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The Bible Alone

God's Word accomplished creation, it brings hope in times of despair, it brings power in times of weakness, and it brings guidance in times of darkness. Only God’s Word has authority over your life.
This sermon is part of the sermon series "True North". See series.

True North Backstory

One reason I enjoyed preaching the sermons in this series was the contrast between a "head" message and a "heart" message.

The message on Scripture was a head message—didactic. We asked folks for questions about barriers to taking the Bible as authoritative, and there were so many good ones I had to rewrite the sermon on Thursday.

N.T. Wright's notion of the biblical story as a play with five acts was extremely helpful. This enabled me to demonstrate how the nature of a story carries authority, and what it means to read the Bible literally.

The message on grace alone was aimed at the heart. One question I always try to keep in mind is, What are people talking about this week? That week, people were talking about the deaths of Steve Jobs and Al Davis. So the message was simple: How successful, tough, talented, attractive do you have to be? The stories of high "bar-setters" helped set the stage for grace.


"Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path." God speaks. Last week, Nancy and I spoke for World Vision. It was a great day, except Nancy lost her voice. For one entire day, she could not speak above a whisper. Imagine a spouse who cannot say a word. Whatever claim I made, she could not contradict. Whatever issue came up, I was guaranteed to have the last word. All she could do was smile and nod.

I thought on the way home, It would be unbearable if she lost her voice forever. I know her voice better than any other. I cannot imagine not being able to hear her voice again, not to hear her laugh, or talk, or encourage, or express love, or disagree, or argue and then make up again. It was bearable, even enjoyable, for one day. But for life it would be unbearable. It would be tragic. ...

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John Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

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Sermon Outline:


I. The authority of Scripture

II. The nature of the Bible

III. The Biblical story

IV. Act one: Creation

V. Act two: the Fall

VI. Act three: the chosen nation of Israel

VII. Act four: the life and ministry of Jesus

VIII. Act five: the church