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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:God's All Sufficient Lamp
Text:BC 7 Psalm 119:105-112 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:All of scripture points to Jesus Christ
 
Preached:2019
Added:2021-06-28
Updated:2021-07-04
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

(Song selections from the blue Psalter unless otherwise noted):
 
412 - I Love to Tell the Story
155:1-4, 7 - Now to God, Our Strength and Savior
237 - How Shall the Young Direct Their Way?  
229 (Red) - O Word of God Incarnate  
Scripture:  Psalm 119:105-112; Belgic Confession Article VII
 
 
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


“God’s All Sufficient Lamp”
Psalm 119:105-112; Belgic Confession VII
 
Before getting a phone that has the Bible on it, I carried a small Bible in my shirt pocket. Quite often, when I was in someone’s home and pulled out my pocket Bible to read a passage and have prayer before leaving, the person whom I was visiting would say, “Do you have enough light?”
 
We have all experienced difficulty reading fine print without sufficient light. That is why three-way bulbs are popular in many homes. You have the low, medium and high setting to give sufficient light.
 
God’s Word is also described as a light and as a lamp. Psalm 119:105 is a well-known verse: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  As we look at that verse this evening, through the seventh article of the Belgic Confession, we see that the light of God’s Word is always sufficient.  You don’t need to add an extra light. The lamp of God’s Word is more than sufficient, which is why theologians speak of “The Sufficiency of Scripture.” 
 
That is also why we don’t look for new revelation from God, whether it is in the so called “hidden books” of the Apocrypha or whether it is in the dreams, visions, and interpretation of tongues in the Pentecostal movement. The reason we don’t look for added revelation is because God’s Word is complete and sufficient in itself, just as it is.
 
All We Need to Know Concerning Salvation
 
The Belgic Confession, following Scripture, points out that the Bible is sufficient, first of all, to teach us all we need to know concerning salvation. Article 7 begins by stating: “We believe that this Holy Scripture fully contains the will of God and that all that man must believe in order to be saved is sufficiently taught therein.”
 
Everything we need to know about our salvation is in Scripture: For instance, Scripture reveals our sin by use of the law. As Romans 3:20 points out, “by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
 
And as the Bible pinpoints our sin it also reveals the only means of salvation, Jesus Christ. Romans 3:21-22: “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe…”
   
However, what we need to know regarding salvation isn’t limited to the New Testament.  If all we had were the Old Testament books of the Bible, that too, would be sufficient for salvation. Jesus taught that the Old Testament was about Him. He taught that truth not only in the classic passage from Luke 24, when He was on the road to Emmaus with His disciples. But also earlier, in John 5:39 Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me...”
 
In Matthew 21:42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”  He was quoting from Psalm 118 and pointing out that the Psalm was speaking directly about Him.
 
Likewise, when Jesus was arrested, after assuring His disciples that He could call twelve legions of angels to rescue Him, Jesus said, “But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matt. 26:54). You see, the Scriptures are sufficient for salvation because the Scriptures in both the Old Testament and the New point us to the only Savior, Jesus Christ. 
 
Furthermore, the Scriptures, and the preaching of Scripture, is God’s means of instilling faith and building up our faith. As Romans 4:17 puts it: “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
 
While there are many passages which clearly reveal the sufficiency of the Old Testament Scriptures to teach us what we need to know to be saved, perhaps nowhere do we see it more clearly than in Luke 16. In Luke 16 Jesus describes the eternal destiny of a rich man who did not have saving faith, and the eternal destiny of a poor but godly man named Lazarus – (not the Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead).
               
In that passage Jesus describes how both men died. The rich man found himself in the anguish of hell; the poor man who had saving faith found that by God’s grace he was with Abraham in the glory of heaven. And perhaps you remember that as the passage closes, and the rich man has grasped the truth that heaven and hell are real and permanent destinies, he agonized for his brothers who were still alive. He pleaded, “‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’  But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them’” (Luke 16:27-29).
 
And then, in Luke 16:30-31, he said, “‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
 
Do you see why there is no reason to add to the Scriptures? Do you see why the Scriptures – the Old Testament as well as the New Testament – are sufficient in themselves?  Many people try to add human logic to the Scriptures to encourage others to believe, to somehow make the Bible more effective. But God says, in effect: “My word is sufficient. It speaks of My Son. My Spirit works through the Word. “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
 
Scriptural Teaching on How to Worship
 
Secondly, the Scriptures teach us how we are to worship the Lord. The Belgic Confession points out: “...Since the whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in it at large it is unlawful for anyone....to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures...”  God requires that we worship Him, and that we do so, in Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman, “in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
 
The Belgic Confession, as it guided the church of its day in the 1500’s to reform itself to the Scriptures, decried the Roman Church with her additions to worship. For instance, we understand from Scripture that in our public worship of God there are but two sacraments, the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. The Roman Church adds five more sacraments, for a total of seven sacraments.
 
The public worship services of the Roman Church of the 1500’s had many other additions to it. Whatever seemed wise by human standards was added to the public worship of the Lord. But the author of the Belgic Confession, Guido de Bres, and the other Reformers, pointed out that Scripture is sufficient to teach us how to worship, and that we are not to worship in any other way than taught in Scripture.
 
Consider John Calvin’s words on how our worship services should be planned. He wrote: “We hold that it is not for us to invent what seems good, or to follow what may have been devised in the brains of the men, but to confine ourselves simply to the purity of Scripture.” (Selected Works of John Calvin: Tracts, Part 2, pg. 147).
 
This teaching of the Reformation, that God’s Word is sufficient to instruct us how to worship, and that we worship in no other way than God has commanded us to worship, came to be called “The Regulative Principle of Worship.”  Our worship in this church is regulated by the Scriptures. We don’t need to add any human wisdom as to how we worship, for the Scripture is sufficient.
 
Virtually all the documents that were written by the Reformers stress the regulative principle of worship. For instance, the Heidelberg Catechism, written in 1563, follows Scripture in teaching that we are to only worship in ways that He has taught in His Word:
 
Q & A 96 – “What is God's will for us in the second commandment?”
“That we in no way make any image of God nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His Word.”
 
Q & A 97 – “May we then not make any image at all?”
“God cannot and may not be visibly portrayed in any way. Although creatures may be portrayed, yet God forbids making or having such images if one's intention is to worship them or to serve God through them.”
 
Q & A 98 – “But may not images be permitted in the churches as teaching aids for the unlearned?”
“No, we shouldn't try to be wiser than God. He wants His people instructed by the living preaching of his Word— not by idols that cannot even talk.”
 
Likewise, the Westminster Confession teaches in Article 1:6 that “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men…”
 
And yet even though the Confessions, Catechisms, and writings of the Reformers were written hundreds of years ago, they are amazingly applicable to churches today. In his book entitled, With Heart and Mouth, an Exposition of the Belgic Confession, Daniel Hyde writes:
 
Because of man-made inventions in worship, no matter how good the intention, Protestant worship today has more in common with Rome than with historic Protestantism.” ... For example, where do Scriptures tell us to pray the Sinner’s Prayer to receive salvation? The theology of free will, whether in its full blown Arminian or evangelical versions, led to a practice of revivalism and alter calls... (pp. 105, 106).
 
Another example: “Where is the church of Jesus Christ commanded by Christ or His apostles to use visual, tangible elements in worship, whether in the form of drama in mega-churches or multimedia presentations in so called post-modern, emerging churches?” He adds: “Many Reformed Christians insist upon extra-scriptural traditions such as displaying crosses for the Good Friday service, lighting Advent candles, and even praying in King James English only. Do not be fooled. Even these seemingly sincere practices can become idols.”  (pp. 105, 108).
 
The reason we only worship in ways that God commanded isn’t just because of the teaching of a Confession, catechisms, or writings of a Reformed theologian. We only worship in the ways that the Lord has commanded because of the clear teaching of Scripture itself. Consider:
 
Deuteronomy 4:2 – “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.”
 
Deuteronomy 5:32 – “So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.”
 
Deuteronomy 12:32 – “See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.”
 
You see, Scripture truly is sufficient to tell us how to regulate our worship – not with human ideas of what we think would be wise or meaningful – but with faithfulness to God’s instruction book, the Holy Bible.   
 
No Other Writing Equal to Scripture
 
A third area where the Scriptures are God’s all-sufficient lamp is that they teach us what we need to know without relying on the teaching or traditions of human writers.  Article 7 points out: “We may not consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with the divine Scriptures...”
 
I quoted earlier from John Calvin.  He was a gifted theologian whom the Lord used mightily in the Reformation of the Church. His commentaries on the Bible are still widely read today, as is his classic work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. But his writings, valuable as they are, are still not of equal value with the Bible.
 
Back in my seminary days, one of our professors distributed a photocopied page from a commentary.  I don’t recall which New Testament passage was being commented on, but it was a passage we had been studying in Greek class. Anyone taking notes and applying themselves to the material had a clear grasp of what that particular passage meant.
 
After passing out this photocopied sheet, our professor asked us what we thought of the commentator’s understanding of the passage we had studied. Did we agree with his views? Was the commentator solid?  Biblically accurate?
 
Our professor gave us a few minutes to read and mull over the photocopied page, and we all agreed that whoever wrote that commentary was way out in left field. The commentator had not come to the conclusions we had received from the text.  And we had previously consulted many other solid commentators who would strongly disagree with what this man had written about that particular text.
  
“Who do you think wrote that commentary?” our professor asked. We wondered who could be that far off base. We had no idea. And we were all shocked, when the professor said, “That commentary was written by John Calvin. It is part of his commentary on the Bible.” 
 
Our professor went on to affirm that Calvin was a gifted theologian whose writings have been of great value to Christians over the centuries and continue to be. But the professor pointed out that Calvin, for all his gifts, was still a fallen human being whose logic and writing was prone to error, just as yours is and just as mine is. That is why we always need to be Bereans. Acts 17:11 describes how the Bereans received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
 
The Bible is always the best commentary on itself. Scripture illuminates Scripture. In that way, God’s Word is sufficient in itself.  It is the ultimate source of truth.  It is the only infallible rule for faith and conduct. Only the Word of God is flawless. All other human writers, even though they may be godly, wise and influential, are fallible. And that includes every pastor and every theologian.
 
Psalm 12:6 declares “...The words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.”  Psalm 18:30 echoes the same truth, and Proverbs 30:5 adds: “Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” There is no other writing even close to the inspired writing of the Word of God.
    
The Necessity of Saving Faith in Christ Alone
 
And that leads us to our application: While Scripture is an all-sufficient lamp illuminating the path of salvation, and teaching us how to worship, it is only effectual for salvation when we believe it. Toward the end of John’s gospel, he writes, in John 20:31, “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.”
 
Consider that the Pharisees knew the Scriptures. It is not as though they were ignorant of God’s Word. But the knowledge in their heads never sank into their hearts. And the same is true today. Some of the most critical opponents of Christianity know the Scriptures thoroughly. The devil himself knows the Scriptures far better than you or I know them.
 
But the very Scriptures that many unbelievers – and the devil himself – know so well, will condemn them on the last day. In John 12:48 Jesus says, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not accept My words; that very Word which I spoke will condemn him on the last day.”
 
God’s Word never returns void. It always accomplishes the purpose for which it is sent (Isa. 55:11). But the Scriptures only become effectual for salvation when, by God’s grace and Holy Spirit’s convicting power, we take them to heart, believing them and striving to obey them.
 
That is what the Psalmist did. In Psalm 119:106 he wrote: I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow Your righteous laws.” And in verse 111 we read: Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.” And verse 112 concludes, “My heart is set on keeping Your decrees to the very end.”
 
May that also be your response and mine! May you and I have true saving faith in the Christ revealed in Scripture, Old Testament and New. And as you and I see the sufficiency of Scripture in every area of our lives, may we strive to study the Bible more thoroughly, to mediate and memorize key portions, living the truths of Scripture out in our lives, exclaiming with the Psalmist “My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.” Amen!
 
 
Bulletin outline:
 
              “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
                                                                              Psalm 119:105
 
                              “God’s All Sufficient Lamp”
                   Psalm 119:105-112; Belgic Confession VII
 
I.  God’s Word is an all-sufficient lamp for our feet and light for our
     path (105). The Belgic Confession, following Scripture, points out:
     1) The Bible is sufficient to teach us all we need to know concerning
          Christ and our salvation (John 5:39; Luke 16:27-31)
 
 
 
 
 
 
      2) The Bible is sufficient to teach us how we are to worship
           (Deuteronomy 4:2, 5:32, 12:32; John 4:24)
 
 
 
 
 
 
      3) The Bible alone is flawless, no other writings, even by godly
           and gifted writers, are equal (Psalm 12:6, 18:30; Prov. 30:5)
 
 
 
 
 
 
II. Application: While Scripture is an all-sufficient lamp illuminating
     what we are to believe and how we are to live, it is only effectual
     for salvation when we believe it and obey it (Psalm 119:106, 111,
     112; John 20:31)
 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2019, Rev. Ted Gray

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