This is our fifth message in the epistle of Jude. If you have not read the first four messages, please scroll down and begin with the first message.
Today, we come to the end of our study in Jude. What a wonderful little epistle this is. I hope it encourages us to endure, because we face a lot of obstacles as a church and as individual believers.
This benediction (verses 24 and 25) caps the epistle which tells us to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. "Now unto him that (or who) is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
Jude gives due credit to the Lord in both verses, but verse twenty-four is particularly consistent with the preceding twenty-three verses. What has Jude been discussing? Contending for the faith and dealing with reprobates. But how is that done? Of course, we have a great responsibility in this, but ultimately
God gets the glory for it all.
We believe in the sovereignty of God, but we are not fatalists. God's purpose brings about good for His church while fate is an empty philosophy without purpose or good. So, God tells us what He expects from us, then He makes sure we do not fail in doing it.
The benediction focuses entirely on God. "Unto Him that is able to keep you from falling..." If we are not falling what are we doing? Standing. He could have said: "To Him who is able to keep you standing and fighting." In a fight the winner is the one left standing. We are in a fight for the truth, and God is our enabler to keep us standing. We may get knocked down, but as long as we get up, the fight is not over.
Larry Vincent, Mindy's former pastor, posted something on facebook yesterday that caught my eye, but he had no idea that it would be incorporated into this message. It was a lament over those who give up,
jump ship in marriage, in the church and in life, without working things out. The conclusion was that everything must be overcome through love. Paul said love endures. And while prophecies and tongues will cease and childish things are put aside, love never fails. Love doesn't give up. It bears all things. It endures.
What is the source of love? God is love. Therefore, He is able to keep us from falling.
What if God were to give up on us? He should, but His love for us in not intermittent. He loves us in spite of all of our flaws. Jude said "...and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory..." That same article said that the more we know about others, the more clearly we see their flaws. But that real love is patient, it is painful, it is sacrificial. How true that is. God is patient enough with us to not only keep us standing, but He will present us faultless to Himself. The word "present" means, in the presence of
others. The word "presence" refers to the place. Which is? God's presence. I think God is telling us that what really matters is not what we used to be but what we will be when God's purpose is complete. When we are finally brought into the presence of God, He will present us faultless in the presence of all the saints.
The word for faultless is translated several ways:
In Ephesians 1:4, it is without blame;
in Ephesians 5:27, it is without blemish;
in Colossians 1:22, it is unblamable;
in Hebrews 9:14, it is without spot;
in 1 Peter 1:19, it is without blemish and without spot;
in Revelation 14:5, it is without fault.
When God is finished with us, we will be all of that - presentable!
Sue and I visited a diamond factory in Haifa, Israel, on a couple of our trips. It is not really a factory, but a shop that imports diamonds from Africa, cuts and polishes them. We stood on the opposite side of a glass from workers and watched the diamonds being shaped. Do you know how they cut a diamond? They strike it with a sharp object. The diamond is then placed on an arm that puts it in contact with an abrasive wheel. The shaping and polishing then takes place by grinding, which is exactly what God is doing with us. We are put on the wheel of sanctification and shaped into something for God to present before all of heaven.
Turn to 1 Corinthians one. Look at verse two. "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints..." What does he mean by "sanctified in Christ?" To be sanctified is to be purified by expiation; made free from the guilt of sin. A reference to being "in Christ" occurs seventy-six times in the New Testament. To be "in Christ" means to be put into His body, the church, to
be made part of Him. The Book of Romans teaches justification for those who are "in Christ." Romans 8:1 says: "There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." "In Christ" is to be justified in the sight of God by the blood of Him who died for us.
But look down in verse tweny-six through verse thirty-one.
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He
that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
Verse 30 says: "But of him are you in Christ Jesus." Of him - it is His doing. "Who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption." All that we are and ever hope to be is because of Christ. He is the only means of our perfection. That is why Jude says God is able to present
you flawless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. Is God going to exalt you or me? No. He is going to exalt Christ with exceeding joy.
When we stand before God pure and spotless it will not be because of our effort or goodness, it will be due to Christ. Hebrews 1:9 uses the term "oil of gladness" to refer to what Christ accomplished on our behalf. Christ is anointed with the oil of gladness every time a saint is brought into God's presence. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane asking God to fulfill his joy by preserving those the Father had given him. What a glorious day it will be when we are all in his presence.
I wrote this a couple of days after our Julie passed away:
Jesus came to our house, I know not the time of night,
And took our precious daughter before He took His flight.
Jesus came to our house, how blessed is the thought,
To claim the prized possession He had already bought.
Jesus came to our house to sit her at His feet,
Fulfilling God's great purpose in making her complete.
Jesus came to our house; He won't be gone too long;
He promised to return to earth to take His children home.
Jesus came to our house, my heart can loudly sing.
When He comes our sweet child with Him He will bring.
He will come to our house to raise those who fell asleep,
So we all can be with Him; In Glory we shall meet.
Lastly, verse twenty-five. "To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now ever. Amen." Jude says that God is our Savior or Deliverer, or Preserver. "To the only wise God, our Preserver (the one who keeps us from falling) be glory and majesty." These words are grouped together because they both declare God's position as deliverer. As our Savior we give Him glory and majesty. Actually, He already has glory and majesty. We honor that and recognize it as Jude does here.
"Dominion and power." These words are also grouped because they both mean authority. Jude believed in the sovereignty of God. He recognized His office and authority. But unlike earthly kings it is "Now and
Sue and I went to England last year and saw the crown jewels dating back to Charles II. We saw the
palace of William the Conqueror that dates back to 1066. We saw the palace of King Henry VIII and a statue of Richard I. The thing about it is, all of them are gone. Only God is forever. His authority is eternal. When man has had his little rule, when time runs its coarse, God will still be on His throne.
This is our fourth message from the epistle of Jude. If you have not read the other messages, please scroll down and begin with the first message.
So far we have found that Jude wrote for two reasons:
1. to exhort us to contend (fight) for the faith once delivered to the saints;
2. to expose reprobates.
There is a combining of the two thoughts though the entire epistle, but the subjects in general are:
1. exhortations to contend for the faith in verses 20-23;
2. exposing reprobates in verses 5-19.
To Jude reprobation is personified by those who were in the church but secretly lived in the world. He warned that as surely as God destroyed Israel in the wilderness, reserved fallen angels for judgment and destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha, he will deal with reprobates.
Then he compared them to three Bible characters, Cain, who invented his own religion; Balaam, who was a prophet for hire; and Korah, who rebelled against God's word. Jude said they are without substance and without shame, contradictions of what the church is supposed to be.
Today, we will resume this thought in verses 14 and 15, where he says: "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these [reprobates], saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
I thought the previous two verses were descriptive, but verses fourteen and fifteen are more so. These reprobates who have come into the church are seen by Jude as facing God's wrath. I'm not sure why he used these words from the Book of Enoch in the Apocrypha (Greek apokruphos, literally “hidden away”), books of the Bible that are included in the Vulgate and Septuagint versions of the Christian Bible, but not in the Protestant Bible or the Hebrew canon.
Let us compare, however, what Enoch said with other writers:
Isaiah 13:9 says: "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger to lay the land desolate and he shall destroy the sinner thereof out of it."
Isaiah 26:21 says: "For behold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity."
Isaiah 30:27 says: "Behold the name of the Lord cometh from afar burning with his anger and the burden thereof is heavy."
Joel 2:1 says: "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion and sound the alarm in my holy mountain."
Zechariah 14:1 says: "Behold the day of the Lord cometh and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee."
Those are just a few of the references to His coming in the Old Testament, but the New Testament continually promises His coming again to execute judgment on the earth. Jude says "to execute judgment on all." The word "all" can mean each individual or some of all types, depending on the noun. Here, the noun is "ungodly." As certain as God judged Israel in the wilderness, fallen angels and Sodom and Gomorrha, He will judge all who are ungodly at His coming. To be ungodly is to be destitute of awe toward God; to the believer fearing God is reverence of God, but to the unbeliever, fearing God is a total condemnation. Jude says that when the Lord comes to judge the world, he will prove wrong all those who lacked a fear of God and especially those who spoke against Him.
Notice that he uses the word "ungodly" four times in verse fifteen. The ungodly have no reverence of God:
1. in their entire group or company; 2. in their deeds; 3. in their actions; 4. in their speech. Judgmenbt is coming on all of them, all of their deeds, all of their actions and all of their words.
Verse 16: "These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts." What is the difference between a murmurer and a complainer? Well, they are different. The meaning of murmur in the Bible is to direct it toward God; to complain is to gripe about everything else. Walking after their own lusts is to live selfishly. So, the reprobate who faces the judgment of God is a person who has no fear of God, murmurs against God, and complains of his lot in life and lives only for himself.
"...their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage." To put it another way, they are loudmouthed boasters who gain an advantage by their flattery. If people will talk against God they will certainly talk up themselves. Darwinism has become a convenient tool of the ungodly. They can easily deny the existence of God because everything (in their estimation) created itself. Last week they rejoiced that the rover found water on mars. The evolutionists look at it as proof that life could be there. I look at it as proof that life did not come from water but was a creation of God to sustain life. Admit it! there is no life on Mars.
Verse 17: "But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;" Verse 18: "How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts." Verse 19: "These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Sprit."
Jude is quoting from 2 Peter 3. Look at that passage - 2 Peter 3:3-7: "Knowing this first, that there should come scoffers, walking after their own lusts. And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since our fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willing are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
Jude called them mockers, Peter called them scoffers. Same thing. They scoff at the word of God and its promise of judgment. They say "Nothing has happened yet!" But who prophesied the coming of Christ in judgment? Enoch, the eighth from Adam and only four generations before Noah! Scoffers say "All things
have been the same since the beginning." Peter says they are willingly ignorant of the facts that by the word of God a flood came and they all perished and by that very same word of God ungodly men are kept in store for final judgment and perdition (destruction).
I have witnessed the mockery first hand. In places where a cataclysmic flood is obvious, they deny the Bible account and say it was caused by other strange phenomenon. Peter said in verse 8 and 9 for us not to be ignorant of this. Time is nothing to God and His promise still stands. Judgment is coming on the earth. I am certain that the world is not going to get better. We are coming face to face with a new generation of mockers; people who accept the trend of rebellion. Don't get me started on what is acceptable to them. I really fear what God will do to this generation of mockers.
Jude said: "Who separate themselves." I am going to give the Greek word here, because among Baptists the word separate carries a connotation of sanctification. Separate is άποδιορίζο: meaning, to cause divisions. Jude is certainly not saying these reprobates are interested in purification but rather in causing divisions, church splits. There is nothing lower, in my estimation, than a staff member, who is drawing a salary from a local church, causing a church split. This is ungodly. It is sinister. The way of the reprobate is always to put himself above that which is godly. They are sensual, ψυχικός, meaning, having the nature and characteristics of the breath. Notice how Jude follows that with "having not the Spirit." Amazing! They are living human beings with the breath of the flesh, but they do not have the breath of God.
When I was a kid living in a small agrarian town in West Texas, most every body went to town on Saturday to buy groceries. We often sat and watched people go by. I could have sworn there was a sort of Neanderthal race living side by side with God's created beings. You know I am joking. Certainly there is a large group of people who, like animals, have breath, but are without the Spirit of God. Such is the reprobate.
The Spirit of God does not come and go. He not only regenerates, he also indwells the believer. We are either spiritually alive or dead; there is no in between. The reprobate did not lose his salvation, he never had it. Jude says he is destitute of any fear of God and willing to speak harshly against God; he is a mocker who causes divisions in the church and does not have the Spirit of God.
I want to close with this appeal: We live in the last days. I know that because of what is going on in the world and it lines up with Bible prophecy. The day of the Lord is at hand, therefore, we must contend for the faith. We cannot afford to let our children and grandchildren fall into such rebellion outside of the church. Perseverance is always in the church. It cannot be half in and half out. We need to get serious about being a Christian.
This is the third message in our exposition of Jude's epistle. If you have not read the first two, please scroll down and begin with message number one.
So far in our study in the Epistle of Jude, we have learned who Jude was and delved into the two-fold purpose of the book. We found that Jude wrote the epistle in order to exhort us to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints and to warn of reprobates. We have talked at length about reprobation, but today we come to the section where Jude described reprobates more fully. Here we find reasons to contend for the faith - the reprobates themselves.
I was in the book section of a store last week and noticed that the two greatest reprobates of our time were the ones most prominently displayed in the religious section. It is no wonder our country is so disillusioned, because so many people are reading their stuff and watching their deception on TV. We need more Bible, not more fakery. But the Bible says the devil is disguised as an angel of light and also goes about sowing tares among the wheat. He has infiltrated the church, the greatest reason we must contend for the faith. This
battle is never easy. It requires sacrifices. It requires faithfulness to the church. And remember, the apostle Paul said our fight is not against flesh and blood but with principalities and powers and rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness, as illustrated here in verse nine.
Jude tells about "Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil (he disputed about the body of Moses) dared not bring against him [the devil] a railing accusation, but said 'The Lord rebuke thee.'"
The key word is "railing" which could be translated blaspheme. This is tied to verse eight: "...these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities."
Jude is not critical of Michael's method of fighting the devil. He is giving him credit for leaving it to God. Jude said these reprobates, filthy dreamers, who defile the flesh with their loose living also blaspheme God
(despise dominion) while Michael the archangel honored God instead of himself in his fight with the devil. I will give you an illustration from modern times: you have seen preachers take dominion and rebuke the devil or demons. They are despising God's authority by doing so. Only God has dominion over the devil. Jude says their actions are blasphemy against God. Not even Michael would usurp God's authority by rebuking the devil, but instead, said: "The Lord rebuke thee."
So, what do reprobates do in addition to living like the Nicolaitanes? They reject the lordship of Christ; they operate on their own; they blaspheme God by denying His authority; they are loose cannons.
Verse 10: "But these speak evil of those things which they know not:" One of the greatest reasons we have for contending for the faith is the way our nation is being deceived by reprobates "who speak evil of those things which they know not." Their message (I will not call it a gospel) is not Biblical. "But what they know naturally." Their message is not God's message but their own, understood through the senses. He says: "...as brute beasts." Can a beast reason? No. I know you think your dog understands English. A beast does not understand anything but the natural and physical - tone and inflections. This church is a little island, a sanctuary, surrounded by those who understand naturally, with the physical, instead of understanding spiritually. What are we to contend for? The faith! "The faith" is not discerned by the senses, "the faith" is discerned by the Spirit of God.
"In those things they corrupt themselves" meaning, they bring the judgment of God upon themselves. "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core (Korah, pronounced: Korock)." Jude gave examples of reprobation back in verses five, six and seven: the nation of Israel; fallen angels; and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha. Now he gives examples of reprobates by name: Cain, Balaam and Korah.
You remember the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. I think you will see how appropriate it is to compare Cain to the reprobates about which Jude is concerned. Cain wanted to offer God the works of his own hands and God rejected them. "The way of Cain" is not the way of God. God required a blood sacrifice to
foreshadow the blood of Christ shed on the cross of Calvary. Cain operated his own program. Cain was a loose cannon who despised God's authority. He blasphemed God by bringing what he thought best. This is another reason to contend for the faith. God has ordained it. We are not called to do our own thing.
We try to follow the regulative principle, which simply means that we worship God according to the Scriptures. We are not allowed to worship as we see fit but as the Bible directs us. Cain invented his own style of worship and then got mad at Abel for following God's instructions. Cain was the first reprobate.
He only understood the physical, not the spiritual. He corrupted God's plan with his own plan. Jude said: "Woe to him."
Next is Balaam. In the Book of Numbers is the story of this prophet, a mercenary who would say whatever they paid him to say. The King of Moab paid him to prophecy against Israel, but it didn't work because God put a stop to it. Balaam is the forerunner of preachers who will say what they are paid to say instead of what God says. Like Cain and Balaam, they are reprobates, who are willing to tickle the ears of the congregation.
Thirdly, there is Korah from Numbers 16. Korah led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. The thing is, the rebellion was not against Moses and Aaron at all but against God's word. Once again, we have a man who implemented his own program, gathered a following of about 15,000 Israelites and blasphemed God's
authority. God destroyed the lot of them and that is the saddest part of any rebellion. As surely as God's judgment fell on Israel in the wilderness, fallen angels, Sodom and Gomorrha, it will fall on all reprobates. They have gone the way of Cain, Balaam and Korah who brought down the wrath of God on themselves.
Verse 12: "These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear." That is a simple analogy of how they can entice others as if they love them but rather deceive them. Apparently, early churches had much the same thing as our fellowship meals, which has become a very important time in the church family, where we share food and conversation with each other. The apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthians for abusing the Lord's Supper by turning it into a feast of charity. Jude rebuked reprobates who came to the love feast for the purpose of deception. "...clouds they are without water." What a disappointment when a cloud comes over in the heat and draught of summer with only promises but no rain. Reprobates have no substance, only empty words. God help a church that must listen to ritual or pretense when God's sheep need green pasture and still water. "...trees whose fruit withered, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots." That is a way of saying about these reprobates, they have no hope.
Verse 13: "Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame;" A reprobate only stirs up things; muddies the water; washes up garbage on the shore. Have you ever seen the Texas coast? "...wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." First of all, how did Jude know about space without a telescope or spacecraft? God told him. God also told him that reprobates are like those stars that are destined to eternal darkness. I am amazed at Holy Spirit inspiration in the sense of God's greatness
and man's ignorance. Remember what happened to Cain and Balaam and Korah, and remember that we must contend for the faith else we will be no better than they.
Jude is telling us to beware of these charlatans; they make a lot of noise, they foam and flash, but what they produce is just trash, not truth. I am certainly not discrediting other churches that teach truth, but where are they? There is a tremendous need to stand firm in the gospel, the gospel that magnifies Jesus as the only begotten son of God, who died as our substitute, rose from the grave on the third day and ascended to the right hand of God to make intercession for the saints and is coming for his chosen bride. Let that
message be preached here until Jesus comes.
We concluded from the first message from this little epistle that Jude was a name for Judah or Judas. Jude was our Lord's half brother as was James (verse 1).
We also concluded that Jude's purpose for writing the book was two-fold:
1. to exhort us to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints; The faith for which we fight is not to be defined but defended.
We found 3 ways to contend in verses 20-23:
1.) build up yourselves;
2.) keep yourselves in God's love and look for His mercy;
3.) have compassion on others without participating in their sins.
That brings us to the second part of Jude's purpose for writing:
2. to warn us about reprobates.
He said in verse 4: "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." We will find his remarks on this subject in verses 5-19.
The first thing I want to do is discuss the doctrine of reprobation. In Jude's words: "...certain men crept in unawares who were before of old ordained to this condemnation." This doctrine is difficult for some. I remember my own shock the first time I heard it explained. Therefore, I emphasize its Biblicity. For example, the word ordained: "...certain men who were before of old ordained to this condemnation." The word ordained is in the Bible 35 times.
In the Old Testament it means: to produce or bring about; to fashion. For example, in 1 Kings 12, Jeroboam ordained a feast; he brought it about. In Psalm 8, David says God ordained the heavens; he produced, fashioned and put them in place.
In the New Testament the word ordained is translated from several different Greek words. For example, Jesus ordained (ποιέω - produced or fashioned) the twelve apostles. In John 15:16, Jesus said: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you (τίθημι - make for one's use)." Paul used the same word in 1 Timothy 2:7 to describe his own appointment to the ministry. In Acts14:23, it says: "And when they had ordained (χειροτοηέω - chosen) them elders...." Ephesians 2:10 is extremely interesting, where it says: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before
ordained (προετοιμάζω - prepared beforehand) that we should walk in them." Paul used the same word in Romans 9:23 and 24: "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared (προετοιμάϗω - prepared beforehand) unto glory, Even us, whom, he hath called...." 1 Corinthians 2:7 says: "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained (προοριζω - predetermined) before the world unto our glory." Galatians 3:1 says: "...Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth (προγράψο - set forth beforehand), crucified among you." Now Jude says these reprobates "were before of old ordained (προγράψο - set forth beforehand) to this condemnation." I think you get the point.
Jude is speaking of something that God did long ago in designating these men as reprobates. He says they were set forth beforehand to condemnation. God ordained to condemnation these men who crept in secretly. God ordained their condemnation. That is the doctrine of reprobation.
I want to read from Romans nine, verses thirteen through twenty-four. "As it is written, 'Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.' What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.' 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.' 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. 19 You will say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?' 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' 21 Does not the potter have power over
the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? 22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"
There are several illustrations of reprobation in that passage. Paul mentions Esau and Jacob - God loved one and hated the other. He mentions Pharaoh, God's vessel of wrath and dishonor. Back in the first part of
the chapter, Paul mentions the children of Abraham, and even though he does not call Ishmael by name, we can assume that Ishmael is in contrast to Isaac. It goes all the way back to Cain and Abel. One is a vessel of honor and the other a vessel of dishonor. Both are προετοιμάϗω - prepared beforehand. God ordained that they would enter into condemnation or find no mercy with God. Paul said they were created - fashioned - designated - to resist God's will and to be condemned for it.
Some people say this was only the doctrine of Paul and not that of Jesus and his apostles. Well, Jude was the earthly brother of Jesus. Where did Jude learn? Jesus said in John 15:16: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." He literally put us into His kingdom. That means leaving some out, appointing them to condemnation.
Look with me at John, chapter three. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Amen! We all love that verse, but
read on. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
He tells us how to escape condemnation: "believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God." But how is a person condemned in the first place? By not believing? No he doesn't need to do anything, because he is already condemned by Adam's sin that was imputed to him. Every one of us came into this world a sinner. Even before a person commits one sin, he is a sinner due to Adam's sin. We did not become a sinner because we sinned, but we sinned because we were already a sinner. Our sins brought on condemnation because God has ordained that every sinner face judgment. John 3:18 says that Christ did not need to condemn the world because it was already condemned.
Verse nineteen: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." So why did God hate Ishmael and Pharaoh and Esau? Their deeds were evil and they would not come to His light. Jude said that these men who came secretly (I think he means that they were secretly unbelievers posing as Christians), were ungodly men who turned the grace of God into lasciviousness or unbridled lust. How are we to understand that? First, these men were supposed to be Christians; they professed to be saved, but they revealed themselves by using the grace of God as a license to sin. My soul, do we not have that today? Jude is talking about reprobates.
I read an article about a Baptist pastor who stated in a book that there are sources other than the Bible
where we receive truth. He also asserted that the gospel is not about forgiveness but about getting stuff from God. Well, in the Revelation written by John, God referred to the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which, He said, "I hate." The Nicolaitanes claimed to be followers of Nicolas, a deacon at the Jerusalem church (Acts 6), but Clement, one of the early church fathers said that Nicolas was an honorable man and the Nicolaitanes only twisted his words to give them an excuse for loose living, part of which was having multiple wives. That seems to fit what Jude says here, that they turned the grace of God into lasciviousness
and denied Christ with their actions. That is why God hated them.
In verses five through seven, Jude gives three Old Testament examples of condemnation:
1.) the Israelites who were brought out of Egypt only to be destroyed for their unbelief. Who was that? The whole lot of them, except Caleb and Joshua. Moses had multiple funerals every day for forty years until every last one of them was dead;
2.) the fallen angels who left their first estate and are now reserved for judgment;
3.) Sodom and Gomorrha, cities that gave "themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh." That should help us understand Jude's description of reprobates who are ordained to condemnation. All of these were or will be severely judged.
Jude says in verse seven that they are "set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." It is true that we are supposed to win people by love "speaking the truth in love" but to neglect to preach eternal punishment is to neglect the Bible. There is a day of reckoning. Do you see the connection between contending for the faith and the strong message of retribution? Jude is essentially saying "Don't follow them. They are reprobates and a day of reckoning is coming as surely as God killed the entire nation of Israel, holds fallen angels in reserve for eternal fire and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha.
I think verse eight is of utmost importance. It says: "Likewise - likewise - these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion (lordship), and speak evil of dignities." There are many passages that teach us to honor the man of God. He deserves respect by virtue of his office and/or tenure. However, there are
things that belong only to God, and that is what Jude is talking about here. We must not usurp things that belong to Christ. Obviously these men, reprobates, did so by despising the lordship of Christ and speaking evil of His sovereignty while living in the sins of the flesh as did the Nicolaitanes. Jude says they are condemned to a day of judgment, therefore do not be led astray by their sweet words and winning personalities. Keep the faith by keeping yourselves in the Book, the Word of God and Christ Himself, which is the gospel.
Today, we take up the Book of Jude.
The first thing I want to do is ask: Who was Jude? The name is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible except this epistle. However, the equivalent of the name Jude is Judah, from the Hebrew, and Judas, from the Greek. Verse one simply says he is a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James - that is our clue. The names Judah and Judas are used numerous times throughout Scriptures, but as the brother of James, Judas is used only twice, and, of course, the name Jude, the brother of James, is used once in this verse.
Matthew 13:55 lists the brothers of Jesus as: James and Joses and Simon and Judas.
Acts 1:13 lists followers of Christ as: Peter and James and John and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon Zelotes and Judas the brother of
In Matthew, Judas is the brother of Jesus, James, Joses and Simon. In Acts he is the brother of James. In both verses Judas (or Jude) is the same person, therefore, we know who Jude, the brother of James, is.
Jude's epistle is a classic letter from the first century with salutation, body and close. Verses one and two contain the salutation. Verse one says: "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called." Notice the Doctrine of the Trinity here. He writes to "them that are sanctified by God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ and called (a work of the Holy Spirit)." Notice also the doctrines of sanctification, preservation and calling.
This epistle sets forth the truth concerning eternal security. We are not saved and secured without sanctification. Jude teaches that we are rather preserved through sanctification, which completely defeats antinomianism (that a Christian is freed from the moral law by virtue of grace). What a delight to find such wonderful doctrine in the salutation of a brief epistle.
Verse two goes on to say: "Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied." These are not things we receive from each other, these are things that only come from God - mercy, peace and love. But this is a believer's best hope for others.
Now, to the purpose of the letter in verses three and four: "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should
earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." That is amazing!
There is a two-fold purpose: 1.) to exhort the reader to earnestly contend for the faith;
2.) to teach the doctrine of reprobation of certain individuals.
I will only be dealing with the first part of the purpose in this message: to exhort the reader to earnestly contend for the faith, the body of which is in verses 20-24.
Note again verse three: "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was
once delivered unto the saints." The term "common salvation" does not teach a universal salvation but rather a salvation that is common to Jude and his readers. The faith for which they are to contend is the faith they share in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. The term "earnestly contend" is one word in the Greek, meaning: combatant. We are to fight for that faith and die for that faith. By "once delivered" he means it never needs to be redefined.
We live in troublous times when people want to define the faith to suit themselves. Jude says the faith does not need to be defined but defended. It has been once delivered. Don't try to give it new explanations but fight for that which is already established.
As I said, the first part of the two-fold purpose of the book is discussed in verses 20 through verse 24. Verse 20 says: "But you beloved building up yourselves on the most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost." The word Jude uses for "building up" appears in Paul's writings five times and refers to a structure being constructed. He could have said: "Construct yourselves on your most holy faith and praying in the Holy
Ghost." This is one of the ways we contend for the faith. We make sure we have a strong structure; one that will not topple in a storm.
Do you know people who have quit going to church? Most of them have gotten uprooted by troubles because they did not have roots deep enough to keep them standing. Jude is saying that in order to contend for the faith, we must have a strong faith; one that is built up; one that will not be defeated. But that is not going to happen without a lot of prayer. Prayer is not something we resort to when we get into trouble. Prayer is something we do as naturally as eating or breathing. It is a constant communication with God. Do you mean to tell me that you keep in constant contact with each other by phone or facebook but don't keep in contact with God through prayers?
Verse 21 says: "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." On the surface that may appear to mean that God loves us today but not tomorrow and we need to cultivate or manipulate His love. Not so! He is talking about contending for the faith.
In Genesis 32:24-32, Jacob became a contender.
"And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. 29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. 30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. 31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh."
What a passage! In the pretext, Jacob has just left his father-in-law laden with riches he received somewhat deceitfully and is facing the prospect of meeting his twin brother, Esau, whom he had also tricked. However, that was not the worst part; he must wrestle with God. Because of Jacob's weakness? No because of his strengths. He was full of pride and self; confident; His name is Jacob!
Well, God took him down a peg. When it was over, Jacob (supplanter) was converted. And to illustrate his sanctification, God called him Israel (God prevails). Jacob was never the same. He said "I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved." We need to understand that preservation (eternal security) comes by sanctification. Like Jacob, we need to be changed, however, sanctification is painful. "...and he halted upon his thigh." The pain is often intense, but we are not going to heaven the way we are. On December 20, 2009, I lost my only daughter. I can say that the pain has been unbearable at times. But I will never be the same. For almost four years, I have bowed beneath the intensity of that anguish every day and cried out to a sovereign God. I am confident that this is the primary thing that keeps me contending for the faith once delivered to the saints. I am also confident that when we get to heaven we will praise God for
all eternity for preserving us through the pain and suffering of sanctification.
The next thing Jude teaches about contending for the faith is found in verse 23 and 24.
"And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." In the previous verse, Jude told us to look to the mercy of Christ. Now he tells us to be merciful to others "making a difference." That does not mean that we are to make the world a better place, but the difference speaks of a separation between us. Have compassion on them while keeping ourselves different from them. He says the same thing about some others; "Others save with fear." Fear of what? Fear of their wickedness. Pull them out of the fire but be careful not to get burned in the process. Hate the garments spotted by their sins.
Jude shows us how to deal with our self - contend for the faith. He shows us how to deal with those we disagree with and separate from - show kindness. He shows us how to deal with those who are yet in their sins - with fear lest we become spotted by their sins.
Contending for the faith will require great change in our inner being, but we are not going to heaven without it.
Clifford Thomas Warren, 95, went to be with the Lord he loved early Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Funeral: 10 a.m. Wednesday at Bethesda Baptist Church, Saginaw, with Dr. Jack Warren and J.D. Warren officiating. Interment: Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Tom's family were English immigrants who settled near Yorktown, Va., in the early 1600s and remained tobacco farmers when they moved to Tennessee in the late 1700s. His grandparents came to Fannin County after the Civil War, and in 1914 his parents moved near Floydada, where he was born Sept. 16, 1917, the youngest of 13 siblings. Tom was ordained a Baptist minister in May 1943 and pastored churches in Floydada, Slaton, Roanoke, Euless, Brownwood, Gainesville and Fort Worth. He was preceded in death by his parents; siblings; infant son, Michael; son, Danny Joe; and granddaughter, Julie Dawn. Survivors: Wife of 77 years, Gerry; sons, Jack and Jim; daughter, Judy; six grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and six great-great-grandchildren.
Several years ago he started bringing instructions to me as to how to conduct his funeral. They were quiet detailed. After three or four of these, his final instructions were: it’s not fair for me to do this – do what you think is best. But he HAS spoken for himself.
This is the man who has preached his own funeral several times. Hebrews 11:4: “He being dead, yet speaketh.” He did so in sermon after sermon for almost seventy years. He was ordained in 1943, seventy years ago this May. 70 years of doing anything is remarkable; 70 years as a preacher is amazing.
I do not know how many times he told me: “I want to preach one last time.” He should have said: “One more last time.”
I remember him saying that after this body dies: “I will just begin to live. Why, I’ll be kicking up gold dust on Hallelujah Avenue!”
He recently told one of our deacons: “If I don’t go soon, they will think I didn’t make it.”
He was of the old school. He believed in strong, Bible preaching. Most of his sermons were spirited. A cousin on my mother’s side told me that his church in Bridgeport had Dad come preach one time. When he stood, he said something like this: “Bear with me because it takes a while for me to get warmed up.” The cousin said: “Man, he did get warmed up and he did preach.”
My mother said he would rather preach than eat. And he was a finicky eater. If it wasn’t fried, forget about it. We have a meal here at the church every Sunday. On Italian or Mexican or roast beef day, the ladies brought small amounts of fried food – just for him. If he had eaten better, he probably would have lived to be 120.
He didn’t know a hermeneutic from a supposition, but he knew the Bible is God’s Word. He often quipped that all of his sermons had three points: 1. He took a text; 2. He departed from it; 3. He never came back to it.
Even though he enjoyed poking fun at himself, he took preaching very seriously. e told me recently, “I can’t hear what you are saying, but I believe every word of it.”
He loved Charles Spurgeon. Over twenty years ago, he gave me the best portion of his library which included several original volumes of Spurgeon sermons – a prized possession. Those sermons reinforced my devotion to the marvelous Doctrines of Grace; and something I have committed my own ministry to. I will forever be grateful for that gift of books.
A favorite text he used many times was John 14 – the passage he requested that I use, and I quote: “I would like for you to preach the memorial message using John 14:1-6 because I preached my first sermon from these verses.”
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
That is an inexhaustible text. It tells us where Dad is, how he got there, and how we can get there. It tells those who believe in God to believe in His son. And God’s son says: “In my Father’s house are many mansions” or abodes. “I go to prepare a place for you.” “You” meaning His disciples, His followers. “I go to prepare a place for you” applies only to believers. I do not mean to be unkind, but if you have not been regenerated, you will not understand it. He knows exactly how many to prepare for – there will be no empty abodes. He knows whether or not to prepare for you.
If you are not saved, I urge you to come to Christ NOW. Do not wait until you can do better. The Bible says: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name;” Believing is receiving. It is that simple. Believing that He died for your sins. Receiving Him as Savior and atonement for sin.
If you are saved, there is also a promise of Christ’s return. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” This is the very core of the passage.
The church of Jesus Christ is known as His bride. The custom, in Bible times, was for a young man and woman to be married but not live together. They would live with their parents until the young man’s father gave permission for him to go after his bride. The young man would promise to come very soon and anxiously work, preparing a place for her in his Father’s house. When the Father gave permission, he would go for his bride.
Christ is talking to us as a bridegroom, and He is saying: “I am asking you to believe in me that I am going to make everything ready for you, and that I will come for you, and make you my wife; and we will be together forever.” The Lord said, “You know where I am going, and you know the way.”
I think the reason Dad, whose middle name is Thomas, liked this passage is because it involved Thomas. In the providence of God, Thomas asked a question that clarifies the passage for us: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Oh, that more would ask that question. “How can I know the way?” “Lord, show me the way.”
God has only given us one road map – The Bible, His Word. Its theme is Christ. Its message is Christ. Its conclusion is Christ. Do not look for anything else. Focus carefully on the answer Jesus gave Thomas: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Christ is the way – to the Father – I will come back to that.
Christ is the truth – the one in whom the truth is summed up and personified.
The Old Testament is made up of law and prophets. Christ is the law of Moses summed up and personified. Christ is everything the prophets said, summed up and personified.
Can you find one untrue word there? Nor can you find one untrue thing about Christ Jesus.
Christ is the life – the antithesis of death. It is a way of saying what the Apostle said: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Christ is not only the way, but the only way. “No man cometh to the Father but by me.” Do you realize how radical that statement is? Christ is claiming to be the only access to God, the only priest; the only mediator; doing away with the sacrificial system of Judaism. He is claiming to be the only bridegroom; doing away with all vicars or pontiffs. He is claiming to be the only savior; doing away with all man-made schemes.
I challenge you to throw away everything except Christ. Paul said to the Phillipians: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
The only message we have is Christ; and the only revelation of God is in His son. Clifford Thomas Warren believed this truth and received this truth and preached this truth. The only way for us to see God is to do the same.
Message delivered at Bethesda Baptist Church, Saginaw, Texas, July 22, 2012
Subject: The Sufficiency of Scripture with emphasis on Biblical Authority
Text: 2 Timothy 3:14-17
This will be our fourth and final message on The Sufficiency of Scriptures in our rotation of speakers.
In the first message, we discussed the importance of Biblical authority. We found some key verses which form the basis of this doctrine, as follows:
Psalm 19:7-8: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.”
2 Peter1:16: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables (inventions of men), when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
2 Peter 1:20-21: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation: “(because) the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
2 Timothy 3:15-16 “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
Our second message was an exposition of the last half of Psalm 19. Where we noted 5 things The Word of God does:
1. it turns us around; 2. it teaches us; 3. it enlightens us; 4. it causes us to reverence God; and, 5. it keeps us from presumptuous sins.
The third message was an exposition of 2 Peter 1:16-21. In true Spurgeonian fashion, I had three points.
I. Our Inspired Bible, 1) Is Not Man’s Invention; 2) Is Not Man’s Experience.
II. A More Sure Word of Prophecy, 1) when Scripture Interprets Scripture; 2) when Contextual Interpretation is followed; 3) when types are not overdone.
III. Inspiration is a Work of the Holy Spirit, 1) He is the author of all Scripture; 2) that same Holy Spirit also gives insight into the Word of God.
Today, our exposition is from 2 Timothy 3:14-17
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
This is the passage most used for a proof text; that is because the term “inspiration of God” is translated from two Greek words meaning God and to breathe. This is where we find the great importance of Truth
I. The Importance of Truth
The Apostle Paul is writing this epistle to Timothy. He says: “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;”
He had already said to Timothy in the introduction:
“Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”
We need to show respect to those who taught us. They sacrificed many comforts to bring the gospel to us. Not only that, but the building in which we meet is the product of great sacrifice and many hours of hard lor. It is God’s house; it is a place of worship. Please, respect that.
Paul said: “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures.” Holy scriptures - a recognition of something extraordinary. “…which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”
In our day, truth is in one’s own thought. But Jesus said in John 17:7: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." The entire Bible teaches this. The word truth appears 237 times in Scripture. I will give you a few verses:
Genesis 24:27 “Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth
Exodus 34:6: “The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,”
Deuteronomy 32:4: “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”
Psalm 25:5 “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”
Psalm 25:10: “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.”
Psalm 31:5: “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth”.
Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.”
Psalm 40:11: “let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.”
Psalm 86:11: “Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth:”
Psalm 86:15: “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth”
Psalm 89:14: “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.”
Psalm 91:4 “his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”
Psalm 100:5: “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations
Psalm 117:2 “the truth of the LORD endureth for ever.”
Psalm 119:142, "thy law is truth."
Psalm 119:151: “Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.”
Proverbs 3:3 “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:”
Proverbs 16:6 “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged:”
Proverbs 23:23 “Buy the truth, and sell it not;”
Isaiah 25:1 “O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.”
Isaiah 42:3 “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.”
Daniel 10:21 “But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth:”
Zech.8:3: “Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth;”
John 1:14: “we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:17: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
John 4:23: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth:”
John 4:24: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
John 5:23: “Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.”
John 8:32: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”
John 15:26: “the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:”n 16:13: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:”
John 17:17: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Stop right there.
What does truth do? It sanctifies, cleanses, makes holy. The same word is translated “hallowed” “Our Father which art in heaven hallowed be thy name.” In Revelation 22:11 it is translated “holy. “…he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”
“Sanctify them (make them holy) through thy truth, thy word is truth.” and able to make one “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
There is a remarkable comparison of that last phrase and the phrase we studied in 2 Peter 1: “for we have not followed cunningly devised fables.” Do you remember? The word for fables was σοφίζω so-fē'-zō, passive voice, meaning: to play the sophist or to be cunning. The word for wise in this verse is σοφίζω so-fē'-zō, but here it is middle voice, meaning to gain understanding.
Also, Genesis 3:6: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. Wise here means: to have insight or perception, the same as 2 Timothy 3:15 Timothy became wise unto salvation through the truth of God’s Word.
Can one be saved without truth? Romans 10:17: “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
What is truth? “Thy word is truth.”
II. The Importance of Inspiration
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The word profitable means the same thing all 3 times it appears in the Bible.
What does it profit? What does it yield?
It yields: 1) Doctrine or instruction. What do you think of when you hear the word instruction? Education; teaching; training; tutoring. The Word of God will yield this. Paul had told Timothy in the previous chapter, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” What is rightly dividing the word of truth? Correct understanding. How do we get it? STUDY.
It yields: 2) the means for spiritual reproof. This is NOT correction. That comes next. Reproof is a standard by which we are tested. I hear it all the time: “Well, I don’t do what Brother So-and-So does.” No! Brother So-and-So is not our standard. We are not to compare ourselves among ourselves. What does the Bible say? That sets our standard. Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence [standard] of things not seen.” Here, faith is the judge. Faith sets the standard by which we are tested.
It yields: 3) correction, or restoration to the upright state. The Word of God not only reveals our blemishes, it also corrects them. Remember Jeremiah 23:29? “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” He doesn’t mean that it destroys, but that it restores.
It yields: 4) instruction in righteousness. Is this the same as doctrine? How is it different? The goal of doctrine is to educate; get correct understanding. The goal of instruction in righteousness is to cultivate a person – it is our total molding through admonitions of chastisement.
III. The Importance of Equipping
“That the man of God may be perfect, [complete]” God’s Word furnishes every thing necessary for the man of God: correct understanding; a set standard; correction; cultivation. “throughly furnished” is one word in the Greek, literally: to fit out. The King James says throughly furnished. That is archaic for thoroughly furnished. ESV - “equipped” Whatever we do, we get fitted out for it. Wearing the proper gear for running, hiking, fishing; Getting the proper equipment for building, repairing. The Word of God fully equips us to completion.
We must not go into the battle and find that we have no weapon. But we are fitted out. We have our weapon – the Word of God! Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is quick [alive], and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The child of God lacks nothing. He has at his disposal full equipment.
Conclusion: I am going back yet again to a statement I made in the first message on this subject:
If the Bible is not the Word of God, we have no revelation from God and therefore no authority from God. Every thing that matters to us as believers comes from the pages of God's divinely inspired Word. The book that was given to the church by Christ through his apostles must always be the source of our authority.
It is God’s eternal, unchanging Word; the only source of our revelation of God; the only source of our authority;
Isaac Watts wrote:
The heav’ns declare Thy glory, Lord, In every star Thy wisdom shines
But when our eyes behold Thy Word, We read Thy Name in fairer lines.
The rolling sun, the changing light, And nights and days, Thy power confess
But the blest volume Thou hast writ Reveals Thy justice and Thy grace.
Sun, moon, and stars convey Thy praise Round the whole earth, and never stand:
So when Thy truth begun its race, It touched and glanced on every land.
Nor shall Thy spreading Gospel rest Till through the world Thy truth has run,
Till Christ has all the nations blest That see the light or feel the sun.
Great Sun of Righteousness, arise, Bless the dark world with heav’nly light;
Thy Gospel makes the simple wise, Thy laws are pure, Thy judgments right.
Thy noblest wonders here we view In souls renewed and sins forgiv’n;
Lord, cleanse my sins, my soul renew, And make Thy Word my guide to Heaven.
Message delivered at Bethesda Baptist Church, July 15, 2012
Subject: The Sufficiency of Scripture with emphasis on Biblical AuthorityText: 2 Peter 1:16-21
This will be our third message on The Sufficiency of Scriptures with emphasis on Biblical Authority.
In the first message, we discussed the Latin term, Sola Scriptura, citing the works of Calvin, Hodge and Warfield. We also looked at some key verses upon which the basis of this doctrine is formed.
I would remind you of the concluding point in that message: that we are ambassadors for Christ.
An ambassador represents and is loyal to the country from which he is sent.
He always speaks by virtue of delegated authority.
Our second message was an exposition of the last half of Psalm 19. We began in verse 7, which discusses God’s perfect law and noted 5 things God’s Word does
: 1. it turns us around; 2. it teaches us; 3. it enlightens us; 4. it causes us to reverence God; and, 5. it keeps us from presumptuous sins.
We found sweet honey in the honeycomb and strength from our Redeemer. What a tremendous Psalm it is.
Today, our text has been read from 2 Peter 1:16-21
. Please look at it again with me, beginning in verse 16: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables (myth), when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”I. Our Inspired BibleNot Man’s Invention
I have already defined fables as the inventions of men, a sharp contrast to inspired Scripture. But the fables Peter alludes to are “cunningly devised,” or σοφίζω,
so-fē'-zō (to play the sophist). A sophist
was an expert in the skills of rhetoric, argument, and debate, someone who deceives people with clever-sounding but flawed arguments. Peter says: “I have not played the sophist by deceiving you with my own inventions.”
Here is one of the twelve; an apostle. One taught by Christ. One given authority. What he teaches is not rhetoric or debate after his own skills.
I am thankful that God uses human instrumentality to preach His Word, but it must not come from human reason; it must be “Thus saith the LORD.”
In Biblical Authority and Hermeneutics
, J.I. Packer gave what he called seven elements of Biblical authority, as historically understood by evangelicals.
1. The first is a view of inspiration
“as an activity whereby God, who in His providence overrules all human utterance, caused certain particular men to speak and write in such a way that their utterance was, and remains, His utterance
through them… The [example] of biblical inspiration is the prophetic sermon, with its introductory formula, 'Thus saith the Lord' [and] stands for all time as the definitive expression of God's mind and will.”
2. The second element is a view of canonicity
“as being objectively the fact, and subjectively the recognition, of inspiration.”
3. The third element is the belief “that the Scriptures authenticate themselves
to Christian believers through the convincing work of the Holy Spirit, who enables us to recognize, and bow before, divine realities.”
4. The fourth element is: “evangelicals maintain that the Scriptures are sufficient
for the Christian and the Church as a lamp for our feet and a light for our path - a guide…of belief and behavior.”
5. The fifth element is that “evangelicals affirm that the Scriptures are clear
, and interpret themselves from within.”
6. Sixth, “evangelicals stress that Scripture is a mystery
in a sense parallel to that in which the incarnation is a mystery - there are problems about [the] unique divine-human reality that [we] cannot solve.”
7. Seventh, “evangelicals hold that subjection to the rule of Christ consists of subjection to the rule of Scripture.”
Peter’s declaration in verse 16 is a declaration for inspiration when he said: “I did not use my own skills in rhetoric when I made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”Not Man’s Experience
Please follow this very carefully: Peter is about to compare what he experienced to the inspired Word of God. "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
What is he talking about? Please turn to Matthew 17:1-5:“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”
These three disciples experienced a phenomenal sight, a transfiguration. Peter said: they were ewitnesses of his majesty.” Jesus was transfigured into the power and glory He has with the Father and will have at his second coming.
The text in 2 Peter 1 said: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” That is what he saw.
Peter, James and John, on the mount of Transfiguration, saw Jesus in the power and glory of his second coming. He said, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. “For he received from God the Father honour and glory....”
Matthew’s account said: “…his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.”
He also said: “And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.”
AMAZING! Moses, the LAW-GIVER and Elijah, THE PROPHET. The Old Testament is divided into two parts: the LAW and the PROPHETS.
Watch how God uses the personality of Peter to bring this about.
The Greek physician Hippocrates
incorporated four temperaments into his medical theories.
The temperaments are:sanguine
(pleasure-seeking and sociable),choleric
(ambitious and leader-like),melancholic
(introverted and thoughtful),
(relaxed and quiet). Most of us have a combination of these with one being dominant.
Which one was Peter? The sanguine, pleasure-seeking and sociable. Always the first to speak, mostly putting his foot in his mouth. You could hear him before he came into sight. He would drive a bright yellow car.
Gregarious Peter began to give instructions: Boy, this is great! Let’s build three churches right here; one for Jesus, one for the law and one for the prophets! What could be wrong with that? We can study.
In Judaism a school to study the Law of Moses is call yeshiva. Elijah, who ran several schools, was a prophet who was distinguished by power to speak directly from God, as in: "Thus saith the Lord".
Peter said, “Let us build three tabernacles, one to hear the words of Jesus, one to hear the Law of Moses and one to hear the prophets" While he was speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice out of the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” He was firmly rebuked. God said, “No you are not going to hear Moses and Elijah. You are going to hear my Son.”II. A More Sure Word
With Peter’s experience in mind, go to verse 19: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy;” λόγος προφητικός
lo'-gos pro-fā-tē-ko's.We have an unshaken, constant word of prophecy.Better than Moses? Yes.Better than Elijah? Yes.Better than the other prophets? Yes.Better than Peter’s experience? Yes.
There was a time when God spoke directly: for example, He called Abraham out of the land of Ur; He spoke His will to Isaac and Jacob; He chose Moses to carry His message to the Egyptians; and He called the other prophets to take His word to Israel and Judah.
But Hebrews 1:1-2 says: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;”
What a revelation of the Logos!
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
This does not say the law and prophets are no longer relevant but that God now speaks through His Son.“We have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place”
which is always an aid and a comfort “until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:”
After the moon, Venus is the brightest natural object in the night sky. It reaches its maximum brightness shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset, for this reason it has been known as the Morning Star.
Peter refers to the Logos as a bright light at night and a day star, arising in our hearts at dawn. Amazing!
And then, he says: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”
Let me remind you that the Greek word for “private” here is ἴδιος
, idios.Scripture Interprets Scripture
The only acceptable standard for interpreting Scripture is the Scripture itself - Scripture interprets Scripture. One passage gives light to another passage. Anything else has no certainty.
Our confession of faith says in Chapter 1, “Of the Holy Scriptures,” paragraph 9: The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture, it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.
I do not think that means there are not other factors involved. I have had the privilege of touring Israel six times, including Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Greece. The culture of the middle east is unlike any other region. Understanding its culture helps us get a better sense of Scripture. But culture is not the main factor. The main rule of interpretation is: “Thus saith the LORD.”Contextual Interpretation
We understand the idea of consulting the context, what precedes and what follows. We must never lift out a few words from its context and try to create exegesis. That would be the worst case of private interpretation.
I have heard people take a word out of context and try to make it fit their own notion.
You may have heard about the man who wanted to know God’s will for his life.
He randomly opened a Bible, put his finger on a spot and read: “Arise, go to Ninevah & cry against it.”
Not satisfied, he flipped to another passage and read: “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”
Yet a third time he read: “That thou doest, do quickly.”Overdoing types
The Bible is full of types and shadows or figures of speech. Some people have a tendency to overreach trying to give every word hidden meanings. It is true, there are many types in Scripture.
Every piece of the tabernacle in the wilderness had a special application.
But we cannot make a parable out of every word.
We are outraged when religious liberals allegorize Adam and Eve or the Exodus, etc.
Peter said: I don’t deal in myths. I don’t deal in personal experience. I only deal in inspired Scripture.
III. Inspiration is a Work of the Holy Spirit
I will give one last thought: inspiration is a work of the Holy Spirit.
No scripture is of any private interpretation (verse 20) because (verse 21) “the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”That is what makes it a sure word – it came from God.
This book did not come by the will of man. That term appears only twice in the Bible; here and John 1:13: “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
It means the same thing in both verses: it was not determined by man’s will.
How was it determined? “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved”
(carried along) by the very breath of God. Not even this apostle was allowed to place his own experience above what God said.
How could any believer possibly put his experience above God’s inspired Word?
That is extreme arrogance.
Its author is the Holy Spirit.
Its revelation is Christ.
When we read Scripture, we have a personal relation with God.
Where is greater experience?
The same breath of God or Holy Spirit
that inspired the writers also gives us insight.
1 Corinthians 4:13: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Natural man is enslaved to sin. He receives it not
. He couldn’t understand it if he did.Without spiritual enlightenment he will never see the truth.
On the other hand, the possessor of the Holy Spirit is able to understand the things of God clearly.
We need to consult the scholars, but our best teacher is the Spirit of God.
He is called “the spirit of truth” four times in the Bible.
John 14:7: “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
John 15:26: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:”
John 16:13: “Howbeit when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
I John 4:6: “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
The first three of those verses are the words of Christ as He prepared His apostles for His death.
He dwells with every believer;
He is our Comforter: παράκλητος pä-rä'-klā-tos, meaning: called to one’s side;
and, He guides us into all truth.
Those are the things Christ did when He was on earth, but that ministry is now given to the Spirit of Truth. Jesus said: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you
O, the wonderful promises we have in our Lord. He loves us without limit. He cares for us without ceasing. Praise His name forever.
Message delivered at Bethesda Baptist Church on the Lord's Day, July 8, 2012
Subject: The Sufficiency of Scripture
Text: Psalm 19:7 & 8
Introduction: Today I will begin an exposition of key verses we noted in our message last week;
but first an assessment.
We defined the Latin term Sola Scriptura as teaching that only infallible Scriptures are a sufficient basis for deciding issues of faith and practice.
The problem arises with private interpretations as stated by the Apostle Peter when he said: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (because) the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.” He also said: “… we have not followed cunningly devised fables (inventions of men)”
It is crucial then for us to recognize the Bible as God breathed and therefore sufficient for all matters of faith without any mixture of tradition.
I cited the works of John Calvin, A.A. Hodge and B.B. Warfield as examples of strong statements concerning sufficiency of Scriptures.
I tried to show that since the work of God in bringing about our salvation is wrought through the Gospel, we need an inerrant Bible. That comes from 2 Timothy 3:15 & 16 “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” And “All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
We saw that Jesus certainly recognized Scripture as God’s Word; and how the Apostle Paul taught both Timothy and Titus to handle the Bible as their only source of authority.
I want to repeat a statement here which I believe to be of greatest importance:
If the Bible is not the Word of God, we have no revelation from God and therefore no authority from God. Every thing that matters to us as believers comes from the pages of God's divinely inspired Word. The book that was given to the church by Christ through his apostles must always be the source of our authority.
While our 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith is not the source of our authority, it is exactly what it claims to be: a confession of faith. It is the work of Godly men who set forth the doctrines of Holy Scriptures in order to combat error and bring together churches of like faith. But Scriptures are our only and final authority.
I. GOD’S LAW IS PERFECT
Today, I want to go back to Psalm 19, verse 7 & 8: “The Law of the LORD is Perfect”
The Hebrew word for law is Torah, meaning: precept – doctrine. So, it says: God’s doctrines are perfect. What does it mean by perfect? Complete? Entire? Sound? Free from error? The context includes all of those, because it includes the entire Bible. The Hebrew word is tah meem. It is the same word used throughout the O.T. to describe sacrifices. They must be sound, whole, unimpaired and without blemish.
So is God’s Word. Sound, whole, unimpaired, and without blemish. Anything less is unacceptable.
In modern times there has been a subtle departure from the Word of God;
The Bible is no longer the focus of Christianity;
Churches are given more and more to entertainment as a concession to our celebrity-oriented society;
Preaching, in many places, has been replaced with drama and social events;
Bible classes are disappearing;
Wednesday night meetings are almost nonexistent;
How many churches have a Wednesday night prayer meeting?
Hearing God speak His will to His people is a strange concept;
A simple gospel is no longer sufficient;
It is now enhanced with every worldly technique.
Most churches are not churches at all - they have turned to a social gospel;
God’s Word is an old book for a past generation.
They are afraid people will get bored with the Bible.
If it bores me to read God’s perfect doctrines, the trouble is not with God’s doctrines; the trouble is with me.
How can a person who is born-again get bored with the perfect doctrines of God?
Our sin-craving society does not see the Word of God as sufficient.
So-called Christians are running to every movement that has the name of God attached;
Hearing the Word of God preached is no longer enough;
They seek signs and wonders;
They crave jazzed up music, souped up services and dynamic personalities;
The Scriptures are not sufficient for them;
A simple gospel of God’s marvelous grace is not adequate.
That must be an offense to God.
2 Corinthians 9:8 says: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” Notice the word “abound” in that verse. “He is able to make grace abound toward you.” “That you may abound unto every good work.” That teaches us that God’s sufficiency is our sufficiency. He has WHAT we need and He has ALL we need. If God’s doctrines are perfect, God’s doctrines are WHAT we need and ALL we need.
2 Corinthians 3:5 says “We are not sufficient of ourselves but our sufficiency is of God.” Here, the apostle uses a different word. The word “sufficient” here comes from a word meaning, worthy. The context is concerning the credentials of Paul’s ministry. He understood his own unworthiness, but held fast to the sufficiency of God. We read, last week, where Paul told both Timothy and Titus to confidently stand on the authority of God’s Word and therefore never surrender its precepts.
II. HOW GOD’S LAW IS PERFECT
A. It turns us around. It changes us.
“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul.” Can philosophy do that? Can science? Can reason?
Regeneration comes instantly. But conversion takes time. James taught us to allow perseverance to do her perfect work of conversion, making us complete. Jesus said that to enter into the kingdom we must be converted into a little child (dependent). He told Peter that he could help others after he was converted. I have seen the place where Simon Peter said three times “I do not know him.” It was once the palace of the high priest. They took Jesus there to be condemned – Peter followed afar off. The other disciples had fled and hid themselves; But Peter and John followed. While John went inside, Peter stood near a fire. Someone said, “Aren’t you one of them?” Peter said, “I do not know what you are talking about.” The third time, a rooster crowed, reminding Peter of the words of the Savior, “You will have denied me 3 times before the rooster crows.” He went out and wept bitterly. Jeremiah 23:29 says: “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Like a fire, God’s Word burns in the soul of sinful men to bring about a radical change of direction. Like a hammer, it breaks the hardened heart into pieces.
B. It teaches us.
“The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.”
What does he mean by “the testimony”? That word is used to describe the ark of the covenant in the tabernacle. which contained the two tables of the law or Ten Commandments. The ark of the covenant, or testimony, was a type of Christ. Placed on top of the ark was the mercy seat, where blood was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement. Judaism uses the word Shekinah to refer to God’s Presence or His Holy Spirit. In Exodus 40:35 Moses was not able to enter the tent of the congregation because the pillar of cloud covered it and the glory of God filled it.
The testimony of the LORD is sure: meaning, reliable, faithful. What does God’s reliable Word do? Gives wisdom to the unlearned. The New Testament says that our guide and teacher is the Holy Spirit. John 14:26 “But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things” John 16:13 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:” How does the Holy Spirit teach us? Through the Word of God. REMARKABLE!
C. It Enlightens us
Verse 8: “The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes.”
The Bible says twice in the Book of Judges that every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Proverbs 21:2 says the way of man is right in his own eyes. This verse says the statutes of God are right PERIOD and so pure they enlighten the eyes. The 18th century was called an age of enlightenment or reason,much of which involved that which was right in man’s own eyes.
I quote from Thomas Paine, one of its proponents:
“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.”
I quote John Owen, a Puritan writer, in contrast:
“There is an eye in the understanding of man. This eye is the ability to see spiritual things. It is sometimes said to be blind, darkness, shut. By these descriptions we are taught that the natural mind cannot know God personally for salvation, nor can it see, that is, discern spiritual things. It is the work of the Spirit of grace to open this eye. He does this, firstly, by giving us the spirit of wisdom and revelation. Secondly, he gives us a heart to know him.
“We are enabled to obey God firstly by an inward, spiritual, ruling principle of grace by virtue of the life and death of Jesus Christ according to the terms of the new covenant by which God writes his laws in our hearts and enables us to obey them by the Holy Spirit.”
True enlightenment does not come from man’s philosophy but from the pure Word of God as the Spirit of God opens our eyes to understanding.
D. It causes to reverence God.
Look at verse 9: “The fear (reverence) of the LORD is clean, enduring forever. We learn to stand in awe of our creator. The Psalmist says to reverence God is clean or pure. That is because we are made aware of God’s essence and our unworthiness.
Look at verse 10: “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” The Word of God is of far greater value than much pure gold because of its work in us. To the believer, it is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. My soul! What a statement. When we understand its purity, and when it works these things in us: conversion, teaching, enlightenment and reverence of God, it becomes the sweetest thing on earth.
E. It keeps us from sin
Verse 13: “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. A presumptuous sin is a willing sin, the worst kind. There are sins of commission and sins of omission, but presumptuous sins are those we commit by plan. They are planned and then acted out.
What do we need then? Verse 14: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” What is He? My STRENGTH and my REDEEMER. His holy, inspired, inerrant Word reveals the LORD to us and works these things in us.
These are a few of the reasons for the sufficiency of Holy Scriptures. God give us courage to hold fast these truths as society presses us to give in to reason.
Message Delivered at Bethesda Baptist Church on the Lord’s Day, July 1, 2012
Subject: The Sufficiency of Scripture with emphasis on Biblical Authority
Text: Psalm 19
What I will say today is in the context of the originals and not the different versions of the Bible. I will be reading from my King James Version.
As you know, the Latin phrase “Sola Scriptura,” Scriptures alone, comes from the Reformation and is the teaching that only infallible Scriptures are a sufficient basis for deciding issues of faith and practice. Sola Scriptura does not mean that the Bible is more preeminent than Christ. It simply means that they are sufficient because they are the only inspired revelation of God.
I remember as a boy attending a little country church in far west Texas with my grandfather. The Sunday school teacher asked each pupil to read from the quarterly and then asked: “What does that mean to you?” Well, that is the problem. The question should be: “What is God telling us?” Second Peter 1:20 says: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” The Greek word translated private is ἴδιος, e’de ahs, meaning: of ones self. You will recognize another English word that comes from e’de as – the word idiot! Why is private interpretation idiotic? Peter answers that in verse 21: “(because) the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.” Holy men! who spoke only as they were moved along by the breath of God! Do we dare interject our own self-conceived notions into God’s Word? Absolutely not!
Peter also said in verse 16: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables (inventions of men), when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” We not only have no right to private interpretation, but we must never build our faith on the inventions of others. That is the very thing for which Jesus severely rebuked the Pharisees, saying they made the Commandments of God void by their traditions.
We fully subscribe to the regulative principle which says that we are bound to those things taught in scripture regarding worship and everything else is prohibited. That is essentially Sola Scriptura. Every thing in the church MUST be tested by the Bible.
I think Pastor Montgomery may have mentioned John Calvin’s “Necessity for Reforming the Church” written in 1543. Calvin wrote first of Evils that Compel us to Seek Remedies, comparing adoration of images and relics of that time to the idolatry of ancient Egypt; ceremonies that are “partly borrowed from the heathen, and more adapted to some theatrical show than to the dignity of our religion.”
He said, “Having observed that the word of God is the test which discriminates between his true worship and that which is false and vitiated (ineffective), we thence readily infer that the whole form of divine worship in general use in the present day is nothing but mere corruption. For men pay no regard to what God has commanded, or to what he approves, in order that they may serve him in a becoming manner, but assume to themselves a license of devising modes of worship, and afterwards obtruding (imposing) them upon him as a substitute for obedience.” That was written 469 years ago, but I saw it on TV last week.
Here is the crux of the Calvin’s argument. He said that the knowledge of our salvation comes to us in three different stages (I will abbreviate):
First, a sense of our wretchedness when the depravity of our nature is set before us and we see our rebellion against God;
The second stage is turning to Christ who reconciles us to the Father;
The third stage is to know the grace of Christ and rest in him with firm and solid confidence.
He strongly condemned sermons that contain no repentance, ritual baptisms and communions that mean nothing.
Calvin’s second point was: Remedies Employed to Correct the Evils, in which he condemns human reason, calling it a delusion. He referenced Colossians 2:23, where the apostle used the word ἐθελοθρησκία e-the-lo-thrā-skē'-ä, meaning: arbitrary worship. From there, he set forth a list of errors that had crept into Christianity over 15 centuries since the apostles: images, praying to the saints and salvation by works. His strongest and most important argument was the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone. All of these things fixed in the authority of Scriptures, not in the church.
Calvin’s third point was: Reformation Required Without Delay, where he calls the church to hear the voice of God through the teachings of the apostles. We must understand that the Bible is the very voice of God.
A.A. Hodge, of Princeton Seminary fame, said in Outlines of Theology: “The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, having been given by inspiration of God, are the all-sufficient and only rule of faith and practice, and judge of controversies.” In question and answer format, he argues for the sufficiency of Scriptures in matters of faith as opposed to Scriptures AND tradition. But the most important argument, in my opinion, is the necessity of “Plenary inspiration, completeness, perspicuity or clarity, and accessibility.” Plenary inspiration is the kind of inspiration that gives the Bible authority over every thing else.
Another heavy-hitter was B.B. Warfield. He succeeded Hodge at Princeton and carried on the cause for Biblical authority. His basic premise was that Christ, who is head of the church, spoke His Word through His apostles, meaning that the authority of Scriptures rests completely in the Christ who commissioned the apostles. He said the church may recognize the authority of the Bible but it does not give it the authority.
Why is this so important? Why do we make such a fuss over it? The Bible says it best: 2 Timothy 3:15 “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” The HOLY SCRIPTIRES are the source of the GOSPEL which is our only means of salvation. As the Apostle Paul put it, it is the δύναμις dü'-nä-mēs POWER of God unto salvation.
The Bible is given by inspiration of God, not by inspiration of the writer nor the church. 2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” So, when we talk about the scriptures being sufficient, it is in the sense that they are the only inspired and therefore inerrant words of God that we need to know the way of salvation. There is nothing in reason nor in nature that equals God’s own voice. And that is exactly what we have in holy Scriptures. God is the only speaker. Every book, every circumstance is NOT told by the writer but by God. The miracles recorded in scripture are not wrought by man but by God. Do you realize that miracles are ordinary to God? There is no separation of natural and supernatural. God is at work! He gives new life in every physical birth just as He gives new life in every spiritual birth. And the Bible is the only revelation of Him.
For that reason, the devil has been attacking the Word of God ever since man was created. When he approached Eve in the garden, she quoted God’s Word which said in Genesis 3:3: “But of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.”
Let me show you how even the attack of Satan on the Word of God teaches inspiration. Turn to Matthew 4, reading verses 1-11: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” Three times Jesus said “IT IS WRITTEN” as an answer to the devil. That means Jesus regarded the Bible as God’s Word. And so did the devil.
If the Bible is not the Word of God, we have no revelation from God and therefore no authority from God. Every thing that matters to us as believers comes from the pages of God's divinely inspired Word. The book that was given to the church by Christ through his apostles must always be the source of our authority.
A postmodern view of Biblical authority has emerged which says there are different levels of inerrancy. They argue that Luther and Calvin did not insist on total (or detailed) inerrancy. Therefore, it is determined by the church’s view of the Bible. What does he do with discrepancies in the Bible? For example, one Gospel said Jesus sat down when He taught and another Gospel says He stood. Charles Hodge said we all know the Parthenon was build of marble but if we find one spec of sandstone we are not afraid of the entire structure crumbling. So, what constitutes an error? Sadly, today it is a rational choice of reason rather than spiritual.
The Apostle Paul told young Timothy to preach the word, to reprove, rebuke and exhort. He told young Titus to speak, exhort and rebuke with all authority. Was it because they were superior in knowledge or position? NO it was because the authority lies in the Word of God. Paul also told Titus not to allow his message to be disregarded.
I do not know how many times people have left the church because they got upset with what the pastor said. They do not realize he is only God’s messenger. He is preaching God’s Word as if it is the voice of God speaking. Those who preach the Gospel do so by delegated authority.
Preachers are not to “lord it over” the church as if it is their authority but speak by delegated authority from Christ. In Baptist churches, it is usually a policy for the pastor or pastors to seek God’s direction, discuss it with the leaders and then take it to the congregation for a vote. That is the Congregationalist form of government.
That is not necessarily true when it comes to the preaching of the Word. A pastor seeks God’s direction and preaches by delegated authority from above. As long as he does that nothing else is necessary. His purpose as pastor is to preach the Word with the authority of God upon him.
The Bible says that we are ambassadors for Christ.
An ambassador is always a citizen of another country.
He is obligated to be faithful to the one who sent him.
And, he speaks by delegated authority.
How fitting that we represent another country.
We are obligated to be faithful to our Savior who has sent us.
We do not speak for ourselves but preach God’s Word by His direction and under His authority.
We must love it and honor it and submit to it. It is the only revelation of God. It is God’s voice.