Well, tonight we continue in our sort of brief review of the things that have made our church what it is. We talked about the foundations of Grace Church, which we believe should be the foundation of every church. We talked about a high view of God, dealing with God in His glory, His majesty, and His holiness. We talked about the exaltation of Jesus Christ. And the third thing that I want to talk about tonight is the priority or the authority of Scripture.
I believe that a church, in order to be faithful to the word of God, must exalt God and be primarily focused on worship; must exalt Christ, who is the truest and purest and most comprehensible revelation of God, God who has spoken unto us by His Son. And in order to do those things, we have to set the word of God in the place of highest priority. That’s why Psalm 138:2 says, “God has exalted His word as high as His own name.” He cannot be known apart from His word. God can’t be known, Christ can’t be known, except through the revelation of Scripture. And so a church, if it is to be faithful, must prioritize at the very pinnacle of everything the word of God.
In fact, 1 Timothy chapter 3, we are reminded that the church is the pillar and support of the truth. That’s what we do here. We are the place where you could go and hear the truth; and the truth that you hear comes from the word of God. There has never been a question. There’s never been a hesitation. There’s never been a second thought in my mind about what the content of preaching, the content of teaching, and the content of ministry should be; it should be the word of God. So whenever we gather together, we look to the word of God. It is the way God speaks. He speaks through His word; and we hear His voice clearly as He reveals Himself on the pages of Scripture, Old Testament and New Testament.
And so always, since the very first Sunday, when I arrived here back in February, I think February 9th of 1969, we were determined that we were going to follow the word of God. We were going to preach it, and teach it, and live it, and obey it in every aspect of our lives. And that is exactly what we have endeavored to do, and what God has, through the years, blessed so abundantly.
At the same time that we have been unwavering in our commitment to the authority of the word of God and to the priority of the word of God, other churches have not been so committed, and there has sadly been a real assault on the Bible in our culture. That assault has shown up, I think, in an even weakened understanding of scriptural authority in the church itself, not just in the world around. The Bible has been severely assaulted and depreciated in recent years. And I just wrote down a little list of the ways in which scriptural authority has been attached.
First of all, through rationalism. I’ll just give you some isms, just to categorize some of this. Rationalism. Rationalism is an anti-supernatural mentality. It is basically where you go with humanism. You wind up as a humanist with no God, man being ultimate, and man’s mind being the ultimate determiner of what is reality. Rationalism is anti-supernatural, anti-miracle. It has no room for God. It has no room for what the human mind cannot explain or understand. And rationalism, therefore, assaults the Bible.
There were some rational theologians a few centuries ago. I remember reading one of them. They were busy attacking the Bible and sort of stripping it of all of its supernatural character. And one of them, when he had finished, found only twenty-six verses which could actually be believed in the whole Bible. And he was some supposed scholar. So rationalism assaults the supernatural character of Scripture and says it’s only a human book like all other human books. It is an effort of religious man to communicate his thoughts.
Secondly, existentialism. Existentialism sort of followed the barrenness of rationalism. And existentialism basically – I supposed we could say it’s anti-reality, or it’s anti-fact. It’s basically the idea that whatever reality you want to create, go ahead and create it. Whatever concoctions of religion you want to go ahead and create, create them. The Bible doesn’t have any fixed facts. Whatever you read into the Bible becomes truth for you. Whatever you get out of it as you whimsically read through it becomes truth for you. And whatever might be your religion, I’m so glad for you, and I hope you’re glad for me as I concoct mine. It’s the anti-reality attitude of existentialism.
Another thing that I think has assaulted the Bible is a growing egoism, egoism. And egoism basically says that I am the authority in my world, and I will be the authority in my life, and I will decide what is true and what is not. It’s a critic mentality. It’s really an anti-authority mentality that does not want to submit itself to some outside authority, particularly the word of God. In fact, it chafes against it significantly, primarily because, as the Bible says, “Men love sin.” And they do not want to submit themselves to the authority of the word of God and have to be confronted in their iniquity, and so they will rule their own world, and they take no authority from Scripture. They are their own authorities.
Another thing is what we could call, I supposed, relationalism, relationalism. And that is basically the idea – and I’m just using that word and giving it some meaning so you can kind of narrow it down. Relationalism is a big word. It’s the idea that there’s sort of revolving truth. I suppose you could call it situation ethics, that what is true changes from time to time, and person to person, and place to place, and event to event. And we know very well that the educational system of our country, the philosophy of our country for many years has been under the influence of that kind of situational ethic that is relationalism. Whatever works in your world of relationships, whatever works in your problems, however you want to relate to the realities of your life and the issues of your life, you could call it relativism; it’s the same thing.
Another thing that has attacked the Bible is ritualism. You have the concept that religion is a series of ceremonies, and performances, and functions, and rituals. And it’s really not all about a personal knowledge. It’s not all about a personal relationship. We hear that all the time from people who come out of, say, a Roman Catholic background, or an Orthodox background, or some kind of liberal church background where there’s a lot of liturgy and no knowledge and no personal relationship with the Lord at all.
There’s also mysticism. That’s another ism that is assault of the Bible. That is anti-intellectual. It’s anti-intellectual. If ritualism is anti-personal, then mysticism is anti-intellectual. It basically says you don’t come to truth by a cognitive process, you come to truth by feelings. It’s very much like existentialism.
Well, all of those things – and there’s nothing particularly profound about those. Just to kind of categorize things for you a little bit, I gave you those. But all of those sort of paint for us an overlapping picture of the ongoing assault on Scripture. There are those who assault it because they say there are no miracles. They are the humanist. There are those who assault it because they say you have to read into it what is true for you. And they are the existentialist. And then there are those who assault it by saying, “We’re not going to have that book to rain over us, we will rule our own lives. No Bible is going to stand in judgment of my life. I’ll run my own life, do my own thing my own way.”
And then we have that relationalism or that relativism that says there are no fixed truths. There are those floating ethics that change from place to place, and person to person, problem to problem, relationship to relationship. And then there are those sort of anti-knowledge people who believe that religion is not a matter of personal knowledge of God through the truth, it’s simply a matter of performance and function. It’s mechanical. And then there are the mystics who say it’s not intellectual it’s just a matter of feelings. Whatever feels good to you is right and true. All of those attack the Bible.
Now, for many years the Bible has been under this ongoing assault. These same kind of things have found their way into the thinking of our culture, into the thinking of people in the church. And some of them are even, as we’ve noted for you in the last few weeks, are part of contemporary Christianity. Certainly we’ve talked about mysticism, how that people today in the church want to be able to define their spiritual experience any way they want to define it, how there are basically no limits to how you can concoct your own theology through your own feelings. And there is definitely a resistance to clear-cut, straightforward teaching of the word of God with authority. That is not popular, that is not what the church wants to do; they want to downplay those very kinds of things.
We were talking a little earlier about one very prominent and popular church in our country that works very, very hard never to mention the word “hell” or the word “punishment,” because they feel that is offensive. And so, they basically have taken a position of authority over the Bible, and will tell the Bible what it has the right to say and what it doesn’t have a right to say to any given culture or any given person.
So the Bible is being assaulted on all kinds of fronts. Amazingly, it survives. It’s still the best seller. Aren’t you glad for that? We are hoping that some of the people buying are also reading it, and that some of those who are reading it are also understanding it.
But getting down to the bottom line, there’s no way any society can ever survive without a standard, without a series of absolutes, without set fixed laws and principles. You cannot have relativism and have any kind of order, or any kind of continuity, or any kind of life; all you can have is chaos and disorder and death. When right is whatever you want for you, you have the end of civilization, the end of civilization. I’ll say more about that in a moment.
But we must have an authoritative standard; and it is none other than the Bible. And the Bible makes some pretty astonishing claims for itself, and I want to just briefly mention them to you. First of all, the Bible claims to be infallible, that is, it is without error. In Psalm 19 in verse 7 it says, “The law of the Lord is perfect. The law of the Lord is perfect,” without error.
Secondly, another term that we often use is “inerrant.” It is not only infallible, that is, without error in all that it teaches; it is inerrant in that it is not only collectively true, but it is specifically true. When we say it is infallible, that means it teaches nothing but the truth. When we say it is inerrant, that means that every word and every phase is accurately representing the word of God.
Proverbs 30:5 and 6, “Every word of God is pure. Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” It is in all that it affirms and the totality of it, without error; and in the individual parts, every single word of God is pure. God gave it without error and all that it affirms is, therefore, infallible.
Thirdly, it is complete, it is complete. We just read Proverbs 30: “Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” You do not add to Scripture, because Scripture is complete. Deuteronomy chapter 4 – and I won’t go through all the Scriptures we could go through. But in Deuteronomy 4:2, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take away from it.” Very straightforward. You don’t add anything to what God has said; you don’t take anything away from it. And that is precisely how the Bible begins, right there in the Pentateuch.
It is also how the Bible ends. Listen to the last chapter of the Bible. Right at the very end, “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book. If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city which are written in this book.”
You can’t add anything to the book of Revelation, you can’t take anything away from it, or you will bring upon yourself the judgment of God. And you can’t add to the Bible, therefore, because revelation closes out the Scripture; and anything added to Revelation would be added to the Bible. It is complete. It is as Jude says, “The faith once for all delivered.” At one time it was finally and fully delivered. “The faith once for all delivered to the saints.”
Fourthly, and another important word when you think about the Bible, it is authoritative, it is authoritative. That is, it is not suggestions, it is commands. It is binding in every sense.
Isaiah chapter 1 and verse 2, “Here, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken.” In other words, God demands that we listen. That’s why in Titus 2:15 it says regarding the truth of the revelation of God, “These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. And let no one circumvent you,” no one get around you, no one evade that authority. The word of God is infallible and all that it affirms, it is inerrant in every part, it is complete, and it is authoritative. When it speaks, that is the final word from God.
And then fifthly, it is sufficient, it is sufficient. Nothing more needs to be added to somehow fill out all that is necessary for spiritual life. The Bible is sufficient. It is not limping along with missing elements.
Second Timothy 3 reminds us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God maybe perfect, thorough, complete, equipped for every good work.” The Scripture inspired accomplishes in the life of the believer every good work. You need nothing more than Scripture, it is sufficient.
And number six in this little list, it is effective. Or another way to say it, it is powerful. Isaiah 55 says, “So shall My word be that goes forth. It shall not return unto Me void, but shall accomplish what I please.” The word never comes back void. It always accomplishes what God pleases. Hebrews 4:12 says, “It is sharper than any two-edged sword.” It is the sharpest sword. It cuts the deepest, pierces the most penetrating, and accomplishes the purposes of God. It effectively works. It is operative.
And then seventh in my little list, the Scripture is determinative, it is determinative. That is to say, how you respond to Scripture manifests your destiny. Your view of Scripture is a determinative issue.
“He that is of God hears God’s words. You, therefore, hear them not, because you’re not of God.” Now there is an absolutely significant watershed verse: “If you hear God’s words, you are of God. If you don’t hear God’s words, you’re not of God.” There is the determinative character of Scripture. When someone comes along and says they don’t believe the Bible, that settles the issue in terms of who they belong to. When someone says they do believe the Bible, we can say they belong to God. If they affirm the truth of Scripture in every part, that indicates one who is listening to God, one who belongs to God.
Two thousand plus times the Old Testament claims to be the word of God, over two thousand times. Either you believe it or not. And the New Testament adds more to that two thousand. Tremendous, tremendous claims. The Bible is infallible, inerrant, complete, authoritative, sufficient, effective, and determinative.
The result of all of that could be summarized perhaps no better than in Joshua chapter 1 and verse 8: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
How do you have a successful life? How do you have a prosperous life? How do you have a rich life? How do you have the best that life can bring? You never let the book of the law depart from your mouth. You meditate on it day and night. You are careful to do everything that is written in it. In other words, you live by the word of God, you think by the word of God; it saturates your life. As Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
So here we have then the authoritative word of God, the sufficient word of God, the comprehensive word of God, the inerrant word of God, the infallible word of God, the powerful word of God, and the determinative word of God, which reveals by virtue of ones attitude toward it whether one belongs to God or not. The Bible then is clearly the standard. It is the standard of all morality and all spirituality. It is the standard of all truth.
Now here we are living in a world that, for the most part, is doing everything it can to get rid of the Bible, and the ensuing chaos is manifest to all of us. But at the same time, there’s an unwillingness to go back to the authority of Scripture. So we have in our society, even in America of course, no absolute standard for life and behavior, none. We don’t have one in our education system. We don’t have one in our congress and our senates. We don’t have one in the courts of our land. We no longer know what the rules are in terms of life, which is absolutely bizarre when you really think about it.
For example, in the scientific world there are absolutes. The whole of the material world is built on absolutes, fixed points, unchanging laws to which all things react in the material world. All you have to do is study biology, botany, physiology, astronomy, even mathematics engineering, whatever it is you want to study; all of those efforts to comprehend the material world yield up to us that there are fixed, dependable, unchanging, unchangeable laws that control the order of life in the material world.
Yet, in the moral world, we think we can live without absolutes. In fact, we think we can choose any morality, any kind of conduct, any kind of ethical system or no ethical system, and still remain at harmony with life. That is wrong. Just as God built into the world fixed laws in the material realm, there are fixed laws in the moral realm. They are just as absolute. They are just as inviolable. They are just as unchangeable and unchanging as the laws of the physical world. And when they are violated they bring about tragic results.
We all know that tragic results when you violate the laws of the physical world. We all understand what happens when a man jumps off a tall building. The law of gravity takes over immediately. We all understand what happens when the airplane up there loses both of its engines and no longer operates according to the inviolable laws of flight, and plunges to the earth, and everybody is killed. We all understand the absolute character of fixed material laws. How is it that we could believe that a universe is built materially on absolute fixed laws, but the moral side of it is at total random and chaos? It’s just foolishness. And the moral realm, just as in the agricultural realm, whatever you sow you what? You reap.
God made a law called gravity. You might not believe in it. You might not like it. You may be an atheist and not even believe there is a God. But if you jump off a building, that law will go into effect, no matter what you believe. And just as in the physical world there are laws which if broken produce tragedy, so in the moral world. There is no safe sex, except within marriage. And any other kind potentiates disaster upon disaster, tragedy upon tragedy, because you have violated the law of God.
There are absolute laws in the spiritual moral realm, and God has established these laws and revealed them clearly in the Scripture. It isn’t that difficult.
Now, I’m glad for Bill Bennett writing his book of virtues. And I’m glad that he wrote another one. I don’t know what the next one is called, but it’s another big thick book of what I call sermon illustrations. I’m happy for those. But that is not the book on morality, folks, the Bible is. That has some good moral and ethical things in it. But if you want to find an absolute standard, you just go to the Bible. It is the most incredible book. It is the most amazing book. It is the supernatural revelation of God. It is a perfectly preserved ancient document authored by God Himself, using men who loved Him to write down what He wanted to say.
And when you look at the Bible, there’s so many ways that you could know that it’s not human. I could take you down a little list of things. For example, one great proof of the supernatural character of the Bible, and it’s probably the least of the proofs in terms of its impact and yet it is valid, is experience. What I mean by that is simply this: I came to the Scripture, I read about the gospel, I gave my life to Christ as the gospel said, and God transformed me. That’s experience. I obeyed the word of God, and God honored His word in my life.
We’ve been talking about giving. I gave and the Bible says, “Give and it’ll be given to you.” I gave, and God gave back to me. I have experienced the working of the word in my own life. That is a valid verification of Scripture.
You could go beyond that and talk about prophecy. You could go beyond that and talk about science. You could talk about the person of Christ. You could talk about miracles. All of those things are evidences of the fact that the Bible is a supernatural book.
Now let me talk about science for a minute. When you look at the Bible as a scientific book and you realize that the Bible is an ancient book, ancient, going all the way back to the time of Moses, all the way back to the patriarchal period, thousands of years ago; when you go to the Bible, you might not expect to find sophisticated science, since most of what we would say is contemporary science has really come to be understood in the last hundred years, hundred and fifty years. And yet, when we look at the Bible, no matter where we look, it is scientifically accurate. It presents the most viable explanation of the universe. In fact, it presents the only viable explanation of the universe, and we could sum it up by saying creation and catastrophism.
The only way to explain the way things are in our world and our universe is that somebody created the world and it has gone through catastrophic events. That, of course, surpasses the folly of evolution, which is an explanation of absolutely nothing. The Bible makes the only possible explanation: somebody created this. And that somebody is more powerful than His creation and greater than His creation.
The Scripture, for example, even affirms the first law of thermodynamics, which is called the law of conservation of mass and energy. For example, in Isaiah 40:26 it says, “Behold who has created these things. He calls them all by names by the greatness of His might, for He is strong in power; not one of them fails.” The first law of thermodynamics is the law of conversation of mass and energy; and that means that though things change, they don’t go out of existence. And that’s exactly what Isaiah said, “Not one of them fails.”
Nehemiah 9:6, “Thou hast made heaven, the earth, and all things therein, the seas, and all things therein; and Thou preservest them all.” Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:10, “Is there any thing of which it may be said, ‘See this is new’? It has already been of old.” In other words, the same amount of mass and energy has always existed since the creation, and it always will exist, though it takes different forms.
But there’s also a second law of thermodynamics which the Bible upholds, discovered in recent times: the law of increasing disorder. Though there is never a loss of mass, science knows this, and there is never a loss of energy, it’s ability, rather, to produce, breaks down and breaks down until things become more disordered and more chaotic. All processes, therefore, tend toward death. We have a dying universe; science knows it. All processes will ultimately cease, and the universe will be dead. It is a dying universe, because the second law of thermodynamics says everything is tending toward increasing disorder.
Well, that is precisely what the Bible says, and it says it in several places. I’m thinking here of Romans 8, verse 20, “For the creation of subjected to futility,” – or to emptiness, or to nothingness; verse 21 – “that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption.” But it’ll never be set free until the glory of the children of God at the coming of Christ. We know that until then, the whole creation groans and suffers the pain of childbirth. In other words, we have a dying universe; that’s what the Bible said. Evolution says it’s getting better and better and better. Science knows it isn’t; and the Scripture affirms it.
Take the study of hydrology. That’s the science of water and water cycle. I read on this a number of years ago and was fascinated by it. You know how it works. Water is in the seas. The sun evaporates the water by its heat, it’s collected into the clouds. The clouds move over the land; they redeposit the water on the earth as rain, snow. Rain and snow then turns into streams, and streams turn into rivers, and empty into the sea. And the cycle goes and goes and goes with the same basic components. Never more water, never less, just the same cycle of that mass and energy, which is never depleted, though it is disorderly.
This puzzled people until the seventeenth century. In fact, until the seventeenth century there were people who believed in subterranean reservoirs that just sort of burped out the water. Now we know about evaporation, what’s called evaporation, transportation, and precipitation, because that has been scientifically made evident.
Well, it’s nothing new to the writers of Scripture, nothing new at all. In fact, God revealed it very clearly. I think it’s Isaiah 55 and verse 10: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower, and bread to the eater.” Very simple. The rain comes down to earth and it returns; but it doesn’t return until it waters the earth, flows to the sea, and then goes back. Isaiah understood the hydrological cycle.
Job, the oldest book in the Bible. Job 36, verses 27 and 28. Way back in the patriarchal period, Job was given a revelation from God which showed an understanding of this same scientific phenomenon. “For He draws up the drops of water,” – He draws them up, that’s evaporation – “they distill rain from the mist, which the clouds pour down, they drip upon man abundantly.” God draws it up by evaporation, moves it across, and rains on man through precipitation. Clearly the Scripture was accurate on something not discovered until the seventeenth century.
Take astronomy. And I don’t want to get too deeply into this, but there’s some fascinating things about it. Astronomy for many, many years could hardly be separated from astrology, because it was kind of a magical thing. Old ideas about the earth and the solar system were very, very strange. And we’re all pretty much familiar because we studied it in school with the idea that the earth was flat at one point in time, that it was some flat disc, like a CD or a record, and you could fall off the edge.
When Copernicus lived – that would be 1475 to 1550 in that period – when Copernicus lived, he presented the idea that the earth was in motion. And people were just astounded that anybody would think of that, that the earth was actually in motion. Well that, of course, was in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. It was the seventeenth century when they began to understand this was the case, and that the universe was infinitely large.
But the Bible says all of this, all of this. It talks about the sun, in Psalm 19, moving across heaven in an orbit that goes from one end of the solar system to the other. It talks about the earth spinning on an axis.
Isaiah 55:9 says, “How high are the heavens?” Job 22:12 talks about the vast height of the stars, the vastness of the universe. Jeremiah chapter 31:37 says the universe is so massive, it is so vast it cannot possibly be measured. And before the telescope was invented in the seventeenth century, Hippocrates said there were 1,022 stars – he counted them one night. Ptolemy said no he was wrong, there’s 1,056. And Kepler said they’re both wrong, there’s 1,055. Jeremiah said two thousand years before that, they can’t be counted. Jeremiah 33:22, he said you can’t count them. Now we know there’s a hundred billion in our galaxy and there are billions of galaxies.
Job said, “He hangs the earth on nothing.” Job said, “He turns the earth as the clay to the seal.” That’s rotating it on an axis. Chug is the term Job uses, “the circle of the earth,” “the sphere.”
Take the science of isostasy. What does that mean? The balance of the earth. Did you ever have a ball that was out of round, and you roll it and it just kind of goes like that, and it doesn’t roll straight? It has to be balanced in order to roll straight.
Isostasy is the science of the balance of the earth. The earth isn’t going like this, or we’d all going like this all the time, I suppose. The earth has to be in perfect balance. That is the depth, the weight of the water in the oceans, the height of the mountains; all of that has to be perfectly ordered so that the earth moves perfectly on its axis, with the same response all over the globe by those things that occupy earthly territory.
That’s what Isaiah 40:12 says, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,” – that is, He knows how heavy they are – “and measured the heaven with a span, and who comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure,” – He weighs the dirt, He knows the weight of the water – “and He weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance.” God alone. Scientific discovery yielded none of that anywhere near biblical times, and God revealed it in the Bible fifteen hundred years before Christ.
Herbert Spencer came along. I think it was 1906 when he was given this award. He was given a great award because he had come to understand categories. And categories are very important in the field of science; everybody wants to find categories for everything. And basically Herbert Spencer was given accolades and a great award because he came up with five categories of the knowable.
He said that everything that can be known fits into one of these five categories. That is to say, everything in existence fits into one of these five categories: time, force, action, space, and matter. And it was hailed as an absolutely brilliant categorization of all that is knowable: time, force, action, space, and matter. Everything fits into those five categories. And the whole world patted Herbert on the back.
I don’t supposed anybody ever got to him to tell him this, that he had discovered what is in the first verse of the first chapter of the first book in the Bible. “In the beginning” – that’s time – “God” – that’s force – “created” – that’s action – “the heavens” – that’s space – “and the earth,” that’s matter. Nice going, Herbert. You did get it right. But it’s all there. It’s all there.
You know, when people used to get sick, what was the common way to treat their illness a few centuries ago? Draw what? Blood. Bleed them. Now when you get sick, what do they do? They give you blood. They should’ve read Leviticus 17:11, “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” You don’t help people by taking it, you help them by giving it.
Now if you talk about prophecy or you talk about history, the Bible wrote history before it happened. A hundred and fifty years before He was born, a hundred and fifty years before He was born the Bible predicted that there would be a man named Cyrus, and that Cyrus would let the Jews be released from captivity. Now they weren’t even in captivity. But the prophecy was that they would be in captivity and they would be released from captivity, and the man who did it would be a man named Cyrus. And that they would be released under Cyrus, and they would return to rebuild Jerusalem, Isaiah 44:28. And this is exactly what happened. Men couldn’t know that; they can’t know about who’s not born yet.
Take the city of Tyre, T-Y-R-E; Ezekiel 26, predicted that Nebuchadnezzar’s army, Ezekiel 26, would come and destroy the city of Tyre. That was a seacoast town in the north part of the Palestine Mediterranean coast. And the prophet Ezekiel said that the city would be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, king from the east. The city will be leveled. The city will be cleared and literally skinned, and it’ll become a place to spread fishing nets to dry in the sun.
Now Tyre was a formidable Phoenician city, I mean a formidable one. The Phoenicians were colonizers and mariners. In ancient times they navigated around Africa and established trade routes to the east. The city was a formidable city. The people were astute, they were clever, they were good at engineering. The city had a 150-foot high wall, fifteen feet thick, and a navy to protect the coast.
Ezekiel’s prophecy seemed ridiculous. But three years after his prophecy, Nebuchadnezzar came and did exactly what Ezekiel said he would do. He put on a siege. You know how long he had to siege that city before it collapsed? They would surround it until it depleted all of its internal resources, then people would start to die. Thirteen years. At the end, he smashed the wall, a 150 foot high by fifteen feet wide. He smashed down the tower.
When he finally entered into Tyre he found no spoils at all. The people had thought they did something very clever. They had taken everything by ship and shuttled it out to a little island off the coast. He was besieging the city, which was against the coast, and they were just shuttling all the things out there. It was a half mile offshore.
Well, this bothered him. But what was he going to do about? So he went back home. And the little island city flourished for two hundred and fifty years. But Ezekiel’s prophecy wasn’t fulfilled, because he said the place would be scraped clean, and all the rubble was still there.
Well, along came Alexander the Great with 33,000 infantrymen, 15,000 cavalry, and he’s conquering the world – you know, the son of Philip of Macedon. He’s moving east to conquer the world. So he comes in there, sweeps in. And what does he do? He asked for some supplies for his troops. He asked this little island city to help him out; they said no. So you know what he did? He scooped up all the rubble, and built a causeway all the way to the island, and massacred everybody. And, in fact, it wasn’t an island anymore. And the rubble of the city was scraped clean. And if you go there today, you’ll find fishnets and no population. Ezekiel said it would never be rebuilt.
Jerusalem has been rebuilt seventeen times; Tyre never once. Peter Stoner, a probability mathematician, took all of those elements of the prophecy of Tyre and said the odds that they would come to pass by chance are one in seventy-five million.
Take the city of Nineveh, the capitol of Assyria; they had an inner wall a hundred feet high and fifty feet thick, and towers two hundred feet high, fifteen gates. They had a hundred and fifty foot wide moat. The city was seven miles in circumference and had this double wall, and there was two thousand feet between the outer wall and the inner wall. I mean, it was a massive, massive fortress. The prophet Nahum said it’s going to be destroyed. And it happened; it absolutely happened. And he said it would never be rebuilt; and it never has been rebuilt.
And this is just sampling. I could go on and on and on, and say more about this amazing book. But since the author is the living God, we’re not shocked, are we? I’m not shocked that God understands His material creation. I’m not shocked that God knows hydrology, that He knows isostasy, the balance of the world. I’m not shocked that He understands the life of the flesh is in the blood. I’m not surprised at all that He understands that the earth is spinning through space, I’m not shocked by that. I’m not shocked that He understands the sun has an orbit that drags its entire solar system from one end of the universe to the other. I’m not surprised by any of that.
I’m not surprised that God knows the earth is a sphere, the Hebrew word chug, translated “the circle of the earth” long before when people thought it was only flat. I’m not surprised at all that the Lord knew Cyrus was coming along. I’m not surprised that He knew what was going to happen in Nineveh down to the details. I’m not surprised that He understood what was going to happen to Tyre either, because He’s God.
People often say, “Well, I don’t really believe the Bible.” Oh, I hate to hear that. And my usual response is, “You must have studied it for years carefully to come to such a profound conclusion,” to which people have always said, “Oh, well.” If you haven’t, you better not make such a statement. That is intellectually dishonest arrogance if you haven’t carefully studied it. The word of God, nothing like it.
As we sort of wrap this together, turn to Psalm 19. We’ve said some things about the word of God that are true. But I want to take us to one passage of Scripture that sums up its spiritual force, its spiritual power, Psalm 19. I have preached about this Psalm, I have written about this Psalm, I have meditated on this Psalm, and I am convinced that, in a few words, it says more about the power of Scripture than any other portion of Scripture.
Verses 7, 8, and 9, Psalm 19: “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.” Just those three verses.
Now let me give you a little background. Psalm 19 is about revelation. It’s about God revealing Himself. The first six verses are about general revelation. Look at verse 1: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse declaring the work of His hand.” You can know there is a God by looking at creation. You can know that He exists. You can know that He is powerful. You can know something about Him.
If I look at the created order of the world, I know God is a God of order. God is a God of mathematical genius. God is a God of music. God is a God of color. God is a God of beauty. God is a God of greatness and power. And God is a God of the minute and the tiny and the infinitesimal. In other words, just by looking at creation, I can make some extensive conclusions about the Creator.
But what I can’t do is know Him through creation, I can only know about Him. To know Him I have to have something more than general revelation and creation, I have to have special revelation. And the Bible comes to tell me how I can know Him; and that’s the discussion from verse 7 through 9. Here we move from general revelation to specific or special revelation. And the theme is the Scripture, the Scripture.
Now you will notice in verse 7, 8 and 9, there are six statements, two in each verse. These are six statements about the Bible, six statements about Scripture. They use six different titles for Scripture. In verse 7 it is called the law of the Lord and the testimony of the Lord. In verse 8, the precepts of the Lord, the commandment of the Lord. Verse 9, the fear of the Lord, and the judgments of the Lord. Those are just six different ways to describe the Scripture.
Scripture is law. That is, it is God’s law for man’s conduct. It is testimony. That is, it is God’s self-disclosure. It is precepts or principles or doctrines that He has given us. It is commandments, verse 8. It is fear. What does that mean? It’s a manual on fearing the Lord. It’s a manual on reverence. It’s a manual on worship. And the Bible is filled with judgments, adjudications from the Judge, none other than the Lord God, who sits on the divine bench. All of those are simply viewpoints of Scripture.
And by the way, in Psalm 119, those same terms are used throughout that Psalm as a synonym for the Scripture. It is the law of the Lord. It is the testimony of the Lord, the precepts of the Lord, the commandment of the Lord, the fear of the Lord, and the judgments of the Lord. Scripture is all of that, that just looks at its many facets.
Notice please, in each case, the covenant name of Yahweh is given: of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord. So there’s never any question about who is the author. The Lord is the author. And in these three verses, six statements, everything that could be said about the Bible’s spiritual power is said. You can’t say any more; you can’t say any less.
Lets look at these statements briefly. Verse 7: “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.” The law of the Lord views Scripture as God’s law for man’s life, God’s standard for man’s conduct. And as such, he says, “It is perfect, it is perfect.”
I remember spending a whole afternoon on the word “perfect,” studying this Psalm; looked in all the Hebrews source material to find out what it meant. And after about three hours of study, I came to understand that what the word really means is “perfect.” It meant exactly what they said it meant.
But what does perfect mean when you get into the lexicons? The best definition I found – and this is what gives it its understanding for us – the word “perfect” to the Hebrew isn’t perfect as opposed to imperfect; that is, without flaw, as opposed to flawed. It is perfect in the sense of complete. The lexicon definition that I prefer is this one: “all-sided”, s-i-d-e-d, so as to cover all aspects of something; comprehensive, complete, leaves nothing out.
The law of the Lord is absolutely comprehensive. This comprehensive, complete – and we’ve already said revelation from God that you can’t add to or take away from. It is comprehensive, it is complete. And the affect of it – its characteristic is completeness. Its affect: it restores the soul.
Now the word “soul” is nephesh in Hebrew. In most English Bibles it is translated many different ways. I think in the New American Standard it may be translated by twenty-one different English words at different locations throughout the Old Testament. But the Hebrew word here translated “soul” means “inner person.” It means “inner person.” It’s talking about the inner as opposed to the outer person. Sometimes it’s translated “soul,” sometimes “spirit,” sometimes “person,” sometimes “heart,” sometimes “self,” lots of different words. But it always refers to the inner person. The word “restore” means “to totally transform, totally transform.”
So what does the Scripture do? It is the law of the Lord. It is comprehensive. It is so comprehensive it can totally transform the whole inner person. It is a tremendous statement. It is a vast, embracing statement. You and I have both lived long enough to see the power of the word of God in that regard.
I’ll never forget; this was a number of years ago, maybe five or six years ago. I was down in Sebring, Florida preaching, and a young man came up to me after I had preached and he said, “I want to talk with you.” And I said, “Sure, sit down.” He said, “I want to give you my testimony.” His name was Tim Evalina. And I have since, of course, corresponded with him. But that’s the first time I met him.
And we sat down, and he said, “I have to tell you what happened in my life.” He said, “I am in charge of training all the Jehovah’s Witness pastors for the state of Florida. I’m a fifth-generation Jehovah’s Witness. My father’s in charge of the whole Jehovah’s Witness for the state. And my job is to go around to the various Jehovah’s Witness places and train all their leaders.
“So the other day I was driving across Alligator Alley in the south of Florida across the swamps, and I was in the car; and I turned the radio on, and you were preaching. I didn’t know who you were. And you said, ‘Jesus is God.’ And I said to myself, ‘That’s a lie,’ and turned off the radio, because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe that.
“And then he said, “I got curious and turned it back on. This was on a Monday,” he said, “and you were doing a series on the deity of Jesus Christ. And you kept talking about Jesus is God, and showing from the Scripture that Jesus is God. And I was so intrigued by this.” By the way, we’re on about a dozen or more stations in Florida. He said, “Where I was going to be for that week, I determined to listen. And I listened all five days to the series on the deity of Christ. And then you said on Friday you were going to continue the series the following week. And I listened to every broadcast the next week, I heard the whole series.
“On a Friday night,” he said, “I was in a motel, and I got down on my knees and I said, ‘Jehovah God, if indeed You came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, make it clear to my heart, and I’ll give my life to You.’ And before the sun came up on a Saturday morning I had committed my life to Jesus Christ as my God.”
And he said, “That’s only a few weeks ago.” He was telling me this in Sebring. And he said, “Now already,” he said, “immediately, when that happened, I went right back to every person I had trained. And that’s what I’ve been doing for these weeks, retraining them about who Jesus Christ really is. As a result,” he said, “my trial is just about to begin, and I’m being tried as a heretic for excommunication.”
And he said, “I want to just ask you one favor. Would you pray for my wife? She’s a Jehovah’s Witness. Pray for my two sons, grown sons. They’re both Jehovah’s Witnesses, unmarried, single men in their 20s. Pray for my mother and father. They all need to know Christ, and they need to know who He really is.”
How do you reach a Jehovah’s Witness? How about just yelling in his ear for ten days that Jesus is God and showing it to him out of the Scripture. I don’t think you have to be too tricky about it, I think you just put the truth out there and let the Spirit of God do His work. The word is so comprehensive it can totally transform the whole inner person. You have to believe that. You have to believe that it’s sharper than any two-edged sword, that it never comes back void, that it is what God uses to change lives.
Well, I got a letter from him, which is a precious letter, among many I’ve received through the years. It was a matter of about three or four months later, he wrote me to tell me his wife, two sons, mother, and father were in Christ, under his influence. Now I know; I’ve lived long enough and seen enough stories like that to know the transforming power of the word of God, its spiritual capability to totally transform the whole inner person. And that story could be repeated a thousand times. And it’s repeated in the life of everyone of you who have come to know Christ, right?
Secondly – we could spend too much time on point one. Second point: The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. This is a powerful statement, “The testimony of the Lord.” That view of Scripture is God’s self-disclosure: as God’s revelation of Himself, as God’s manifestation of Himself. It is God getting His testimony across to us in print. It is God’s own testimony, Scripture is. And He say’s it is sure, or reliable, or trustworthy. In other words, among all of the books and resources and philosophies you can’t trust, here’s one you can. It is absolutely sure.
And then I love this. He says, “It makes simple people” – what? – “wise.” Now, that is so graphic in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew language is very concrete, very concrete; not like Greek, which tends to be a little bit esoteric and spacey from time to time, and philosophical. The Hebrew language’s very concrete.
The word “simple,” it’s a great word. The word “simple” comes from a Hebrew word, at its root that means “an open door.” It means “an open door.” And you can understand that. You ever hear someone say, “Oh, I have an open mind” They think that’s a compliment. They think they’re complimenting themselves. They think that kind of magnanimity is admirable.
Well, the Hebrews thought that if you had the door to your brain open all the time you were in severe trouble. And so the simpleton to them was the person to whose brain the door was always open. So everything came in, and everything went back out. They would be the naive, non-discerning, non-discriminating person who had no clue what reality and truth was. So the next time someone stands up and says, “Well, I have an open mind,” tell them to shut it.
You have a door on your house. You open it to let what you want in, in; and you close it to keep what you want out, out. That is a door of discrimination that discriminates in your life. You have a door to your brain, your mind. You don’t just leave it open all the time; that’s not commendable, that’s idiotic. You better learn what to keep in and what to keep out.
But how can you know that? How can you know what to keep in and what to keep out? How can you know what precepts, what principles to let in and what to keep out? How can you be discriminating? There it is, “The testimony of the Lord.” Scripture is reliable. It takes the simple-minded, naive, non-discriminating, undiscerning person and makes him wise. And “wise” in Hebrew is chakam. It doesn’t mean wise in a sort of a mental sense, it means “skilled in all aspects of life.”
You want to be skilled in living life? You want to know what to hold on to and what to reject, what to believe and what not to believe, what to accept and what not to accept? Open the word of God. It’ll teach you to be skilled in every aspect of life. That is a monumental claim. You want to be totally transformed in the inner person and skilled in all aspects of living? Turn to the word of God.
Verse 8 gives us two more: “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” This views Scripture as doctrines, principles, precepts. And these are right; not right in the Hebrew as opposed to wrong, but a right path as opposed to a wrong path. In other words, the word of God lays out the right path: “This is the way, walk ye in it.” The Old Testament says, “There’s a way that seems right to a man; the ends thereof are the ways of death.”
But the Bible says, “Here is the right path.” We know that Thy word is a lamp unto my path, but we ought to know also it is the path. “This is the way, walk in it.” And the result of that: it brings joy to the heart. The path of joy, beloved, is the path of obedience. Walk in the way of the word. When the word of Christ dwells in you richly, Colossians 3:16, then you will speak to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and make melody in your hearts of the Lord. Why? Because you’ll be filled with joy.
John says, “These things I write unto you, that your joy may be full.” Jeremiah says, “Thy word was found, and I did eat it; and it was in my heart, the joy and rejoicing.” Joy comes from obedience. When you walk in the right path, Jesus said, “Happy are they who hear the word and obey it.” The Old Testament says, “Happy is the man who hears Me.” You want a happy, contended, joyful life? Then walk in the way of the word.
I’ll tell you, the world we live in is chasing joy, aren’t they? Boy, they want to be entertained. They want to be happy, they want to be thrilled, they want to live on a high; and they have no idea where it really is. A happy, contended, joyful, blissful life is found when you walk in the way of the word. You follow the precepts of Scripture that lead you in a right path, your heart will overflow with joy. Joy and obedience go together. The words of Jesus: “Happy are they who hear the word and obey it.”
The fourth statement, in verse 8, “The commandment of the Lord is” – literally in the Hebrew – “clear, enlightening the eyes. The commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes.” This view Scripture as commandments. It’s not optional, it’s not suggestions, it’s not just God sharing what He hopes we’ll respond to; it is commands, which when disobeyed, bring about judgment. Scripture is commands from the King of the universe, the King of all kings, God Himself.
And these commandments are clear – I love that. They’re lucid. They’re not incomprehensible. They’re not mystifying. “A wayfaring man, though be a fool” – the Old Testament says – “need not err. A little child can understand these things. They’re hidden from the wise and foolish, and revealed unto babes.”
We can understand, it makes things clear. The word of God makes things clear. It totally transforms the whole inner person. The word of God makes us skilled in all aspects of living. The word of God produces joy to overflowing in our hearts. And the word is so clear, it enlightens the eyes. What does he mean by that? What he means by that is it makes the otherwise dark things clear.
I hate to confess this to you, because you might misunderstand what I’m saying. But there are very few things in this life that are not clear to me. I don’t mean that I understand every little nuance of Scripture. I don’t mean that I understand every aspect of the material universe and all of its scientific complexity, or understand everything in creation. But there aren’t very many things in the spiritual realm that I don’t understand. Why? Because I have a Bible, and I can read it, and it explains those to me.
You look at the person who doesn’t know Christ. Look back in your life, before you were a Christian. You didn’t understand a lot of things. You didn’t understand an awful lot of things. And there were dark things in this world for you, profoundly and frighteningly dark, because you didn’t understand them.
I remember being in my office one day, and a gentleman ran in my office and was hollering at me, “Please come, come.” And I went down the street. And a few houses down the street was a little baby that had died of crib death. The mother had just discovered that it was dead, and it was just starting to turn blue, and I tried to resuscitate the baby. And I just watched the horror in the face of that mother, who was standing there unable to do anything to preserve the life of this precious little infant, and looking, as it were, into a black hole of absolute hopelessness. I mean, it all had no meaning. The questions were, “If there is a God, what kind of God would do this? I mean, why give this life and rip it out of my arms? What kind of cruelty is that?”
And I’ve had enough funerals of mothers who looked into the casket of a teenager shot because they got involved with the wrong crowd in a drug situation, and their life was taken. I’ve seen that. I’ve seen the bleakness of a young couple, a young wife looking at a dead husband in a casket, and didn’t know Christ; and it was all so dark and black, and the future held nothing of hope. We all know that. That’s how the world lives; they don’t understand the dark things. But we do, don’t we? We understand that. I understand that. I understand what is ahead of us.
Often times, when I have a funeral service, I recite what I learned as a boy. When I was in Philadelphia I went down to Christ Church and saw the tomb of Benjamin Franklin, and I memorized his epitaph. It says, “Here lies the body of Franklin, Printer, like the cover of an old book, stripped of its lettering and gilding; it lies here food for worms. But the work shall not be lost, for it will appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.” Well, he knew that death wasn’t the end. He knew that that wasn’t the black hole, that there was a life to come. That’s the Christian hope. We have that hope.
D. L. Moody said, “Someday you will hear that D. L. Moody is dead. Don’t believe it.” That’s our hope. Isn’t it? Where do we get that hope? The psalmist has said, “I have hope in Thy word. I have hope in Thy word. I have hope in Thy word,” over and over in Psalm 1:19. “The dark things become clear.”
I’ll never forget – you may remember this; many of you will remember this. When a family of missionaries, John and Nora Romanosky came down from Brigham City, Utah, they were ministering to Mormons for a long time. They came down to visit our church on their vacation. They brought their three children: Kevin, their son; and two beautiful daughters. One of the daughters was going to be enrolled in The Master’s College. They brought two unsaved foreign exchanged students from Italy because they wanted to have an evangelistic vacation. Isn’t that like a missionary?
They came down here from a struggling, struggling work in Brigham City, Utah, where they’d been for years in the Brigham City Bible Church trying to reach Mormons for Christ. They were so excited to come down here. They went to the College on a Saturday. They registered their older daughter, beautiful girl, to go to school. That very afternoon, John pulled out in the middle of an intersection – he doesn’t really know how it happened – not looking, and down a hill came a truck going full force, hit the car. It catapulted the two girls, who were sitting in the back of this station wagon, through the back window, and killed them instantly in the middle of the street.
The car went up in flames. All three boys were instantly taken into critical care with all kinds of internal injuries. The truck had hit behind the front seat, so John and Nora didn’t have any devastating injuries, although they were battered and bruised. And the car went up in flames. And their shoes flew out, their glasses; and they had bruises and everything; their Bibles were incinerated. It was a holocaust. A family vacation full of joy and happiness, and instantaneously it’s a holocaust.
And my son Mark happen to come by that accident. Help came. And, you know, he called me and said, “Dad, I hate to tell you this,” and he told me about it. As fast as I could, I got to John. I said, “John, I don’t even know what to say to you. I mean, there are no words. I guess, I just need to ask you what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking.” And he said, “Well,” – I’ll never forget this as long as I live. He said, “You know,” – he said – “my first thought is, ‘Isn’t God good. Isn’t He gracious, that he took my two daughters, who knew Christ, and spared those two boys that didn’t.’” But when you’re the father and you can say that, you’re seeing pretty clearly, aren’t you? And only a Christian can see that clearly, the reality.
And then he said this. Through his tears he said, “You know, I wanted my girls to have a big church experience. We thought it would be Grace; it turned out to be heaven.” He said, “We wanted them to hear a big choir, we didn’t think it would be the angels.” I can live like that; I can die like that. Most of the world has no such hope, right? The word makes the dark things clear.
Well, the last verse is verse 9. By the way, they went back; the boys lived. They went back without their daughters. John wrote me quite regularly to tell me they had never had such a great ministry in all the years before as they had after that tragedy, because people were so drawn to them because of the way that they dealt with that.
Verse 9: “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.” Just a brief word: “The fear of the Lord” views Scripture as a manual on worship. It is instruction how to worship God, how to glorify Him, how to honor Him.
“It is clean.” What does that mean? Flawless, spotless, without blemish. And we’re right back to the fact that it is infallible and inerrant and perfect.
“And it endures forever.” Anything that has never been touched by sin last forever, right? “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My word shall” – what? – “never pass away.”
People say, “Well, the Bible’s old; it’s not relevant.” Wrong. It endures how long? Forever. When people say, “I wish I had a relevant something or other for this life, I wish I had something relevant to this life,” give them the Bible.
I told you some months ago about a guy who wrote a dissertation on my preaching and said, “He’s biblical but not relevant.” What a statement. There’s nothing in this whole entire world that isn’t going to burn up except the Bible and believers. And the Scripture is the eternal word of God. Don’t tell me it’s not relevant. Nothing else is as relevant. That’s why it endures forever, it is spotless. You’re looking for something that’s always updated.
I remember when I got into a debate with Troy Perry, the head of the homosexual church – this was conducted by Sherwood Wirt, who was editing Decision Magazine in those years – and we had this debate in a fitting place: Hollywood. We were in a building there, and I brought a guy who was playing on the Ram football team because I didn’t know what would break out. There is a level at which my courage disappears.
So I was sitting next to this guy who’s a friend, and we got into this debate. And they argued this, these homosexuals: Troy Perry, the head of the homosexual church; and Ralph Blair, the head of another organization of homosexual evangelicals, he called it. They said, “Well, we believe the Bible. We just understand that the Bible is psychologically, sociologically unsophisticated. It is antiquated, and it’s not relevant to the culture of our time. And it reflects certain biases against things like homosexuality, which are really gifts from God.” That was their tact in the debate, that the Bible, frankly, was irrelevant.
I would hate to have to stand before God and defend such a claim, to assault His word in such a way. This manual on worship is spotless, without blemish, and permanent. It lasts forever, relevant in all times, in all places, in all circumstances, for all people.
And finally, the judgments of the Lord view Scripture as adjudication’s from the Judge of all the earth, namely God. I love this. “The judgments of the Lord are true.” They’re true. The Bible is true. I mean, that says it all, folks. “Thy word is truth,” John 17:17. I love that.
I was asked to speak over at the philosophy class at Cal State Northridge. And I went in there, and they wanted me to speak on Christian sex ethics. Well, there couldn’t be anything more unpopular in an advanced philosophy class than some guy going in there, a fundamentalist going in there and talking about Christian sex ethics to a bunch of college people. So I realized that I was going to have to turn the tables.
So I went in there and I said, “I know this is a philosophy class.” I introduced myself to the professor, and we talked a little bit. And I said, “I know this is a philosophy class, and I know you’re searching for truth. And I just want you to know I’m here today to give it to you, so that you won’t really need to search anymore.” And I said it really kind of quietly. And, you know, they go, “What did he say?”
See, in philosophy class, you just search for truth, you never find it; because if you found it, class is out. And you can’t have that. So you don’t find it, you just look for it; and you get a degree for looking. You get nothing for finding.
So I said, “Look,” I said, “I’m here to tell you the truth about life, truth about death, truth about how the world came in existence, how the universe came into existence, the exact order in which things were created. I’m here to tell you the meaning of history, where history’s going, how it’s going to end, what’s going to happen at the end, what the events at the end are, and what happens after the end. I’m here to tell you about everything you didn’t know about life and death, and everything you need to know about love and hate, everything you need to know about human relationships. I can tell you the truth about all of these things: truth about living, dying; truth about God, truth about man, truth about marriage; truth about everything. I’m here to tell you all of this.”
And they’re just stunned, you know, “What kind of egomaniac is this? Who is this person? And you can hear this, “Oh, oh, ah, ah,” you know, kind of reaction.
So I said, “But,” and I said that fairly rapidly like that. And I said, “But I have a problem, and that is you’re not going to believe any of the truth that I tell you, you won’t believe it. And here I am, and I can give you the truth; but you, you won’t receive it.”
At that point, a most appropriate thing happened; one big guy stood up and said, “Well, how do you know?” which is right where you want them. “Oh,” I said, “because it’s a prerequisite, and you don’t meet that prerequisite.” “Well, what is that prerequisite?” I said, “You have to have a personal relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ, or you can’t comprehend the truth; to which he replied, “Well, how do you have that?” I said, “Good. Now,” and we went right to the Scripture and we gave the gospel. And if I remember correctly, there was either one or two students that received Christ out of that class.
We know the truth. We’re not many noble, we’re not many mighty, we’re not the elite of the world, we’re not the philosophers of the world, we’re not in all the think tanks of the world; but when all those people have gone home at night with nothing solved, we know the truth. It’s here in the word of God: “Thy word is truth.” It’s all here. It’s all here.
Well, what can I say in conclusion? Nothing better than what verse 10 says. All that we’ve said about the word of God tonight comes to this: “The words of Scripture are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” There isn’t anything as valuable; there isn’t anything as precious.
Ask yourself what people are looking for. Are they looking for a better life? How about a total transformation of the whole inner person? Are they looking for some wisdom, some skill in sorting out life? The Bible offers that. Are they looking for some guidance in the decisions and issues of life? The Bible lays out the right path. Do they want an understanding of the dark things? The Bible gives them clarity. Do they want something unchanging, always relevant to cling to? The Bible is that. Do they want the truth, the truth at the end of verse 9 it says, “that makes them comprehensibly righteous”? Do they really want to be right with God? It’s all here. It’s all here.
And that’s why Peter said, “To whom shall we go? You and You alone have the words of eternal life.” Right? Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
I hope we can say with the psalmist, Psalm 40, verse 8, “Thy law is in my heart; and I delight to do Thy will, O God.” Love for the word, the light in the word. We should believe it, receive it, honor it, love it, obey it, fight for it, proclaim it, study it. What a treasure, sweeter than honey from the honeycomb, and more precious than gold. We should all be able to say with Job, Job 23:12, “I have treasured the words of Thy mouth more than my necessary food.” Is the word most precious to you? It should be.
Wow, that was a long sermon. Let’s pray. Father, so much to say about Your word. Even when we’ve said what we’ve said, we’ve barely scratched the surface. We love You; we love Your truth. We don’t worship our Bibles, we worship the God revealed in them. We thank You for the word. May we live it. May we live it for Christ’s sake. Amen.
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