Sermon

God's Word Faithfully Preached from the Pulpit

Something More Sure (Exodus 24:4; 31:18 and 2 Peter 1:16-21)

From the Book “Taking God by His Word” written by Kevin DeYoung

Introduction:

  • When we are trying to share the gospel to others and we encounter skeptics or critical thinkers, we are often faced with the following questions:
    • How did you know that the Bible is indeed the word of God?
    • How can you say that the Bible is the word of God when it is written by mere men?
    • How can you say that the Bible is the word of God when it is filled with errors and contradictions.
  • In the same way, when we are confronted by the Scriptures to forsake a sin that we cannot let go, in an attempt to justify ourselves from holding on to that sin, we question the Scriptures by saying:
    • What if not all of the Bible is the word of God, and He is not really demanding me to give up this sin?
    • What if the Bible is just the record of the personal views of men and it just so happens that the apostle Paul, who is one of the authors of the bible, does not like what I am doing?
    • What if the Bible is really full of errors and contradictions and it is wrong to tell me not to do the thing that I want to do.
  • These questions are not new. This attack on the Word of God started in the garden of Eden when the ancient serpent tricked Adam and Eve into disobeying God, leading to the fall of humanity.
  • The attack on the word of God is also being carried out today by cults in order to introduce their own “sources of god’s revelations” such as the Quran for the Islam, the Book of Mormons for the Latter-Day Saints, and the personal special personal revelations of some Pentecostal or Charismatic groups.
    • They argue that the Bible that we have right now is already corrupted due to faulty translations that is why a fresh source of divine revelation is required.
    • Others argue that what is written in the Bible is limited, and we are depriving our selves of great spiritual blessing by just focusing on the written word and not seeking to hear God’s audible voice today.
  • There are people today, who consider themselves Christians, who are not bothered by these questions because they believe that what the Bible says is not that important as long as they have a personal relationship with Christ. These people are not in a better position because they are not even aware of the basis of their faith making it questionable. Furthermore, having faith and affection on the Word of God is one of the visible signs of true conversion. Their indifference to the Word of God poses a great question on the validity and genuiness of their conversion.
  • The Apostle Peter faced the same attack although not on the Word of God in general but on the veracity of the second coming of Christ. Before we discuss this, let us look at the context of 2 Peter.

Context of 2 Peter:

  • The epistle is an exhortation to ignore false teachers and pursue holiness.
    • 2 Peter 1: 3-15 – the power of godliness in God’s great and precious promise
      • Patterns of godliness and virtues to be added to faith
      • The premises of godliness in our calling and election
      • Peter reiterates his intention to remind the church of qualities related to godliness before he dies
    • 2 Peter 2: 2, 10, 18-19 – Peter is concerned that false teachers will creep into the church promising freedom, and will end up leading the people to sensuality and spiritual bondage.
    • 2 Peter 3: 11-12, 14 – one of the chief reasons to pursue holiness and turn aside from wickedness is the second coming of Christ
  • The false teachers attacked the certainty of the second coming of Christ by saying that it is a mere cleverly devised myth.
  • To counter this claim by the false teachers, Peter presented 2 pieces of evidence:
    • Eye witness testimony (1:16-18)
    • Authoritative documents (1:19-21)
  • The eye witness testimony of Peter and his fellow disciples is about the transfiguration of Jesus Christ
    • What is the relation of this testimony on the certainty of the second coming of our Lord?
      • The voice of God which says “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” in verse 17 is interpreted as the divine decree in Ps 2:7-9 which says: I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
      • The Transfiguration is the basis for the Second Coming expectation because it is God’s appointment of Jesus as judge and ruler of all nations, a role which he has not yet exercised but will exercise at his coming in glory.
  • This shows that Christianity is rooted in history. The most important claims of Christianity are historical claims, and on the facts of history the Christian faith must stand or fall.
  • However, we no longer have any living eye witnesses today so we are forced to rely on the second piece of evidence which are the authoritative documents. This will be the focus of our sermon this afternoon.
  • Today we will answer the question: Whether we can trust the authoritative documents which now includes the written accounts of the eyewitness.

Proposition:

The Scriptures is certain and therefore we can fully trust it.

Organizational Sentence:

The Scripture is sure because: 1) It is the Word of God; 2) The fact that it was delivered through human instrumentality does not make it less divine; and 3) It is without error.

Sermon Point 1: The Bible is the Word of God

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. – 2 Peter 1: 19

  • The neoorthodox theologians like Karl Barth claims that
    • The Bible merely contains the word of God
    • The Bible becomes the word of God
    • The event in which God speaks to us through the Bible is the word of God
  • This view of the Scriptures is foreign to the Apostle Peter who regarded all of the pages of Scriptures as inspired by God.
  • In referring to the authoritative documents as the second piece of evidence, Peters used the terms prophetic word, prophecy of the Scriptures and prophecy. For our consideration this afternoon, the Greek word in verse 20 (prophecy of Scriptures) is the word graphe which means something that has been written down. Here we can see that Peter’s view of inspiration is not limited to prophetic speech or oral preaching; but it includes the written pages of Scriptures.
  • The prophetic word is synonymous with the term Scriptures which at that time is the whole Old Testament. Peter is not merely referring to prophetic writings about the second coming but what he has in view here is the whole Old Testament. The Old Testament can be designated generally as the Law and the Prophets. However, in Jewish writings, the Old Testament may also be the designated as the law or the prophets separately. Therefore, when apostle Peter used the terms prophetic word, prophecy of Scriptures and prophecy, he is actually pertaining to the whole Old Testament.
  • Other commentators held that that term “more fully confirmed” means that Transfiguration confirmed the Old Testament Prophecies about the Messiah. Otherwise stated, Peter is saying that “we have the Scriptures that is made more sure by the by our witnessing of the Transfiguration.”
  • The Scriptures is described here as something which we will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place. The comparison of the word of God to a lamp is very common in the Bible. It was compared to a lamp because it has the same function as the lamp, which is to shine in a dark place. The dark place here pertains to the human mind which is pictured as dark when ignorant on God’s prophetic messages and is therefore without hope. The prophetic Scripture cast a ray of light in the darkened human mind by awakening hope in them.
  • “Until the day dawns” here pertains to an eschatological age where everything will be revealed to God’s people, which will begin at the second coming of Christ. Until that new age of full revelation arrives, the Scripture will continue to illuminate our mind while we live in the darkness of our ignorance.
  • Following the dawn of the day is the “rising of the morning star”. Even though there is a mention of a daybreak, the morning star here does not pertain to the sun but to the morning star Venus, which is not actually a star but a planet. The planet Venus looks like as very bright star which accompanied the first glimmering of the dawn, introducing the daylight to the world.
    • This is an allusion to Numbers 24:17 a star shall rise out of Jacob
    • We can also see the reference of the morning star in Rev 22:16 which says “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.
    • Since the morning star pertains to Christ, the rising of the morning star is a symbol of the second coming of Christ.
  • The phrase “in our hearts” at the end of the verse does not mean that the text is not about the second coming but an experience of enlightenment in this life. The second coming also comes with a full revelation of Christ as compared to the partial revelations we received through the prophecies. This full revelation of Christ will be experienced by the believers in their hearts.
  • When the apostle Peter referred to the Scriptures as an authoritative document to prove the second coming of Christ and as a lamp in darkness until the daybreak comes, he referred to the entire written Scriptures and not to some parts of it.
  • The authority of God’s word resides in the written text- the words, the sentence, the paragraphs – of the Scriptures, not merely in our existential experience of the truth in our hearts.
  • The Apostle Paul also acknowledged the inspiration of the entire Scriptures and not some parts of it in 2 Timothy 3:16 which says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…
  • Even Christ claimed that God inspired the Bible’s letters and words. We can see this, for example, in Matthew 5:17, 18 where Jesus said,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. In these verses Jesus said that He came to fulfill every detail which God’s Word had promised about him.

  • Here Jesus refers here to very small details in written Hebrew. God remembers the smallest detail of what He inspired. Christ came to fulfill even the smallest detail of what the Old Testament scriptures said about Him. This demonstrates Jesus’ commitment to what we call “verbal inspiration” today.
  • We may define verbal inspiration as “the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of all the words which the original human authors wrote.” We hold to this view of verbal inspiration instead of the “limited” or “partial” inspiration view. We also say that we believe in “plenary inspiration.” Plenary refers to fullness. This name means that the Spirit inspired the Bible fully, in all of its parts. So “verbal inspiration” highlights the truth that the Spirit inspired each word and letter. “Plenary inspiration” stresses that He inspired the Bible fully.

Sermon Point 2: The Bible is Given through Human Instrumentalities but does not make it less Divine

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. – 2 Peter 20-21

  • Aside from attacking the validity of our expectation of the second coming of Christ the false teachers also attacked the accuracy of Old testaments prophecies which is the basis to support it. They are not denying that the prophets ever received visions or dreams from God. What they are attacking is the interpretation of the prophets on the visions and dreams that they received, that their interpretation of the dreams and visions are arbitrary and are mere guess work.
  • Basically, Peter is saying that no prophecy of Scripture derives from the prophet’s own interpretation of the visions and dreams he received from God because not only are the visions and dreams shown by God to the prophets inspired but also their interpretation of what they saw, so that there is not a chance that the prophets commit an error in recording what they saw and the meaning of their prophecies.
  • For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man” means that the true prophets who authored the Scriptures, unlike the false, did not speak on their own initiative or proclaim a message which is the product of their own minds, but spoke “the word of the Lord” when it came to them. This is the answer to another charge of the false teachers that the Scriptures or prophesies concerning the second coming of Christ are merely of human origins.
  • Skeptics today go further in questioning the validity of the Scriptures by saying that since it is written by mere men who are fallible, errant and capable of sinning, then we cannot be sure that what they have written is 100% true or correct.
  • There are three (3) different views on the inspiration of the Scriptures:
    • The Mechanical View of Inspiration – God literally dictated what the human authors of the Bible had to write as if they were purely passive like a pen in the hand of a writer. This means that their minds did not contribute in any way to the contents or form of their writings. God inspired the text of Scripture but not its human authors
    • The Dynamic View of Inspiration – individuals whom we might call inspired people wrote the Bible. In this view, inspiration describes the authors but not the text of Scripture.
    • The Organic View of Inspiration – According to this view, God inspired both the human authors and the text of Scripture.
  • The correct view is the third one. 2 Peter 1:21 teaches that men spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit acted on the writers of the Bible in an organic way, in harmony with the laws of their own inner being, using them just as they were, with their character and temperament, their gifts and talents, their education and culture, their vocabulary and style. The Holy Spirit illumined their minds, aided their memory, prompted them to write, repressed the influence of sin on their writings, and guided them in the expression of their thoughts even to the choice of their words.
  • The Bible is in one sense a human and divine book. But this is in no way implies any fallibility in the Scriptures. The dual authorship of the Scriptures does not necessitate imperfection anymore than the two natures of Christ mean our Savior must have sinned.

Sermon Point 3: The Bible is Without Error

  • The purpose of the last point of this sermon is not to answer all of the alleged errors, contradictions and inconsistencies in the Bible. Certainly, we don’t have enough time to deal with all of them but one thing is for sure, that all of them has already been answered. In fact, if you have questions about any apparent errors in the Bible, you can google them now and the answer to those will easily be found in the internet. This is the case because all of those questions are not new, they have been dealt already centuries ago but they are still being circulated so that Christians who weak in faith and too lazy to search the internet for answers can be victimized.
  • The charge of errors, contradictions and inconsistencies in the Bible are like fake news. No matter how many times you refute them, they will not disappear totally. This is because the purpose of these false charges is not really to take down the Scriptures. The enemies of the Word of God are not too naïve to think that they can take down God’s word. After hundreds and thousand of years of trying, they pretty much learned their lesson already that this is impossible because God is committed to uphold and preserve His word. They are circulating these false charges to target the weak in faith. They think in themselves that there is always a Christian who is remiss in his duty of studying the word of God who will fall to this kind of trap.
  • Aside from the fact that every one of those alleged errors has been answered already, we can be sure that the Bible is without error because after all, it is God’s word. It is the Holy Spirit who carried the human authors as they write the Scriptures and the things they spoke or written are not their own words but that of God, hence it is perfect and has no errors.
  • For the prophets, not only are the visions and dreams given to them inspired but so are their interpretations of it, because God is still carrying them even in interpreting what they saw so that there will be no room for errors.
  • Some Christians deny the inerrancy of the Scriptures not because they want to attack it but because they want to relieve themselves of the burden of constantly defending the Scriptures from all of the charges being thrown at it. In effect, they hold on to the view that the Scripture’s main message, which is the gospel, is inspired but not the details. They are basically saying that as long as we understand the main message of the Bible, the details are no longer important. However, this is not fair bargain. Sonner or later, we will realize that if we disregard as uninspired the details which seem not to relate to salvation, we will discover that we have removed God’s story of salvation as well.
  • Inerrancy basically means that the word of God always stands over us and we never stand over the word of God. when we reject inerrancy, we put ourselves in judgement of God’s word. We claim the right to determine which part of God’s revelation can be trusted and which cannot.
  • By doing this, we will deny the complete trustworthiness of the Scriptures in its claim with regard to history, its teachings on the material world and its miracles. To deny, disregard, edit, alter, reject or rule out anything in God’s word is to commit the sin of unbelief.
  • This kind of compromise does not express a proper submission to the Father, does not work for our joy in Christ, and do not bring honor to the Spirit who carried along the men to speak the prophetic word and to author God’s holy book.

Application for believers:

  1. Knowing that all pages of the Scriptures is inspired, we must approach the Scriptures with reverence and we should be very diligent and careful in handling and interpreting each of them.
    1. We must be careful not to misquote, misinterpret or apply the word of God out of context.
    1. Not only teachers or preachers should exegete the word, but even members as well, especially when they are sharing the word of God to others, otherwise they will eisegete the text unknowingly.
  • Since we know that the authority of God’s word resides in the written text and that the inspiration of the Scripture is an objective reality outside of us, let us go to word of God and not seek anymore special revelations from Him outside the Bible.

“If private revelations agree with Scripture, they are needless, and if they disagree, they are false.” – John Owen

Almost all of our dilemmas and decisions in life are already dealt with in the pages of Scriptures. When we need to make an important decision in our lives, we can go to the Scriptures for guidance. Oftentimes, people do not seek personal special revelation from God about the dilemmas they are facing because the Scripture is silent about their circumstance, because they don’t like what the Bible is saying and they are looking for a second opinion as if the God will contradict what his revealed word already said.

  • We must defend the doctrine of the inerrancy of the Scriptures from people who hold on to neoorothodox theology, progressive Christianity and liberalism.
  • We must uphold the inerrancy of the Scriptures before skeptics, atheists and other unbelievers. Its is already very hard for us to convince unbelievers to believe in the Bible with the assumption that it is inerrant. How much more if we say that it can contain errors.
  • We must fully trust the Scriptures as the supreme authority when it comes to our faith and practice.

Application for unbelievers:

Since the Bible is the word of God and it does not contain any errors, the unbelievers should consider what the Scriptures says about them: that they, like us, are sinners and that without Christ they have only an expectation of judgement in the future. Hence, they should repent and put their faith in Christ.

Conclusion:

ZCRC Imus, since the God’s word is sure, we can totally depend on it and trust in it as a guide in all the areas of our lives. So let us all come to the word of God with reverence and awe and acknowledge that His word is above us and not the other way around.

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