We are being reminded today of believers who have only a few pages of the Bible, and they share what they have. We have the whole book, in as many translations, and we have freedom to meet to sing and praise and worship and hear The Word of God.
But how reliable is the Bible? Can it be trusted totally and taken as being authoritative?
The doctor and the fisherman knew the answer to these questions!
Is the Word of God as we have it in the Bible concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, reliable, accurate, and trustworthy?
At the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, we are told that many had been writing about Jesus, and we have some of these writings which are not in the Bible.
There were rumours and myths and stories and fanciful legends going around about Jesus. This invariably happens with someone unusual or famous.
Luke investigated everything from the beginning, with the aim of reassuring people that what they believe about Jesus Christ is true.
Luke was a medical doctor, and he treats the life and teaching of Jesus like one of his patients, and lovingly investigates and examines and researches, so that he can arrive at the truth.
Luke would be accustomed to keeping accurate records and having examined the facts he now presents them in an orderly manner, giving a note of certainty.
He is an authority on his subject.
We normally appreciate people who know what they are talking about, and who know how to present their case.
This is not the philosophy of mere men. We are not dealing with theories here.
What a wonderful bedside manner this doctor must have had, for Mary to have recounted the details of the conception and the confinement, as Jesus Christ the Saviour was born.
Luke writes to someone called Theophilus which means 'a lover of God'. If you love Almighty God, then this book is certainly for you.
These findings are much more than a moral code, and good ideas to live by, and the beloved doctor roots the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in history which can be checked. This is the Word of God.
Peter in his first letter mentions the importance of the prophets and then speaks about the angels, and how they looked up to Jesus.
They worshipped the Lamb of God and continue to do so. Angels are superior to us, in strength and intelligence and beauty. Do not dismiss them. They saw the Son of God in a manger, but they can never know Jesus as Saviour. Jesus Christ did not die for angels but to save and salvage men and women.
This is why we must never refer to anyone as an angel!
We have such privileges and that is why Peter goes on right away to speak of responsibilities. Privileges always bring responsibilities.
In that first Chapter of his first letter Peter writes to these disciples of Jesus and encourages them to prepare your minds for action. Roll up the sleeves of your mind. Think straight. Know clearly what you believe and why.
Be self-controlled and be sober or rational and reasonable. Let no-one else control you, and nothing else control you.
Do not get intoxicated with fashionable ideas. We are not to adopt the latest opinions.
Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
We need an anchor to keep us from drifting in these treacherous times. Here it is.
This one thing I know Peter is saying to these disciples of Jesus who are having a very hard time, and it is this truth that Jesus Christ is coming back.
Peter assumes that despite the hardships they are obedient children.
Do not let your possessions or desires possess you. A man was overheard saying to his paintings one day, "You make it so hard for me to die".
We can be a can be a slave to what we possess or what we desire.
When we came to Jesus Christ we changed bosses. We changed 'lords'. We no longer serve sin, but Jesus Christ.
Then Peter speaks about being holy or being different, and why? He Who called you is holy, so be holy in all that you do. What a challenge!
This is a most unpopular verse! We are called to be like Father and to be like our heavenly Dad.
He is not like other people. He certainly is different, and Peter teaches us, to aim to be like Him! That is not easy.
Our world does not need more clever men, or rich men, but it does need more godly men and women.
To be holy or godly in the highest sense, and not in some cartoonist fashion, but as God would make us and shape us.
Verse 17 will help us. If we get the right kind of fear, and right kind of love, we will live the right kind of life, and on he goes to speak of the precious blood of Jesus Christ, with which we are redeemed, and bought back from sin, and sinfulness.
Sandy Shaw is Pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship, Chaplain at Inverness Prison, and Nairn Academy, and serves on The Children's Panel in Scotland, and has travelled extensively over these past years teaching, speaking, in America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, making 12 visits to Israel conducting Tours and Pilgrimages, and most recently in Uganda and Kenya, ministering at Pastors and Leaders Seminars, in the poor areas surrounding Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. He broadcasts regularly on WSHO radio out of New Orleans, and writes a weekly commentary at http://www.studylight.org/ entitled "Word from Scotland" on various biblical themes, as well as a weekly newspaper column. His M.A. and B.D. degrees are from The University of Edinburgh, and he continues to run and exercise regularly to maintain a level of physical fitness.