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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.
1 comment so far

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.

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.
7 comments

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?

Odds and ends July 30, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Atheism, General Revelation, Special Revelation.
1 comment so far

I finally got WordPress to accept an avatar. Two actual pictures of myself failed either to upload or showed a black screen. They may be trying to tell me something. Anyway, my avatar is from one of my son’s school projects. It has something to do with Castelvecchio (I think I spelled that correctly.)

Getting back from vacation, I was shocked to find that the sermon “Ways God Reveals Himself” received 100 hits in two weeks. I’m sure that isn’t all from church members. Obviously, there is a lot of interest in that subject via search engines. Whether it is believers in Christ who are searching or not, I am not sure. Pray that the Lord will work in hearts and lives through that sermon.

I was also pleased to see a link to Tom Dutton’s testimony  “Converted to Christ by an Atheist” on a Dartmouth website. How long it will be there I don’t know. The unpredictability of the Internet never ceases to amaze me.

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?