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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:Where The Bible's Coming From!
Text:BC 5 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2007-10-28
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 V

(Reading: Psalm 12; 2 Timothy 1:3-12)

 

Where The Bible’s Coming From!

 

 

Congregation in our Lord Jesus Christ...

 

     You might be thinking that Article V sounds a little like Article’s III and IV.

          There’s the reference to God’s inspiration of the Scriptures which is from the third Article.

              And there’s that word ‘canonical’ – the standard or rule for faith and life – which is from the fourth Article.

                  

     So why Article V?

          How come there’s this Article about the authority of Scripture?

 

     Well, while Article III is about how the Word of God was put into writing and Article IV sorted out what was written, Article V is telling us about where it comes from.

          This is about what underlies the Holy Scriptures itself.

              Moving from the way it was recorded, and the different parts in it, this is about God’s Word itself!

 

     Congregation, the Holy Bible is its own testimony.

          And it has to be the believer’s testimony!

              Nothing else and no one else will do!

 

     This was illustrated by a company which hired a consultant to improve efficiency.

          The consultant called a meeting of all shop personnel.

              Stressing the need to listen to experts, he said, “Imagine you’re on the Titanic, and it’s sinking.

     “You climb into a lifeboat.

          “Which direction would you row?”

 

     Then he asked, “What if you had the ship’s navigator with you?

          “Now which way would you go?

              “You’d row the way the navigator told you to, right?”

 

     There were murmurs of agreement from around the room.

          That was until one fellow in the back piped up, “Well I don’t know.

              “He’s already hit one iceberg!”

 

     Some of you here might say the same about consultants too!

          Because men get it wrong.

              And the cleverest of men can get it terribly wrong!

 

     But not when it’s God!

          He is always right.

              The Bible is its own testimony.

 

     In this way we come to the first aspect of Article V this afternoon.

          Here we see THE DIVINITY IN SCRIPTURE’S AUTHORITY.

 

     The word “canonical” is a key word here.

          As we have seen it means that we must regulate our lives according to Scripture.

              It’s Scripture which determines what we should or should not believe.

     Whatever you think must be tested up against the Holy Bible.

          It’s when you do this, as Romans 12 verse 2 says, that you’ll be able to do His will.

 

     You see, whenever your faith is not under the Word it becomes confused, it loses its power, and it becomes unfruitful.

          You know that of your own study of God’s Word.

              If you don’t keep it up every day you start to fall away.

 

     Your faith has to be based on Scripture.

          You can have no other proof than the Word.

              Don’t get into all those people who try to prove how true the Bible is by different evidence, arguments, and so on.

     The Bible Code is but one example of how people have tried to do this.

          But soon the world picks up on its mistakes.

              And it will trip us up too!

 

     Just as it could do with Ian Wishart’s latest book, The Divinity Code.

          There he draws together the latest scientific evidence to prove that God does exist.

 

     And that’s just the problem.

          It’s man’s own evidence.

 

     That’s why only Scripture can be the basis for your faith.

          The more you read it, rather than the books about it, the stronger your faith will be.

              In the words of 1st Peter 2 verse 2, we must, “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up on your salvation.”

 

     This is what we read in Psalm 12.

          Verse 6 there is quite clear the ultimate importance of God’s Word.

              It says, “the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.”

 

     John Calvin put this same thought in equally picturesque language.

          He said that if anyone should ask us how we know Scripture is divine we should tell them that it’s as easy to distinguish that fact as it is to distinguish light from darkness, white from back, and sweet from bitter (Inst.I.7.4).

 

     This is exactly how Article V ends.

          What could be more stronger than to say, “For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are being fulfilled?”

 

     Now, some may say that this misses altogether man’s sinfulness.

          How can anyone apart from the Spirit’s illumination actually confess that the Scripture are the very Word of God?

 

     But the Confession is speaking of how what the prophets foretold has been proven true.

          Regardless of their interpretation of those words they have come true nevertheless.

 

     You see, the more you study everything in the light of the Bible, the more you’re amazed at the uniqueness of this book.

          It beams the brightest light into the dark recesses of the heart.

              You see yourself for what you really are.

                   No wonder that Bible distribution is such an important task!

 

     Congregation, don’t forget THE DIVINITY IN SCRIPTURE’S AUTHORITY.

          Don’t believe anything else.

              This book is the only thing we know here below that’s perfectly true and right.

 

     Let me illustrate this.

          There was an experiment done with teenagers which showed how they handled peer pressure.

              Groups of 10 adolescents were brought into a room and were told to raise their hands when the teacher pointed to the longest line on three charts.

 

     Now, nine of the people had been told ahead of time to vote for the second-longest line.

          But one person in the group had not been told.

 

     The experiment began with nine teenagers voting for the wrong line.

          The tenth person would typically glance around, frowning in confusion.

              Then he’s slip his hand up with the group because he lacked the courage to challenge them.

 

     In 1st Kings 13 there’s an example of the same in the Bible.       

          In verses 1 till 6 there an unidentified man of God performed miraculous signs at the altar in Bethel.

              But, then, after this great victory, he took the word of another prophet to be the truth even though he knew it was against what God had told him.

                   Because of his disobedience he was killed by a lion.

 

     This story tells us that God’s Word is superior to anyone else’s word.

          The Scriptures must be obeyed.

              When you’re tempted to buckle under you have to stand firm.

 

     And so we flow naturally into the second aspect of Article V.

          For here we see THE HUMANITY UNDER SCRIPTURE’S AUTHORITY.

 

     While the key phrase for the first aspect is “holy and canonical” here it is the phrase “we receive.”

          As part of our confession of faith we declare that we accept Scripture as “holy and canonical.”

 

     Now, it is not because we have elevated Scripture.

          This is not about our interpreting and declaring it to be so.

              It is holy and canonical.

     We don’t need to make it so.

          And we couldn’t do that anyway, just as we cannot rob Scripture of its holiness.

             

     You see, we can only accept it for what it is.

          And that we can only do through faith.

 

     The Church did not make up the canon.

          It only found it.

              And it only came to find it because God brought us to it.

 

     You could spend a long time arguing why the Church accepted these certain books.

          But that would all be our reasoning.

              The authority of Scripture doesn’t allow us to mathematically prove it by outside evidence.

     Even pointing out the remarkable agreement between the different authors who lives over sixteen hundred years doesn’t do this.

          It’s a point worth noting.

              But it’s no binding proof.

 

     There are three wrong reasons people use in justifying the Scripture as the Word of God.

          These are that it’s the Church which decides; it’s the experience of the Spirit that counts; or it’s the Scriptures themselves which prove it.

 

     The Church of Rome definitely agrees with the first reason.

          They believe it’s the Church which decides.

              In fact, for them it is the only ground to accept Scripture as the Word of God.

                   They say that the Church existed first, before Scripture, and because the Church accepted Scripture as God’s Word, so we do too.

 

     This is where the clergy play a vital role for them.

          For Rome says that only the clergy, through the Spirit’s special gifts, can properly discern what God’s Word is.

              They would make the phrase “we receive” to mean “we declare, we point out.”

 

     This was quite contrary to the position of the Reformers.

          Scripture says that we cannot have any say over God’s Word.

              And it certainly doesn’t say that only a certain few are the only ones to properly explain God’s Word.

     That’s why Article V while recognising the place of the Church in God’s plan yet says that this cannot be a factor.

          Because then man would be over the Word.

 

     The next reason is that it’s the experience of the Holy Spirit itself, quite apart from Scripture.

          They say that since the life worked in us is also to be found in Scripture, we recognise it as the Word of God.

 

     So how do those believing this know they have had the experience?

          Because they go on and one about it!

              And don’t they make you feel so small for not having had it!

 

     How do they know?

          Why, it’s the congregation that decides.

              Again you have man over the Word.

    

     The third wrong reason is that we can ourselves can discern the Scriptures.

          This is the Arminian position.

              For they believe that we could accept something as the Word of God if what prophesied actually happened.

                  

     You can see this in those books which tie down biblical prophecy to literal events in our own day and age.

          The dawning of the second millennium brought out many such publications.

              But how much wasn’t it based on human understanding?

                   Again you have man over the Word.

 

     Now, Article V mentions that God’s Word carries the evidence in itself.

          But it does that only in connection with the one true reason to accept Scripture as God’s Word.

              And this has to be the witness of the Holy Spirit.

                   We confess that we receive Scripture as God’s word “especially because the Holy Spirit witnesses in our hearts that they are from God.”

    

     So while the testimony of the Church through the ages is helpful, and while the proof of what the Scriptures prophesying coming true is encouraging, they cannot be the basis on which Scripture is God’s Word.

          Only God Himself can make it so.

              And indeed it is God who always makes it so.

                   It becomes such to us, though, when the Holy Spirit moves us to see it as such.

 

     One commentator shows this when he raises the different reactions there are to when God’s Word are heard or read.

          Even though people may be from the same background and almost be socially and economically the same, some will respond in faith and many will not.

 

     It’s the same Word which is presented.

          So why the difference?

              It’s because some have been given the eyes to see God’s Word for what it really is.

                   And the others remain blinded.

 

     Wasn’t this exactly what Jesus said to Nicodemus when he came to him at night?

          In John 3 verse 5 He told him, “unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

 

     Dear friend, it’s only God’s personal assurance that gives you true peace.

          All the traditions and experiences and evidence of men come down exactly to that – it’s of man.

              They can and have failed.

     But God has never failed.

          And when it’s His own Word you have the utmost surety.

              Then there is no purgatory or constantly seeking experiences or buying the latest earth-shattering book!

 

     You stand on the Rock of all Ages Himself.

          And lonely though you might sometimes be in this world you have the Word and Spirit on your side!

 

     Three young men who say they are atheists decided to “sample” and report on several churches in their city.

          One of these men said, “There is something other than teaching that is appealing to people.

              “We didn’t see a lot of doctrine.

     “The appeal was mostly the community.

          “The content in most churches isn’t nearly as important as the packaging.”

             

     The three atheists came up with an explanation for why thousands of people in their area attend church each Sunday.

          They said that the attraction comes more from a person’s Christian identity than from what the religion teaches.

 

     The famous American preacher and writer A. W. Tozer would agree.

          Already fifty years ago he said, “Increasing numbers of Christians are becoming ashamed to be found unequivocally on the side of truth.

              “They say they believe, but their beliefs have been diluted as to be impossible of clear definition.”

 

     How different to what the Scriptures say!

          That is clear in what the apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy - his younger and somewhat timid colleague.

              He said to him in verse 12 of chapter 1 that he was not ashamed because he knew whom he had believed and he was convinced he is able to guard him.

                   He then exhorted Timothy to “hold fast” to the truth he had been taught.

 

     You must do that too dear believer.

          You have to hold tightly to the unfailing, God-breathed Bible.

              What you believe about God is more crucial that any feeling you get by being in church – or anywhere else for that matter!

                   Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray…

     O Fount of all wisdom, source of all knowledge…

          We bow in all humbleness before Your Greatness, Lord.

              For You have spoken and it was so.

                   Your Word alone is what stands forever.

     And through the Living Word, Your Son and our Saviour, we have come to confess this.

          It’s Your Spirit within who confirms these words to be absolutely true.

              Because we know nothing else will ever do.

     And so we look only to You.

          Through Christ our Lord, 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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