Can You Trust God's Word? [11-1-20]


Have you ever had your heart broken? Have you ever been so hungry you could eat a horse? Have you ever died of embarrassment? Have you ever been so hungry, you said you were starving? Have you ever dodged a bullet? Ever been so happy you were on top of the world? Have you ever had a friend who was so mad at her husband, she said she could just kill him? This is so fun, we could go on all morning.


Context is sometimes important for understanding the metaphors, analogies, and figures of speech we use. Most of us know the difference between a real heart attack and the sadness which comes with a broken heart. Both are true. One is literally true and the other is figuratively true.


The Bible is true in its literal expressions…in its figurative expressions…in its metaphorical expressions…in its poetic expressions. The Bible is true in all it expresses. When Jesus says he is the good shepherd, he's not claiming to be a farmer or a rancher. But he is expressing something wonderful and loving and encouraging for us. When Jesus says he and the Father are One, he is speaking about a deep, literal truth. The Bible speaks to us in a variety of ways about truths that are informative and transformative.


Here's a survey from 2014 of U.S. adults who self-identified as Christians to best summarize their view of the Bible:

  • "The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word."

  • "The Bible is the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally."

  • "The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man."

I'm not going to ask you by a show of hands which one most accurately reflects what you believe. Just think it through in your own mind. Have you decided? Here's the breakdown:

  • #1 = 28%

  • #2 = 47%

  • #3 = 21%

If forced to choose only one response, I'd pick #1. But truth be told, I'd rope #1 and #2 together.


I think the notion of taking the Bible, literally, word for word misses a point. When Jesus says to cut off your hand if it causes you to sin, or pluck out your eye if it causes you to sin, I don't think we want to take it literally. The same when Jesus says he is the true vine, he's not claiming plant-hood. Are you with me on that? Often, people misunderstood Jesus because they took him literally. The woman at the well was a bit confused when Jesus offered her living water.


Here's the beauty of the Bible:

The Truths Expressed Metaphorically in These and Other Scriptures are Startlingly Real.

The Bible is glorious and inspirational and frightening and challenging and trustworthy and praiseworthy and edifying and worshipful and humbling and correcting and instructive and…the Bible is all these and more, except wrong. The Bible is never wrong.


We cherish the Bible because while it reveals to us the wickedness of our

hearts, it offers us the joy of salvation through Christ and Christ alone. From Genesis through Revelation, the Bible tells us who we are and who God is and how He redeems His people. I love this quote from lecturer Dustin Benge:

If not for justification by faith alone and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, a million past sins could be brought against us. If you're in Christ, when Gods looks at your past, He only sees the righteousness and perfection of His glorious Son.

How else could we know that without the Bible? How else could we be assured of who Jesus is and what he did for us without the Bible? Do you see why God's Word is such a beautiful thing?


Here's another beautiful truth about the Bible. We believe the Bible because God gave us hearts and minds to believe. This is going to be really important to remember as we apply it to something that comes up later. We believe God's Word because He gave us hearts and minds to believe. It's not that we are clever or intellectual or insightful or well-educated. It's that God gave us hearts and minds to believe His Word. Are you with me on that? It's a really important order of things to grasp. To put it another way, rejecting any key teaching of the Bible or Biblical truth is a sign of struggling faith. Or a dangerous lack of faith. For example, there are pastors and leaders who reject the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are pastors who reject the virgin birth of Jesus. How can someone claim to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ while holding views contrary to the Word of God?


I love how Question 4 of the Westminster Catechism puts it:

  • Question: "How does it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?"

  • Answer: "The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity; by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God."

In other words, the whole Bible, properly understood, has this divine purpose - to communicate or display or reveal the glory of God. And so we can see that it's almost always the case that God opens the eyes of our hearts and convinces us of His truth, and gives us faith, and saves us. And He does that with the beautiful language of the Bible.

That is such a beautiful thing. Through His electing grace, God opened His Word to you. God drew you to the Bible, to cherish it and believe it.


To add flesh to that, here's something you might want to write down:

YOU CANNOT LOVE GOD, AND NOT LISTEN TO HIM.

When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment." You cannot love God with all your heart, soul, and mind without a steady diet of Scripture.


Just as our hearts must be engaged in treasuring God above all others, our minds must be equally engaged in thinking of God rightly. Wrong thoughts about God produce wrong love for God. As one woman observes, "The heart can't love what the mind doesn't know" {Jen Wilkin}.


The apostle Paul makes this same connection in Philippians 1:9-11:

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

We only come to love God more by knowing more of Him. And we learn more about our God - His attributes, His nature, and His promises - by listening to His Word.


What are the implications of this truth for someone, who, say, rejects key Biblical truths like the bodily resurrection or the virgin birth? What does that say about their relationship with God? What does that say about who they think is in charge?


Second big point you might want to write down:

YOUR FAITH NEEDS PROMISES TO SURVIVE.

Paul left Timothy to pastor the church at Ephesus. Timothy was young and a bit timid. In order to encourage him, here's what Paul wrote to Timothy:

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

- 2 Timothy 1:8-10

Paul turns Timothy to the gospel. As a wise man once said, "The cure for wimpy Christians is weighty doctrine" {John Piper}. Paul doles out rich truth as the cure for Timothy's timidity. Remember when Jesus talked about us being salt in a broken world? Saltiness requires us to obey God no matter what other people may think. A day hardly goes by when the powers and principalities of this world try to pry us away from the solid ground of God's Truth and the trustworthiness of His Word. As one woman observes:

Christians should not borrow worldly language and redefine it with some sort of Biblical definition. It's confusing. It's dangerous. It's unnecessary. We don't need the world's terms. We have Scripture. God's terms are sufficient.

- Jessi Bridges

And so Paul says, when that happens, tighten your grip on sound doctrine

revealed to us in the Bible. Watch your trust in God grow as you anchor

yourself to a thousand of His promises by hearing His voice daily.


You do that - watching your trust grow - only in the words spoken by God. Specifically:

YOU WILL ONLY FIND THE JOY YOU WANT IN WORDS.

Jesus spends over a chapter in the Gospel of John instructing and exhorting his disciples. In the middle of his sermon, Jesus says, "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" {John 15:11}. Notice joy comes primarily through his words. Not ecstatic experiences; not charismatic experiences; not emotional experiences; but through the words of Christ. Jesus tells his disciples that what he's telling them is for their joy. Every word of Christ is meant for your eternal happiness. Your eternal happiness…your eternal contentment…is directly tied to what Jesus has to say to you.


Consider this simple, beloved passage:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

- John 14:6

We should hang on every word. And Jesus has given us so many words - words of promise for our joy, words of warning for our joy, words of encouragement for our joy. Words…words…and more words, all for our joy in Jesus Christ, forever.


The Bible speaks so much truth into our lives. It teaches us that God loves

the lost and the lonely; the forgotten and the misfit; the saint and the sinner. It shows us the value of learning the Bible together. It shows us the generosity of other believers. It calls us to be openhanded with what God gives us. It proclaims the sanctity of every human life and inspires us to fight for the unborn. It calls us to break down walls of division and celebrate the diversity of the human family. The Bible does that and so much more. These are all beautiful things. We become equipped for every good work in the Bible.


There is gold in God's Word. All we have to do is press on with our reading and trust every word God speaks to us. If you want to live for Christ and have joy in this life and then for eternity, soak yourself in the Bible.