The nature of the Bible.
Today’s passage is one of the most well known passages in the Bible, perhaps the most well known passage in the Bible that speaks to the divine nature and the necessity and the usefulness of Scripture.
Today’s sermon is a topical message on the place of the Bible in the life of the Christian. My desire is to give us an overview of what the Bible says about Itself – for us. The ‘for us’
part is important. The Bible is God revealing Himself to us, to reveal His will for our salvation in His Redeemer Christ Jesus to rescue us out of an estate of sin and misery. And to bring us into an estate of salvation and joy.
Jerome the ancient church father (AD. 347-420) said this, ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. And I would add that apart from Christ there is no salvation. (Jn.14:1-6, Jn.3:36)
From natural revelation we learn that God is, and that God is all wise and all powerful and all good. And that we are His dependent creatures. (Ps.19:1-6, Rom.1:18-32, Mt.5:45, Acts 17:25, Acts 14:16-17, Ps.139:13-16) Natural revelation is sufficient to make us culpable before God. But it is not sufficient to bring us to a saving knowledge of God.
That only comes by special revelation. And that only as the Holy Spirit applies it to us by the gift of faith in Christ.
In special revelation, which is now codified in the Bible, we learn that God is a loving and a merciful and a powerful Savior to sinners in Christ. The Bible shows us our sin. And the Bible shows us our Sin-Bearer. And now the Bible shows us how to live. (see Heidelberg catechism 1-2, Ps.19:7-14, Jn.3:16, 2 Tim.3:14-15, Rom.16:25, Gal.1:12, Rom.10:1-17, WCF 1.1)
What a convicting truth. It is the essence of our passage. Chapter three is for the congregant. Chapter four is for the minister. We are to live on God’s word until we meet Him face to face.
The rejection of the Bible.
It is a truism that oftentimes being too familiar with something diminishes our appreciation of it. If we were to see the crown jewels of England we would likely be amazed. But if we were the night watchman that guarded them every day, likely the luster would be lost to us.
Beloved the same thing happens to professing Bible-believing Christians with the Bible. Yes, yes. The crown jewels of heaven. The Bible is over there under the glass box. On the coffee table. Wonder what I am going to eat for lunch? Wonder where I am going on vacation? So excited.
You see a lack of positive and active and conscious love for God in His word is a passive rejection of the Bible as one’s rule for faith and life, for doctrine and practice. No matter how one may object to this. God knows the heart. (I Sam.16:7, Heb.4:12-13, Jer.17:9-10) And the heart of many professing Christians has deceived themselves as regards to their love of holy Scripture. (Mal.1:1-9, Amos 8:4-7) Inwardly they say, we loathe this miserable food. (Num.21:5)
Let’s beware beloved of having an outward form of Christianity but inwardly lacking a spirit of love for the rule of true Christianity which is God’s word alone. (2 Tim.3:1-5)
May we be the people that say, oh Lord I love Thy Law! (Ps.119:97, 113, 163, 165)
There is another thing that we see in our passage as concerns the scripture. Even having the God-Breathed Scripture does not ensure that men will receive It as such. (I Thess.2:13)
And the context of the passage is that people in a professing Christian church will not receive the pure milk and meat of God’s word. They will have no religious taste for the word of God because they crave the word of man. No desire for sound doctrine because they love strange doctrines, the doctrines of demons. (I Tim.1:3-4, I Tim.4:1-4, Col.2:20-23)
They love the wisdom of man and loathe the wisdom of God. This is because goats have no taste for the lamb’s food. (Jer.8:5) Hear God’s word to God’s people on this very thing.
Psalm 50:16. But to the wicked God says, “What right have you to tell of My statutes And to take My covenant in your mouth? 17 “For you hate discipline, And you cast My words behind you. 18 “When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, And you associate with adulterers. 19 “You let your mouth loose in evil And your tongue frames deceit. 20 “You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. 21 “These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes. 22 “Now consider this, you who forget God, Or I will tear you in pieces, and there will be none to deliver. (Rev.2 and 3, Ezek.18:25-32, priests in their vomit – Isa.28:7-9)
Remember Beloved God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change.
The restoration of the Bible.
This passage is both a positive exhortation and a negative warning. Do use God’s word. (2 Tim.3:14-17) Don’t forsake God’s word. (2 Tim.4:1-4) Remember Beloved, the Bible says that judgement begins with the house of God first. (I Pt.4:17-19)
To whom much is given much is required. Faith in Christ, and professing faith, comes with great privileges and great responsibilities. May we live up to both, to the honor of Christ. (Lk.12:48, Mt.25:15-26, Mt.5:20, 2 Cor.5:10-11, I Cor.3:11-15, Jn.5:29, Titus 1:16, Mt.5:20)
The Bible is full of admonitions for us as God’s people to not forget God, to not forget His word and to remember God, to remember our Creator, to remember Christ, to remember all that He taught us. God commands us to stand firm in the faith, do not allow yourself to turn back or to fall away. (Dt.6:12, 8:2, Isa.46:9, I Cor.11:24, Rev.2:5, Eccles.12:1, Ps.103:2)
I Corinthians 15:1. Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (Dt.11:22, Josh.22:5, Prov.4:4, Heb.4:4, 2 Tim.1:13, I Tim.6:3-4)
Many professing Christians have apostatized from the Bible as their only rule for faith and practice. They retain the name Christian. But they have renounced the word of Christ and the Christ of the Word. (Rev.3:1)
This is a call for us to exercise our faith in God in Christ. And if we have failed and have forgotten His word, this is a call to repent and believe and recapture our first love of God as He reveals Himself to us in His holy scripture. (Rev.2:1-5, Rev.3:16)
There was a time in the history of the church that this passage, that God says is necessary for our salvation to know Jesus Christ and for our sanctification to be conformed into the image of Christ was not read in the church. Or in the home. It was not read by the people in a language they could understand. (I Cor.14:10-20) And this is key: because the church leaders said It was not necessary nor legal. Do you see the irreconcilable rival authorities?
We need to remember the Bible warning us about losing the Bible.
As Protestants we need to remember the Protestant Reformation as relates to the Scripture. Luther freed the Bible from the tyranny of the Roman church. Even as Christ freed God’s word from the tyranny of the church leaders of His day; Sadducees and Pharisees. (Mt.23:1-13, Mk.7:1-13)
Men like William Tyndale gave his life to give us the Bible in English. He was tied to a stake and then strangled to death and then his body was burned in the flames on October 6, 1532 at the age of 42 for the crime of putting the Bible in English for people that spoke English! So that they could know Christ and be saved!
I believe that every generation and every church and every individual Christian must purposefully and continuously re-fight to keep the Bible as the sole authority in the life of the Christian. And I believe that every Believer must daily wrestle against the world and the flesh and the devil as they seek to break our love for God’s holy word. (I Cor.9:23-27, Eph.6:10-18)
Remember the great temptation and scheme of Satan against Christ was to get Him to go against God’s word. (Mt.4:1-10) The very same scheme that worked with Adam and Eve. (Gen.3:1-8)
Part of fighting the good fight of faith means fighting to live according to God’s word, by faith. (2 Tim.4:7, I Tim.1:18, I Tim.6:12, I Thess.2:9, 2 Tim.2:1-9, 2 Tim.4:5)
My reason for this subject today is that I believe many professing Christians need to wake up from our worldly slumber and reclaim God’s word once again. (Lamen.4:1, Gen.25:29-34, Heb.12:16, Eph5:14, Jas.4:1-10, I Jn.2:15-19, Mt.24:11-13)
Beloved, the church today is suffering from a famine. And a famine far worse that the pestilence of the covid-19 virus. I am afraid that a great many professing Christians are Bible-less (and prayerless and churchless) “Christians”. They do not read the Bible. Not daily. Not weekly. Not ever. Therefore, what they call their Christianity is not according to what God says.
Hear God’s word warning God’s people about this very thing. There is nothing new under the sun. (Eccl.1:9)
Amos 8:11. It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord GOD, “That I will make the sun go down at noon And make the earth dark in broad daylight. 10 “Then I will turn your festivals into mourning And all your songs into lamentation; And I will bring sackcloth on everyone’s loins And baldness on every head. And I will make it like a time of mourning for an only son, And the end of it will be like a bitter day. 11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 “People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it. (Neh.9:26, Isa.29:13, Col.2:20-23, Jas.3:15-18)
The perfections of the Bible.
Now let’s consider some of the perfections of the Bible as we see them represented to us in our passage. And these are the things that bind us to God’s holy word. (Isa.66:5)
The holiness of the Bible.
V.15. The sacred writings – the holy Scriptures.
God calls His book, His holy book and this is what biblos means in Greek. The Holy Spirit says the Bible of the OT and the NT is holy Scripture. We are right to say the holy Bible, without spot, without turning, without darkness, without blemish, all light and life.
It is the word of the three times holy God about His holy Son dying to make sinners holy, to bring us to a realm of holiness where we will be perfectly happy because we will be perfectly holy.
The law is holy. The gospel is holy. The passages we like are holy. The passages we don’t like are holy. Oh Beloved, we ought to tremble every time we pick up our Bible. Every time we read our Bible without reverence and awe we take the name of God in vain! We are to revere everything whereby God makes His name known. God increase our faith. God forgive our sin.
The holiness of the Bible is one of the reasons that many professing Christians do not like the Bible. It is too holy. And It will not allow them peace and pleasure in this sin. The holiness of the Bible, which means the holiness of God is one of the reasons our passage says that ministers will preach funny stories and worldly stories to tickle the ears of the congregants.
This is why the unconverted do not like the Bible. It is because their body and their soul is unholy. Their thoughts are unholy. Their affections are unholy. And the Bible is blindingly holy
None but the born again in Christ love the holiness of God. And even covered with the blood of Christ we fall down like dead men at the spotless purity of God and His word. Like Isaiah. (Isa.6:1-7) Like John on the Isle of Patmos. (Rev.12:17-18) Oh how we need to forsake the worldly and the casual and recapture a sight of the holiness of God. This Bible is design by God to make us holy! (Eph.1:4, Eph.5:27, I Pt.1:15-16, Rev.20:6)
Beloved are you holy (justified)? Are you becoming more holy (being sanctified)?
The authority (the inspiration, the truthfulness) of the Bible.
V.16. All Scripture is inspired by God. (Exod.20:1, 2 Sam.23:2, Mal.4:4, Lk.24:44, Jn.1:23, 5:39, 10:34-35, 2 Pt.1:21, I Jn.4:16, 2 Pt.1:21)
The Bible says that It is inspired by God. Inspired by God is literally Spirit-breathed. This means God the Holy Spirit inspired or guided the human penmen of Scripture to think, to speak, and to write the very words of God.
Exactly how God inspired He does not tell us. Therefore, this is not necessary for us to know exactly. (Dt.29:29) Though by necessary deduction we can understand a number of things. (WCF 1.6) One, God worked immediately upon His prophets and apostles.
God has access to heart of man. (Prov.21:1) He can harden a heart. He can convert a heart. And He can guide a man’s thoughts and words and pen to reveal God’s word. Nothing is impossible for our God. (Mt.19:26, Job 42:2, Dan.4:34-37, Eph.1:11)
This is why the prophets would say, thus saithe the Lord. Or, it is written.
Two, God the Holy Spirit did not inspire these men in a mechanical process like a dictating machine. If that were true, we would have one style of writing in all 66 books of the Bible (OT-39/NT-27). And that is not true.
Moses writes different than Isaiah. Peter writes different than Paul and John. God the Holy Spirit inspires the penman in an organic way. He uses their education, their personalities, their different times and experiences and the like and He governs it all perfectly such that they write the perfect word of God.
Notice the Bible says the Bible is inspired meaning the prophets and the apostles were inspired when they wrote scripture. The Bible does not say that the prophets and apostles were perpetually inspired because they were not. Remember Peter. He wrote inspired Scripture, First and Second Peter. And at another time denied knowing Christ. (Mt.26:69-75) And at another time feared the Jews and so he corrupted the gospel to the Gentiles. (Gal.2:11-17)
The authority (the infallibility and inerrancy) of the Bible.
Beloved, the Bible alone is inspired by God. No church officer of any church is infallibly inspired by God the Holy Spirit. Beware of all religious popes, Catholic and Protestant, small or large, male or female. Beware of submitting your soul to man. (WCF.21.1) Beware of the religious traditions of men. (Mk.7:1-13, Col.2:13-23)
Only the Bible is infallible. It cannot err. Only the Bible is inerrant. It contains no errors. The entire Bible is perfect. There are no true parts and false parts. True on doctrine. But false on historical record. No. The entire Bible is perfect and true. We can trust the destiny of our eternal souls to it. (Mt.7:24-29)
Let’s think of some of the internal proofs that the Bible is our reliable authority.
The prophecies of Christ.
Think of the prophecies of Christ. We can read in the OT about the birth, the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will be born of a virgin, of the house of David, in the town of Bethlehem, at a time when the scepter or rule had departed from Judah, He would be called out of Egypt, He would dwell in the Gentile land of Galilee, even Nazareth, he would ride into Jerusalem on a young donkey receiving the praise of the people, He would be hung on a cursed tree, He would be mocked and offer bitter gall upon the Cross, the Holy One would remain 3 days on the earth like Jonah, yet God would not allow His Anointed to suffer decay, etc. (Isa 7:14, Micah 5:2, Isa.9:6, Isa.53:5, Isa.55:11)
The practice of Christ.
Think of the practice of Christ. When Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, each time He appealed to the perfect authority of the Bible. (Mt.4:3-10).
Therefore, we as the sheep of Christ follow His voice, we follow His lead concerning the doctrine of Scripture. Our Good Shepherd says the Bible is the Word of God, He cannot lie, we believe His word about The Word. (Mt.21:42, Mt.22:29, Lk.16:29, Acts 17:2, Acts 17:11, Isa.8:16, Mt.15:7-9, Mk.7:5-8)
The necessity (the usefulness) of the Bible.
Let’s consider the usefulness of the Bible. The Bible is able to make moral fools wise! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. (Prov.9:10)
2 Timothy 3:15. you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
The world of unbelief says the exact opposite. Bible believers are fools they say. Believers in Christ and His gospel are fools. God says He makes us wise. And they are fools. As the eternal estate will soon reveal.
The Bible teaches that the Bible is necessary for our salvation. We begin with this truth at the outset of the sermon. (Jn.3:16, John 17:1-17, WCF 1.1) God uses the law to show us our sin and the danger of our sin. (Gal.3:13-29) Then God gives us His gospel to save us from our sin. The Holy Spirit uses the word to work faith in us. Saved from hell. Saved for heaven. By His Blood.
Young Timothy was led to a saving knowledge of God in Christ by his godly grandmother and mother training him in the Bible. (2 Tim.1:5, 2 Tim.3:14) Oh mothers and fathers, and grandparents bring the scriptures to your children that they may come to Christ and be saved. Oh Christian forget all the tricks to argue people into becoming a Christian. Set the law of God and the Gospel of Christ before your family and friends and enemies and pray that God would cause the growth! To quote John Newton, deliver the message and then water it with your prayers and tears.
Hear the word of God on our salvation and sanctification. On coming to Christ. On being built up in Christ.
Romans 10:13. for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” 16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
I Peter 1:23. for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, 25 BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you. (Jas.1:18, Heb.4:12, Acts 2:37, John 17:1-17)
The clarity of the Bible.
The psalmist says, Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path, the unfolding of Thy words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. (Ps.119: 105, 130)
The Bible is clear. You cannot have a sole and infallible rule meant to be obeyed if It cannot be understood. This does not mean that all things in the Scripture are equally clear. In fact some portions of the Bible are not only very difficult, but certain things, for example, the Trinity, are beyond our finite comprehensions. (2 Pt. 3:16)
Yet, those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. (WCF 1.7, Ps. 119:105,130, Ps.19:7, 2 Cor.3:14, 2 Pt.1:18, Hab.2:2, 2 Tim.3:15-17)
Clarity of Scripture is also proved by: All Christians are commanded to search the Scriptures (2 Tim.3:15, Acts 17:11, Jn.5:39) All Christians have the same need, salvation and sanctification. And the Spirit uses the word to accomplish these ends.
The sufficiency of the Bible.
And this leads me to our final perfection, the sufficiency of Scripture. We do not need Scripture-plus to know God in Christ and to live for Him. The Bible alone is sufficient for faith and practice. For our sanctification. (Jn.17:17, WCF 1.6, 2 Tim.3:16)
Oh Beloved, what a treasure God has put in your hands. Your eyes behold the very words of God. Your hands touch the very words of God. You see the face of your Savior. You have the promise of eternal life. You have foretastes of life with God in glory. Sola Scripture Beloved.
- What is the Bible? What does the Bible principally teach? (Gen.3:15, 2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Pet. 1:19-21, Eph. 2:20, Rev. 22:18-19, Isa. 8:20, Lk.16:29-31, Gal. 1:8-9, 2 Tim. 3:15-16, 2 Tim. 1:13, Heb. 11:6, 1 Jn 5:17 , Acts 15:14-18, Acts 4:27-28, Jn.3:16, Lk.24:25-27, WSC 3)
- How do people passively reject the word of God as their rule for religious truth and moral guidance? Give examples from both professing unbelievers and professing believers.(I Sam.16:7, Heb.4:12-13, Jer.17:9-10, Mal.1:1-9, Amos 8:4-7)
- How do people actively reject the Bible? Give examples from professing unbelievers and professing believers. (Lk.14:16-24, Lk.17:23-30, 2 Pt.3:4, 2 Tim.4:1-4, I Thess.2:13, Jer.8:5, Ps.50:16-22, Rev.2, Rev.3, Ezek.18:25-32)
- What do the Biblical exhortations to remember and not to forget and to stand firm in the faith and other similar statements teach us? About God? About Believers? About our spiritual enemies? About God’s appointed means to keep His exhortations? (2 Tim.3:14-17, 2 Tim.4:1-4, I Pt.4:17-19, Lk.12:48, Mt. 5:15-26, Mt.5:20, 2 Cor.5:10-11, I Cor.3:11-15, Jn.5:29, Titus 1:16, Mt.5:20, Dt.6:12, 8:2, Isa.46:9, I Cor.11:24, Rev.2:5)
- What does the holiness of the Bible mean? Why or how is the Bible holy? How ought we to treat and respond to the holy Bible? Does the unbeliever think the Bible is holy? Why? Why not? (2 Tim.3:14-16, Isa.6:1-7, Rev.12:17-18, Eph.1:4, Eph.5:27, I Pt.1:15-16, Rev.20:6,I Sam.2:2, Lev.19:2, Rev.4:8, Rev.15:4, Heb.12:14)
- What does it mean that the Bible is inspired or Spirit-breathed? Is the entire Bible inspired? Does inspiration of the Bible mean that the Bible is perfect truth? (2 Tim.3:16, Exod.20:1, 2 Sam.23:2, Mal.4:4, Lk.24:44, Jn.1:23, 5:39, 10:34-35, 2 Pt.1:21, I Jn.4:16, 2 Pt.1:21)
- Were the prophets and apostles that were inspired by the Spirit to write Scripture perpetually inspired after they wrote Scripture? Are there people today that God the Holy Spirit continues to ‘inspire’ them the way He did with the prophets and apostles? (1 Peter, 2 Peter, Mt.26:69-75, Gal.2:11-17, Heb.12:1-3, 2 Tim.3:14-17, Rev.22:18)
- How do the prophecies of Christ prove that the Bible is the word of God? How does Christ’s use of the Bible prove that It is the word of God? How are we to respond to the Bible? (Isa 7:14, Micah 5:2, Isa.9:6, Isa.53:5, Isa.55:11, Mt.4:3-10, Mt.21:42, Mt.22:29, Lk.16:29, Acts 17:2, Acts 17:11, Isa.8:16, Mt.15:7-9, Mk.7:5-8)
- How is the Scripture necessary for our salvation? (Prov.9:10, 2 Tim.3:14-17, Rom.10:1-17, I Pt.1:23-25, Jas.1:18, Heb.4:12, Acts 2:37, John 17:1-17, Jn.3:16, Gal.3:13-29, WCF 1.1)
- How is Scripture necessary and useful for our sanctification, our increasing practical conformity into the holy image of Christ. (Jn.17:1-17, 2 Thess. 2:13, Eph. 4:23-24, Rom. 6:4-6, Rom. 8:1)
- What is the clarity of the Bible? What is the sufficiency of the Bible?