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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:God Puts It In Writing!
Text:BC 3 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2007-10-14
Added:2009-04-30
Updated:2009-05-21
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


BELGIC CONFESSION OF FAITH III

(Reading: Psalm 119:89-112)

 

God Puts It In Writing!

 

 

Congregation in our Lord Jesus Christ...

 

     There are many Christians who would identify with the first part of Article III.

          They know people who have been spoken to by God.

              In fact, they have that experience often themselves!

     You see, these Christians will tell you, in all seriousness, what the Lord has told them to do.

          Perhaps they’ll share how that happened by a dream or vision they had.

              Or maybe He just spoke to them while they were on the motorway!

 

     When these believers read or hear about the way God spoke to His people through certain prophets or priests or leaders in the Old Testament they believe it’s exactly the same today.

          No doubt about it!

              They have the kind of relationship that is really close to the Lord, so of course they’re on speaking terms!

                   Isn’t that how you relate to those closest to you?

 

      They seem to have a point, don’t they?

          God spoke to His people then – why not now?

 

     It’s one of those things, however, that upon closer examination doesn’t hold up.

          For when you look at the particular circumstances God spoke to his people in the past, and who He spoke to, it’s quite different than what they say.

 

     You also find that out when you ask them just how God did speak to them.

          Was it by one of the ways He did in the past?

              And what did He exactly say to them?

 

     This latter question will often give you an answer which is at odds with what God has said elsewhere.

          They could even be saying things which are completely unbiblical!

             

     What we will consider this afternoon is exactly how God did speak to His people in the past and who He spoke to.

          Then we’ll see how the Holy Spirit recorded some of those words for the ongoing guidance of His people.

              That’s where we will learn that those writings are how He speaks to us today.

     This is because the final word of revelation has been spoken in none other than the Living Word, Jesus Christ – His Son.

          He doesn’t speak directly in any other way now.

 

     We turn, then, to the first aspect in connection with Article III.

          This is where we see GOD SPOKE TO CERTAIN MEN.

 

     Congregation, here we need to note the tense to the first part of the Article.

          This is not about God speaking to men as though this is an ongoing activity.

              It’s in the past tense – God spoke.

 

     When we open up the scriptures we see how God did this then.

          Especially in the Old Testament it’s clear that God was speaking to men in a direct and immediate way.

              They received His inspired Word.

     Mind you, that word came in a number of different ways.

          Hebrews 1 verse 1 says, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.”

    

     It’s a list which is quite extensive.

          Because there was the direct address.

              In Genesis 1 verse 28 we hear God speaking to man after he’s been created.

                   He is told to go forth and multiply and subdue the earth.

 

     There is also an inner voice.

          Numbers 24 tells us of how God does that through the oracles of Balaam.

 

     There are visions.

          In fact, isn’t most of the book of Revelation a series of visions given to the apostle John?

              Revelation 1 verse 10 describes the beginning of that when John says that on the Lord’s Day he was in the Spirit.

 

     There are dreams.

          Who could forget how much one of these impacted Jacob in Genesis 28?

              In verse 12 there we read of the stairway to heaven, with all those angels coming down and going up it.

 

     There are miracles.

          God used the power to do miracles He gave to Moses in Exodus 4 as His Word to the people.

              As the Lord says in verse 5 there, “This is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob – has appeared to you.”

 

     There was the ‘lot’.

          Now here we start to get into an area of guidance about which everything is not clearly know.

              From what we understand it was like a dice which you threw as you sought God’s guidance.

                   It was by how it landed that God indicated His will.

 

     Proverbs 16 verse 33 tells us this.

          And in 1st Samuel 14 we see where it is used to find out that Jonathan was the one who broke Saul’s command not to eat anything during the battle.

              Not that he knew about his father’s command!

 

     Then there is the even more mysterious Urim and Thummim.

          Exodus 28 verse 30 describes this as something on Aaron’s breastplate which was a means of making decisions for the Israelites.

 

     What we know about this seems to tell us that it was one or more coloured precious stones.

          When the leader or king would need advice from the Lord he would go to the High Priest and ask the Lord through him.

              What we generally understand is that in response to his question one of the coloured stones would light up to indicate the answer the Lord was giving.

 

     Congregation, these were all ways the Lord has used to declare His Word to His people.

          As 2nd Peter 1 verse 21 says, “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

 

     So it had nothing to do with man’s search for God.

          It is all God’s revelation to man.

              He chose certain men whom He prepared, called, and gave a message.

                   They were uniquely the Lord’s spokesmen proclaiming His Word.

 

     The covenant community recognised them this way.

          And in the fullness of time the Lord Jesus Christ ratified their message though His doing, dying, and rising.

 

     Now, not all that God spoke to His people in these different ways, and through all those different people, is in the Bible.

          There was a further work of the Holy Spirit which inscripturated God’s Word.

              In the word of the second aspect to Article III, THE HOLY SPIRIT WROTE THESE WORDS.

 

     It’s important to note, that, while not all the revelation God ever spoke is in the Bible, a lot of it is!

          This is a huge book!

              A book that covers a period of over 1500 years and which involves many men in different places.

                   It goes right from Moses leading the exodus of God’s people out of Egypt through to the apostle John who wrote Revelation while in exile on the isle of Patmos.

         

     And yet what a remarkable unity!

          In who it comes from, what it says, and why it was said, there is no doubt that this is God’s holy and divine Word.

 

     This is what the Confession of Faith calls the “special care which He has for us and our salvation.”

          Because that’s why the Holy Spirit put it altogether in the Scriptures.

             

     This is the theme the apostle John noted in chapter 20, the verses 30 and 31 of his gospel.

          As he says there, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.

              “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

 

     So God’s Spirit used certain men to write down these words.

          He did that in a way which made full use of their personality, talents and situations.

 

     This is what is known as ‘organic inspiration.’

          As we heard from 2nd Peter chapter 1, these men were carried along by the Holy Spirit so that they wrote the exact words of God without error.

              Yet it is done through who they are.

 

     There are, however, other explanations people have given for the origin of the Bible.

          Some believe in a ‘mechanical inspiration.’

              They say the writers were only robots doing what they were programmed to do.

     Of course that doesn’t tie in with the clear differences of style there is in Scripture.

          You can tell Luke was a doctor from the words he uses.

              And you realise how much John is affected by the Jewish religious background of his time.

 

     Then the opposite to that view is what is called ‘dynamic inspiration.’

          This is a perspective which comes from not believing in the Spirit’s inspiration of Scripture.

              So they believe the Bible can only be an eclectic mix of different writers cobbled together.

                   They say the Bible is human – not divine.

 

     Throughout church history you will find one or the other of these views failing to do justice to God’s Word.

          But you’ll always find the true view – the ‘organic inspiration’ coming through.

              As it indeed will do wherever God’s Word is treated as what it truly is.

 

     P.Y. de Jong says it well.

          He writes, “In the word of inspiration God took the first step.

              He Himself wrote with his own finger the two tables of the law.

      “This was done to impress Israel of the divine origin and authority of the message which Moses brought.

          “Those who wrote infallibly during the long centuries from Moses to John the apostle were walking along the road which God by his example marked out.

              “Let those who deny that in the Bible we have the very words of God in human language remember that they reject what God so clearly says about himself.”

 

     He then quotes Deuteronomy 9 verse 10.

          Moses says there, “The LORD gave me two stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God.

              “On them were all the commandments the LORD proclaimed to you on the mountain out of the fire, on the day of the assembly.”

 

     THE HOLY SPIRIT WROTE THESE WORDS.

          And He has also preserved them through the years.

              While so many other ancient writings have been partially and even completely lost, God’s Word is all here before us today!

     The promise the Lord gave in Isaiah 40 verse 8 has been kept.

          As the prophet declared from God there, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”

 

     In this way we also come to our third aspect.

          For we today in this place are among those who have come to realise THOSE WRITINGS SPEAK TO US.

 

     It’s here that we can answer those Christians who say that the Lord does speak to them directly today.

          For what they’re really talking about isn’t telling us to make our Bibles loose-leaf folders.

              They aren’t really saying we have to leave room for what God’s going to say through them.

                   They have confused ‘inspiration’ with ‘illumination.’

 

     You see, we have no problem saying that God leads us today.

          That’s what happens because of the Spirit applying the Word to us.

              But it cannot be a new word.

     There are no added prophecies being said today from the Lord.

          There is no special gifting whereby God is still speaking that way.

 

     In fact, every time you hear or read those who are allegedly doing this you soon see it’s not real.

          They use a lot of repetition and mumble-jumble and some quite strange concepts.

              It’s nothing new – and so often it’s nothing scriptural either!

                   I mean, where do you read of the fillings in your teeth turning to gold if you have enough faith?

 

     We heard earlier from Hebrews 1 verse 1.

          That spoke of how in the past God spoke through the prophets at many times and in various ways.

              And then verse 2 goes on, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.”

 

     The Word was definitively spoken by the Living Word.

          In Himself He fulfilled all that the prophets of old foretold.

             

     The Lord Jesus alludes to this in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.

          You might remember that story in Luke 16.

              A rich man had a beggar called Lazarus at his gate.

     There couldn’t be a more complete contrast in their earthly circumstances.

          And when they died there was quite the opposite difference with where they ended up.

              Because the rich man ended up in hell and the poor man in heaven.

             

     The rich man pleaded for relief from Abraham in heaven, but he couldn’t be given it.

          Then he pleaded for relief for his brothers before they too came to an end like his.

              He asked that Lazarus might go back and warn them.

         

     This is what Abraham said in the verses 29 till 31 there, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.”

          “No, father Abraham,” he said, “but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.”

              He said to him, “If they don’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

 

     Congregation, no new special revelation today can change anything.

          All has been said and done.

              There is more than enough in the Bible to confront people with God’s Word.

     That’s why we have to respect it.

          It holds the very words of life itself!

              If they don’t listen they will surely die!

 

     A famous actress was once asked which object she valued the most.

          “I have a letter from my daddy,” she replied, “the only letter that I managed not to lose as a child.”

              “If anyone ever took that away from me, I would just be destroyed.

                   “It doesn’t mean anything to anybody else, yet I read that letter ten times a day, and it moves me in a different way every time.”

 

     Dear friend, the Bible is even more precious.

          It is the priceless love letter from the heavenly Father to His children.

              That’s the way to view the Bible.

     It’s not only a unique ancient book with historical and religious values.

          It’s a personal letter from your heavenly Father – the only such letter in existence!

 

     Are you reading it every day?

          And every time you read it does it move you a different way?

 

     If you’re having trouble in this spend a week with Psalm 119.

          Get into the mind and heart of David as he praises God for His Word.

              Then you’ll find, in the words of verse 101, that it keeps you from the wrong way.

     But most of all you will find, in the words of verse 103 there, it is sweeter than honey itself!

          Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray…

     O God of the covenant, together with David we declare that Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our paths.

          Without it we really are in the dark.

              And yet seeing it for what it truly is we are guided the most blessed way.

     Do so point us to Your Son and our Saviour.

          May Jesus be the Living Word to each of us.

              In His Name we pray, Amen.

 

 

           

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2007, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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