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God’s Word – Divine or Human (Last Sermon at Fellowship Bible Church) August 16, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, Old Testament, Peter the Apostle, Religion, Second Peter, Sermons.
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Most of my readers I do not know but you come by often. The sermon blog will continue but I will be at a new church, Grace Bible Church in Lansing, Michigan. I trust you will continue to check in for the weekly sermon.

Finally, to the members of Fellowship Bible Church in Castleton, Vermont I say, “Thank you for your generosity and graciousness. I trust that I have been as much a help to you as you have been to me.”
Divine or Human?
2 Peter 2:20-21

Introduction: It is appropriate today that the subject today is the Word of God. It was the advertisement written by the pulpit committee of this church that emphasized the teaching of the Word of God that drew me to apply to this church. Every good thing that has happened in this church during my time here can directly be connected through the transformation worked by the Word of God in my life or in the life of some other person or persons. Also, every failure can directly be connected to disobedience to the Word of God in my life or in the life of some other person. I cannot think of an exception.

The reason every true spiritual success can be tied to the Word of God is simple. It is God’s Word and not my word or your word. It is from God. This is what Peter is reminding us of here. You can have confidence that God’s Word, in this case, the Old Testament and what had been written already of the New Testament, will change you because it is God’s Word.

“Peter, how do you know that this is God’s Word?”

Peter’s answer is found in verses 16-20. God’s Word is not confirmed by human inspiration but by divine signs (verses 16-20). Peter says in verse 16 that the message he declared was not cunningly devised, that is, it is not derived from human wisdom. Mankind has written many wonderful works of literature. When I read certain works of literature, I find them inspiring.

I own the history of the Civil War as written by Shelby Foote. He draws you into the conflict and makes you wish you could have been there to see with your own eyes the battles and events that he describes. His history is cunningly devised.

When I was in junior high school, we had an English teacher who would read Edgar Alan Poe, O. Henry, or Mark Twain. The gang of guys I sat with were not particularly literary and the language of some of them was very inferior but we found as she read to us that these men wrote things cunningly devised.

When you go to a play or a movie or watch a TV show, occasionally the words which are being spoken take over the movie and you forget the actors and become enthralled with the words. That is a wonderful experience, cunningly devised by men and women.

But human inspiration, no matter how cunningly devised is vastly inferior to the Word of God because only God’s Word is confirmed by divine signs. That is what Peter is trying to tell us in verses 17-19a. God’s Word is confirmed. Peter mentions specifically the transfiguration of Christ but there are many other examples. The events of Christmas confirmed the prophecies of Christ through the exactness of their miraculous fulfillment. The resurrection of Christ confirms along with the other miracles that He performed that He is the Messiah of the Scriptures. Jesus said to the doubters, if you do not believe my words, believe me because of my works.

When men write, there may be scientific or historic confirmation but when God writes, the confirmation is miraculous. That is why the apostles were given the ability to perform miracles and why on occasion, the early believers spoke in tongues, to confirm the Word of God.

God’s Word, unlike human inspiration, is worthy of an active faith (verses 19-20). That is why that confirmation is necessary. We need to know what we can believe. We need to know what is worthy of an active faith.

Charles Darwin wrote his books and people began to believe and put their faith in his theories. When they did, men changed. No longer did it really matter what we do. To survive as one of the strongest was the new meaning of life. God was no longer necessary. But Darwin’s theories are doubted even by evolutionist and have proven unworthy of active faith.

But God’s Word has brought spiritual liberty and freedom and high morals everywhere where it has been obeyed. Peter describes it beautifully. It brings light into darkness. Remember though that obedience to the Word of God means faith in Christ. Obedience to the Word of God is not keeping the Ten Commandments or following the Golden Rule. Obedience is faith in Jesus Christ. That is what the Scriptures preach and teach and only through the Jesus of the Bible can one come to God (1 Peter 1:6-12).

God’s Word is disclosed clearly by God. Any human inspiration is a corruptive additive (verse 20). That is why I emphasize when I preach and teach that we must understand what God is saying through a careful but thorough reading of individual Scripture passages and their context. Great literary men are sometimes very obscure. You know they said something but you are not quite sure what they said. I remember going to a play once in Chattanooga. It was a relatively modern play. It was very funny, very literary, very cunningly devised. It was a lot of fun but I could not tell you what the playwright was trying to say because he was trying his hardest to say it in such a way that you could not truly understand it. But God speaks clearly. That does not mean that we always understand what God is saying. It is sometimes difficult because it was written during ancient times in ancient languages through ancient thought patterns for ancient readers and “most” of us really are not that ancient. But for those who take the time to simply read and study their Bibles as God’s Word through men to men, it reveals God clearly.

God’s Word is revealed only by the Holy Spirit’s working through holy men (verse 21). These men did not sit down and decide they were going to write Scripture. God decided they would write Scripture. The Holy Spirit inspired them. He used their wisdom, He even used their language abilities but the words are His. If you study the chronologies of Chronicles, you will see that even the scribes, who wrote name after name after name, were well aware of the awesomeness of the task before them. They were penning God’s Word. Their motivations came from God, the message came from God, their meanings came from God. That is how that holy men through the Holy Spirit produced the holy Word of God.

This is a divine book. This summer we had the opportunity to memorize a section of God’s Word. Did you do it? It is the Word of God. It is not a Shakespearean sonnet or a political speech by Patrick Henry. Those are cunningly devised. It is not a lofty document like the Declaration of Independence or a beautiful New England description by Robert Frost or Emily Dickinson but the Word of God, worthy of faith, confirmed by miracles. What did you read this summer? What have you written down or memorized so that you would not forget it? Was it the Word of God or the words of man? Did you give yourself this summer to the Word of God or did you waste it on the cunningly devised inspiration of men? If you want light in the dark places in your life, turn to and learn the Word of God.

I am not saying that human wisdom has no value. It does and you should not ignore human words but give yourself to the Word. You have the autumn before you. Begin now! Read His Word! Hear His Word! Memorize His Word! Meditate on His Word! Study His Word! Feast on His Word!

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How God reveals Jesus to us through the Holy Spirit August 19, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, John's Gospel, Religion, Sermons, Special Revelation, Trinity.
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THE TEACHING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

John 16:12-15

THE BORED PASTOR 

I must confess that I get bored easily. If I preach very long about a subject or from a book, I find myself struggling to get excited about it. This week in my regular Scripture reading, I came across a passage in Isaiah that the Holy Spirit used to wake me up and renew my conviction on the importance of the subject which we have been dealing with this summer, the Word of God. It is Isaiah 29:13-14. Jesus quotes verse thirteen in Matthew 15:7-9 when He criticizes as hypocrites those who elevate the traditions of men over the Word of God. The last part of the quote is, “And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” That is the difference between hypocrisy and reality. Hypocrisy claims to follow God but follows man. I do not know about all of you but I know in my life, that is a daily struggle. Sometimes I get very discouraged by my tendency to follow men rather than God. 

Jesus knew that these eleven men with whom he was spending His last night before His crucifixion would have similar struggles. He knows that even the leader among them, Peter would be tempted in his maturity to give way to the traditions of men rather than following God’s Word whole-heartedly. Although they cannot imagine this, He knows their weaknesses and that there is so much that they do not yet understand.

WE NEED A TEACHER OR GUIDE TO COMPLETE OUR KNOWLEDGE THAT WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO FOLLOW CHRIST.

You would think these men would have a complete knowledge of Christ. They have walked with Him, eaten with Him, they were by Him 24/7. Yet when these disciples were told by Jesus that He would be executed and buried and raised from the dead these disciples could not bear the truth because their understanding was incomplete. Christ tried to reveal their weakness to them but on the last evening before His crucifixion they all denied that they would forsake Christ.

The situation will soon change, however, and Jesus will die, be buried, rise from the dead, and ascend to heaven. Who will guide them then? Who will teach them? Who will give sense to all of these events in their lives? In our Scripture reading today, Jesus assures the disciples that even though He is leaving them, they will not have to fly blind but will have a guide, a teacher, the Spirit of truth to lead them in the way of truth.

Jesus is telling them that the day is coming when they will have access to all the spiritual knowledge and wisdom they need to honor and please the Lord and they will have that knowledge and that wisdom through the Holy Spirit. That is what Christ means when He says in verse 13, that the Spirit will tell you of things to come. He is not strictly referring to prophecy but to all truth past, present, and future that is built upon the truth of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. These are the events that must happen before the Holy Spirit can come and begin to teach them.

It is important to understand what we mean when we say that the Holy Spirit is our teacher. We do not mean that He cannot or does not use human or other means to teach us. What we mean is that the Holy Spirit is our guide. When I prepare a lesson or sermon, there are a lot of different teaching methods and materials that I may use. In the same way, human agency is one of the methods through which the Holy Spirit teaches but the subject matter comes totally from the Father through Him.

When I was kid, we had some preachers who refused to study the Word of God in preparation for preaching because they wanted to be led by the Spirit of God. This resulted in an attitude of spiritual superiority that said, “Listen to me, I am getting my subject matter from the Spirit of God.” Often part of 1 John 2:27 where it states, “…the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you…” would be taken out of context and quoted. In fact, there were even ways to determine if someone got there message from the Spirit of God. If there was great emotional excitement, if the style of delivery fit the local culture, if (back in the days before there was air conditioning) the preacher’s shirt was totally soaked through with sweat, then you knew the message was from the Spirit of God.

We laugh but this danger shows up in many different ways. This is one of the main reasons that I am preaching this series on the Word of God. There are many who say, God has given me a unique experience, God has given me a dream or an impression, God has revealed this to me. If someone says, God has revealed something to them, you know one of two things must be true. Either they do not understand what it means to have something revealed to them and they are using the wrong word or they are crediting the Holy Spirit with something that comes from within themselves or, which is even worse, from Satan.

Here is a quote from Spurgeon on this same subject. (HT: carefulthought.wordpress.com)

WE NEED A TEACHER OR GUIDE WHO WILL DECLARE THE TRUTH OF CHRIST WITHOUT ANY CHANGE.

The Holy Spirit declares truth. He is called here the Spirit of truth. In fact, three times on this same evening Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth. Two weeks ago we saw that it is possible to discern the difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Jesus is saying that what the Holy Spirit reveals is always true and truth. This does not necessarily mean that He reveals something new. In fact, the words “tell” in verse 13 and “declare” in verses 14-15 mean that the Holy Spirit simply announces, reports, clarifies, and explains what is already known. He does not speak anything original. He does not “speak on His own authority.” (Jesus uses this same phrase to speak of His own words in relationship to the Father in John 12:49; 14:10.) The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit speak with one voice and both the Son and the Spirit have their message from the Father. Why? Because they are one.

(From Calvin’s commentary on these verses.) “Now arises a question, what were those things which the apostles were not yet able to learn?” What is it that was necessary for the Spirit to declare? Those things which are revealed in the New Testament.

Let me give you a few examples. One of the earliest epistles is the book of James. What happens in that book, is that James the brother of Jesus takes portions from the Sermon on the Mount and applies them to the everyday lives of Jewish believers. There are those who say that the Sermon of the Mount is not for believers today, that the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is for the millennial kingdom and technically they are correct, I suppose. (As a good dispensationalist, I am supposed to say that J .) James in his little book under the inspiration of the Spirit says, “Wake up! Just because Christ has not set up an earthly kingdom does not mean that the way you live is not connected to the way you believe. The principles Christ taught while here on earth still apply. Where did James get that? By revelation from the Holy Spirit.

Look at the sermons in the book of Acts. Those sermons could not have been preached before Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. The apostles had to be taught by the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 says that the Spirit would give them the ability to be witnesses. You might think that would be no hard thing since they had seen the death of Christ and knew the resurrected Christ and had seen Him ascend into heaven. Jesus points out though that they needed the Holy Spirit to teach them and guide them to tell what they had seen in a way that resulted in transformed lives.

Look at Paul’s letters to the Galatians and to the Romans. Justification by faith in Christ alone could not be explained until Christ had finished His work and the Holy Spirit had come to teach Paul the implications of that truth.

Look at Corinthians and Ephesians and Colossians. Paul needed the Holy Spirit to help him explain the importance of the body of Christ, the church, to the believers in those places.

Look at the letters to the Thessalonians, the book of Revelation, the prophetic sections of Matthew. None of those things were possible to understand, much less teach until Christ ascended and the Holy Spirit put to pen through the authors the truth in those books.

Go through every book in the New Testament and you will see that the men who wrote those books needed two things: the perspective of the work of Christ on the cross being finished through the resurrection and ascension of Christ and the guiding of the Holy Spirit to know how to explain, to declare the affect of that cross in us and in the world.

DOES THIS PASSAGE HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH US? 

This now is where we in the 21st century come in. The Holy Spirit continues today to declare truth to our minds. Now there is a difference between us and the New Testament writers. There were some things declared to them that were inspired, God breathed. We do not need the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us as He did to those early prophets and apostles. He has revealed all that is necessary in the Old and New Testaments. We do need Him though to declare to our minds the already revealed truth. This is what 1 John 2:27 means by “…the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you…” He is talking about the Holy Spirit declaring us to already revealed truth.

It is possible to see something and not recognize it, to hear something and not understand it, to feel something and not know what it is. The Holy Spirit is the one who make it possible for you to understand the Word of God. He does this, not by revealing hidden meanings or deeper meanings but by declaring the truth of His Word to us and then opening our minds to understand it. As I mentioned earlier, teachers have a place and the Holy Spirit uses teachers and other tools but you cannot understand the Word of God, you cannot apply the Word of God, you cannot be transformed by the Word of God unless the Holy Spirit who wrote the Word of God teaches it to you.

CONCLUSION: Tim Challies, a Canadian, told this week in an article on his blog entitled “Trusting the Instruments” about “ ‘…a program called ‘Mayday,’…It is a show about disasters, and most notably, plane crashes. It sounds morbid, I admit, but I find it interesting (though I’ll admit that it has made my children inordinately afraid of flying. They are now convinced that every plane crashes)…

…(One) night the show followed the story of a plane that had nearly crashed years before. The plane had been flying along just as it should and all appeared normal when suddenly it began to experience all kinds of strange problems. It gyrated across the sky, plummeting thousands of feet at a time and turning violently to one side. One and then two of the four engines stalled and failed, leaving the plane without the power it needed to maintain level flight. The pilot and copilot responded instinctually, doing their best to right the course of the aircraft. Meanwhile hundreds of passengers waited in abject terror, not knowing if they would live or die. The pilots fought valiantly and eventually found they were able to control the plane. Mysteriously, the engines started again and they were able again to provide sufficient power. The pilots directed the plane to a nearby airport and landed safely. Only a handful of passengers experienced serious injury though the plane sustained heavy damage from the immense loads placed on it during flight.

In the aftermath, investigators found that almost everything that had occurred had been the fault of the pilots. When the plane encountered some turbulence the plane’s flight manual told the pilots how to react. But they relied on instinct rather than the book. And then, when the plane began to experience further complications, they ignored the instruments that should have directed them to the source and solution of their problem. They swung the plane violently from side to side attempting to right it because they ignored the aircraft’s instrument that told them where the horizon was and how to keep the plane level. They ignored the instruments that told them that their engine problem was not as serious as they thought. Blinded by the stress of the situation, they ignored the manual and did things their own way. But for the hand of providence it could have cost them their lives and the lives of hundreds of passengers.”

INVITATION: Are you going to follow the Spirit of God or are you going to fly blind? Some of you are trying to be good enough to go to heaven. You are trusting yourselves, when God has given you the instrument of the Word of God revealed and illuminated by the Spirit of God. The last invitation in the Bible is this, “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)” Jesus paid it all for you on the cross. The Spirit keeps inviting you to come to Jesus for forgiveness of sin. Would you come, today?

Believers, we have no excuse. People turn to dreams and programs and the things and wisdom of this world and all manner of other things looking for guidance. God has given us His Word as the instrument with which the Holy Spirit will guide us. Do you know His Word? Do you read it and study it and memorize it and let it permeate your being? If not, then you may be flying blind. Commit yourself today to God’s Word and to allowing it to transform you by the Spirit of truth.

Links to Sermons on John 16:12-15 August 17, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Holy Spirit, Inspiration, John's Gospel, Religion, Sermons.
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http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/0050.HTM “The Holy Ghost – The Great Teacher” preached on November 18, 1855.

http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/0465.HTM “The Holy Spirit Glorifying Christ” preached on November 17, 1862.

http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/2382.HTM “The Holy Spirit’s Chief Office” preached on July 26, 1888.

http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/2213.htm “Honey in the Mouth” preached on April 24, 1891.

By A.W. Pink http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/John/john_55.htm

By Ray Stedman http://www.pbc.org/library/files/html/3128.html

How God Reveals Himself in the Old Testament Through Jesus Christ August 12, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Character, False Teachers, Inspiration, Law, Matthew, Messiah, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Righteousness, Sermon on the Mount, Sermons, Special Revelation.
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JESUS AND OLD TESTAMENT ERRORS

Did Jesus Contradict the Old Testament?

Matthew 5:17-20

Last Sunday I was asked about an apparent contradiction between the Old Testament command to stone false prophets and the command that Jesus gave in John 8:1-11 that those who were without sin should cast the first stone. This is such an important question that Jesus Himself in His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, addressed this issue of His relationship to the Old Testament.

One of the earliest accusations against Jesus was that He opposed the Law of Moses. Now if this was true then He should have been stoned according to the Law. In fact, in John 10:30-39 when Jesus told them that He was one with the Father, making Himself to be God, they tried to stone Him but Jesus escaped from them.

So today, we are going to see what Jesus has to say in his defense to the accusation that He tried to correct the Old Testament law.

JUDGE ME BY MY WORDS AND ACTIONS.

Jesus says, “Listen to me and be convinced” (verse 17). The gospel of Matthew is the only one of the gospels written specifically with Jews in mind. The Jews of that day were divided about the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. Many believed and followed him, many others did not, but there was a number of Jews who wanted to believe but needed more evidence. Just as there are questions of doubt in these days, there were questions of doubt in those days.

Jesus said to the doubters, “Think outside of the box! Do not jump to conclusions based on the normal way of thinking. Listen to me and see if I am telling you the truth. Do not suppose you know the answer. Listen and think!”

SO WHAT ABOUT THE ADULTEROUS WOMAN? 

We have an excellent example of this in the story of the woman who was to be stoned. John 8:6 says they brought the woman to Him to ask what they should do. Now there were Jewish courts for such a trial but they had decided to see if they could trap Jesus into contradicting Moses. Also, although apparently the woman was guilty, the man with whom she had been caught was not brought before Jesus. These men were obviously not interested in keeping the Law but rather in entrapping Jesus. Jesus could have easily said, “Stone her!” He would have been within His rights. In fact, He did say stone her but He did it in a way that was definitely outside of the box. He said to the men, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

These fellows knew each other. They knew what kind of men they were. Suddenly they lost interest in the case. Beginning from the oldest to the youngest they walked away. They had been exposed. After they left, Jesus said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Where are the witnesses against you?” She said, “I have no accusers!” At that, Jesus wiped the dust off His hands and said, “I cannot condemn you unless you have accusers. You may go but do not sin anymore.”

This is a good example of how Jesus thought outside the box and He wants us to do so as we examine Him. He wants us to think, of course, but He does not want us to think the way the world does but with spiritual thinking, thinking which is outside of the box of our humanity.

THE ANALOGY OF THE HOUSE

Jesus then said, “I did not come to take the house of God down.” That is what that word “destroy” means. “I did not come disassemble God’s Word.”

Jesus then said, “I came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.” I came to move in new furniture. Look at my life, look at my teaching! There is not one thing that I do or teach that takes away from the Law (the first five books of Moses) or the Prophets (which is the rest of the Old Testament). I did come though to add meaning and clarity.

IF THE OLD TESTAMENT IS TRUTH, THEN JESUS  IS TRUTH.

Jesus says, “Listen to the Old Testament and be assured (verses 18). The Old Testament is an established standard by which to measure Jesus.

Almost every Easter and Christmas we hear expressions of doubt about the truth. We have heard about the DaVinci Code, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the gravestone which supposedly has Jesus’ name on it. Although we may not appreciate these expressions of doubt, they are crucial. They are “…crucial… because on the surface there seems to be no great difference between Christianity and the religions of the world. They have great leaders… and so do we. They have written Scriptures . . . and so do we. They have miracle stories . . . and so do we. They have high ethical standards . . . and so do we. They have a long and rich history . . . and so do we.

One might ask, ‘How can I know which religion is the right one?’ That’s a fair question. The average person today faces a… supermarket of religions from which to choose. He sees the well-stocked shelves and wonders, ‘Which one should I choose?’ There is only one problem. All the bottles have been poisoned except one. How can he find that one right, pure and safe bottle?” (RAY PRITCHARD)

The Old Testament is our answer. If Jesus can knowingly attempt to fulfill every letter of every page of every book of every section of the Old Testament, then we have a way to judge if He is really who He said He is.

The Old Testament points to the coming of a specific person. That is one of the key messages of the Old Testament. Jesus reveals Himself to be that person. Jesus fulfilled completely the book written about Him, the Old Testament. This book was completed four hundred years before His birth. Others before and after Him claimed to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament but only Jesus has fulfilled the holy book written about him.

No other man can make such a claim.

A COMPARISON 

Mohammed wrote the Koran to correct the Bible not to fulfill it. He claimed inspiration but he could not claim to fulfill the written prophecies of the Old or New Testaments.

Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible but he was not the fulfillment of one word of Holy Scripture.

Buddha wrote many words and like Jesus challenged others to evaluate his words but he never fulfilled the written prophecies of others.

Confucius wrote but like the others could never point to other holy writings and legitimately claim that he fulfilled them.

Jesus Christ said in John 5:39-47, “Search the Scriptures! They speak of me. If you believe Moses, you will believe Me because he wrote of Me. There is no other case in all of history where you can take a book and then take a person hundreds of years in the future and say, “This is about Him,” but in the Old Testament you can.

THE OPPONENTS OF JESUS

Jesus says, “Look at the False Teachers and be instructed (verse 19). “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments…” – Every person is responsible before God because of the truth of the Old Testament. If Jesus had not yet come, or if He had come but God had chosen not to give us the New Testament, we would still be responsible to God based on the Old Testament. It is the inspired Word of God.

BUT JESUS OPPONENTS BELIEVED THE OLD TESTAMENT, DIDN’T THEY? 

Verse 19 – “…and teaches them so…but whoever does and teaches them…” Jesus is saying that you cannot separate doctrine and deed. If in your teaching you cause someone to break “one of the least of these commandments…” you will find yourself on the bottom of the spiritual pecking order, last in the kingdom of God.

THE WARNING FOR TODAY 

Finally, Jesus says, “Look to Yourselves and be warned” (verse 20). The authority for the warning comes from the phrase, “For I say to you…” How did Jesus get this authority? – Look back at verse 17. By fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. From whom did He get this authority? – Look at Matthew 7:21. He got His authority from God. Continually in the Sermon on the Mount He repeats the phrase, “I say unto you…” After awhile one might ask Himself the question, “Who does this Jesus think He is?” In Matthew 7:21 He tells us. He is Lord, and whoever obeys Him is doing the will of the Father.

The Purpose of the Warning (…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees…) Their lives were to reflect true righteousness which can only be found in following Jesus Christ. He goes on to teach them what to do. There is a huge difference between teaching righteousness and being righteous. Jesus was demanding that they become righteous by following Him, by becoming His disciple. Becoming a disciple speaks of a personal relationship to the teacher. This is what these fellows had. Of course, obedience is the natural result of being a disciple but you still have to learn what obedience means and that was what Jesus was teaching the disciples. First of all, that they might obey and secondly that they might be different from those who only taught righteousness but did not practice it themselves.

When God presents us with truth, He expects us to do something with that truth. Jesus presented in this sermon the truth of His Messiahship. He expected them to live accordingly. He expects the same from you.

THE HORRIBLE EXAMPLE OF JUDAS ISCARIOT 

He, however, will have nothing to do with you…unless…unless you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone as the Savior of your eternal soul. This message is eternal but useless without trusting Christ as your Savior. Judas heard the same message as the rest of the disciples but he lived for earthly things. Yes, it was a temptation for the other disciples also but Judas was the only one that stepped over that line and said, “I’m driving my stakes down right here. I am living for this world. This kingdom that Jesus keeps promising, never comes. I’m going to get while the getting is good.” That’s why he could so easily betray Jesus.

You have the opportunity to become a disciple. Look at the claims Jesus makes for Himself and decide to follow Him and live or turn and go your own way. Whether you trust Him or not, He holds your future and you can enter His kingdom but you must trust Him and Him alone. He died for you according to the Old Testament Scriptures, He was buried, He rose again according to the Old Testament Scriptures, and He ascended on high to the Father’s throne (according to Psalm 2:7 and Hebrews 1:3-6) but you must turn to Him and to Him alone for salvation.

PUTTING YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS. 

Believer, are you living for Christ or are you just talking. Do you mouth the right words or do you live as you know Jesus wants you to. You may not know everything you are supposed to do to honor God but are you doing what you do know?

Some of you are struggling with doubts. You wonder if you are saved, if God really loves you, if you are good enough to please God. Are you going to live in the assurance established by the Old Testament Scriptures? They will never pass away. They will be fulfilled. Jesus Christ will do that. If you are in Him, in Jesus Christ, then you are just as assured of heaven as God’s Word is settled for all eternity.

Are you going to live, conscience of Christ’s commands everywhere you go? If you do, are you going to obey those commands. If you look in these chapters you will find the command to love your enemy, to forgive, to have confidence in God, the command to be pure, the command to be honest, the command to pray, the command not to judge, the command not to be proud, the command to live a mature and godly life. Will you live like your king or will you live like Judas for this world?

Links to Sermons on Matthew 5:17-20 August 10, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Inspiration, Law, Matthew, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Righteousness, Sermon on the Mount, Sermons.
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Three Sermons from Arthur Pink.  I’m going to try to cover this passage in one 🙂

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Sermon/sermon_06.htm

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Sermon/sermon_07.htm

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Sermon/sermon_08.htm

Not a well-known name but this is an excellent sermon on this text:

http://pastorsteveweaver.wordpress.com/2007/03/26/the-righteousness-which-the-king-requires-exposition-of-matthew-517-20/

And from Ligon Duncan

http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/sermons/matthew/mat%20vol%201%20&%202/matthew%201%20&%202/08amatt.htm

Ways God Reveals Himself (A Sunday Morning Sermon from Psalm 19) July 15, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Creation, Depravity, General Revelation, Inspiration, Praise, Prayer, Promises of God, Psalms, Repentance, Sermons, Special Revelation, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation, Truth.
8 comments

WAYS GOD REVEALS HIMSELF

PSALM 19:1-14

The last few weeks we have looked at the Word of God and in each case we found that the truth of the Word of God was confirmed in some way or another. In 2 Timothy 3 we discovered that the truth of the Word of God is confirmed by those who teach it to us, especially by the way that they live it out before us. In 2 Peter 1 we saw that the transformation that the Word of God makes in our lives confirms the truth of the Word of God as well as the many eyewitness accounts of the New Testament period confirm the truth of the Word of God. This week we are going to look at two ways that God reveals Himself and again. The first, like others that we have seen in previous weeks, will be a confirmation of the truth of the second.

LOOKING AT THE SKY

God reveals Himself through creation (verses 1-6).

No one escapes this revelation. In these six beautiful verses we have a wonderful description of revelation through creation. Those who teach us the Word of God may fail and falter and lose our confidence. Our own lives may become so squandered in sin that we forget that we were forgiven of our own sins. The historians may rewrite history so as to try to discredit the eyewitness accounts of Peter, Paul, James, John and hundreds of other. They cannot, however, blot out the sun.

“During the French revolution Jean Bon St. Andre, the Vendean revolutionist, said to a peasant, ‘I will have all your steeples pulled down, that you may no longer have any object by which you may be reminded of your old superstitions.’ ‘But,’ replied the peasant, ‘you cannot help leaving us the stars.’ John Bate’s ‘Cyclopaedia of Moral and Religious Truths,’ 1865. (found in Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David”)

Those who believe that the universe around us is the result of some cosmic accident cannot deny that it is a glorious and wondrous accident. It is the glory of the heavens and the earth on which we live that helps us to have a foretaste of the glory of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God.”

“When you go out into the woods or on to the beach at look at the beauty of creation, what do you go to see? Do you go to see the glory of God? It is to little purpose to view the beauty of creation, to wonder at the marvels of the universe, if we do not seek, if we do not see not God’s glory there.” (A knock off of a quote from Isaac Watts, D.D., 1674-1748.)

IT HITSYA IN THE FACE!

The message of the heavens is not subtle. Listen to the following translation written by Henry Craik in 1860,

” The heavens are telling the glory of God,

The firmament displaying the work of his hands;

Day unto day wells forth speech,

Night unto night breatheth out knowledge.” (found in Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David)

The message of the heavens is blatantly clear. There is nowhere on earth from which man can escape that message because the heavens are the blackboard from which God instructs men in the knowledge of His glory.

The heavens are also the stage from which we see the wonder of God called the sun. The sun rising in the morning and streaking across the sky is described as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. This was ancient custom back before chivalry and knighthood became so common. Although the bride was very important and she was also decked out in her finest, she was the one who did the waiting. For the groom there was none of this popping out from the side room and humbly standing to the side and waiting for the main event, the entrance of the beautiful bridegroom. No, she was the one who looked forward to her husband bursting onto the scene in all of his glory and majesty, dazzling the guests with a great feast, and then sweeping her off into a sunset of bliss.

THE SUN IS LIKE A RUNNER. 

David also says that the sun is like a strong man who rejoices in the race. Some of you know Caulin Mortensen. Almost two years ago, Pat Whalen and I took our Sunday School Class and a group of their friends to a corn maze. Caulin is a good example of the joy that a runner feels when running a race. There were six kids so Pat and I divided the kids into two groups and we set out going through the maze looking for the hidden stations that were in the maze. We had agreed to meet up with one another at the halfway station. Pat had Caulin in his group. From the moment we entered the maze Caulin burst ahead of his group and from then on he determined the pace and the path. As the paths of the two groups would cross we would usually hear Caulin running first, then we would see him, and then we would hear Pat calling out for him to wait up. At the half way point, Pat and I traded groups. Caulin was still running. He was still determining the pace and the path. By the end of the day, Pat and I were worn out and some of the kids were dragging also but Caulin was still running. He had a great time. He was rejoicing in the run. Nothing slowed him down. That is the picture of the sun in the heaven.

THE INSUFFICIENCY OF CREATION 

When we look at the heavens we are filled with wonder but our response of wonder is insufficient.

During VBS we told the story of Jackson, a blind Navajo Indian boy, whose parents took him to medical doctors and called medicine men to try to heal him. Nothing worked. One day in despair Jackson stumbled out of the house and walked out into the desert until he could walk no further. As he sat there on a rock he began to think of what he had heard about God from the traveling missionary who had come to his village. He began to pray, asking for God to reveal Himself. At that moment, a loud clap of thunder shook the sky around him. Jackson was thankful that God had answered his prayer. The kids enjoyed the story. We were careful though to make sure that the kids understood that such an event cannot save a person. The power of the storm, the glory of the sun, the beauty of the flower displays the character of God but it is insufficient to cure the sickness of the soul, to calm the fears of the heart, to forgive the sins of our lives. For those answers we must turn to God’s Word.

THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD’S WORD 

God reveals Himself and reveals us through His Word (verses 7-14). Teachers are important but God’s Word provides life revealing knowledge. Eyewitness accounts of miracles confirm God’s Word but the Word itself makes the difference, not the miracles. Even Satan can produce miracles but only God can produce life revealing and life changing truth. Science can establish that some things are true, logic can prove that some things are true, our feelings and our instincts can sense that some things are true but only God’s Word is in its character, in its essence, in its entirety true and truth and without error.

Because God’s Word is a complete revelation of Him and of ourselves it changes what creation cannot change, the human heart (verses 7-11). “The universe is cursed, [just as we are] and the universe groans under the burden of this curse (Rom 8:19-22)…The earth is longing for something, the apostle Paul tells us, longing for a Man, the Lord Jesus, who unseats the dragon despot of this present darkness. The earth is groaning for us, “for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom 8:19). That’s why gospel proclamation is the most farsighted form of environmental activism. The earth is [ultimately] delivered when [we] her rulers are raised from the death curse, when all things once again are under {our} feet, in Christ.” (henryinstitute.org, Russell Moore’s commentary “Blood, Gore, and Global Warming” July 9, 2007)

INNER TRANSFORMATION

The change that comes from God’s Word is inward (verses 7-8).

It converts the soul. Only the Word of God can transform a man or a woman who is spiritually dead and make them alive. That is why positive thinking does not work. Dead souls cannot think positively. They are helpless until the Word of God enters their heart and converts, restores, revives them, allows them to pass from death unto life.

It makes wise the simple. Only the Word of God can renew the mind. Even as believers, our minds are influenced by the world of sin but God’s Word can transform the way we think. Without the Word of God, we are incapable of thinking as we should. God’s Word teaches us not just what to believe but how to think.

It rejoices the heart. Only the Word of God can bring true joy. Now there are other things that can bring joy into your life but they are things that do not last. If you want to have joy when trouble is surrounding you, you need the Word of God.

It enlightens the eyes. In this phrase David sums up the revival of the soul, the opening of the mind, and the filling of the heart. With the Word of God one begins to see spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. That is the inward change that comes from God’s Word.

THE WORLD’S MOST PRICELESS POSSESSION IS NOT YOUR SOUL. IT IS GOD’S WORD. 

The change that comes from God’s Word is of eternal value (verses 9-10). My wife will tell you that I am a recovering addict. 🙂 I was addicted to the morning paper. When we got married and lived in our first apartment and did not have two pennies to rub together, I took out a newspaper subscription. When we were three and a half years on the road raising support to go to Austria, one of the first things I did many mornings was go to the gas station a buy a morning paper. When we moved to Munich, Germany for language school and I could barely read, I had to have my paper, even if it had to be in German. In Austria and in Berlin the morning paper was part of my daily routine. That morning paper though became of the biggest obstacles to having a consistent walk with God as I should. One of the biggest struggles that I eventually had to get over was that what I was investing so much time and money in was not of eternal value. That enjoyment, that pleasure, which I am sure I would still enjoy, which I’m sure would still bring some profit into my life, is of no eternal value. John Piper once said, “It’s like the child who chooses the penny over the dime because it’s bigger.” What is the penny on which you are holding tightly? What is taking your time and energy and perhaps even money and is diverting you from the one book that is of eternal value – God’s Word?

WHEN YOU RESPOND TO GOD’S WORD…

My response of repentance and faith in God’s Word is sufficient (verses 11-14). Remember, repentance is not a listing of my sins. Rather it is viewing my sin as God sees it and turning to Him as the only relief from my sin. David, of course, did not know, did not understand that Christ was going to come and die for his sin but he knew that only in God was there mercy and pardon to be found for sin and protection from the evil of secret and presumptuous sin.

GOD’S WORD WILL MAKE YOU BLAMELESS.

God’s Word keeps us from sin (verses 11-13). Usually we focus on verses 11, 12, and the first part of verse 13 when looking at these verses but I want us to see what happens when through God’s Word we are kept from sin. We become blameless. Over the last year, we have had a lot of conversations about the meaning of this word. Certainly, there are a number of different usages of this word in Scripture, some of which I have preached on recently (See https://roberttalley.wordpress.com/2007/07/15/the-meaning-of-the-word-blameless-in-the-new-testament/). The word here means “to be made complete”. It is clarified in the next phrase “…and I shall be made innocent of great transgression.”

Spurgeon put it this way, “All sins are great sins, but yet some sins are greater than others. Every sin has in it the very venom of rebellion, and is full of the essential marrow of traitorous rejection of God. But there be some sins which have in them a greater development of the essential mischief of rebellion, and which wear upon their faces more of the brazen pride which defies the Most High. It is wrong to suppose that because all sins will condemn us, that therefore one sin is not greater than another. The fact is, that while all transgression is a greatly grievous sinful thing, yet there are some transgressions which have a deeper shade of blackness, and a more double scarlet-dyed hue of criminality than others.” (from “Presumptuous Sins” http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0135.htm).

That is what David wants to be kept from. The blameless man, the complete man is not one who never commits sin but one who is so immersed in the Word of God that he is kept from those great transgressions that bring shame on himself, on his God, and on his fellow believers.

WHAT PART OF ME IS MOST AFFECTED BY GOD’S WORD? 

God’s Word changes my words and my thoughts (verse 14). There are a number of ways to evaluate whether God’s Word is doing the work it is supposed to do. Two are mentioned in this last verse. When I catch myself being hateful or negative in my language, when I find that my thoughts are consumed with the things of this world, then I know that God’s Word is not having free course in my life, I am not allowing it to have the effect that God intends for it to have.

INVITATION: Believer, it is time you evaluate yourself. Is God’s Word changing you? If not then let the prayer in this psalm be your prayer and turn to the Word of God for food. You say, I do not know how. We can help you. We can show you how to feed yourself from God’s Word.

If you have not trusted Christ as Savior, your soul needs converted. You need to be revived, to pass from death unto life. The Word of God shows you how. The Bible says that through faith in Christ’s death on the cross, your sin debt can be paid and you can be forgiven. You cannot work to be converted. You cannot work to be saved. It is only through faith in Christ. Will you trust Him today?

Second Peter 1:2-2:2 (How do we know the truth?) July 8, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Faith, False Teachers, Forgiveness, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, Peter the Apostle, Romans, Scripture Memorization, Second Peter, Sermons.
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We continue to learn Romans 6:1-13 during these summer months.  I would like for us to think on verses 5-8. 

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7  For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.”

Paul says that there are some things that we know. He says that we are certain of the resurrection because we know that our old man was crucified with Christ, that our sinful body was done away with. How though can we be sure? He repeats this truth in verse 8 when he says that if we died with Christ, we can be convinced that we will live with Him. Again, the question is this, “How do we know?” His reply might be, because we know that the resurrected Christ will die no more. How though can we be sure? 

THIS QUESTION ABOUT TRUTH IS CURRENT! 

Tomorrow as we hold the memorial service for Ron French, this question will be uppermost in some minds, “How can we know that what God has said (about eternity in this case) is true?”

We have the answer in 2 Peter 1:20-21. Let us read these two verses and then we will answer the question, “How do we know?”

“…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Peter begins this letter by pronouncing a special blessing on his readers. We find the beginning of this blessing in 1:2. This blessing is based on knowledge. Not just any knowledge but the full knowledge of Jesus Christ. Peter then goes on to explain what exactly this full knowledge produces in the life of the believer so that those who are reading the book will understand both the blessing of this knowledge and their responsibility to it.

FULL KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST SHOWS ITSELF IN OUR CHARACTER.

1.     This knowledge produces fruit (1:2-15). This is not theory but reality put into practice. The knowledge of God produces salvation and it produces the type of life that is different from that of the world.

a.      Verses 1-4 tell us about the eternal fruit that is produced by the Word of God. Although I will be talking about eternal fruit of the future and earthly fruit in our present lives, I hope you will understand as Peter does, that the two are inseparable. Look at verse 3. Peter speaks of that which pertains to life and godliness. Both of them are produced by the power of God by the means of the knowledge of God.

b.     Verses 5-7 tell us about the earthly fruit that is produced by the Word of God. Not only is the gospel of Christ the power that produces salvation, it is also the power that produces a godly life.

·        Why then do believers not live a godly life? Why do they not add to their faith, virtue and to their virtue, knowledge until it culminates in the love of God revealed in their daily lives? It is likely because the power of God does not work in them as it should because they have shunned the knowledge of Christ. Someone asked me several months ago what the verse meant that says that if we will not forgive our brother, neither will our Father in heaven forgive us. This is the explanation. If the gospel does not transform your way of living then it is very unlikely that your heart has been transformed. So if you never develop as a Christian to the point where you can forgive those who have sinned against you, then it is likely you have never experienced the power of God for salvation.

·        This brings us to a second question? What is my part in producing godliness? If I am incapable of producing godliness, why then am I commanded to do so? This is why the Word of God is necessary. You see, it is the power of God that produces godliness just as it is the power of God that produces salvation and eternal life but in both cases this power is set in motion by the Word of God and we respond to it by faith. This is the difference between dead works and faith. Dead works looks at the rules and says, “I can do that.” Faith looks at the promises and says, “God can do that for me,” and then responds by striving to do what God has promised to do within me. Those promises that we look at in the Word of God are like a carrot dangling from a stick luring us away from sin and leading us in the path of godliness (HT: John Piper). It is not by my power to walk in that path but it is by my assent. It is not my capability but it is my responsibility to accept and act upon the truth.

WHEN WE BEAR SPIRITUAL FRUIT, GOD’S WORD IS CONFIRMED.

c.     Verses 8-15 tell us about the necessity of spiritual fruit. We are assured by the Word of God as well as by recognizing God’s work in our heart and life. To continue strong in faith, it is absolutely necessary to be strengthened by the Word of God. I am not sure how far down the road of destruction one can go but it seems that it is possible that one can live in rejection of the Word of God to such a point that his spiritual eyesight is damaged (verse 9). In fact the implication of verse 10 is that those who have no fruit have no salvation.

GOD’S TRUTH IS NOT ONLY CONFIRMED BY OUR CHARACTER BUT ALSO BY EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS. 

2.     We know the truth by the confirmed word (1:16-18). Peter was not a moralist. He did not say I am going to tell you what to do over and over and over again until you get it. Peter said I am going to tell you what I have seen. He was an eyewitness. He was not talking about what he had heard from someone else but was speaking from his own personal experience. The confirmation of the truth of the Word of God is very important (Hebrews 2:1-4; 1 John 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15). That is what produces assurance of salvation as well as a holy life.

·        Sometimes someone will tell me about some experience they have that they accredit to God. Sometimes, the experience, although totally foreign to anything that I have ever experienced seems to not only be consistent with the Word of God but also to be evidenced by godliness in the life of the person who experienced it. As long as they do not lift that experience to the level of revelation from God or inspiration by God, then I can say nothing against it. Often though, there are those who tell me about an experience they have had and they attribute that experience to God and I know by their lives that God could have nothing to do with it. If He did their lives would be different. I have no confidence in their experience not because of the experience but because it does not confirm the truth of the Word of God. If your experience does not confirm the clear truth of the Word of God, then your experience is suspect.

·        Peter was different. He was not a perfect man. He was flawed but His experience with Christ changed him and now as he is coming to the end of his life, he writes and tells these people, you need to be reminded of the truth of the message of Jesus Christ. That will keep you from sin! That will establish you in the truth! It is interesting that he does not tell about the resurrection or the ascension of Christ into heaven but rather of the transfiguration, the time when Peter saw Christ in His majesty. Why? Peter understood that was the experience he had with Christ that best describes the second coming (verse 16).

WHAT IS IT THAT FRUITFUL LIVES AND EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS CONFIRM? 

3.     We know the truth by fruitful lives and by confirming testimony but first and foremost we know the truth by the prophetic word of God (1:19-2:2). This is what was confirmed by the eyewitnesses, the prophetic word of God. This may (or may not) imply predicting the future although the predictive prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ concerning the Messiah coming in power and majesty are certainly foremost in the mind of Peter as well as his Jewish readers.

a.      A prophet never spoke his own message. It was always the message of God that he spoke and that message when believed would bring light (1:19-21).

·        “The content of the Bible is revelation. The process by which that content was written down is called inspiration. And it wasn’t a high level of human activity, it wasn’t even a high level of religious human activity. Men were in the process but it didn’t originate with them and it didn’t come from their desire and their will, they were used as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit and enabled to speak from God. They spoke divine words. God used them. It was their personality. It was their background, some of their insights, their experiences, their perceptions, but every word was the word of God. (Macarthur)”

b.     A false prophet not only speaks his own message but it brings destruction on those who believe it (2:1-2).

WARNING! ALL THAT IS TOLD IS NOT TRUTH. 

There are a lot of wrong voices crying to be heard. These voices are described in 2 Peter 2:1-2. We find out two important things about these wrong voices, the false prophets.  

First, they have always been around. Peter quickly moves into his present day but he begins by saying, “Yes, we have the Word of God but do not forget, the false prophets are from ancient times also.” Just because something is old does not make it honest or true. What makes truth is not age or lack of it but a reliable source and Peter says that the Holy Spirit speaking through men is the only reliable source of truth. 

Secondly, they deny and reject Jesus Christ. It is not about believing in God. It is about trusting Christ. He is after all the only way to God. It is not about doing good works to please God. Good works deny the sufficiency of the work of Christ on the cross. It is not about the traditions of men but about the truth of Christ. How then do you know the truth? Certainly, you can look at what God has done in the lives of believers. That is evidence of the power of the knowledge of God. If you are a believer, you know now that God has given you the power to bear fruit. Strive to do it. It is very clear what the fruit should be. Make your life correspond to that fruit.

There are also the eyewitness testimonies that confirm the truth of the Word of God. Peter is one of those. Ultimately, though you are going to have to put your faith and trust in the promises of God for yourself. Only then can your way be lit to salvation in this life and in the life to come. 

Getting ready for Sunday morning’s sermon from 2 Peter 1 July 6, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Inspiration, Jonathan Edwards, Second Peter.
2 comments

This is not a sermon but a very good analysis of what this Sunday’s sermon from 2 Peter 1 is trying to accomplish. It is not our experiences or feelings but God’s Word that should guide our hearts to the light.

http://immoderate.wordpress.com/2007/07/05/marsden-on-edwards-and-the-affections/

Here is Alistair Begg touching the same subject from a different angle.

Unashamed Workman links to Alistair Begg addressing ‘What Happened to Expository Preaching?’ (HT:  John Brand)

First in a two month series on the Word of God July 1, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Inspiration, Second Timothy, Sermons.
1 comment so far

CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S WORD

2 Timothy 3:10-4:8

Although the Internet is a wonderful and useful invention, it has the effect of altering our confidence in what is true. When you surf the Internet, you will find that “(e)very kook and genius has a slot there…Bootleg Playboy pictures are as easy to find as Calvin’s commentaries…all thoughts are reduced to the same level, all equally accessible and equally valid. If you don’t like surfing up Calvinism, alternatives are available; a chaos cult, an atheist circle, or a radical Darwinist clique is easy to find…” from Christians in a .com World by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. and Christopher Stamper.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE CONFIDENCE IN ANYTHING?

In such a culture, it is hard to have confidence that anything is true. Many believe that truth is determined by how they feel about a subject. Their confidence is in their ability to discern whether something is true or not. In other words, your confidence can be affected by sickness, both mental and physical; by the stresses of life; by a learning disability; by the inability to get all the information you need; by a host of factors over which you have limited control and which can skewer your confidence in yourself to discern the truth. The Bible says that you do not have to look inside your imperfect self to find truth. You can have confidence in God’s Word.      

I.      Confidence in God’s Word is necessary because of the times we live in (3:13; 4:3-4).

THE TIMES WE LIVE IN ARE CHARACTERIZED BY TWO THINGS.         

The leaders are wicked and deceptive (3:13). The word “imposters” comes from a word that can refer to professional mourners. There is no sincerity in their message. Yet they somehow come to believe their own message. We see this in politics both Republican and Democrat. As Al Gore proclaims his message of environmental friendliness, he pollutes the air with the same modern conveniences that we do. Richard Nixon did not believe he was a crook and Ronald Reagan never believed he had “traded” arms for hostages.       

The people themselves generally cannot endure sound doctrine (4:3-4). It is a heavy load on their shoulders. They feel persecuted by the Word of God. We have to be careful as we think about this and not overreact and take on a martyr complex. There is a reason, though, why the age in which we live is called the post-Christian age. This age in which we live does not want to hear about sin nor do they want to hear about a Christ who demands total faith in and allegiance to Himself alone. They feel that the truth of the Word of God is a weight on their shoulders. Sometimes that is because of the way that Christians behave themselves but often it is because they do not want to hear the truth. They want their ears tickled.   

 WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S WORD?

There are specific reasons why we can have confidence in God’s Word. For example, we can have confidence in God’s Word because of those who taught it to us (3:14b-15a). When we compare this passage to other passages that mention Timothy’s family, it is obvious Paul is referring to Timothy’s mother and grandmother, Lois and Eunice. We know nothing about these women except they had a spiritual impact on him by the way they taught him Scripture.       

We can have confidence in God’s Word because all of it is inspired, i.e. God-breathed (3:16). This is a hard concept to explain because none of us have ever been inspired of God. In fact, no one has been inspired of God in the sense written here by Paul. Paul does not say that the writers of Scripture were inspired but that Scripture itself is inspired, i.e. God breathed.

BALLOONS AND AIR 

I would like to illustrate this by taking two balloons. I am going to blow both of these balloons up. If Andrea was at the organ, we would have some balloon blowing music but since I did not warn her, you will have to watch in silence as I attempt to blow up a couple of balloons. These two balloons have a different shape, a different size, a different color, they may even be made of slightly different materials but what makes them of worth is not their shape or size or color or material but the air that I breathed into them. The air is my air. The balloons have no air of their own. They have shape and color and material and even size limitations before one bit of breath is breathed into them but it is my breath that gives them worth as balloons. That is what inspiration means. God breathes in His Word into man. It is God’s Word, not man’s. The man may determine the style and language and personality of the written word but God gives them the Word.

SCRIPTURE IS NOT ONLY INSPIRED BUT ALSO SUFFICIENT.

We can have confidence in God’s Word because it is sufficient for every need (3:17 – “may be complete” = “may be outfitted”). Confidence in God’s Word will guide you in every area of life (3:10-12).

There are two parts to following God’s Word.  First, there is understanding God’s Word (“my doctrine”). Verse 16 tells where Paul got his doctrine. From the Scriptures. This is more than understanding intellectually God’s Word. It is being convinced by it. Paul says in 4:7 that he kept the faith, that he guarded his confidence in Christ. How was he able to do this? Look at verse 15. Through the Holy Scriptures. If there is anything that I can impress on your hearts and lives it is this, without the Holy Scriptures you will go through life misguided. You may have a well thought out path that you are following but it will be the wrong path.

HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, FOLLOW! 

Paul refers to knowing and being assured of the Scriptures but also speaks of following the manner of life that they lay out before you. He is saying, “This is what has been displayed in my life (purpose) and this will guide you. As you go down that path you will begin to show the fruit of the Spirit. You will be longsuffering and loving. In the middle of troubles and persecution you will learn to stand fast.” What kind of troubles? Paul reminds him and we find these troubles recounted for us in Acts 13-14. Then he points out that if you intend to live out what you know, you will suffer. Is that true today? Absolutely, yes.

CONFIDENCE COMES WITH STABILITY. 

Confidence in God’s Word will stabilize you in every situation (3:13-15). Do not follow the path of the imposters, of the deceivers! That is Paul’s message to Timothy. 

 There are some frightening implications in these three verses for us as parents. Paul is indicating that what he learned as a child is what will stabilize him for the future. What he learned as a child is what will keep him from being deceived.  What he learned as a child made him wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. I am afraid the reason many of our young people do not stay in the ways of Christ is because they do not learn from us parents the wisdom of God’s Word or they learn it from us and our examples are so rotten that they do not place any confidence in the truth which we try to instill in their hearts.

There is another implication in these verses that we need to recognize. Confidence in God’s Word will stabilize us in every situation but there is a specific situation that is mentioned in verse 15. It is the need for salvation. People who can help themselves spiritually do not need salvation or the Word of God. Proverbs 2:7 says that God “…stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;” He does this through His Word. If you want God to be a shield about you, you need the wisdom of God that comes from the Word.

Let me again remind of the main message of God’s Word. God became man and lived a sinless life so He could suffer the punishment of death that sinful man deserves. He, Jesus, rose again and lives as a guarantee that God will save everyone who comes to whom through faith in Christ alone. That simple message will make you wise to salvation. It will give you spiritual stability. It will be a shield about you for all eternity.  

If after a million years with Christ, Satan was somehow able to send up a message from the lake of fire demanding that Robert Talley be sent down to receive eternal punishment for his sins, Jesus would stand up. He would not say, “Robert Talley is not so bad. He does not deserve to go to the lake of fire.” No, He would stand up and say, “The penalty was paid by me on the cross of Calvary. Robert Talley has no sin to pay for.” I have an eternal confidence because of God’s Word. I have stability in every situation.

I will only mention the last two points not because they are less important but because there is not sufficient time to deal with them totally. Confidence in God’s Word will equip you for every work (3:16-17). How does the Word of God do this? 

·        It will give you understanding/doctrine (positive content).

·        It will show you who you are/reproof (negative content).

·        It will tell you what to do about yourself/correction.

·        It will train you in maturity/instruction in righteousness.

These four things will equip you to do good work for God.

Confidence in God’s Word will prepare you for every instant (4:1-8).

1.     The times are not always convenient (4:2).

2.     The people are not always listening (4:3-4).

3.     You, however, are not trying to please the times or the people (4:1 & 5-8).

Do you have confidence in the Word of God? This is not been a sermon on proving the Bible is God’s Word but rather that if it is God’s Word, then it is sufficient for every trial you may face. It is sufficient in every decision you may make. Are you going to make God’s Word your guide to follow and your rock to stand on in your life or are you going to follow the self-deceiving ways of the world? Your choice will determine whether you are ready for what lies ahead of you.

Links to Sermons based on 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (or its context) June 29, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, George Whitefield, Inspiration, Jonathan Edwards, Links, Persecution, Preaching, Second Timothy, Sermons, Spiritual Leadership, Suffering.
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This Sunday begins a two month series on the Word of God. We will begin with the classic verse on inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. There is some variety in the sermons below but I found them all good.

http://www.biblebb.com/files/whitefield/gw055.htm George Whitefield (on persecution)

http://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/scripture.htm Jonathan Edwards

http://www.biblebb.com/files/ryle/inspiration.htm J. C. Ryle

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByScripture/9/10_Building_Our_Lives_on_the_Bible/ John Piper

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByScripture/9/1029_The_Place_of_Preaching_in_Worship/ John Piper

http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermons/read_sermon.asp?id=142 Ray Pritchard