Well tonight is sort of the finish of this morning. I am reluctant usually to do that because that means that the folks who aren’t able to come back on Sunday night don’t get the whole thing. But for those who do, you get it in a shorter span of time, and I think maybe that helps to hold it all together a little bit better. For those of you who are visiting with us tonight, you weren’t here this morning, just a word about the fact that I started talking about the subject ‘The Attack on the Bible’ this morning. We as Christians know that the Bible is under assault all the time. The Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, is the Word of God. We have recently, on Sunday nights, gone through a series in which we have affirmed that the Bible is the Word of God. We spent a number of weeks doing that and so we haven’t gone back over that material. That is available on some tapes if you are interested in that particular study.
At this point we now are convinced, of course, that the Bible is the Word of God and very much aware that, as strongly as we believe that, most people in the world don’t. The people in the world are divided into two groups. There are the Children of God and the Children of the devil and that’s the way Jesus divided humanity. You’re either a child of God or a child of the devil. You either belong to the kingdom of darkness – Satan’s kingdom – or the kingdom of light, that is the kingdom of God’s dear son, the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are in the kingdom of darkness, if you are without Christ, you as a child of the devil are under his deception. He is, Jesus said, a liar and the father of lies and also a murderer. It was he who gave birth to the first lie in the human world when he told Eve a lie about God and she believed it. And based upon that lie death came into the world and since that time death has reigned in the world over every human being. So Satan, the father of lies, is also the father of death. There is in the world then an ongoing conflict between the truth of God and the lies of Satan.
The Bible records for us all the truth of God. It is the sum of everything God wanted to say. And as we saw in the series some weeks ago, God only wrote one book in which He said everything He wanted to say, so that the Bible is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It is God’s truth. Satan, however, has been bent since the garden, when he first approached Eve, on making God out as a liar and himself as the source of truth. He does not always reveal himself as Satan in his deception and his purveying of lies. He sometimes is disguised as a scholar, as a scholastic, as an academician, as a PhD; sometimes even disguised as a minister, a theologian, even a bishop, sometimes a cardinal, or even a Pope; sometimes a pastor, sometimes even a Bible teacher. Sometimes Satan disguises his lying intention in the life of a false prophet, a false apostle.
We identified some cult leaders today and some cults, which are characteristically the work of Satan, but not manifestly so, only covertly so. So Satan doesn’t always show himself. In fact, even in the case of Eve he appeared in the form of a serpent, a snake in the garden, rather than in his own form. And that’s pretty much the pattern for him to come subtilely, to come seductively, to come enticingly, in whatever form can achieve his purpose. And the sum of that is stated in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 11, when he said Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, light meaning truth. He disguises himself as if he’s coming with the truth.
We saw this morning that the conflict between Satan and God started in the garden and goes on and on and on. And the bottom line is God has revealed His Word in the Bible and God wants you to believe the Bible and Satan wants you not to believe the Bible. Or if you’re going to believe it, believe only parts of it. Or if you’re going to believe it, believe twisted interpretations of it. Or if you’re going to believe it, believe it only when it’s explained by another book authored by Satan himself.
Now we’ve talked about then this general idea of attacks on the Bible. And first of all I mentioned to you the attacks that come from the critics, higher criticisms, scholarship, questioning the integrity of the Bible, questioning its inspiration, its inerrancy, its historicity, questioning everything about its supernatural character. Wanting to eliminate anything that’s supernatural, such as miracles, prophecies, any indications of supernatural knowledge. And when they’re done there’s little, if anything, of the Scripture left because after all as the Word of the Living God it is by nature supernatural. We battle against that attack constantly and incessantly trying to defend the Bible against the attack of the critics, the higher critics, the scholastics.
And the second we talked about was the attack of the cults. I just mentioned a moment ago they come at the Bible and say, “Yes we affirm the Bible,” but only when explained by these writings that have come from God through this cultic leader. Everybody from Marshall Applewhite, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Brigham Young, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, whoever is the source of the cultic understanding. They too assault and attack the Scriptures by adding their own revelation to the Scripture and saying they are the only qualified interpreters of the Bible. They always attack the deity of Christ. They always attack the gospel of salvation by grace alone. All of them have that in common.
Now thirdly, tonight I want to talk a little bit about the attacks from the charismatics. When I use the word charismatics, I’m talk about a movement that we understand sort of historically began in the 1960s right here in Van Nuys at an Episcopalian church not far from here. Up until the 1960’s there was a series of denominations in Evangelicalism, in the broad sense, called Pentecostal denominations. They had a view of the Bible that was different than main line historic evangelicals. But they believed the gospel. They believed that Jesus is God and God is a Trinity and salvation is by grace through faith alone. They were okay on the doctrine of God, and they were okay on the doctrine of Christ, and they were okay on the fact that the Holy Spirit is God. But they began to explain the ministry of the Holy Spirit in strange and bizarre ways, which led to certain kinds of physical phenomenon: speaking in tongues, a belief in signs, wonders, prophecies, revelation, words of wisdom, words of knowledge. And God was still speaking. He was speaking through the revelations and through the words of knowledge and through the words of wisdom and speaking to various people and leaders at certain points in time in the life of the church.
But that was really not the main feature. It was a part of things but it wasn’t the main feature until the charismatic movement was launched in 1960, which was sort of an aberration of the historical Pentecostal movement with a lot less doctrine. And it was a movement that really is defined by anybody and everybody in it who can define it any way they want. It doesn’t really have any boundaries. And the main feature of the charismatic movement since the ‘60s, now 40 years plus, the main feature is continuing revelation. If you just turn on TBN, that’s what you’re going to hear most of the time. You will hear misinterpretations of scriptures, misapplications of Scripture, but mostly you’re going to hear people saying God told them this and God told them that. The Lord’s told me to say this. The Lord told me to say that. The Lord showed me this. The Lord said this to me. The Lord said that to me. This is an assault on the singularity of Scripture, clearly.
As I’ve been saying, the Bible is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. God stopped speaking when the Bible ended, but not according to these charismatics. They have continuing revelation, continuing visions where God reveals certain things to them, they claim, continuing words from God Himself, words from Jesus, voices from heaven. They have a sort of intuitive senses about what God is saying, when it’s not audible. They can kind of feel – as one writer says, “I feel the revelation of God and its true interpretation in my lower abdomen.” Any view of revelation that has God saying anything after the Scripture is false. It’s false. And yet that is most characteristic of that movement. People aren’t content with the Word of God. They aren’t content to know what’s in the Bible, to rightly divide what’s in the Bible. To keep the sensational pace going, they have to continually have new revelation from God. And you can just see how successful it is, because the people who get on television are the best at dramatically talking about their supposed new revelations are making a fortune financially as people flood behind them to follow, to get some special word from God. The Bible is not enough for those people. It’s a very dangerous thing, and I want to show you why it’s dangerous. There’s a lot to say about that movement. I’m not going to talk about all of it. I wrote a book called Charismatic Chaos which talks about a lot of it.
But I want to take you to Jeremiah chapter 23, because I want to deal with the issue that is related to this matter of continuing revelation – Jeremiah chapter 23. And I want to just kind of walk you through this very important portion of Scripture, starting at verse 16. You know, Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church he said don’t despise preachers. Don’t despise preachers but examine everything they say. And one of the problems in evangelicalism today and Christianity in our time is the unbelievable gullibility of people who believe everything people say. You could absolutely advocate anything and people would believe it. You could get on channel 40 and advocate anything and people are going to believe it. The one thing you can’t do there is say that something somebody advocated is wrong. That’s not allowed. You can advocate anything and say it came from God. They don’t mind. But as soon as you say something isn’t true, that’s intolerable. And so there’s this proliferation of supposed messages from God. One of my clinical studies that I engage in frequently is to watch TBN in an effort to assess what’s going on in the church so that I can address it and know where the battle lies.
But just listen to what we read here. This isn’t a human voice. Although it comes through the pen of Jeremiah, this is God. “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility.’” They’re leading you absolutely nowhere. “They speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the LORD.” I don’t know how it could be said any more clearly. It is useless. It is going nowhere. They’re making it up. It is not from the mouth of the Lord. How do you know it’s not from the mouth of the Lord? Because in this book God has spoken and when the book was done God is silent.
Verse 17, “They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord has said you will have peace.’” That is to say, they tell the people what they want to hear. “And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.’” Everyone who’s living sinfully, they tell them what they want to hear. Verse 18, “But who has stood in the council of the LORD, that he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to his word and listened?” And the point is they’re just saying whatever they want to say to get you to follow them. They’re giving you the message they think you want to hear. God told me He’s going to give you a miracle. God told me He’s going to heal you. God told me He’s going to fix this and fix that. He’s going to bring peace into your life and not calamity and not destruction. Great things are ahead. You hear it all the time. We’re on the brink of a glorious outpouring of God and we’re all going to get rich. It’s what you would want to hear. But verse 18 asks, “Who stood in the council of the Lord?” Who asked Me? Who looked to see My Word?
Verse 19, “Behold the storm of the LORD has gone forth in wrath, even a whirling tempest. It will swirl down on the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart. In the last days you will clearly understand it.” Things aren’t going to get better. We’re not on the brink of a great outpouring from God. We’re not in a position to be healthy, wealthy, and wise. We’re not standing on the brink of immense prosperity and success. We’re rather standing on the brink of judgment. But you don’t hear them talking about that. All you ever hear them talking about is, “God has these great plans for you, and He wants you to be happy and He wants you to be fulfilled, and He wants you to be satisfied and He wants you to be successful. And Jesus told me it’s all going to be great. And somebody out there has got this kind of problem and it’s going to go away, and somebody out there has got cancer and it’s going to go away, and it’s all going to be great.
In verse 21 God says, “I didn’t send these prophets, but they ran. I didn’t speak to them, but they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have announced My Words to My people and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds.” Instead of proclaiming sin and wretchedness and judgment and hell and wrath and condemnation, they don’t do that because people aren’t going to fill up an auditorium to hear that. They’re not going to send a lot of money to support somebody who preaches judgment. Now we know that in Jeremiah’s day. Right? The people were all following the false prophets, and when Jeremiah preached the truth, they were so sick of him they threw him in a pit.
In verse 23, God says, “‘Am I a God who is near,’ declares the LORD, ‘and not a God far off?’” Do you think you can do this and I don’t know it? Do you think you can go somewhere and I’m not going to be there? Do you think you can say something and I’m not going to hear it? Do you think you can hide yourself in some hiding place, “‘So I do not see him?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do I not fill the heavens and earth?’ declares the LORD.” You can’t get away with this. I am everywhere. I hear everything you say. And then in verse 25 he gets more specific, “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in my name” – this is what they say – “I had a dream. I had a dream.” That’s what they say. They still say that. I had a dream. I had a vision. The Lord came to me and the Lord showed me this. “How long?” Verse 26, “Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart?” Do they have any idea of the true condition of their heart?
Well their desire in verse 27 is, “To make my people forget my name by their dreams, which they relate to one another, just as their father’s forgot my name because of Baal.” In other words, the end result is to turn the people from God, from the truth. You say, why would they do that? Because they’re working for the deceiver. Verse 28, “The prophet who has a dream may relay his dream, but let him who has My words speak My word in truth.” That’s good, isn’t it? You don’t need to chase some guy who’s had a vision. You need to sit under someone who has the truth in the Word. “The prophet who has a dream relates his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth.” And then He says, “What does straw have in common with grain?” Do you want something nourishing or do you want straw? The truth is grain; the lie is straw. Yeah, but the Word of God is hard, harsh. It’s true.
Verse 29, “‘Is not My word like fire?’ declares the Lord. ‘And like a hammer which shatters a rock?’” It’s not what people want to hear. You can’t pack 25,000 people in one of those charismatic meetings by pronouncing judgment on all those people. They’re not going to come back by announcing to them that they’re all sinful and alienated from God, and they need to turn from false prophets, and they need to turn from all selfish endeavors and all of that and embrace the cross of Jesus Christ alone, or they’re going to perish in their sins. And by the way, even if you come to Christ, God makes no promise about your health, about your wealth, or about your prosperity.
I felt like I lost a friend yesterday, I really did. I felt like I lost a friend. I had a little melancholy fit about in the middle of the day, and I just kind of sulked away in sorrow, because I was reading a biography and the principle person in the biography died. And it was as if somebody really precious to me died. I guess the interesting part of it is I never really knew him and he died in 1945. But the biographer had done such a masterful job of putting his life in front of me and making me love him and look at him like a friend, that when it came to his death, it was as if I really lost a friend. By the way, his name was Eric Little, great Scottish sprinter who won the 400-yard race in the 1925 Olympics and at the time of his life was the greatest athlete in Scotland.
After all of that, you know, if you see the movie Chariots of Fire, you only see the preliminary to his life. He went to China as a missionary. He went to China as a missionary. The most unbelievably difficult life you could ever imagination. A godly man alone in China with other missionaries trying to carve out a place for the gospel. Fell in love with a girl, wanted to marry her, but her parents asked if he would wait four years while she went away to nursing school. Finally the four years of waiting was over. And all the while he was getting to know the Lord better in China while she was in Canada and suffering through all kinds of trials as he tried to take his meager substance and pour out his life in a hundred different directions to make a difference in the lives of others.
And eventually they were married and then the mission moved him somewhere else because the Japanese invaded Japan, and he never saw his family. And then they bombed Pearl Harbor and he said goodbye to his wife and two daughters that he hadn’t seen very often and said, “You need to go to Canada because the Japanese are going to come and they’re going to put us in concentration camps.” And while she left him – they said goodbye with a hug and a kiss at the dock. And she got on the Japanese ship going across to Canada, pregnant seven months with their third little one. And he said, “I’ll follow as soon as I get things settled here.” Well he never did. It was three years. And he died in that concentration camp of a brain tumor at the age of 43. There’s nothing about that life that could be measured in any material way.
When he was relocated from his little flat where he lived with three guys, and his dear wife and his three daughters over in Canada, when they moved him out of that flat everything he owned was in a box. Now that’s a spiritual hero to me. And it’s very cathartic to read his story because he was content with absolutely nothing. He decided he would sell his gold watch, given to him by the Scottish government for his Olympic victory, to buy some game equipment in the concentration camp so the kids would have something to play with. Utterly selfless and sacrificial – that’s the stuff of a Christ-like life. When he died, everybody who commented on his life at his funeral commented on the selfless, humble, gentle, gracious character of this man, who was so totally devoted to the Word of God that he rose every morning, and for one hour to two hours, he poured over the Scriptures and prayer. Don’t tell me that somehow he was not cashing in on some material benefits that God holds for those who pursue it.
I guess the reason I felt so melancholy, when I was reading about his death and the aftermath and I finished the book, was because that whole thing is so far gone from the way life is today. And here come these false prophets giving all their dreams about prosperity. But when the truth is preached it comes like a fire, and it burns and it consumes, and it produces a broken and a contrite spirit. And when the Word comes it comes like a hammer. I said this some weeks ago and I repeat it because it’s so important to say. This is the passage, “Soft preaching produces hard hearts, and people who love soft preaching love hard hearts.” Hard, truthful, biblical preaching is a hammer that breaks up the hard heart. You show me a church where there’s soft preaching, and I’ll show you a church full of sin and hardness. You show me a church where the Word of God is proclaimed like a fire and like a hammer, and I’ll show you a place where there are soft hearts.
Well back to verse 30, “‘Therefore, behold, I’m against the prophets,’ declares the LORD, ‘who steal My words from each other.’” Boy! They steal my words from each other. They sit around and they concoct these ideas and they share them. They invent these supposed words from God. I’m against them. “‘I’m against the prophets,’ declares the LORD, ‘who use their tongues and declare, “The Lord declares.”’” I’m against those who do that. “I am against those,” verse 32, “who have prophesied false dreams ... and related them and led my people astray by their falsehood and reckless boasting.” This reckless boasting that I get messages from God. I’m God’s anointed. I’m the vehicle of God’s revelation. Jesus told me this and Jesus told me that, and God told me this and God told me that. He says in verse 32, “I didn’t send them. I didn’t command them. Nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit.” Why? Because what they say leads them nowhere, because it’s not God’s Word. This is tragic.
Verse 34 – or verse 33, “Now when this people or the prophet or a priest” – who does this – “asks you saying, ‘What is the oracle of the LORD?’ Then you shall say to them, ‘What oracle?’ The LORD declares, ‘I shall abandon you.’” When they say, you know, what is the Lord saying to you? What you should reply sarcastically is, “He’s going to abandon you.” Tell them that. “Each of you will say to his neighbor and to his brother, ‘What has the Lord answered?’ or, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’” This is the way it is today. All people sharing these supposed words from the Lord. Verse 36, “Actually you will no longer remember the oracle of the LORD, because ever man’s own word will become the oracle.” You can’t even know the Word of God. You can’t even remember what the true word from God is, because everybody’s word has become the oracle. “And you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God.” Now you understand whose word your tampering with? I don’t want to put words in anybody’s mouth, least of all God’s. Well I think you understand the seriousness of this kind of thing. It goes on all the time, and doing that is an assault on the Scripture.
I know it doesn’t make me popular. One night one of the most popular televangelists got on and they were talking about me and he said, “If I had my way, I’d take out my Holy Ghost machine gun and blow his brains out.” Well I suppose that’s the kind of reaction you should expect if you’re going to speak the truth about them.
This attack on the Scripture is so devastating, because you’ve got all these people under their influence running around looking for messages from God that they’re never going to receive. And instead, getting messages of deception and lies from the enemy, when they hold the truth in their hand. They walk into one of those arenas with a Bible in their hand and listen to Benny Hinn giving false revelations. It’s sad. And again, rescuing people from this is critical. Somebody asked me this morning, “Well how do we approach that?” I’m going to tell you at the end. How do we approach the people who are in there? I’ll tell you specifically at the end.
Number four – we talked about the critics who attack, the cults that attack, charismatics attack. Let’s call this the attack from the culture – the attack from the culture. Now this is the approach the Scripture that says, you know, we believe the Scripture’s got to be politically correct. We believe that the Scripture’s has got to be acceptable to the culture. The Bible – if people are going to believe it, it can’t be antagonistic. I can’t be offense. We’ve got to get the offensiveness out of it. And the dominant worldview today is what’s called postmodernism. I read about that in the little book Why One Way, that’s indicated to you in the Lord’s Day bulletin today. But the dominant worldview is postmodernism. And postmodernism says, there’s no such thing as absolute truth. What’s truth for you is fine; what’s truth for me is fine. I have my truth; you have your truth, and we’ll agree that we can each have our truth. No problem. There is no absolute objective truth, or if there is we can’t know it. Reality is whatever you think it is, whatever you’d like it to be. So the word truth doesn’t mean truth, it means opinion. And the real attitude that has to prevail is tolerance. You’ve got to accept that I have my truth and you have your truth and we just all get along fine.
This has swept into the church. Sad situation. Christians no longer want to be doctrinally clear or definitive. They no longer want to fight for sound doctrine against false doctrine and error. They’re no longer willing to unequivocally say, “This is the truth and anything different than this is a lie.” And pragmatism has greased the slide for post modernism, because pragmatism says whatever works is what you use. And postmodern tolerance works because people come and they’re not offended and it works, so pragmatically it’s great. We want to make sure that the message isn’t too jarring to the postmodern mind. The postmodern mind is very fragile, doesn’t like conflict.
Well let me tell you something. In fact, what I was going to tell you at the end I’ll tell you here, because I may run out of time. I’ll tell you here. We have in society an attitude that we have to say what people want to hear. We have to say what people want to hear, and nothing could be further from the truth. Let me put it to you very simply. This is how you reach people in error. Wherever the error exists that’s where you go. Did you get that? It’s not what you avoid, that’s where you go. You say, what do I do with a Muslim who doesn’t believe in the Trinity? You talk about the Trinity, because wherever it is that he will not submit to the truth of God is the very point at which his rebellion is manifest. Understood? Doesn’t do any good to avoid that. What do I do with a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon who doesn’t believe in the deity of Christ? You show them that Christ is God. Well what do I do with a feminist that’s offended by the masculine elements of the Bible? You show that feminist absolutely what the Bible teaches about the role of men and women. Oh yeah, but that’s offensive. But that’s the whole point. Isn’t it? If they are not willing to trade in their error for truth, they’re not going to come to the kingdom. Whatever point a person rebels against the truth of God becomes the point that the battle has to be waged. So if talking to a Roman Catholic – you say, how do I witness to a Catholic without offending him? You don’t. You witness to a Roman Catholic by saying the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification by works is not true. Here’s what’s true.
You say, but they’ll be offended. But don’t you understand, until they are no longer offended at that point, they aren’t going to submit to the Word of God. This idea of somehow in the modern church that the whole point is skirting all the issues, and we’re sneaking up from the backside and we want to embrace everybody, and oh it’s all fine and wonderful and we don’t want to say anything offensive, is absolutely counterproductive. Because wherever it is that I do not believe the Word of God is precisely the point that I must yield up that error if I’m going to be saved. Right? You have to go right at the offense. That’s where the battle has to be fought. You do it lovingly. You do it graciously. You do it tenderly. You do it kindly. But you go in there knowing you’re going to light a fire to their deceptions, and you’re going to take a hammer and smash down their misunderstandings. And you speak the truth in love, but the offense has to be the target. In all evangelism, wherever a person refuses to submit to the truth of God, that is the point that prevents them from salvation. And that’s the point that has to be confronted.
Now you have this new thing called the hermeneutics of humility. The scholars are now saying, oh, I’m too humble. I’m too humble to think that my view is necessarily the right one. Well I’m humble enough to say that if your view isn’t the biblical one, it’s the wrong one. Twist what Scripture says on homosexuality or feminism or anything, person of Christ, person of God, whatever it is, you can’t sneak around somebody who wants to hold some viewpoint. Second Corinthians 10, these are the fortresses, the ideologies that people raise up and we go in to smash the fortresses and bring every thought captive to the obedience of – what? – Christ. Wherever people have raised up a viewpoint against the Word of God is precisely where the battle has to be waged. That’s how we do evangelism. You don’t do evangelism by being inoffensive. Now you don’t have to be offensive in your demeanor or your attitude. You can come with love and tenderness and kindness and compassion, but you must understand that wherever people are in rebellion against what Scripture says, that is the very point at which they have to be dealt with.
If I’m going to talk to a Charismatic, I’m not going to say, you know, we have so much in common. It’s so great. I’m going to say, you know, you have a serious problem, because you have people saying God says things to them that He doesn’t say. That’s serious. And those dear people, even those that are Christians, are never going to understand the Christian life and live it with any depth and any power until they’re committed to the fact that the revelation of God is confined to the Scripture and that the key to living out their Christian life in its fullness is to know the truth of Scripture. Forget all that deception. Any human concept, ideology raised up against the knowledge of God has to be smashed. And so that’s how we do evangelism. And churches just meander around what is politically correct, trying to avoid points of conflict, and that’s that soft kind of preaching that leaves people with hard, unconverted, unsanctified hearts.
Let me give you an illustration of it. First Kings ends in chapter 22, and this is a good illustration. This is an account about Ahab, who was king of Israel, the northern kingdom. Jehoshaphat was king of Judah in the south. And Jehoshaphat came, in verse 2, three years after a war between Israel and Aram. Three years of peace had gone on, and in that time of that three years of peace, Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, the southern kingdom, had put together a coalition of nations to kind of give him a strong position in the cold war to keep his enemies at bay. And so he goes to the king of Israel – it says he came down. If you look at a map, Israel is above Judah on the map but topographically it’s down. It’s lower than the area of Judah and Jerusalem.
So the King of Israel comes and he says, “Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us and we are still doing nothing to take it out of the hand of the king of Aram.” We should have that city back but we don’t have it back. “And he said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?’ And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel” – Ahab – “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” It’s a deal. Let’s go get it. Let’s go take Ramoth-gilead. “Moreover, Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, ‘Please inquire first for the Word of the LORD.’” Why don’t you ask God? “And the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and he said to them, ‘Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle or shall I refrain?’ And they said, ‘Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.’” How did they know that? They didn’t know that.
If you have my study Bible you’re cheating by reading down below that they weren’t true prophets and they didn’t consult God on anything. They told the king what he wanted to hear. He wanted to hear that he could go and be victorious. So they said, “Go, the Lord will give it into the hand of the king. And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not yet a prophet of the LORD here?’” I mean, he knew what that four hundred prophets were worth – nothing. Just like Jeremiah 23, they had no word from God. Couldn’t we check with a prophet of the Lord before we stick our necks out? “Well, the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is this yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, but I hate him.’” Now that’s a problem. I hate that guy. Why do you hate Him? “Because he doesn’t prophesy good concerning me.” This is a problem. It’s that simple. I don’t like what he says. I just want to hear good. He prophesies evil, and rightly so since Ahab was so evil as to make a black mark on a piece of coal. His heart was dark with sin.
“His name is Micaiah, son of Imlah.” He even knew his father. “Jehoshaphat said, ‘Let not the king say so.’ So the king of Israel called an officer and said, ‘Bring quickly, Micaiah, son of Imlah.’ Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah were sitting each on his throne, arrayed in their robes” – this is a pretty austere scene – “at the threshing for the entrance to the gate of Samaria. And all the prophets were prophesying before them.” All 400 of these guys are down there seeing exactly what they know Ahab wants to see and wants to hear. That’s how they keep their jobs. That’s how they gain their popularity. “Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made horns of iron for himself and said, ‘Thus says the LORD, “With these you shall gore the error of men until they’re consumed.”’” So this got theatrical. This is just one of the four hundred and he’s over there – he’s got a blacksmith over there making horns. And he comes up with an object lesson. “See these horns? You’re going to gore them when you get over there.”
“And all the prophets” – in verse 12 – “we’re prophesying saying, ‘Go up to Ramoth-gilead and prosper, for the LORD will give it into the hand of the king.’” Unanimous. “Then the messenger who went to summon Micaiah spoke to him saying, ‘Behold now, the words other prophets are uniformly favorable to the king. Please let your word be like the word of one of them and speak favorably.’” Ahab was so wicked, didn’t want to hear the truth about his life. So this messenger tells Micaiah, just say what everybody else is saying. “And Micaiah said, ‘As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak.’” Political correctness meant nothing to him. He was not a teacher having itching ears who said what the people wanted to hear. But interesting enough – this is really kind of interesting, “When he came to the king, the king said to him, ‘Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle or shall we refrain?’” And he answers him sarcastically. “And he answered him, ‘Go up and succeed, and the LORD will give it into the hands of the king.’” Dripping sarcasm. It’s what you want to hear, isn’t it? And the king knew what he was doing.
Verse 16, “The king said to him, ‘How many times must I adjure you to speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?’” Really? “So he said” – okay, here’s the truth – ‘I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep which have no shepherd. And the LORD said, “These have no master. Let each of them return to his house in peace.”’ Then the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Didn’t I tell you that he would prophesy evil and not good concerning me.’” I knew it. Well the prophecy was – what I see is the shepherd gets killed. The master gets killed. He prophesied his death. I knew he’d say that. “And Micaiah said, ‘Therefore hear the Word of the LORD. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne and all the hosts of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.’” I mean he’s got a true representation of God.
Well skipping down to verse 34, Ahab went into the battle trying to hide. He went dressed like a soldier rather than like the commander. “And a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel in the joint of the armor.” A gap where the armor bent. Went right through. “He said to the driver of his chariot. ‘Turn around and take me out of the fight. I am severely wounded.’ Battle raged that day. The king was propped up in his chariot in front of the Arameans” – to make them think he was still in control. “And the died at evening and the blood from the wound ran into the bottom of the chariot. Then a cry passed through the army close to sunset, saying, ‘Every man to his city, every man to his country.’” Just exactly what the prophet said, I see the shepherd killed. I see the master killed. I see everybody fleeing to their homes. “So the king died and he was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria. And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria and the dogs licked up his blood” – which by the way had been prophesied two chapters earlier – “in a place where the harlots bathed themselves, according to the Word of the LORD which he spoke.”
I will confess to you that sinners want to hear what they want to hear. And they do not want to hear the preacher speaking evil. But whether they want to hear it or not they must hear it. They must hear it. For it is precisely at the point of their sin and rebellion that the battle must be waged, else they are forever lost.
In the 1 chapter of 2 Kings, “Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. And Ahaziah” – I don’t know how he did this – “he fell through the lattice ...” – off his roof – “and became ill. So he sent messengers and said, ‘Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.’” What astonishing apostasy. Go inquire of Baal-zebub? “But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, “Is it because there’s no God in Israel that you go to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus said the LORD, ‘You shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up. You shall surely die.’”’ And Elijah left town.” I don’t think either one of these men wanted to hear truth, but they needed to hear it, because it was the truth.
Well what am I saying in all this? I’m saying it’s immaterial what the culture wants. Do you understand? I mean, our message is not dictated by the culture. It’s not dictated by what’s popular, what people want to hear. Of course they don’t want to hear that they’re sinful and they’re on their way to eternal punishment and that they have no ability within themselves to change that, and they must throw themselves on the mercy of the Holy God to be spared that judgment by the provision and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They might not want to hear that, but that’s what they have to hear. And if they don’t believe in who the true God is, then at that point they have to be confronted with who He is. If they don’t believe Jesus is God, at that point they have to be confronted with that. Whatever it is that they don’t believe to be true from the Word of God is the very point at which their rebellion has to be broken, and if it will not be, then they do not submit and they are not saved.
Well let me give you a fifth attack. Let’s just call this the attack from the capricious – the capricious. If that’s a word you don’t understand, just try willy-nilly, just all over the place, irresponsible. Those are the people who dumb down the Bible. Those are the people who don’t study the Bible, don’t interpret the Bible, don’t work at coming to grips with its true meaning. And as I said a few weeks ago, the meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture. If you don’t have the meaning you don’t have the Scripture. There’s so much silliness, so much foolishness. People saying the Bible means this, the Bible means that, the Bible means this, and if it doesn’t mean that, then they’re saying that’s the word of God when it isn’t. That is very serious. You can’t just say the Bible means anything you want it to mean.
Probably the most ridiculous of all such capricious attacks on the Bible is this Bible codes. It was a number of years ago that a man named Michael Drosnin wrote a book called Bible Codes. This could only have been written in a computer age, because what he did was he took all the words in portions of Scripture and in a computer just filled a page with them like you see in one of those puzzles when you’re flying in an airplane that has all these letters and words can be made this way and this way and up and down and across. And he started looking for words, and he said that this a secret encoded revelation from God. And then that was followed up by Christian publishers publishing a whole raft of books on Bible codes, the secret meaning, the true revelation of God is hidden in the, sort of, acrostics in the letters of the Bible. And they would print up big pages of the letters, and they would find all historical events, and they would say that this is proof that God was predicting them. And here God is telling us this and telling us that, and God is saying this and God is saying that.
There was a gentleman by the name of Brendan McKay who was suspicious of this. But this is still huge in the charismatic movement – huge. But he thought he would show the folly of it by doing some work himself. So he took a document and he tried to do the same thing to find cryptic acrostic code. And he decided that what would be really fascinating would be to find the assassination of great people; the person, something about how they were killed, and even in some cases when. And so in this document he found – and this was written before any of these events – he found Mahatma Gandhi’s death, killed October 3, 1984. He found the death of President Moawad, who was a Lebanese president who was bombed in his car, and it even described something of how he died. He found the death of Leon Trotsky, the communist, on August 20, 1940. He was executed with an ice pick.
He found the death of Martin Luther King with a gun. He found the death of Robert F. Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan and his name is in the text, specifically spelled out. He found the death of John F. Kennedy, shot in the head with a rifle from a concealed place and elements of that are there. He found the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He found the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. He even found a whole section on the death of Princess Diana. And what was the document? Moby Dick. Now you might argue that Moby Dick is a wonderful allegory, but God didn’t write it. Herman Melville did. What does that prove? It proves the folly of that. Whatever God said he said with – here’s that word again – perspicuity. He said with clarity. It’s not hidden in backwards writing, upside down and inverted. Don’t put words in God’s mouth. This kind of capricious conduct is serious.
And then I think number six – then I’ll stop – is the attack from carnal wisdom or carnality if you want one word that starts with a C. The attack from carnality. What is this? Well it’s the idea that man’s wisdom trumps God. Yeah, I know that Genesis 1 and 2 says God created the entire universe in six days, but science has proven otherwise, so science trumps God. Well I know there are verses in the Bible that seem to talk about the doctrine of election and predestination, but that’s just not possible. God couldn’t just actually choose people from eternity past. That wouldn’t be fair. I can’t really buy into that. So human reason trumps God. And I am greatly bothered by that doctrine of eternal punishment. I just can’t believe that so I believe in annihilation. I believe that unbelieving people who die just go out of existence or they go into – as Seventh Day Adventists say – soul sleep forever.
Or I believe in universalism. Everybody’s going to be saved at the end. But how can you believe that when the Bible says this and this? Well but that’s not reasonable. That’s not fair. I can’t handle that. That’s just more than I can emotionally deal with. And so again, man trumps God. I don’t like the idea that the only people that are saved are those who believe the gospel. Certainly there’s a wider mercy. Certainly there’s people outside who never heard the gospel, don’t know about Jesus, they certainly are going to heaven. God would never send them to hell if they’ve done the best they can and lived up to the best that they could. We just have to go back to the New Testament and fix a few things. That doesn’t sit well with me. And again, human wisdom trumps God. That’s carnal wisdom.
Well that’s enough. Time’s up. There are more. You know, everything – everything that Satan does is designed to undermine the truth of God. So folks this is a huge war. I’ve been fighting it all my life and I’ll keep fighting it till I don’t have any brains or any breath. It’s the war. It’s the big one. It’s not a small one. It’s the big one. And wherever the attack comes from, know this, any failure to believe what the Scripture says is an attack on the Word of God. It doesn’t matter whether it comes from critics or cults or charismatics, whether it comes as we saw from carnal wisdom, whether it comes from capricious people, whether it comes from the culture, people trying to alter the Scripture so it doesn’t offend. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. Any misrepresentation of biblical truth is an attack on Scripture. And I’ll put it simply any attack on the Word of God is an attack on the God who authored it. I personally wouldn’t want to be in a war with God. Very serious.
So we have a great responsibility – Jude 3 – to earnestly contend for the faith. We have a great responsibility – 2 Corinthians 10 – to go to people who are imprisoned in ideological fortresses, lofty ideas raised up against the true knowledge of God and with the truth smash the fortresses down and lead every though captive to the obedience of Christ. Our battle is to change how people think about the Word of God. To believe it is the Word of God and it alone is the Word of God and to rightly understand its glorious truths, that is our battle. And wherever you meet someone who rebels and who does not know the truth, that does not believe the truth, does not embrace the truth, at that point the battle is engaged. As I said, do it lovingly, do it graciously, do it compassionately, do it prayerfully, praying that God will open their blinded minds, their darkened hearts. But the only way you’ll ever bring down error is to lift up – what? – truth. It’s the only weapon. And it’s at that very point where they resist the Word of God, whether it’s moral or scientific or whatever. It’s at that very point that they resist the Word of God, whether it’s cultural, that you have to engage them. Because until they come to God with a broken and a contrite heart – Isaiah 66 – and tremble at His word, God will not receive them. That’s where the battle has to be waged.
Father, as we close tonight we are reminded of this duty that is ours to earnestly contend for the faith. And that means to know the faith for which we contend. Lord, help us to know Your Word, not to be overwhelmed by it, to know that a wayfaring man, though he be a fool, need not error. And you have said you have chosen to hide these things from the wise and the prudent and reveal them unto babes. And there are not many noble and mighty, but you have chosen the common and the base and lowly things of the world to place your truth in them, that the Excellency might never be of us but always of you. Make us faithful soldiers for the truth, defending it, advancing it, with the sword of the Spirit. Bringing the truth to bear against all those who are imprisoned in false ideas, captive to Satan. May we bring the truth to bear upon their deceptions and thus set them free by Your power to bring every thought captive to You. We thank You for this great privilege to which You’ve called us and the fruitfulness that awaits us if we’re faithful. In Christ’s name, Amen.
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