Tuesday, October 1, 2019

God Is Not Silent

(To download an MP3 file of this sermon, click on the title above. To listen online, click on the play button of the audio player here.)

This sermon attempts to explore several issues regarding the Holy Bible, God's special revelation to humanity. It addresses the topics of reliability, authority, and effectiveness. It is hoped that this message will help the listener/reader to be strengthened in his or her faith in the Word of God as recorded by men who were miraculously aided by the Holy Spirit.

Written Excerpts: (Due to technical difficulties experienced during the delivery of this sermon, these notes contain more information than what is contained in the audio recording above.)

2 Tim. 3:16-17 (KJV) 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 (entirely) furnished unto all good works.
Many Christian philosophers and apologists have capably argued for the existence of God. My sermon today is not intended to be an apologetics argument for the existence of God, but the subject I wish to speak to you about is related to the field of Apologetics (defense of the faith).
Not long ago I realized that even though I try to present the Word of God every Sunday with a strong assumption regarding its authority and reliability, yet I don’t remember clearly explaining an accurate view of Scripture and divine revelation.
I got the idea for my sermon title from the title of a book written by Dr. Francis Schaeffer, He Is There, and He Is Not Silent
With God’s help I want to talk to you today about the Bible as the authoritative and reliable revelation of God’s will to us so we do not need to “grope in the dark” for some speck of guidance about all the big questions in life. As we explore this topic together, I hope to reinforce our respect for and confidence in the Holy Bible as the written Word of God to humanity. I doubt there has ever been a time when the view of Scripture was at a lower level than it is today.
I.      God has spoken.
I have often stated that the Creator is a God who desires to be known. He doesn’t remain hidden and secluded; laughing at our attempts to find Him and discover what He is like or what He desires for us. The Bible is very clear about the fact that God has revealed Himself to humanity in a number of ways. He wants us to know Him.
A. He has spoken through nature.
Rom. 1 – Very clearly the Apostle Paul expounds on the fact that the natural world has clearly revealed the existence of God and certain truths about Him.
Romans 1:18-21 (NKJV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Psalm 19:1-4 (CEB) Heaven is declaring God's glory; the sky is proclaiming his handiwork. 2 One day gushes the news to the next, and one night informs another what needs to be known. 3 Of course, there's no speech, no words— their voices can't be heard— 4 but their sound extends throughout the world; their words reach the ends of the earth… 
The natural world speaks to us about the power of God, the creativity of God, and the fact that creation reveals order, design and purpose in what He created. The natural world doesn’t reveal very much about the character of God.
B. He has spoken through His word.
Since we can gain a basic knowledge of a Creator by looking at the natural world, we strive to know more about the Creator and His character. We strive to know if He expects anything from us, and if so, what does He expect? Thankfully, we have ample evidence in the Scriptures of the fact that God clearly and personally spoke to various individuals to reveal exactly who He is, what He is like and what He desires from us.
The first person to record this kind of information was Moses. He is credited with writing the first 5 books of the OT. Moses gives first-hand accounts from time to time about the fact that he is not writing fiction, but he is describing face-to-face encounters with God and personal directions or instructions from God.
Heb. 1:1-2 (NKJV) God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds 
2 Peter 1:16, 20-21 (NKJV) For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty…. 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Clearly meaning that they were not giving their own opinions but were giving out the word of the Lord.
C. He has spoken through His Son.
Heb. 1:1-2 (NKJV) God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds 
The Bible makes it clear that God not only revealed Himself and His will through the prophets and apostles by inspiring them to write down what God said, but God also sent His own Son into our world as the living Word. John 1 describes the Word becoming flesh and living among us to reveal God to us in human form.
D. He still speaks through His Spirit.
In addition to all we’ve said about God speaking clearly through the inspiration of His prophets and apostles, and speaking through the physical, fleshly revelation of His Son, God continues to speak to individuals through His Spirit. The messages we receive today through the Spirit do not have the same authority as Scripture, but God’s Spirit truly enlightens and illuminates us as we read the Word and hear the Word. Why? Because God wants to communicate His will to everyone.
John 16:13 – …When the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth…
II.    The Bible is reliable. (Material in this section is borrowed from Josh McDowell – Evidence for Faith video series.)
A. The New Testament
The Bibliographical Test –Two factors: 
1. The Time Factor – Asks the question, how far removed are the oldest manuscripts from the time of the original writing? A predominant “rule of thumb” says, “the closer the copy is to the original, the more accurate it is.” 
·     Aristotle’s Writings – time gap is 1,200 years.
·     Tacitus’ Writings – time gap is 1,000 years.
·     Plato’s Writings – time gap is 1,200 years.
·     Aristophenes’ Writings – time gap is 1,200 years.
·     New Testament Writers – time gap is about 80 years.
2. The Number of Manuscripts Available – The general rule is the more manuscripts there are, the easier it is to check out possible discrepancies and inaccuracies.
·     Ceasar – 10 manuscripts.
·     Plato – 7 manuscripts.
·     Tacitus – 20 manuscripts.
·     Sophocles – 193 manuscripts.
·     Suetonius – 8 manuscripts.
·     Herodotus – 8 manuscripts.
·     Thucydides – 8 manuscripts.
·     Aristotle – 49 manuscripts.
·     Aristophenes – 10 manuscripts.
·     New Testament – 24,633 manuscripts.
B. The Old Testament
1. The lack of manuscript copies in no way takes away from the reliability of the Old Testament because of the exact guidelines used by Jewish scribes.
2. Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest manuscript of the Old Testament was the Leningrad Manuscript written approximately 1,008 A.D. The Dead Sea Scrolls were dated about 100 B.C. The text of both manuscripts was nearly exact. The accuracy was miraculous.
3. These are some of the rules that had to be followed by scribes:
    a. Manuscript pages had to come from the skins of a clean animal and tied together by strings made from clean animals.
    b. Each skin (page) must contain specific number of columns.
    c. The ink must be made from a specially prepared recipe.
    d. Between every consonant (letter) there had to be a space the width of a hair or thread, but they couldn’t touch each other.
    e. Between each book of the OT there had to be 3 empty lines.
    f. The Pentateuch had to end exactly at the end of a line or it must be recopied.
    g. The scribe had to sit and work in full ceremonial dress.
    h. If a king entered the room while the scribe was writing the name for God, the scribe could not acknowledge the king.
    i. They must use an authorized manuscript to copy from and no part could be copied from memory (that is, scribe must look at source copy for every single letter).
    j. Accuracy was checked by counting nearly everything:
       Counted the verses, words, and letters of every book.
       Calculated the middle word and middle letter of each book.
       Counted the number of times each letter occurs in each book.
       They identified the middle letter of the Pentateuch and the middle letter of the whole Hebrew Bible.
    k. If more than three mistakes were found, they could not merely correct them, they had to destroy the manuscript and start over.
    l. New manuscripts were given the same authority as the one it was copied from because of all these safeguards. Previous copy was used for readings in Synagogue until too worn.
    m. When a copy got too old and worn to read clearly, then it was destroyed to avoid corrupting future copies.
III.   The Bible is authoritative.
2 Tim. 3:16 (KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God…. That is, God-breathed.
Throughout the Books of the Law we repeatedly read, “The Lord spoke unto Moses.”  The prophets often stated, “Thus says the Lord.” Or, “Hear the word of the Lord.” If it truly is the word of God (and I wholeheartedly believe that it is), then it is the highest authority that we will ever be accountable to.
Heb. 2:1-3 (NKJV) Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him
2 Peter 1: 21 (NKJV) 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
When we read the Word and we hear the Word, we need to keep in mind that this is not men’s words or men’s ideas but God’s.
Revelation 22:18-19 (NKJV) For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Even though these verses primarily refer to the prophecy of John in this book, yet the message is applicable to the entire Word of God. i.e. It is a very grave offense to add to or take away from what God has said or revealed.
It really doesn’t matter what I think or what any other preacher thinks. It doesn’t matter what the “scholars” say. It only matters what God says.
IV.   The Bible is effective.
Not only is the Word of God reliable and authoritative, but it is also effective.
2 Tim. 3:16 (KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Isaiah 55:11 (KJV) So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Heb. 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Deut. 8:3 (NKJV) So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
We must realize that God never intended for us to exist as mere physical beings who are sustained by physical nourishment only. He created us as spiritual beings who were created to thrive on spiritual food.
We have often heard testimonies especially from representatives of the Gideons International organization who have shared stories of individuals who were converted and dramatically transformed by reading the Word of God.
I hope that the Lord has spoken to each of us today through His Holy Spirit and reminded us of at least two things:
I hope we have gained a renewed confidence in the reliability of God’s Word. There is so much more we could say, but don’t ever let anyone convince you that we can never know for sure if we truly have the words that God wanted us to have.
I also hope we have gained a renewed confidence in the authority of the Word. When we stand before God, none of us will be held accountable for what some person said. We will be held accountable for what God said.
The closing song I’ve chosen for today is an appropriate reminder of God’s revelation of Himself to humanity.
God Has Spoken by His Prophets

No comments:

Post a Comment