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Today Im starting a new Lenten sermon series called Treasure Chest. The AIM of this series is
to give all of us keys to unlocking the Treasure Chest that we call the Bible. I so want everyone
connected to Chain of Lakes Church to formed and shaped by the Bible. We read it every day, were not
intimidated by it, and we go to it expecting to receive a word from God for our lives.
This series corresponds with the small groups that are meeting during Lent. We have four groups
going through video series done by Adam Hamilton called, Making sense of the Bible. They are
meeting on Monday morning, Tuesday evening, Wednesday evening, and Thursday evening. Each
Sunday Im going to go deeper into the content that the group discussed the previous week. If you
havent signed up for a group, I encourage you to do it.
As a bonus every week in the sermon Im going to address a question that came out of the small
groups. I want to encourage our groups to come up with a question for the sermon. Later in the sermon
Im going to address a question that came out of the group that I lead on Wednesday nights.
In this series Im sharing all sorts of resources to help us go deeper into the Treasure Chest that is
the Bible. For the rest of Lent I want to encourage our congregation to read the gospel according to
Matthew. Starting tomorrow there are 28 days until Easter. Guess how many chapters are in Matthew?
28. So as a congregation were going to read a chapter a day in Matthew until the end of Easter. When is
the last time you read a gospel? This is an opportunity to open up the Treasure Chest.
I want to encourage you to get out this brochure that is in the bulletin. In this brochure is a
devotion on Matthews gospel. This devotion will help you read a chapter a day. In the middle you have
a place to take notes. Today Im going to give you a lot of information about the New Testament. Youll
want to write this down for your own use.
The final resource is a multiple choice question and answer sheet about the New Testament. Go
through this sheet to see how many questions you get correct.
These are a lot of resources. They are. As your pastor I am committed to doing whatever I can
so that you have confidence in opening up the Treasure Chest that is the Bible to receive a Word from
God.

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The symbol of the series is the Treasure Chest. This Treasure Chest was loaned to us by Dwight
and Paulette Zvorak. He shared that this Treasure Chest was brought over by his great grandfather to the
United States.
How many of us have a Treasure chest like this. We had one when we were growing up. These
Treasure chests are priceless. Some of us had ancestors who came over to the United States from a
European country in the 1700s and 1800s. They often brought a Treasure Chest. In the Treasure chest
they would put letters and diaries, photos and other important family information. Everyone in the family
knows that what is inside of the Treasure chest is important. If our house was on fire we would want to
make sure we secure the materials inside of the Treasure chest.
But heres the things about Treasure chests. How often do we open them? Do we even know
how to open them? Do we put the Treasure Chest in our house and say that is really important to me, but
we never really get into it? Do we know what is inside of the family Treasure Chest? Do we know the
stories of our family that are in the Treasure Chest? Or do we rely on someone else to tell us about stories
that are in the Treasure Chest?
All of these questions we could apply to the Bible. I know that we believe that what is inside of
the Bible is important. How often do we open it? Do we know whats inside of the Bible? Do we know
the stories of the Bible? Or do we rely on someone else to tell us about the stories of the Bible.
Its a tragedy that there is no other book in the history of the world that has been misinterpreted
like than the Bible. Weve allowed the Bible to justify sexism, racism, homophobia, and even war. Part
of this misinterpretation happens because we dont know the story of the Bible. Weve allowed people to
take Scriptures out of context and say the misinterpretation is the message of the Bible. For some reason
there is this pride and even intimidation about the Bible. If were not confident about the message of the
Bible we allow people who we think might know the Bible to tell us what the Bible says.
Part of the reason for the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century was to give the Bible to the
people. At the risk of his life Martin Luther translated the Bible into German so that the wider population

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had access to the Bible. The interpretation of the Bible wasnt dependent on a group of people called the
priests.
Unless were confident in the storyline of the Bible, the purpose of the Bible and how to interpret
the Bible were always going to be at risk.
As your pastor I so want us to be formed by the Bible. I want us to know the basic storyline. I
want us to know the basic information in the Bible. I want us to be able to respond to misinterpretations
of the Bible. If someone came up to you and said the Bible doesnt believe in divorce so no one should
be able to get a divorce, what would you say? Of if someone said if you marry a divorced woman youre
causing her to commit adultery. I had someone say that to me. Youre going to read that in Matthew this
week.
I hope we wouldnt say, I dont like this message of the Bible so Im going to ignore it. Were
not called to ignore the Bibleeven the hard parts of the Bible. Not every verse of the Bible is
authoritative for us.
There is a lot at stake in opening up the Treasure Chest.
What is the Purpose of the Bible?
Im going to try an experiment. Im going to give you two minutes. Im going to give you an
opportunity to talk to the person sitting next to you. For some of us this is intimidating, so we dont do
this often. Your neighbor is a really cool person. Take two minutes. Have a conversation with your
neighbor about this question. What is the Purpose of the Bible?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I love your responses to this question. I spent some time this week thinking about this question
and doing some reading of past sermons Ive written about this question. I came up with two responses to
this question.
SLIDE
The purpose of the Bible is to share the story of Gods relationship with humanity. This relationship is
best known by the story of Jesus Christthe story of his birth, life, his teachings, his death, his
resurrection and his ascension.

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SLIDE
The purpose of the Bible is to help us deepen our love for God and to help us love our neighbor as we
love ourselves.
SLIDE
The purpose of the Bible is to reveal Gods WordJesus Christto us today.

Let me give you an overview of the New Testament. There are 66 books in the Bible
39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. This collection of books was written by
over 40 authors over a span of 1,600 years on three different continents. One way to think of the
Bible is a library of books. The Bible is made up of two partsthe Old Testament and New
Testament. A Testament is another word for covenant.
The first four books of the New Testament are the gospels. A gospel is good news.
Thats the answer to your first question. Its the good news of Jesus Christ. Its a bit confusing
because we call each of the first four books of the New Testament a gospel. Its like each gospel
was written to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Originally people thought that Matthew was the
first gospel that is why it was put first in the Bible. Then people discovered that Mark was the
first gospel writtenanother question. Matthew, Mark, and Luke have become known as the
synoptic gospels. The order of their stories and their content are very similar.
SLIDE

Synoptic is a compound word from Greesyn means with and optikos means

each other. They see with one another. Johns gospel is very different than the synoptic gospels.
Its still the message of Jesus, but the order of the stories and the presentation is much different.
The fifth book of the New Testament is Acts. Acts is a book that starts with the
ascension of Jesus into heaven and then chronicles the amazing start of the church starting in
Acts 2. Most of the last part of Acts is a story of the apostle Paul starting churches. The book
ends with Paul in Rome. He died shortly after.
The rest of the New Testament are letters.

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And then 22 letters. Most of the New Testament is made up of letters. 4 stories, one
story about the start of the church, and 22 letters.
A man by the name of Paul wrote most of the letters in the New Testament. The first
group of letters are written to communities of people. They go in order of length. The longest
letter is Romans, then 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians. Ephesians is
actually longer than Galatians, but this mostly fits. Some people debate whether Paul wrote
Ephesians and Colossians, but were staying away from that today. The first nine letters are to
communities.
The next four letters are written to individualsTimothy first and second, Titus and
Philemon. Philemon is the one of the shortest book in the Bible. Its only 25 verses.
Then Hebrews. Hebrews doesnt fit any category. People arent totally sure who wrote it
and it was one of the last books included in the Bible. Its a wonderful book about Jesus.
After Hebrews is a section called the general or Catholic epistles. Catholic means
universal. These are not written by Paul. The book of James, Peter 1 & 2, John 1,2,3, and the
book of Jude. Each of these books is very short. Finally we have the book of Revelation.
Another word for Revelation is Apocalyptic. People have been confused by the book of
Revelation ever since it was written. It almost wasnt put in the Bible. Some people see the
book as a description of the end-times; some people see the book as a story of comfort for people
who were terribly persecuted. I gave a sermon series on Revelation. If you are interested, I
encourage you to watch it.
SLIDE
Outline of the New Testament
4 gospelsstories about Jesus
1 book of history
22 letters
9 written by Paul to communities

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4 written by Paul to individuals


Hebrews
7 general or catholic or universal letters
Final letter called Revelation
Each Sunday Im going to spend some time talking about a question that comes from our
small groups. Make the questions really hard.
The group I led on Wednesdays asked me about the Apocrypha. In the study Bible I use
there is a group of books put between the Old Testament and the New Testament. They are
called the Apocrypha. What is the Apocrypha?
The Apocrypha is a collection of books written between the 3rd century BCE and the 1st
Century CE. Apocrypha is a transliteration of the Greek word for concealed or hidden.
These books were not included in the original Old Testament that the church used.
However some Jewish Christians valued these books as resources that helped them with faith,
piety and ethics. In the first century some people thought the books should be in the Bible and
used them that way. Others didnt think the books should be in the Bible and didnt view them
as Scripture.
There was debate about whether to include the books as Sacred Scripture.
When a man by the name of Jerome translated the Bible into Latin he did not include the books.
However the theologian Augustine in the 4th century wanted to keep unity with churches in the
east and urged that these books be included.
Lets fast forward to the 16th Century. Martin Luther, born in 1483 and died in 1546, was
one of the founders of the Protestant Reformation. He objected to the placement of the
Apocrypha in the Bible. He argued that some of the texts in the Apocrypha arent consistent
with what we know of as the Protestant faith. Salvation could be received on works of mercy,
and that forgiveness could be given to people who had died. When Luther translated the Bible

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into German he gathered these books into a collection called the Apocrypha. Luther believed
that the Apocrypha was useful to read. These books didnt reach the level of sacred Scripture.
Our Catholic friends look at the Apocrypha as sacred Scripture.
One of the greatest mistakes of the Bible is to pull a few verses out and say that this is
Gods eternal word. I was asked this week of some passages that have been misinterpreted or
might not have the authority of other passages.
One is from Ephesians. Its this:
SLIDE
Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the
wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the
church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Ephesians
5:22-23
This Scripture has been pulled out of context to justify the superiority of men to women.
And its been used by many men to justify the actions even the violent actions of a man in a
marriage.
SLIDE Does this mean that the Bible teaches that men are superior to women? Does this mean
that women have to be subject to their husbands? And if we dont believe that men are superior
to women does this mean we are rejecting the authority of the Bible? And this does mean that
we can just pick and choose what Scriptures we like?
My answer to these four questions are no, no, no, and no.
We have to go back to the purpose of the Scriptures. The Bible was written to tell us the
story of Gods love for us. If we want to learn more about gender and the role of gender I would
open up and read a science text book before I would open up the Bible. The Bible wasnt written
to give us a scientific explanation of gender or the superiority of one gender.
If we arent saying that men are superior to women are we rejecting the Bible. No.

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Think of a strainer. With the help of the Holy Spirit the words of Scripture go through
the strainer of Gods love for us and our love for God, each other and ourselves. When we read
the Scriptures I have five questions I always encourage us to ask. God, humanity, myself, the
church, how does this Scripture help me love
Which leads me back to the importance of reading the Scriptures. Unless we open up this
Treasure Chest and know the story and know the purpose we will always be susceptible to
people taking the Bible out of context and misusing it for their own means. Its extremely
important that we know the story, that were familiar with the story, and that we understand what
the Bible says and what the Bible doesnt say.
My prayer is that the people of our congregation will know the Treasures that are the
Bible. I pray that we are eager to open up this book to read it. I hope that at least three fourths
of us here will read through the gospel of Matthew for the rest of Lent. I hope that we will read
the Bible every day. I hope that we will be formed by the Bible. I hope that we will grow in our
relationship with God because we are so in touch with the message and the story of this Treasure.