You can turn to Psalm 19. I’ll make a few comments about the opening six verses, and then we’ll take a look at this psalm. Now all the people who know me very well through the years know that Psalm 19 has been a foundational psalm in the ministry the Lord has given to me. When I first prepared to preach on this psalm many, many decades ago, I felt that this was the single-most impactful condensed presentation of the sufficiency of the Word of God anywhere on the pages of Scripture. So it became a kind of go-to chapter for me all over the world. I don’t know how many languages I have been translated in while speaking, speaking in a lot of countries around the world in English, of course, but very often translated. But I will say many, many translators through the years have translated my preaching on Psalm 19, because it is so utterly foundational. It also serves as I think a model of what expositional preaching should be; and because of that, it not only presents the truth that is contained in it, but it presents a way to deal with that truth that can be effective in preaching.
Now look, from the first time I began to preach as a very young man and I was preaching in junior high camps just at the end of my seminary days, I always felt like I needed to take a passage in the Bible and explain it. I don’t know why I was completely driven in that direction, but I assume it was because of my passion for the Word of God. I have no interest in informing people about what I think or what my opinion is or my personal testimony. I don’t use myself an illustration of anything, I just stick with the Word of God. This has been consistent through my entire life. And I have to say, the only thing I can assume is that the Holy Spirit prompted me when I don’t know that I knew enough to make that decision; but I did know that the Word of God was far more important than anything I had to say. So that has been the pathway since the very beginning.
There is a man, who is now dead, who wrote – he was a historian, a somewhat liberal historian – he wrote a historic anthology on preaching. His names is Hughes Oliphant Old, a scholastic, and he wrote about preachers through history. And he wrote about me in there, and I think it’s most interesting as a kind of accurate definition of my preaching, so I thought you might enjoy what he wrote. Now this is in a scholastic multivolume, I think seven volume anthology of the history of preachers.
This is what he wrote: “MacArthur’s rhetoric is terribly out-of-date. But maybe he knows something the rest of us don’t. Why do so many people listen to MacArthur, this product of all the wrong schools? How can he pack out a church on Sunday morning in an age in which church attendance has seriously lagged? Here is a preacher who has nothing in the way of a winning personality, good looks, or charm.” It pretty well covers all of it. “Here is a preacher who offers us nothing in the way of sophisticated homiletical packaging. No one would suggest that he is a master of the art of oratory.” And then he says this: “What he seems to have is a witness to true authority. He recognizes in Scripture the Word of God; and when he preaches, it is the Scripture that one hears. It is not that the words of John MacArthur are so interesting, as it is that the Word of God is of surpassing interest. That’s why one listens.”
I think that is accurate. Sorry about the lack of charm, good looks, personality. He couldn’t quite figure out why people listen to me, but he went on to say some things about how he himself was moved when he listened to an entire series I did on a chapter in Matthew, and tried to sort out the fact that he was hearing a level of authority coming from the Word of God that was not usual. So I always defer to the Word of God, and Psalm 19 gives us reason to speak the word of God by its declaration of the sufficiency of the Word of God.
So let’s look at verses 7 through 14 together, Psalm 19. Before we get to verse 7, you heard Jeff in the last session mention the opening six verses and then read them. This is a unified hymn from David by the Holy Spirit declaring that God, the Creator and the Redeemer, has spoken. He has revealed Himself and His glory to all humanity in two ways. One is generally in His world, verses 1 through 6, the other specifically in His Word. He has revealed Himself in a nonverbal way in creation and in a verbal way in Scripture. As Jeff mentioned, the creation is general revelation, the Scripture is special revelation. You can know a lot about God from the general revelation. According to Romans 1, you can know about His deity and His power by looking at the creation. What you cannot know is the wisdom that saves; that has to come through special revelation.
We come today to this section, starting in verse 7, where the emphasis is on special revelation, and in particular, it’s on the sufficiency of Scripture. Let me read verses 7, 8 and 9. “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are comprehensibly righteous.”
Now there are six lines of thought here. If you look at the text you will notice six lines of thought with three elements in each. This is very ordered in its structure. There are six titles for Scripture: it is called law and testimony in verse 7, it is called precepts and commandment in verse 8, and it is called fear and judgments in verse 9. There are six titles for Scripture; all of those describe different facets of the same divine revelation in the Bible. Then there are six characteristics of Scripture: it is perfect and sure, it is right and pure, it is clean and true. And then there are six benefits of Scripture: it restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, endures forever, and produces comprehensive righteousness. This is, with an economy of words, the most comprehensive statement on the sufficiency of Scripture anywhere on the pages of the Bible.
And then there are six attributions of Scripture to the Lord: verse 7, “of the Lord, of the Lord”; verse 8, “of the Lord, of the Lord”; verse 9, “of the Lord, of the Lord.” Six times we have the covenant name of Yahweh as the source of the Word of God. It is, in fact, the Word of God. It is law, it is testimony, it is statute, it is commandment, it is fear, it is ordinance or commandment or judgments. It is perfect, sure, right, clear, clean, and true. It transforms, it makes wise, it brings joy, it enlightens, it purifies, and it provides full spiritual resources. This is God’s own testimony to His own Word, and here He gives testimony of its complete sufficiency.
There was a time in the past when the sufficiency of Scripture was really under assault. In fact, in very bold terms I was confronted many times by people in the church, leaders in the church who said, “You cannot just take people to the Bible to solve their problems. The Word of God is not enough, you have to have psychology, psychological insight. You have to open their heart in a psychological way before the Word of God can do its work. Christian psychology came in with power and strength, and went out with its tail tucked between its legs a few years ago. It offered absolutely nothing as far as spiritual sufficiency is concerned. One of the first things I did at The Master’s University when I became president long ago in 1985 was shut down the psychology department. In its place, we began biblical counseling, discipleship, which has flourished – as many of you would know.
So let’s look at the Word of God in these facets, these six facets, and draw from it our understanding of this magnificent revelation. The law, Torah. The Bible is divine law. The Bible is divine law. It is God’s explanation of His rule over human life. God lays down in the Bible the rules for life. It is law. It is often called the law of the Lord. Paul even refers to it in Romans 7 as the law; and it’s holy, and it’s just, and it’s good. And Ezra, in chapter 7, studied the law, meditated on the law, so that he could teach the law. Well, the law simply broadly means the Word of God.
So when you look at the Bible, it is not some suggestions, it is not some sentimental ideas, it is divine law. The Creator has laid down the law for maximum functioning blessing and usefulness on the part of mankind. The Creator knows what is right, knows what is best, knows what He expects and demands, and He has given it to us. There’s no way around that. The Scripture is God’s law for man’s life.
Now this law of God is perfect, verse 7 says, perfect. Let me tell you what that means. It doesn’t mean perfect as opposed to imperfect, it means perfect as opposed to incomplete; and that’s often the way perfect is used in the New Testament, and also even here. It is the perfect law. James even calls it the perfect law. What that word “perfect” means – and this is the best lexicon definition I could find: all-sided so as to cover completely all aspects of life. In other words, nothing is left out. It is complete. It’s the idea of lacking nothing. It contains all that is necessary for the revelation of the law of God for the well-being of mankind. Nothing is missing.
As such, it has the power to restore the soul. Look at the verb “restore.” It could be translated: revive, restore, refresh, convert. But I like the word “transform,” transform. That is a fair translation of this term. So the Scripture, the revealed law of God is complete, comprehensive, covering everything that is necessary to know the full revelation of God, and as such, it transforms. It has the truth and the power to transform. To transform what? The soul, nephesh is the Hebrew word. And in the Old Testament it is translated many, many ways: person, self, heart, soul. But always means the inner person, okay, the inner person.
So what do we have in that first line? The Scripture is utterly sufficient because of its completeness to totally transform the whole inner person. There is an unequivocal statement about the sufficiency of Scripture; there’s nothing left out. First Peter 1:23 and 24, “Being born again, not by corruptible seed, but by incorruptible, by the word of God, this is the word by which the gospel is preached to you.” So Peter even says, “It is the word of God that produces new birth.” “It is the word of God” – Romans 1:16 – “that is the power of God unto salvation.” The Word transforms. The law of the Lord is so powerful as to totally transform the whole inner person. It doesn’t have to be packaged in any convenient earthly package. You don’t need to do anything to make the message more powerful or more acceptable. In and of itself, the law of the Lord is so complete as to totally transform the whole inner person.
Now notice the second statement: “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” Now this looks at Scripture as God’s testimony, God’s self-revelation. We understand that. We look at the Bible, and yes, we can say it’s the law of God. We can also say it’s the Lord’s testimony. By that we mean He reveals Himself. God has revealed Himself, as you well know, Hebrews chapter 1, in many ways through the prophets, many forms in the Old Testament, and now in this last day has spoken unto us by His Son. The record of His Son is in the New Testament. So it is God’s testimony concerning Himself. And when you study the Bible you’re always looking for one primary disclosure in every portion of Scripture, and that is, “What is here revealed about God?” This is God’s testimony. What is here revealed about God that I can learn more of Him?”
So the testimony of the Lord, divine witness, is sure; that means unwavering, unerring, unmistakable. There are lots of religious books that are not trustworthy. There are lots of books purported to speak about the God of the Bible that are not trustworthy. But the Lord’s own revelation, His own personal testimony through the writers of Scripture, Old and New Testament, that is a sure word. That’s what Peter said, didn’t he? Talking about the transfiguration. That experience in itself was not the final authority. We have a more sure word; that word is Scripture.
So the revelation of God is sure in the sense that it is trustworthy. And what is the effect of that? It makes wise the simple. I love this. The word “simple” is used a lot in Proverbs, and it has a very basic meaning. The Hebrew language is more concrete than Greek. Greek is a little bit more esoteric, a little bit more philosophical. Hebrew’s very concrete, very objective, kind of very down-to-earth. And “simple,” basically the root meaning of it is open door, open door. Sometimes translated “naive.” The Word takes the naive, unexperienced, undiscerning, uninformed person and makes that person wise.
Now what does an open door have to do with being simple? It is a perfect illustration of simplicity or stupidity. It’s having a mind that is always open; everything comes in, everything goes out, because you don’t know when to shut the door. A simple-minded person is an utterly undiscerning person. You have a door on your house, right? You don’t go to bed at night and leave it open, because that door discriminates what you allow to enter into the house.
You hear people say, “I have an open mind.” Shut it, would you, please? There’s nothing more stupid than having an open mind. “Well, I’m an agnostic.” “Oh.” Oh, do you know the Latin word for agnostic? Ignoramus. I haven’t heard anybody say, “I’m an ignoramus.” Shut the door.
But how do you know when to shut the door? How do you know what to keep out, what to let in? How do you know, to fulfill Psalm 1, not to sit in the seat of scoffers, not to go to some school somewhere and sit there with an open mind and let people pour lies and deception into your head, not to go to a church where the same thing is going on? Mastering the art of living is what the word “wise” means. It’s a Hebrew word chakam. It’s not wise sort of in the Greek sense, which again is esoteric and a little bit mystical and sort of intellectual. Wise, chakam, means skilled in living, skilled in living. So here, the Word of God, the revelation of God Himself is trustworthy to take an ignorant, simple-minded person without discernment and make that person skilled in holy living. God is always the source of chakam.
When you come to Job 28, he says you can see the creation, you can see the general revelation of God, but that’s not going to give you the wisdom that means you know how to live life before God. For that you need His written Word. And it comes only to those who seek it with all their hearts.
Do you believe that the Word of God is sufficient, when proclaimed accurately, to totally transform the whole inner person, to bring about a new birth, to bring about regeneration in the power of the Holy Spirit? Do you believe that the Bible, the revelation of God is so trustworthy, that it can take a simple-minded, ignorant, naive person and make that person skilled in all areas of holy living? That’s sufficiency. That is sufficiency. It doesn’t take psychology. It doesn’t take sociology. Jesus said in John 17:17, His prayer, “Sanctify them by Thy truth; Thy word is truth.” Holy living is the product of the Word working in the soul. You asked me why I do nothing but preach the Word of God; because it has the power to totally transform the sinner, and it has the power to take the sinner who has been transformed and make him skilled in every aspect of holy living.
Thirdly, in verse 8, “The precepts of the Lord” – or some translations say the statutes – “are right, rejoicing the heart.” These would be doctrines, propositional truths, theological truths that come from the Lord. The Bible contains all of the theology that is right.
What do you mean “right”? It’s not right as opposed to wrong. It is right as opposed to wrong; but that’s not the Word. It is a right path. In other words, the revelation of God, the revelation of His precepts, doctrines, propositional truths contained in Scripture lay out a right path. “This is way; walk in it.” “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Yes, but it’s even more than that: it is the path. It is the path. It is the theology, the doctrines, the propositional truths of Scripture that lay out the right path.
And what does that produce? Rejoicing the heart. Rejoicing the heart. You want real joy in your life? Walk in the path of Scripture. Walk in the path of sound doctrine. John writes in 1 John 1:4, “These things I write unto you,” – and he was writing Christology, the doctrine of Christ – “that your joy may be” – what? – “full.”
Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 15:16, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was in me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” He was a lonely prophet, basically distained by his entire nation; eventually thrown in a pit. People didn’t listen to what he said. But even when he was confronted with that, he said, “I heard the words, I ate those words, and they were the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” You may, like Jeremiah, face a lot of opposition. But even in the face of opposition, the Word will be the joy of your heart. Walking in the path that the Word lays out is the path of joy.
I mean, that comes out, doesn’t it, in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” – and what immediately follows? – “speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” You become a singing Christian.
I told our congregation last Sunday that every single time in Pilgrim’s Progress Pilgrim goes in and out of a conflict. Every time he comes out, it always says, “He went on his way, singing a hymn.” The singing heart is the heart that walks in the path that is right. Our Lord said in Luke 11:28, “Happy are they who hear the word, and obey it.”
Do you remember Luke 24, the road to Emmaus? And when our Lord finally explained to the disciples the meaning of the Old Testament with regard to Him, it led to a burning heart, and they said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us in the way?” Even the eunuch in Acts chapter 8, After Philip gave him the gospel and he believed, went on his way – what? – rejoicing. Scripture is the source of true joy.
I can tell you this from a personal perspective. I was in an interview one time with another preacher, and the question to me was, “How do you deal with depression?” I said, “I’ve never been depressed.” I’ve never been depressed. “Well, surely you’ve gone through deep sadness?” “No.”
I’ve never really been depressed. I have a general sadness because people perish, but I’ve never really known anything but joy; and that joy doesn’t come from my circumstances. Look, I’ve been here half a century. I’ve stood by a lot of caskets: babies, children, teenagers. I’ve seen a lot of tragedy. Been to a lot of hospital rooms, operating rooms. Watched parents crushed by children who reject their parents’ faith. I’ve seen it all. There’s a general sadness. There’s just an over – sort of overpowering reality that is sadness. But it never has descended into my soul and taken away my joy.
So I’m like John, I guess, who ate the little book, and it was both sweet and bitter. Life is that way. But joy comes from the Scripture, laying down the right doctrine, which defines the right path; you walk that path, your heart rejoices. People say doctrine divides. Absolutely. It divides between the truth and error. And the only way to walk in the right path is to be able to distinguish – and we’ll talk about that a little tomorrow.
So the Word of God is the law that God has ordained for human life. As such, it is complete and comprehensive, and therefore has the power to totally transform the whole inner person. Scripture is God’s own personal revelation of Himself. It is trustworthy. Those who embrace that Scripture, though they be naive and simple, end up skilled in all manner of living. Scripture is doctrine, precept, principle laid down so that we know how to live our lives, how to walk the path; and as we walk it, our hearts rejoice. And no matter what may come or go on the worldly side of things, it never takes that joy away.
Then back to verse 8, the second statement, “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” This sees Scripture as divine decrees, commandments. Scripture is basically binding, nonoptional. Disobedience means judgment. Obedience means blessing. So Scripture is commandment, not options, not suggestions: commandment, commandment from the Lord. And as such, notice it probably says in your translation “pure.” Actually the better translation would be “clear,” clear. “The word of God is clear.” That’s so important to say. It means it’s lucid, it’s easy to see. “Therefore it enlightens the eyes.”
You know, the entire emerging church movement was based upon the fact that they were sure the Bible wasn’t clear. In fact, the idea was that if you think you know an interpretation of the Bible, you’re arrogant. And the opposite of that is, “We’re too humble to say we know what the Bible means.” But this is not obfuscation, this is revelation.
Even the book of Revelation, people say, “Oh, it’s so hard.” No. Revelation starts this way: “Blessed is the one who hears and understands what’s written in this book.” It’s not hard to understand, it’s one of the easiest books in the entire Bible to understand, if you take it at face value.
I was in Kazakhstan, and I was invited – I flew about 36 hours over there, got off the plane at 6:30 in the morning after three flights, and the guy met me at the airport. I was going to be there for a week or more, and I was going to teach them everything I could teach them about the church; and I would be teaching for six days in a row, hours every day, to the point that there were four translators. It was tougher to be a translator because you don’t know what’s going to be said. So the intensity level is ramped up from the speaker who knows essentially what he’s going to say.
So I started, and I had to face the fact that this was going to be a very daunting situation, because I landed at 6:30 and I said, “When does the session start?” and he said, “As soon as we get there.” So they were all there, 1,600 people. The first post-Russian collapse pastors’ conference in the eastern part of the former Soviet Union, 1,600 pastors jammed in this church for a week on the church.
And I rolled through those translators Day One, and I was staying with a widow, and she was trying her best to feed me, and the most available things were eggs; so I had a lot of eggs. And she managed stand in a long line and get some horsemeat a few times, because there was a scarcity of those things. The people at the conference were basically eating soup. They had two huge pots in the back of the church, you know, the kind you boil a missionary in, one of those big... And fortunately, it was raining, so they always had soup. It rained all week long; and whatever they found, they threw in. So if you asked me what kind of soup, it was enthusiasm; they put everything they had into it. It was an incredible week.
So about three days in, the leaders called me in the room and they said to me, “When are you going to get to the good part?” “Oh, wow. I’m three days in and you’re waiting for the good part?” I said, “What’s the good part?” and they said, “The part about the future and what the Lord has prepared for us when He comes to take us.”
There was nothing about the world in which they lived that had any strong attraction. “When are you going to get to the good part?” So I said, “Well, I don’t know what you believe, but I’ll tell you what; we’ll take one whole day and we’ll do the whole second coming, and I’ll take you through the whole book of Revelation.” I had no idea what they believed.
Started into that. Took a little break in the morning, and I could see they were happy and smiling; there was a lot of agreement going on. And when we came to lunchtime, they sat down and they said to me, “We believe exactly what you taught.” “You believe exactly what I taught?” “Yes.” There were no theological schools, there were no seminaries, so they just believed what the Bible said.
To get a bad eschatology you have to go to seminary. Because if you just read Revelation, it’s pretty clear what’s going on. You have the church in chapters 2 and 3 on earth, and all of a sudden you have the church in heaven in chapters 4 and 5. And then in chapter 6, the tribulation breaks out. And in chapter 19, Christ comes, sets up His kingdom. At the end of the kingdom, He has the eternal state. End of discussion, that’s your eschatology.
I thought to myself, “So they have nothing.” At best, they had a Bible, if they were fortunate in those early years. But they believed what I believe, because they were just reading the Bible. The Word of God is clear, it is unfortunately people and academic robes twist and pervert things and make clear things not so clear.
That works in life, too. You need to be able to understand life. And I always think about this when I come to this portion. There was a missionary couple named John and Nora, and they were missionaries in Utah. They were missionaries to the Mormons, and their town was Brigham City, Utah. So they were trying to proclaim the gospel in Brigham City. Really tough assignment. They had some beautiful children, two girls and a daughter, and they were all older teenagers. And John and Nora said they wanted to come to Grace Church. They wanted to bring their kids down and get a little bit of a break from being in the battlefield there in Utah, so they came and they had a van, and they came and they brought their two daughters because they wanted to enroll the older one at The Master’s University. And they brought the son and a foreign exchange student from some other country that was living with them. So there were four kids, and mom and dad.
So they came down and went to the university and talked about enrolling their oldest daughter, and when they were leaving they pulled out – I don’t know the exact circumstances – but they pulled out, and a truck hit the front of their car – or the back of their car, coming this way. A car had pulled a little bit in front. I don’t know whether the truck went through a red light, but it was a horrendous, horrendous accident. Two girls were instantly killed. They were thrown out, left on the street. The boys were devasted with injuries. The blow, it was behind the front seat, so John and Nora only had some minor damage to their bodies.
It was interesting; there was everything from the van all over the place, and Bibles were bloodied. And I got to John as fast as I could; somebody called me. And he’s come down here and he’s come to enjoy Grace Church and some fellowship and enroll his daughter, and now he’s standing in an intersection, both daughters are dead, and his son and this other boy is profoundly injured.
And when I got to him, I said, “John, I don’t even have words. I don’t have any words.” He said this to me, I’ll never forget it. He said, “You know, both my girls knew and loved the Lord Jesus Christ. That foreign exchange student did not. I’m so thankful He took my girls.” He said, “You know, I wanted my kids to have a big church experience, I just didn’t know God had even a bigger church in mind.” Imagine, this is hours after his family is splattered all over the highway.
The testimony of his faith was based upon the clarity with which he understood of the believer. You can’t live without that clarity. It’s the clarity of the dark things. There are no dark things to us, everything is light. The Bible shines a bright light even on the reality of death. And their hope was burning bright. After some weeks of recovery they went back to Utah, and word came back that they had the greatest ministry they’d ever had because they went back and didn’t have their two girls. The testimony of their joy made the gospel all the more believable.
Life is really dark for most people. Death, the realities of whatever happens after death, if thought about very long are terrifying. But not to us, because we have the Word of God. It is clear and it enlightens our eyes. We see reality.
In verse 9, we see two more statements about Scripture: “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.” Fear is a metonym. It’s a metonym for the Scripture. What do we mean by that? It’s a manual on worship. The Bible is the law of the Lord, God’s demands, God’s laws. It is His self-disclosure. It is doctrine. It is mandates and commandments, but it is also a manual on worship. In fact, Proverbs 9:10 says this: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of” – what? – “of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
In John 4, our Lord said, “The Father seeks true worshipers to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” If there’s anything that’s true about being a Christian it is that you are a worshiper. You are a true worshiper. We worship Christ in the Spirit,” – the power of the Spirit of God – “and have no confidence in the flesh,” Philippians 3:3. “We are,” – Romans 12 – “we are a priesthood, offering up holy sacrifices,” – starting with ourselves – “which is our reasonable service of worship.”
Above all things, we are worshipers, and we have a manual on worship that we need to follow. We have a prescriptive worship. Scripture gives us instruction on worship that is clean. What does that mean? It’s without error. The Bible is without error, without corruption. It is not a mixture of divine revelation and human imagination. The Hebrew word here has the idea of the absence of any defilement, any filthiness, any imperfection, any impurity.
“The words of the Lord” – says Psalm 12 – “are pure words like silver tested in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” And the clean Word endures forever. That’s the proof. It’s permanently relevant. It is hallowed, it is pure, it is holy, it is separated from any corruption, and therefore it endures forever. Our Lord says, “Not one jot or tittle will ever be removed from the Word” – right? – “till it’s fulfilled.”
John 10, Jesus said, “Scripture cannot be broken.” At no point does error come as a link in the chain. We have an inerrant Word. And as a result of that, it endures forever; it is timeless.
I remember having a debate down in Hollywood with Troy Perry and some of his henchmen. He was the head of the homosexual metropolitan church, and his whole argument with me was that the writers of the Bible were psychologically unsophisticated, sociologically, basically uninformed. They were aboriginal rather than sophisticated. And their strange biases about homosexuality and other things that we now know as a more advanced society are all good things are reflected in the Bible. The Bible is out-of-date and antiquated, it needs to be sociologically cleansed.
But this says that the Word of God endures forever. It is relevant to every person in every culture in every age. I tell young pastors all the time, “Here’s the good news: your sermons can be heard today in this Internet world. Your sermons can be heard everywhere in the world. Here’s the bad news: your sermons can be heard everywhere in the world.” I’ve been everywhere in the world. I never change anything. I tell young pastors, “If you can get your sermons out of your zip code, fix them so you can.” If you’re tying them to some local thing or some cultural cue, you’re basically creating your own obsolescence.
If you listen to Grace to You, you probably can tell maybe a little bit about what age I was when that sermon was recorded, because sometimes I talk like this and I talk real fast. But I will tell you something; there are thousands and thousands of sermons that I’ve preached. I think the guys were saying the other day 2,000 of the sermons have never been on the radio. And I don’t have to go back and say, “I can’t say that, that’s irrelevant. I can’t say that, that’s irrelevant.” I pay no attention to what is irrelevant, because the Word of God is eternally relevant, I don’t care what age. I don’t care what age or what culture.
I remember a most interesting opportunity. I was in New Zealand, and I was asked by the New Zealand Parliament at the Beehive – which is where the Parliament meets – if I would come and address the New Zealand Parliament and the entire nation on the New Zealand national broadcast company. And they said, “You can speak about anything you want, but we’re concerned about the direction of this culture. Can you help us understand it?” So I stood before the whole parliament, national television, and took them through Romans 1, Romans 1. I didn’t have to tweak that for kiwis. The Word of God knows no bounds.
And then, the final statement in verse 9: “The judgments of the Lord,” that looks at Scripture as divine verdicts from the divine Judge who adjudicates everything according to His own justice. Scripture is final judgments from God, from the heavenly bench. Here’s the good news: the judgments are true. Is that not encouraging?
This is absolute truth. This is a book you can go to and it will speak the truth. So powerful is that truth that verse 9 says, “The judgments of the Lord,” – the adjudications from the divine bench – “are true, so as to produce comprehensive righteousness.” And that just collects everything. They are totally righteous, completely righteous, therefore completely sufficient; you don’t anything else. That’s why the Bible ends with a warning in Revelation 22, “Don’t add anything to this,” right? “Don’t take anything away.” The Word of God is sufficient.
You know, if you look at the needs of the human race, individuals, and you just kind of reached out and said, “What would you like that you don’t have?” it might go like this: “I wish I could be different. I see things in myself that I don’t like, that are hurtful or harmful. I wish I could be different. I wish, I wish I wasn’t so dumb and made such foolish mistakes; I wish I could be wiser. I really wish I knew nothing but joy. I wish I understood the dark things of life. I wish I had a resource that I could go to that would always be relevant in explaining reality to me. I wish I could be everything that potentially would make life fulfilling.”
Well, those are those six things, right? The Word of God does all that: transforms the soul, makes the simple wise, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, provides constant relevant source of truth, and it produces comprehensive righteousness. There’s nothing left out. Now you can hear that same testimony to the Scripture in Psalm 119, but I thought it was better this morning to stick with this one that to go through 176 verses.
So, since that is the sufficiency of Scripture, what is its value? Look at verse 10. How valuable is that? Well, these laws and divine testimonies and doctrines and commands and instructions on worship and adjudications, “They’re more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold.” Make it simple: they are your most precious possession. Are you living like that? Are you mining these truths? They’re more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold. They are your most precious possession.
They are, secondly, your sweetest pleasure, “sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” I mean, that’s as good as it gets in a non-processed food world. And not only is this your greatest possession and your greatest pleasure, but these words are your greatest protection. Look at verse 11: “Moreover, by them Your servant is warned.” Not only are they your greatest protection, they’re your greatest provision. “In keeping them there is great” – what? – “reward.” It’s all here. Your highest pleasure, your highest possession, your highest protection, your most constant provision is all here.
And then, these words are your purifier. Verse 12 says, “Who can discern his errors?” If you’re ignorant of the Scripture, you’re going to be ignorant of your sin, right? What is the law designed to do? Reveal – what? sin. So as you know the law, you discern your errors. And that leads you in the direction of understanding your hidden faults, and that leads you in the direction of saving you from presumptuous sins that could rule over you, and it leads you in the direction so that you will be blameless and you will not commit the great transgression, which assumes some kind of apostacy. Errors are sins of ignorance. Presumptuous sins are sin of deliberation. Great transgression is open rebellion.
What protects you from that? David said it, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Wow. If that is the sufficiency of Scripture and that is the benefit of Scripture, what should be my commitment? Verse 14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”
What the psalmist saying here? He is borrowing language from Joshua. He’s borrowing language from Joshua chapter 1. Listen to Joshua chapter 1, verse 8: “This book of the law” – Scripture – “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; then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Be strong and courageous!” Joshua’s command was the book of the law doesn’t depart from your mouth, you meditate on it day and night, and you have spiritual success.
So what does the psalmist pray? “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight.” What would be acceptable words and acceptable meditations? Word and meditations from the book of the law, which is your purifier, your provider, your protector, your pleasure, and your most valuable possession. So this is the prayer: “Let the words of my mouth and meditation in my heart be acceptable in Your sight.” That means I’m meditating on and speaking the Word of God. And the prayer is offered to, “O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”
Maud Frazer Jackson said, “What if I say the Bible is God’s holy Word, complete, inspired without a flaw, but let its pages stay unread from day to day, and fail to learn therefrom God’s law? What if I go not there to seek the truth of which I glibly speak for guidance in this early way; does it matter what I say?” Fair question, right?
Father, we thank You for Your Word. We thank You for its own testimony, summed up in this incredible chapter. Seal the truth to our hearts. Increase our love for the truth, written and incarnate. We’ll give You the glory, in the Savior’s name. Amen.
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