’s help most. My advice takes only four words to state. It is going to seem paradoxical in the extreme, the last thing you’d think you should do when you need help and hope. But it is the key to living for Jesus, serving him effectively, and experiencing his power where you need it most this morning.

To get to that advice, first we need to set the stage.

Joining Jesus in heaven

We’re looking for pictures of Jesus in the Book of Revelation. We’ve seen him on his throne in divine majesty; we’ve watched him open the word of God in omnipotent power. Now we watch heaven worship him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The DaVinci Code says that in early Christianity, “Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet…a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal” (p. 233, emphasis his). Let’s see if John agrees.

“There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (v. 9).

This was the standard four-fold division of the peoples of the world. Today we might say, every nation and state and race and language. Despite the racial bigotry which was rampant in John’s time. In heaven’s worship of Jesus, everyone is included. Rich and poor, priests and people, sinners and saintly Christians–we’re all here.

We are “wearing white robes” (v. 9a). These refer to priestly robes as well as victory robes such as the Roman generals wore. Why are they white? Because “these are they who have come out of the great tribulation: they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (v. 14). As every mother knows, blood on a garment is one of the hardest stains to remove. But not this blood: Jesus’ blood has bleached out all the stains of sin in our lives. His forgiveness has removed them forever.

We are “holding palm branches” in our hands (v. 9b). These were used by the Greeks and Romans as victory signs at the Games, like our gold medals today.

If Jesus is your Savior and Lord, you’re in this crowd. You’re one of the saints of the ages, joining the angels of all eternity. You’re wearing the white robes of salvation and holding the palm branches of victory. This is our future with Jesus.

What will we be doing?

“And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb'” (v. 10). We are engaged fully in the worship of Jesus. We are loving him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

We will do this forever: “They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple” (v. 15a). This is not Sunday morning in heaven, but Tuesday evening. This is our eternal joy, and privilege, and delight.

What will Jesus be doing?

“Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat” (v. 16). Why not? Because “the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (v. 17). He will be the Shepherd of his sheep, leading us to green pastures and still waters. He will wipe every tear from our eyes, as he comforts and protects us forever.

When those in heaven worship Jesus, they are blessed by Jesus. When they honor him, they are honored by him. When they give him their highest praise, even though they have come through “great tribulation” (v. 14), he gives them his highest blessing and reward. Those who worship Jesus experience the presence and power of God.

Finding Jesus on earth

What does this scene in heaven have to do with mothers and the rest of us on earth? Let’s keep exploring. In Isaiah 43:21, God says that we are “the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” We were created to praise God. That’s what we’ll do in eternity, and what he wants us to do now.

So worship is how we experience his presence and power today.

Psalm 22:3 teaches that God inhabits the praises of his people.

When Daniel was in danger of losing his job and his life, “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10). And God spared him in the lion’s den.

When Israel was going to war, with the very future of the nation at stake, “Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever'” (2 Chronicles 20:21). The result? “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against [their enemies] and they were defeated” (v. 22).

When Paul and Silas were beaten in Philippi and thrown into prison, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). The result? “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose” (v. 26). And the jailer and his family were converted.

We experience God’s power and help when we worship him. Worship connects our souls to his Spirit. Worship elevates Jesus to the throne of our hearts. Worship surrenders our lives to his Lordship and thus to his power, hope, and help.

Now, what does that fact have to do with the challenges mothers face, and the rest of us with them?

The large majority of mothers say it’s harder to be a mother today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. You worry about the perennial issues: your family’s health and happiness, the choices your children are making with their lives, meeting their needs.

But today those challenges are exacerbated in a world where pornography is just a computer click away, where premarital sex is accepted and even expected by our culture, where alcoholism is an epidemic among young people, where terrorism and safety concerns are higher than they have ever been in our nation’s history.

You’re fighting these battles for your families, but there’s not enough of you to go around. According to the Pew Research Center, your top five problems are (1) not having enough time for yourself; (2) controlling outside influences upon your family; (3) balancing work and family; (4) not having enough money; and (5) stress on your marriage.

Seventy percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 work outside the home. That’s up from 45 percent just 20 years ago. But you earn 72.7 cents for every dollar earned by men. There’s just not enough of you for all you must do today.

And in our culture, you’re judged by the success of your efforts. Your children are judged by their popularity, their grades, their success in athletics or other activities. Your husband is judged by the money he makes. You’re judged by the house you own, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, by your appearance and social status. You’re supposed to balance all that while meeting your family’s needs, every day of your lives.


And so we come to the four words which changed my life, the four words which were the key to the presence and peace of God for my soul, the four words which put me in position to receive all that God wants to give. The four words I neglect and pay the price in frustration and defeat. The four words I remember and experience the victory they bring. A dear friend in Atlanta first taught them to me many years ago, after a life-changing encounter with their truth. I’ve tried never to forget them since. Here they are: it’s not about us.

Your culture makes it all about you. It’s all about your hard work and effort to meet your family’s needs, to help your kids succeed, to make your husband happy and fulfilled, and to meet your personal needs along the way. But it’s not.

It’s not about you. You don’t have to do this by yourselves. You don’t have to do this the best that you can and hope for the best. It’s not about you.

Your job is to love Jesus. With him at the center of your day, your priorities will be in order. You’ll have his peace in the midst of your hectic days. You’ll have his wisdom as you try to guide your children. You’ll have his strength as you wrestle with work and finances. You’ll have his love for your husband and your family. You’ll find your significance and worth as a person, not in your temporary possessions and appearance and social status, but in his incredible love for you. Your first job is to love Jesus.

And then your job is to bring your children to Jesus. To lead them to worship him, honor him, love him. To join them at his feet each day in surrender and worship. Your success is the result of this simple question: Do you love Jesus? Do they?

If you children love Jesus as you do, would that be a good thing? Fathers, I’ll ask you the same question. Sons and daughters, I’ll ask you that about your friends and colleagues. Is your life about you or him?

Do you start the day in prayer and Scripture and worship? Do you make your decisions by asking how this will honor Jesus? Do you speak with him throughout the day? Does his opinion matter more than those of your friends and even your family? Would he say you worshiped him yesterday? Will he say you worshiped him tomorrow?

Loving Jesus is the key to his power and help, wherever you need them most. Then, if you love Jesus and help your children love Jesus, when they are before the throne of Jesus one day, they will spend eternity thanking him for you.

Last Thursday morning I met a truck driver delivering materials to the new building. He needed to know where to park until the building opened. In the course of our conversation I asked him about his faith, and he assured me that he had asked Jesus to forgive his sins and be his Savior.

Then he asked me something. He had recently seen a quiz and wanted to try it on the Baptist preacher. He said that 80 percent of children answered the quiz correctly, but only 17 percent of adults. Here it is: What is greater than God, more evil than the devil, and if you eat it, you’ll die? The answer: “nothing.”

Nothing is greater than God. That’s true in heaven, where Jesus is being worshipped this moment. Is it true for you?

The Da Vinci Code Bible

The Da Vinci Code Bible

Revelation 5:1-5

Dr. Jim Denison

Did you know that some airlines refuse to allow a Christian pilot and co-pilot to fly together, for fear that if the rapture occurs the plane will crash? You didn’t know that because it’s not true. But it’s making the rounds. Did you hear about the Little Rock woman who jumped from her speeding car’s sunroof because she was convinced that Jesus was coming back? That’s because it never happened. But the story is still being published today.

What about this one: “The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book” (The Da Vinci Code, p. 231). That’s more than obscure urban legend–it’s been read by 40 million people. If it’s true, you and I are wasting our time and our lives today.

We need to know why we can trust the Bible. Then we need to trust it today. Where do you most need to hear from God this morning? Let’s see if you can.

How did the Bible come to be?

Historian Teabing calls the creation of the Bible “The fundamental irony of Christianity!” and asserts, “The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great” (p. 231). If this is true, the Bible we have today was produced by a process which occurred around AD 325. Let’s look at the actual facts.

The Old Testament canon was finalized by two councils held at the city of Jamnia, one in AD 90 and the other in AD 118. Constantine had absolutely nothing to do with the process.

So perhaps Teabing means the canonical process of the New Testament. Here the facts are just as damaging to his case. The early Christians quickly developed four criteria for accepting a book as Scripture.

First, it must have been written by an apostle or based on his eyewitness testimony. This criteria alone exempted the second-century Gnostic books like the so-called Gospel of Judas.

Second, the book must possess merit and authority in its use. For instance, The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ tells of a man who is changed into a mule by a bewitching spell but converted back to manhood when the infant Christ is put on his back for a ride (7:5-27). In the same book, the boy Jesus causes clay birds and animals to come to life (ch. 15), stretches a throne his father had made too small (ch. 16), and takes the lives of boys who oppose him (19.19-24). It was easy to dismiss such fiction.

Third, a book must come to be accepted by the entire church, not just a single congregation or area.

And last, a book must be approved by the decision of the larger church, not just a few advocates.

In the first century, a number of books were soon produced in response to the ministry of Jesus. Other, less reputable books, began to appear as well. However, by the mid-second century only Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were accepted universally by the church. The other “gospels” simply did not meet the four criteria for acceptance set out above.

Note that this process was completed two centuries before Constantine. For example, in AD 115 Ignatius referred to the four gospels of our New Testament as “the gospel”; in AD 170, Tatian made a “harmony of the gospels” using only these four; around AD 180, Irenaeus referred to the four gospels as firmly established in the church.

The Muratorian Canon was established around AD 200, representing the usage of the church at Rome at that time. It lists only the four gospels in our Bible today, more than a century before Constantine.

Constantine and the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 had absolutely nothing to do with the formation of the biblical canon. I have no idea why Brown would make such a fallacious assertion.

F. F. Bruce was one of the world’s foremost authorities on the creation of the Bible. His opinion should be considered: “One thing must be emphatically stated. The New Testament books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognizing their innate worth and generally apostolic authority, direct or indirect…what these councils did was not to impose something new upon the Christian communities but to codify what was already the general practice of those communities” (The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?).

Can we trust the Bible?

Next we turn to the trustworthiness and authenticity of the Bible as we have it today. “Historian” Teabing claims, “Because Constantine upgraded Jesus’ status almost four centuries after Jesus’ death, thousands of documents already existed chronicling His life as a mortal man. To rewrite the history books, Constantine knew he would need a bold stroke. From this sprang the most profound moment in Christian history…Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned” (p. 234, emphasis his). Remember what we have already noted–that Constantine had nothing to do with a “new Bible.”

Teabing continues: “Fortunately for historians…some of the gospels that Constantine attempted to eradicate managed to survive. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950s hidden in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert. And, of course, the Coptic Scrolls in 1945 at Nag Hammadi. In addition to telling the true Grail story, these documents speak of Christ’s ministry in very human terms…The scrolls highlight glaring historical discrepancies and fabrications, clearly confirming that the modern Bible was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda–to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ and use His influence to solidify their own power base” (p. 234). Teabing later calls the Nag Hammadi and Dead Sea scrolls “the earliest Christian records” (p. 245).

Know that the Dead Sea Scrolls contain only the Old Testament. There is absolutely no New Testament document among them. They have nothing to do with any agenda to “promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ.” No one can figure out why Mr. Brown included them in “the earliest Christian records.”

The Coptic Scrolls at Nag Hammadi are not “the earliest Christian records,” either. We possess quotations and biblical copies which are much older than them. And these are decidedly not “Christian” records, reflecting the Gnostic heresy a century later than Jesus.

Nonetheless, these assertions have confused millions. The Bible says of itself, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). But we might expect this book to claim to be the trustworthy word of God. Is there objective historical evidence for or against this assertion?

Consider first the manuscript evidence. No original manuscripts exist for any ancient book. Writing materials were too fragile to stand the passage of centuries. This is the case for Aristotle, Plato, Julius Caesar, the writings of Buddha and the Koran just as much as it is for the Old and New Testaments.

However, we possess today some 5,000 ancient Greek copies of the New Testament, and 10,000 copies in other ancient languages. New Testament sections and quotations in the writings of early church fathers date to A.D. 100. Complete volumes of the New Testament date to the 4th century. Note that each predates Constantine.

Now compare these manuscripts with other ancient documents. Of Caesar’s Gallic Wars, we have today only nine or ten good manuscripts, none copied earlier than 900 years after Caesar. For the Histories of Tacitus, we have only four and a half of his 14 original books, none copied earlier than the 10th century A.D. For Aristotle’s works, we possess only five manuscripts of any one volume, none copied earlier than A.D. 1100 (14 centuries after the original).

Manuscript evidence for the New Testament is remarkable, far surpassing that which exists for any other ancient book. And those who work with these ancient copies (called “textual critics”) are convinced that they have been able to recover a Greek New Testament which is virtually identical to the original. Quoting F.F. Bruce again, “The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice.”

When Teabing asserts, “History has never had a definitive version of the book” and claims that scholars cannot confirm the authenticity of the Bible, he’s simply wrong.

Let’s look next at the evidence of archaeology. Such findings continue to confirm the geographical and historical veracity of the biblical texts. For instance, the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2ff) was once dismissed as historical fiction. Now archaeologists locate it in the northeast quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. I’ve seen it.

Researchers have identified the remains of Caiaphas, the high priest of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. They have discovered the skeleton of Yohanan, a crucifixion victim from AD 70, and note that these remains confirm the details of Jesus’ crucifixion as it is described in the gospels. Archaeological evidence strongly supports the trustworthiness of the biblical narratives.

Last, consider the evidence of fulfilled prophecy. As I mentioned on Easter Sunday, at least 48 major Messianic prophecies can be identified in the Old Testament. Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled each one. The odds that one man could fulfill them all are one in 10 to the 157th power, a number larger than the atoms of the universe.


Of course, billions of people across 20 centuries can attest to the fact that the teachings of the Bible have been proven true and authoritative in their personal lives. But even such overwhelming subjective evidence to the side, there is still outstanding evidential reason to believe that the Bible is the trustworthy word of God.

Now, what does all this mean to you today? In Revelation 5 we find “in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals” (v. 1). Books in the ancient world were written on papyrus, a kind of paper made from papyrus reeds. They were made into sheets about ten inches by eight, joined together horizontally and placed on wooden rollers. Documents written by kings and rulers were tied with string sealed at the knots. Only a person equal in power to the author could break the seal. This task fell to Jesus alone, for “he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals” (v. 5).

God’s word requires God’s help. You and I cannot unseal its meaning ourselves. But when Jesus opens it to us, it reveals all that we need to know about the past, present, and future. The seven seals broken by Jesus will inaugurate the events which culminate history itself. God has written a book, and his Son wants to help you understand it today.

When last did he? When last did God’s word change your life? If it doesn’t, The Da Vinci Code may as well be right about it. If you and I don’t rely upon its truth every day, walking in its light and obeying its revelation, it may as well be sealed. So, did you meet God in his word this morning? Yesterday? Do you remember what he said to you? Did his word alter your life in any way? What would you like to ask him today?

When serving as a missionary in Malaysia, I gave my leather Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible to a passionate young believer who had no chance to own a study Bible for himself. I’ll never forget the joy on his face. Or the trembling hands of an elderly woman who took a paperback Malay New Testament and held it close to her heart.

I need to treasure God’s word like that. Will you join me?