THE WORD OF GOD
by Pastor Don Fortner
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Why should we study doctrine?
"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."
I do not pretend to know all that is implied by that statement; but I am sure of this - God almighty intends for us to understand that he has a very high opinion of his Word. It is something of indescribable value, a Book to be revered, honored, read, believed, and obeyed. It has not been given to us to be an ornament of decoration to adorn your coffee table at home or the communion table at church. The Volume of Holy Scripture came from God and shows us the way back to God. Read it. Study it. Believe it. Obey it. Know it in your head. Store it in your heart. Show it in your life. And sow it in the world. This blessed Book, the Bible, is and must be the Word of God.
Before studying the glorious truths of Holy Scripture, we must have a firm grasp of the fact that the Bible is indeed of divine origin, inspired, infallible, and authoritative. Unless we recognize that fact, we have no authoritative basis for believing anything taught in the Bible. In fact, I am certain that the reason for all the fuzziness, instability, and confusion among religious people in our day is that they fail to recognize the absolute authority of the Word of God in all matters of faith and practice, in all matters of doctrine and conduct.
As we face the heresies, speculations, skepticism, and ignorance of the religious world around us, as well as that of the secular world, we need to be sure of our ground. Doctrinal, spiritual ignorance always leads to spiritual bondage (Isa. 5:13).
Numerous books have been written demonstrating the fact that the Bible's claim of divine origin, inspiration, and infallibility cannot be denied. Assuming that you recognize this fact, I will show you four things about the Bible which I trust will be blessed of God to your soul and make the Book of God even more precious to you than it is already.
1. The Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.
This is the claim the Bible makes of itself. We must either accept the claim in its entirety or reject it altogether. Either the Bible is the Word of God, or it is a horribly evil hoax by which the souls of men are deceived and ruined. The same must be said concerning all other religious books that claim divine origin. If the Bible is the Word of God, then the Koran, the Book of Mormon, and the claims of modern self-proclaimed prophets must all be rejected as evil deceptions by which the souls of men are destroyed. The Bible claims to be the inspired, infallible, inerrant, complete, sufficient, and final Word of God. It takes but a casual glance at the Scriptures to see that this is the claim of the Bible.
When we talk about inspiration, be sure you understand what the Scriptures teach about it. We sometimes speak of the men who wrote the Scriptures as being inspired. That is not really accurate. Those men were moved and carried along by the Holy Spirit as they wrote; but they were not inspired. It is the Word of God itself, that which those faithful men were employed to write, which is inspired.
We recognize, and the Bible carefully shows us, the flaws of those men. The Book was given through weak, sinful human beings; but their weaknesses, sins, and humanity does not affect the Bible's infallibility. We see the personalities of the writers in their writings; but their personalities did not corrupt the Bible's perfection. The Bible claims to be and is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.
Few believers have not been asked, "What about all the places where the statements of the Bible contradict the proven discoveries of science?" Usually, I respond by asking, "Would you show me which statements you mean?" That usually ends the discussion. I do not claim to be a scientist. I am not even a student of science. Yet, I do make this assertion without the slightest fear of contradiction - There is not a single point of contradiction between the statements of Holy Scripture and the established facts of science. There is great conflict between the Scriptures and scientific theories, but none between Scripture and fact. The theories of science change constantly and constantly contradict one another; but the facts of science and the facts of the Bible are in perfect harmony.
2. The evidences and arguments for the divine origin and inspiration are as comforting as they are irrefutable.
Let me give you just a few of the many internal evidences of inspiration. We will not even look at the external evidences, though they are numerous. The internal evidences are sufficient, both to refute the gainsayers and to comfort our souls, as we live by faith in this world of trouble and woe, leaning upon the promises and teachings of our God in Holy Scripture.
First, the Lord Jesus Christ accepted the Old Testament Scriptures as the Word of God. When he dwelt upon the earth, he never made any attempt to prove the validity of the Old Testament, but simply referred to it, quoted it, expounded it, and lived upon it as the Word of God. In fact, he very deliberately quoted from the two books of the Old Testament which are most frequently attacked by infidels: Deuteronomy and Isaiah. Deuteronomy was the book from which he made every quotation when Satan tempted him in the wilderness (Deut. 8:3; 6:16; 6:13; Luke 4:4-12). Isaiah was the book he referred to when he began his public ministry and first announced himself as the Messiah (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:16-21).
Second, the uniqueness of the Bible, that is to say the singularity of its teachings, attests to its divine origin. The Book of God is totally different from all other books in the things it reveals and teaches. All who ever drank from this Fountain of Truth have tasted the distinct difference. The Bible tells us what no other book could tell us and what no other book would tell us if it could about certain things.
Any honest person who reads the Bible with any measure of carefulness and thoroughness will readily acknowledge that it could not possibly be a book of mere human origin. The Bible has the stamp of God upon it.
Third, the frankness and candor with which the Bible deals with its most prominent characters is evidence of its divine origin. All human biographies, if they expose any weaknesses and faults in their subjects, either excuse them or find a way to make them appear insignificant. The Word of God paints a different kind of picture when it describes the lives of its greatest, most eminent characters, it paints their very darkest sides. The Bible makes no attempt to whitewash Noah's drunkenness, Abraham's fear of Abimelech, Lot's incest, Moses' anger, Aaron's idolatry, .David's murder and adultery, the disciples' unbelief, Peter's fall, or the strife which divide Paul and Barnabas.
Fourth, the perfect harmony and unity of the Bible is simply an unanswerable argument for its divine origin and a great source of comfort and assurance for our faith. If I should see my great-grandfather, who has been dead since I was a boy, rise up out of the earth that fact would be less miraculous than the existence of God's Word. Listen to this carefully.
The Bible was written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), by some forty different authors, who lived on two separate continents, over a period of more than sixteen hundred years. Parts of it were written in palaces, parts in prisons. Some of it was written by well educated men in great cities, other parts were written by shepherds and fishermen. Parts of it were written during times of war, pestilence, and danger, other parts during times of ecstatic joy. Those who wrote the words of Holy Scripture were from virtually every walk of life: judges, priests, kings, prophets, prime-ministers, herdsmen, scribes, fishermen, and soldiers. Yet, in spite of all these varying circumstances, conditions, workmen, and ages of time employed in the production of the Book, it stands as one Book. It is perfectly one in all its parts, free of error, and free of contradiction.
"Imagine forty persons of different nationalities, possessing various degrees of musical culture, visiting the organ of some great cathedral and at long intervals of time, and without any collusion whatever, striking sixty-six different notes, which when combined yielded the theme of the grandest oratorio ever heard; would it not show that behind these forty different men there was one presiding mind, one great Tone-Master? As we listen to some great orchestra, with its immense variety of instruments playing their different parts, but producing melody and harmony, we realize that at the back of these many musicians there is the personality and genius of the composer. And when we enter the halls of the Divine Academy and listen to the heavenly choirs singing the Song of Redemption, all in perfect accord and unison, we know that it is God himself who has written the music and put this song into their mouths." - A. W. Pink
There is only one sane explanation for the existence of the Bible. "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
Fifth, the multitude of prophecies given in the Bible that have been exactly fulfilled, to the very letter, demand that honest people acknowledge the divine origin of the Bible. Prophecy is the foretelling of future events before they come to pass. This is the acid test of divine revelation. The Lord God himself appeals to fulfilled prophecy throughout the Bible (Deut. 18:22; Isa. 41:21-23; 2 Pet. 1:19-21). Fortune tellers, palm readers, and other practitioners of witchcraft frequently make general predictions that astound men. The Word of God does not make vague, general predictions, but specific, precise predictions, and stakes its veracity upon their fulfillment.
The Lord Jesus Christ was, of course, the central theme of Old Testament prophecy (Ps. 22; Isa. 53); but there were a multitude specific prophetic statements made about him in the Old Testament that were exactly fulfilled (Isa. 7:14; Mic. 5:2; Acts 13:29). The prophecy concerning Josiah, the boy king of Judah, was made during the days of Jeroboam and fulfilled three hundred and fifty years later (1 Kings 13:2; 2 Kings 23:15-16). Numerous other fulfilled prophecies could be cited by anyone even casually familiar with Holy Scripture. These are facts which no one can refute.
Let men cavil as they will, the Bible is the very Word of God. It simply cannot be explained in any other way. It is an open Book. Its truths are not written in the language of scholars, but in the common language of common men. The Bible is the Book for the people. It was delivered by God to his saints, not to the pope, not to priests, not to academics, not to the clergy, but to the saints of God. There is nothing hidden, nothing written in secret codes. Everything is open. If the gospel is veiled, it is not because there is a veil upon the Book of God, but because there is a veil upon the hearts of men (2 Cor. 4:4).
3. The doctrine of the Bible's inspiration and infallibility has very serious consequences.
If the Bible is indeed the Word of God, its authority cannot be questioned. Its teachings cannot be disputed. All that it says must be received as true, submitted to, and obeyed. Its words must be candidly, honestly, and faithfully interpreted. There must be, on our part, a docility of spirit before God's holy Word. We must bow before God, as he speaks in his Word, with hearts willing to be taught of God, crying saying with Samuel, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth" (1 Sam. 3:9).
As the this Book is of divine origin, so too our understanding of it is the gift of God. Every time we open it, let us pray for grace from God the Holy Spirit to enlighten and illuminate our hearts, that he might open our understandings and cause us to understand the Scriptures (Ps. 119:18; John 16:13-16; 1 Cor. 2:11, 14).
4. The metaphors used to describe the Scriptures give us a hint of their great value, usefulness, and profitability.
It is both interesting and profitable to carefully study the various metaphors given in Scripture for the Word of God. The Bible is compared to a lamp, or a light (Ps. 119:105, 130; Pro. 6:23). It is called a mirror (2 Cor. 3:18; James 1:25). We look into the Bible and see ourselves, not what we think we are, but what we really are: sinful, corrupt, depraved, lost, ruined, and utterly helpless. Holy Scripture is compared to a laver, or wash bowl (Eph. 5:26; Ps. 119:9; John 15:3). It is compared to bread, or food for our souls (Job 23:12). It is bread for the hungry, milk for babes, strong meat for men, and honey to sweeten the lives of those who experience bitterness in this world. The Book of God is compared to both fire to melt, warm, and comfort and a hammer to break (Jer. 23:29). It is the Sword of the Spirit 9Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12). It is called good Seed which is sown by the preaching of the gospel (Luke 8:11; Ecc. 11:6; Ps. 126:6).
"The thoughts of man are lies, The Word of God is true. To bow to that is to be wise; Then hear, and fear, and do."
"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. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Ps. 19:7-10).
Grace Baptist Church of Danville
2734 Old Stanford Road - Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438
Donald S. Fortner, Pastor -Telephone 606-236-8235 - Email firstname.lastname@example.org