Saturday, February 9, 2008

What Do You Expect To Find in the Bible?

I. The Bible Is God’s Message

A. God produced the Bible to educate people. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16)

B. That education enables believers to mature into what God designed them to be. “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:17)

1. Everyone needs help understanding reality; twisted sinners do not automatically understand all that God expects. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

2.People like to imagine that they understand, but inherent stubbornness makes obedience unnatural. “For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.” (Job 11:12)

3. People have to be told the truth; worldly wisdom cannot lead to God. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)

4. Preaching from Scripture is the method designed by God to open the way to heaven; the many forms of successful evangelism all lead back to Bible teaching. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

C. The Bible is the only entirely reliable guide to what God expects. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:19-21)

1. Jesus Christ, the subject of the Bible, is the only effective platform for eternal life. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)

2. The Bible must be used as God says He intends it to be used; even Satan can quote the Bible and even the demons know it is true. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)

3. Calvin noted [in the Institutes 2:1.4], “Adam had never dared to resist the authority of God, if [Satan] had not discredited His word.”

D. God warns against any deviation from the Bible. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19)

E. Any other guide is hopeless. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20)

1. Tradition and folk wisdom fail to produce useful results. “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7)

2. Philosophy will not accomplish what Scripture delivers. “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:5)

a. Philosopher William Young, English translator of Herman Dooyeweerd, said in retrospect he would gladly have given up his career and academic acclaim to have spent his life as a simple Bible teacher.

b. Calvin said [when commenting on Colossians 2:9] “He who is not contented with Christ alone, desires something better and more excellent than God.”

c. The Confession of Faith of the Reformed Churches of France [1542] states, “Our philosophy is to receive in simplicity what the Scripture shows us.”

F. Jesus treated the full Bible as His own story and taught that even the evidence of personal sight would not convince someone who did not find Him in the Torah.
“Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:29-31)

G. There is no alternate gospel or legitimate improvement on the Word of God. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9)

1. Calvin said [in his commentary on Isaiah] “They who wish to build the Church by rejecting the doctrine of the word, build a hog’s sty, and not the Church of God.”

2. Calvin said [in his commentary on Jeremiah] “As soon as men depart even in the smallest degree from God’s word, they cannot preach anything but falsehoods, vanities, impostures, errors and deceits.”

II. The Bible Demonstrates Its Power for People Who Use It

A. The Bible demonstrates a compelling internal authority; people who are not convinced turn against God. “I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.” (Hosea 8:12)

B. The Bible opens the great mysteries of life. “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:” (1 Corinthians 2:6-7)

C. As a spiritual student works with Scripture, one part fits with another, combining to yield increasing understanding. “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:13)

D. Faithfully and earnest interaction with Scripture progressively exposes the beautiful unity of God’s mind and Heaven’s message begins to appear. “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6) “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.” (Psalm 119:140)

E. Parents who love their children will teach the Bible to the children. “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) Calvin [in his Commentary on Galatians] said, “The true meaning of Scripture is the natural and obvious meaning.”

III. Faithful Students Come To Know God and His Expectations

A. The Bible speaks directly to what people need to know about God and what He expects. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31) “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)

B. Of course a person who refuses to search will find nothing; nothing fits into a closed mind. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

1. Calvin [in his Commentary on John] said, “Unbelief . . . is always proud . . . [It] will never understand anything in the words of Christ, which it despises and disdains . . . this arises from the depravity of men.”

2. Calvin [in his commentary on Acts] said, “There is no end of erring, when we depart from the word of God.”

C. The transformed life, which emerges in students who submit themselves to Scripture, first satisfies and subsequently compels. “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43) “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:” (Acts 26:22)

D. The Bible reveals life as nothing else can. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

E. The power in Scripture derives from the way in which the Holy Spirit uses the Bible to change people. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:13-14)

1. Calvin [in his Commentary on Isaiah] said, “The ‘Spirit’ is joined with the word, because, without the efficacy of the Spirit, the preaching of the gospel would avail nothing, but would remain unfruitful. In like manner ‘the word’ must not be separated from ‘the Spirit,’ as fanatics imagine, who, despising the word, glory in the name of the Spirit, and swell with vain confidence in their own imaginations. It is the spirit of Satan that is separated from the word, to which the Spirit of God is continually joined.”

2. Full Bible Presbyterians distinguish themselves on one nonnegotiable point stated by Calvin [in his Commentary on Hebrews], “They belong not at all to Christ, who turn aside from His word.”

Expect to find God and eternal life in the Bible or be certain of finding death and eternal loss apart from it.

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