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November 25, 2018 Our Certain Foundation

Our Certain Foundation

 

Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12.

 

[I. Introduction] Why do so many Christians have trouble in their lives? Why do so many Christians struggle? Why are so many Christians reticent to share their faith or to defend the Bible? The answer to all these questions is the same. It is because many Christians do not know their Bibles, love their Bibles, nor can they prove that it is God’s word.

 

If we do know the Scriptures, love them, and are able to defend them, it does not mean that we will never have trouble or never struggle. We will. But, if we know and love the word of God then we will have less trouble and we will struggle less. This is because God’s word is both enlightening and powerful!

 

I wish to affirm three things this morning. These three truths are transformative.

 

  • We must know with certainty, and be able to communicate, that the Bible is the word of God.
  • We must love the Bible as the word of God.
  • We must live in the Bible.

 

[II.] We must know with certainty, and be able to communicate, that the Bible is the word of God.

 

In some Christian circles there is the idea that the Bible can be shown to be highly likely God’s word, but that we cannot know this with certainty. The first many years that I was a Christian I used this approach as well. This is the wrong approach. It is wrong because it was not the worldview of any of the biblical authors, nor of Jesus. The Bible’s own view of Scripture is that it can be and is known with certainty.

 

Consider how Luke begins his gospel:

 

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. [1]

 

The apostle did not think that the truths of Scripture were a probability. He thought they were a certainty! Indeed, they are!

 

How can we know the Bible is God’s word with certainty? There are two reasons how we can know.

 

[A.] We can know that the Bible is God’s word because without revelation from God we cannot know anything! “Wait a minute preacher! How can you say that we cannot know anything without revelation from God when there are many people who do not believe in the Bible yet they know things?” Listen carefully. I did not say that one has to believe in the Bible in order to know things. I said that there has to be a revelation from God in order for us to know things. In other words, the Bible has to be true in order for us to know anything at all.

 

The Bible being true and believing the Bible to be true are two different things.

 

Imagine if you will a conversation between two people. The first one says: “We have to breathe in air in order to continue living.” The second one says, “That can’t be true. I don’t believe there is such a thing as air and I’m living.” First person: “I didn’t say that you had to believe it. You simply must have air in order to live.”

 

Of course, it would be foolish for the second person to continue in his unbelief of air even while he is breathing it.

 

It is the same way with God’s word. We must have revelation from the Living God in order for us to not only know anything, but also for the laws of logic to be true, to have science (to know that the future will be like the past), and to have objective morality. And, it is equally foolish for a person to persist in their unbelief when claiming knowledge, the uniformity of nature, or objective morality.

 

How is this so?

 

Let us define our terms. What is knowledge? We all recognize that believing in something is not the same as knowing something. Obviously, a belief must be true in order for it to be considered genuine knowledge. But just the mere fact that a belief is true doesn’t mean that a person has knowledge of it. For example, suppose a person says, “I just know that the Blues are going to win tonight.” They play a game and they win. That person’s belief turned out to be true. But did they really know that the Blues were going to win? Obviously not.

 

What if there were a wall clock whose batteries were dead and so the clock always reads 11:55. Someone asks a person what time it is, he looks at the wall clock and replies that it is five ‘til noon. By coincidence, it happens to be 11:55. Did that person know that it was 11:55? Obviously not.

 

Besides a belief being true we must have a good reason for our beliefs. It is not possible to have knowledge of something without having a reason for it.

 

Another way of saying this is that we must have justification for the things that we believe, otherwise we cannot claim to know them. Therefore, we can have a good definition of knowledge:

 

Knowledge is justified, true belief.

 

Indeed, this is the standard definition of knowledge and it is quite sensible. Not only is it sensible, but no other definition makes sense.

 

Here is the proof that God is and the Bible is his word: Without the true (biblical) God we cannot know anything. Other worldviews, whether they be materialism (matter is all there is), Hinduism (everything is God), or any other false belief system, cannot account for human reasoning, the regularity of the world (the future will be like the past), or objective morality.

 

How do we know anything? As I have stated, it is because there is a good reason for believing something. Let’s say that we know something. We will call the thing that we know “A.” Let’s call the reason we know A as B. We know A because of B. Using a concrete example, I know that I was born on July 21, 1954. That is A. How do I know this? I have a birth certificate. The birth certificate is B. But then we have to ask, how do you know B? How do I know that the birth certificate is accurate? I have to have a reason for this belief, too. I might say that the birth certificate was signed by the attending physician. That would be reason C. I know A because of B. I know B because of C. How do I know that the attending physician got the date right? Could he have written down the wrong day or the wrong month or even the wrong year? I will give a reason why I think I trust the physician. That reason is D.

 

Do you see where this is going? In any case of claimed knowledge there are only two options. Either we have an infinite number of reasons or we have an ultimate starting point that we trust absolutely. If our chain of reasons never ends, or if it makes a circle, then we have no justification for what we believe and, therefore, no knowledge. On the other hand, if we have an ultimate starting point that is not the self-revealing God then we have no adequate justification. For example, most unbelievers have their own human reasoning as their ultimate base of knowledge. But, how do they know their reasoning is valid? Answer: They have to use their own reasoning to try and prove their reasoning is valid. But unless they know their reasoning is valid how can they be sure they are reasoning correctly? They cannot.

 

We need a foundational justification for our knowledge and only God is up to the task. God has told us certain truths and we can have confidence in what He speaks.

 

The way we have come to understand many of the things about our universe is through science. I love science. In science, we propose a hypothesis on why things happen the way they do. Then we set up experiments to test our hypothesis. Many times, likely most times, the experiments fail and we know that our hypothesis was wrong. We come up with a new hypothesis and run an experiment and we discover that the experiment confirms our hypothesis. So, others run the same and similar experiments and, if all get the same results, we believe that our hypothesis has been confirmed and we have come to an understanding on how some facet of our universe operates. From this knowledge we invent machines that do things for us. (Remember, we can have knowledge even if we do not believe in the true God. Just like the person who doesn’t believe in air can still breathe.)

 

However, science (and the ability to invent machines that help us) is only possible if the world has regularity, that is, if the future will be like the past. If physical objects did not behave in the same way when acted upon by the same forces then we would have no way to conduct experiments nor trust that the operations of the physical world will continue as they are.

 

It turns out that there is no way to justify that the future will be like the past if one does not have a revelation from God. But, God has said it will be, at least in certain respects.

 

22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” [2]

 

God has said that the behavior of the earth, including seasons and days, will stay the same.

 

More than this, the Bible teaches that God upholds all things by his power (Heb 1:3) and that he is both consistent (I Sam 15:29; Numbers 23:19) and omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-8). Therefore, the disciple can know that the future will be like the past in fundamental aspects. The holder of any other worldview, like materialism, has no justification for trusting in the regularity of the world. He does believe, of course, that the future will be like the past, but his belief is arbitrary. Therefore, it is not knowledge. Arbitrary beliefs cannot be considered as knowledge.

 

Without revelation from God there cannot be objective morality. Morality simply becomes either what the individual says it is or what a society says it is. In either case, morality becomes subjective. And, if it is subjective, no one is under any obligation to adhere to any set of rules; for, why should your set of rules be binding upon me? Whatever reason is given is the other person’s morality (or other society’s morality) and not yours!

 

We can know that the Bible is God’s word because without revelation from God we cannot know anything! Nor can we have objective morals. But, we do know things and we do have objective morals. Therefore, the Bible is proven to be true!

 

In addition to this proof, the Bible is self-authenticating. There is no higher authority (not mere evidence, not human reasoning, nor any combination of other authorities or lines of evidence) by which the word of God can be demonstrated to be His word. God’s word is authoritative in itself for the very reason it is God’s word. It will meet and pass any test given to it (e.g., contains no contradictions, fulfilled prophecy, factual in its statements, expresses the highest wisdom, etc.) but it is not subject to those tests. It merely comports with them because it is true.

 

[III.] We must love the Bible as the word of God. Whenever I meet someone who claims to be a Christian but they tell me that they do not read or study their Bibles, I begin to have serious doubts about their salvation. Indeed, they themselves should have doubts. You cannot love God without loving his children and loving his word.

 

Every true believer in the Bible loved God’s words. Consider these words of David, all from Psalm 119, a psalm that highly honors God’s word.

 

Oh how I love your law!

It is my meditation all the day. [3]

 

I will also speak of your testimonies before kings

and shall not be put to shame,

47 for I find my delight in your commandments,

which I love.

48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love,

and I will meditate on your statutes. [4]

 

Great peace have those who love your law;

nothing can make them stumble.

166 I hope for your salvation, O Lord,

and I do your commandments.

167 My soul keeps your testimonies;

I love them exceedingly. [5]

 

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! [6]

God’s thoughts were precious to David. Are they precious to you? Where are his thoughts found? Only in his revealed word!

The ministry known as Love Packages distributes Bibles and other Christian literature free of charge to third-world countries where the people cannot afford to purchase either. (Our church has supported Love Packages.) In their latest newsletter they tell how just a few weeks ago they delivered Bibles to a locality and, because the number of Bibles is so limited, their policy is to only give Bibles to pastors and church leaders. Even many pastors do not have a Bible! A lady came to them and asked for a Bible. They explained to her that the Bibles were only for pastors and church leaders. She waited around for a long time until all the church leaders received a Bible. It was late at night. There were only a very few left and they gave her one. She was so very grateful. She began to weep, saying that she had been waiting for a Bible for many, many years. She was so happy to finally receive one! She fell on her knees and began thanking God. The man that gave her one said goodbye and left. He was scheduled to return again to the same distribution location the next morning. When he arrived the next morning he found that same woman still thanking God in the same spot! She loved the word of God so much that she thanked the Lord all night long! Do you love God’s word like this?

 

A failure to love truth is a cause of not believing in the gospel. A failure to love the truth will cause one to perish.

 

with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. [7]

 

This verse speaks of the unbeliever perishing, but Christians can experience very negative circumstances when they fail to love the truth, too. God’s word is truth (Jn 17:17). We must love God’s word.

 

The Lord Jesus loved the Father’s words. He was filled with them. He had them memorized and would quote them often throughout his ministry. And, he did not keep them to himself but passed them on.

 

For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. [8]

 

We must love the Bible as the word of God as Jesus did.

 

[IV.] We must live in the Bible. I am not saying that we must live the Bible, that is, live by all its commands and examples. This ought to be our goal. But we will find that we fail in that. I am saying that we should live in the Bible. In other words, we should be a person that spends much of their time in the Holy Scriptures.

 

Is not this the most natural course of action if we have been born again and if we are certain that it is, indeed, God’s words to us? Yes!

 

Reading again our passage:

 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. [9]

 

Since Scripture is breathed out by God, it is profitable to us for teaching. Do you know everything about God and his will? No. Thus, you need to be taught. Read the Scriptures, study the Scriptures, so that you may learn.

It is profitable – good for us – for the purpose of reproof. Reproof is another word for rebuke. Reproof is a kind of condemnation. Do you know what? We need to be condemned if we are in sin! The Scriptures do that. It is much better to be get convicted by simply reading the Bible on your own rather than by a brother or sister or church leader. When someone else points out our moral failures we tend to resist, unless we have exceptional wisdom (Proverbs 9:8). When it comes directly from God, in his word, it is easier to take!

 

We need correction. This means a milder form of rebuke. We need training because we are not used to living righteously. All these reasons are why we should spend much time in his word. The more we do, the more we are enabled to change.

 

We need to live according to our human spirit where Christ has come to dwell. We need to cease living according to our natural thoughts and inclination – according to our soul. The Scriptures are what help us to divide our soul and spirit.

 

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, [10]

 

[V. Conclusion and Application] Why do you have so much trouble in your life? Why are you struggling so much to live the life that God has called you to live? For many, the answer is not living in God’s word. We should begin every day in his word. We must use our time away from our jobs, not in entertainment, but in His word.

 

  • We must know with certainty, and be able to communicate, that the Bible is the word of God.[11]
  • We must love the Bible as the word of God.
  • We must live in the Bible.

 

If we will do these three things, we will be prepared for the greatest day of our lives – the day we stand before the Lord to answer for the way we have lived.

 

Do not let this message just be something you hear (or read) and do nothing about. Commit yourself this very day to set aside one hour every day to read and meditate upon his word. Not only commit, but commit to a specific time.

 

May God’s grace be with you in this matter.

 

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 1:1–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 8:22). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:97). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:46–48). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:165–167). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 139:17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Th 2:10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 17:8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Ti 3:16–17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Heb 4:12). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[11] For more detail on proving the Bible is the word of God see http://nsbcwinfield.com/july_31_2016_how_we_can_know_the_bible_is_gods_word