Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 Title: What the Bible Says About Itself

Text: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12; RSV)

Scripture reading: Hebrews 4:12

 

Introduction

In recent years there has been considerable division among Christians of all denominations in regard to the Bible and its contents.  Some claim that only parts are inspired.  Some declare that only its thoughts are inspired, but not its language.  I have heard men and women say that much of the Bible is only stories meant to teach moral principles, but they never really happened.  The very educated use theological terminology to describe certain concepts regarding the Bible and its contents, such as verbal inspiration, plenary inspiration, inerrancy, and so forth. Perhaps the safest course to pursue is to let the Bible speak for itself. 

We should always beware of those who try to persuade us to worship the Bible as though it was a good-luck charm.  The important thing about the scriptures is that they reveal to humans what God is like and how we can be reconciled to God through His Son Jesus Christ.

Today, let’s ask the Bible to answer five questions about itself:
1. What are the various names given to the Scriptures?
2. How are the Scriptures described?
3. How can the inspiration of the Scriptures be proved?
4. How can the Scriptures be understood?
5. How should the Scriptures be received?

Our text is Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The Bible has a lot of other things to say about itself, but let’s ask the first question.

What are the Scriptures called?

First, they are called The Word of God (Heb 4:12).  That phrase was in our text, which we read.  As the Word of God, the scriptures are an extension of God’s being.  They are more than just what God said.  They are the essence of His nature.

Next, the Scriptures are called The Word of Truth (James 1:18). James wrote, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  God’s word does not merely contain truth; it is absolute truth.  Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

Third, the Scriptures are called the oracles of God (Rom 3:2).  In Romans Paul wrote, “To begin with, the Jews are entrusted with the oracles of God.” Pagans referred to messengers from their gods as oracles.  So when Paul was writing to Roman Christians (many of whom had only recently been saved out of paganism), he explained to them that the messages of the true God (which he calls oracles) were first given to the Jews.

The Scriptures are also called The Word (James 1:21-23). James wrote this about it, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and accumulation of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass.”  The phrase “engrafted word” implies the personification of Jesus Christ, who is “in you” in the person of the Holy Spirit.

They are also called Holy Scriptures (Rom 1:2). Paul wrote, “Which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.”  They are holy because they are uniquely God’s words.

And finally, the Scriptures are called the Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."  As “the sword,” the Word of God serves as the Christian’s defense against Satan.  The Holy Spirit makes the Word powerful in the heart of believers.  He “activates” it.

Now we have found six other names for the Bible: the Word of God, the Word of Truth, the oracles of God, The Word, Holy Scriptures, and Sword of the Spirit. 

Next lets ask,

“How are the Scriptures described?”

First, The Bible says that they are authoritative (Ps. 19:7-8).  It says in the 19 Th Psalm, “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.”  Because they are the words of God, they contain absolute authority.

Next, the Bible says that the Scriptures are inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Paul wrote to Timothy, “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  They are God-breathed; therefore they communicate to us the very personality of God.
 
They are also described as sharp (Heb. 4:12).  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit…”  This means that God’s word is razor-sharp like a surgeon’s scalpel.  It does not mangle, but opens the heart to reveal its contents.
  
It says in Proverbs, “Every word of God is pure…” There are no lies mixed in, therefore we can trust it.  When people try to add to God’s Word, they destroy its purity.  One of Satan’s tactics is to tamper with God’s Word, to make people doubt it and twist its truth. The Scriptures were described as authoritative, inspired, sharp and pure

That brings us to our next question,

“How can the inspiration of the Scriptures be proved?”

They were first spoken by the Lord (thundered from Mount Sinai).  It was God who gave the Ten Commandments, which were written by His own finger, to his servant Moses.  It was accompanied by heavenly signs and wonders.  But the Lord Jesus Christ was the first who began to speak it clearly and plainly.  He spoke as no man ever spoke before, and many believed His words and were saved.
 
Second the Scriptures were confirmed by those who heard them. The disciples of Jesus Christ, who were eye and ear-witnesses of what He did and taught continued and confirmed His Gospel.  These witnesses had no self interests to serve and nothing could induce them to give their testimony except the Redeemer’s glory, and their own and others salvation.  They exposed themselves to great danger by their witness and they lost everything that was dear to them in this life, and many sealed it with their blood.

And when the Scriptures were given by Christ and His disciples they were accompanied by signs and wonders.  Jesus did many miracles and He gave his disciples the ability to heal the sick and raise the dead.  These were wonders quite beyond human ability and the power of nature.  However, the miracles filled the spectators with wonder and admiration and stirred them up to receive what was preached by His ministers.
 
But the Scriptures were also corroborated by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and by the coming of the Holy Spirit in power on the Day of Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit came to indwell believers and He qualified, enabled and excited the believers in the Early Church so that they did the work that God called them to do. Those are the proofs for the inspiration of Scripture. 

The next question that we asked was,

“How are the Scriptures understood?

First and formost, they are understood by illumination provided by the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:10-14)  Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  The scriptures are given by the inspiration of God.  The men who wrote them were instructed by the Holy Spirit.  We are told here that the Holy Spirit knows all things because He is God, and He will reveal many things to the minds of men and women.  It’s the Holy Spirit that opens the eye of the mind and gives us knowledge and faith.  He illuminates and influences our minds so that we come to God for salvation.  Those who are lost never have their mind illuminated by the Holy Spirit and therefore don’t understand the Bible.  The things of God are foolishness to them.
 
Second, we come to understand the Bible by examination.  Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)  Read the Bible and study what it says.  Meditate upon it and pray to God for understanding.  There are many helps that are available to clarify scripture, such as commentaries and Bible dictionaries.  Organized Bible studies and preaching will also help.  But unless you make the effort to read the Bible, you will miss the opportunity to learn God’s Word, and to be approved of by God.

We also come to understand Scripture by reasoning (Acts 17:2) We know that Paul was a man who debated the scriptures, for it says in Acts, “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures.”  Both Paul and Jesus made it their practice to go into the synagogues and explain the scriptures.  Paul would present teaching after teaching concerning Christ.  Jesus was his principal subject and his business was to make people acquainted with him, so that with knowledge they would be saved.  Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord God gave this challenge, “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Is. 1:18)  The prophet’s appeal to come and reason together shows God’s gracious invitation to all men.   When a person turns to Christ in faith, they are washed clean of sin.

Finally, we learn with the assistance of Human help (Acts 8:27-35) The story of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch is a good example of how God uses men in His program of salvation.  The Ethiopian was traveling home, after visiting Jerusalem.  Along the way he was reading the Bible, but he didn’t understand what he was reading.  God providentially placed Philip in the chariot with him to explain the scriptures and to present the gospel.  The Ethiopian believed and was baptized.  Here we see God’s formula for salvation.  The Holy Spirit uses a man of God and the Word of God to work the miracle of salvation in the heart of a sinner and create a child of God. 

So, we have seen that we come to understand Scripture through the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit, by examining it, through reasoning, and with the help of others. 

The last question that we asked was,

“How should the Scriptures be received?

Paul wrote, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col.3:16)  We must take instruction from it, and take comfort in it.  In other words let the Word of God be alive and effective in our lives.

Second we receive the Scriptures when we Search and study them daily Acts 17:11).  In writing about the Christians in Thessalonica, Mark said, “…they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”  Daily reading and studying God’s Word is an excellent habit.
 
Then, we are told to hide them in our hearts (Ps 119:11).  David wrote, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”  They provide a “reserve power” that can help us combat sin and temptation.  Furthermore, when we hide the scriptures in our hearts, God will bring them to our remembrance in our time of need.

In Psalms we are told to Delight in them (Ps. 1:2).  The Psalmist wrote, “…But his delight is in the law of the Lord.”  The godly man is pleased that there is a Bible, a revelation of God and of His will; because we love to think of the things we love.

Finally, we are told to teach them to our children (Deut. 11:19). Moses wrote, “You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” This means that you don’t just take your children to Church and Sunday school, but that you also teach them the Bible in the home as well.

Conclusion:

Through the Word of God we learn of our sinful nature and our need for salvation.  Because the Word of God is alive and powerful, it is used by the Spirit to probe relentlessly into our hearts.  The spiritual nourishment it provides brings about spiritual growth and releases within us a marvelous defense mechanism against sin. I hope that you will agree with me; that the Bible speaks well for itself.  It did a good job answering all the questions.  It’s another of the great gifts that God has given to His children. 

 

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