Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P1 (02-08-21)
How do you form convictions? Do you know what truth is? How do you know what is true and what is not true? What if I found out my convictions were based on a lie? Do you get truth by what some man says is true? But he could be lying to you. How would you know? Where would you look for something as important as the meaning and purpose of life, for answers to the nagging questions you might have? “What is wrong with me?”, “Why am I not experiencing the joy of salvation?”, or “Why do I feel empty inside?”
How many of you have heard, “What is true for you is not true for me.” as if truth is relative, and as if no one can know the truth. Is that true? No. If we know Jesus is God, and in the last series of studies, we showed overwhelming evidence to come to the conclusion that He is God, then if Jesus is our Creator, and He is, then would you not want to find out what He has to say? He certainly knows how our mind is supposed to function and how we are supposed to live, since He created us. What words are written down for us of the things He said and did? Who is He that I may believe in Him?
God left us a book, comprising both an Old Covenant and a New Covenant. Jesus quoted from the Old Covenant scrolls and told us that He came to fulfill all that was written concerning Him. There was a plan unfolding since the time mankind was created, as we read about in Genesis, where Adam sinned in the garden of Eden, bringing on what is called spiritual death to the entire human race. God sent Jesus into this world to redeem fallen man.
The scriptures we hold in our hands is the very Word of God. Jesus Himself said He is the living Word. In the book of John we read that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life. So when you read God’s Word, the sixty six books of the Bible we know today, you get to know the author, God Himself. That book is the plumbline for truth, that tells us how man is to live, by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
So follow along with the transcript, listen to the audio, and study along in the workbook, A Closer Look at the Word of God, so you can get answers to the important questions you have so you may experience the abundant life God had promised. God wants you and me to experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. He wants us to know God intimately so we can have this peace that surpasses understanding. He wants to restore us to true humanity, the Spirit of God alive living in us. He wants us to experience what is called a Sabbath rest.
This is an exciting time in the history of the ministry because it really is the first time that I ever had an opportunity to teach through in detail the subject of what we are talking about today. Can we rely on the study of the Word of God we hold in our hands?
The reason for this study is so you and I can come to a conviction in regard to the fact that this Word of God is exactly what it claims to be, the Word of God, and therefore, can be relied upon as the Word of God in our day to day life.
I heard Charles Swindoll talking about a president of a seminary who said, “I am afraid we are producing far too many men with far too much knowledge and not enough conviction”. That is many times true. We have knowledge but we do not have conviction. Conviction comes to putting the therfore’s to your information. You can have false information and have conviction concerning it. There is no question about it, that Hitler had convictions, but it was convictions around, obviously, false information.
We were made to have conviction. We walk with conviction. It leads our life. But it depends on what our convictions are in, who they are in. Is it truth in what man says or is it conviction based upon what God says? But we are going to base convictions upon something. They just do not come. We are just not born with a whole bunch of conviction. Convictions come from the input that comes into us either from the world or from the Word. Those are the two areas of input into the human mind, the word or the world; the world being people, places and things and the Word of God concerning Christ Jesus and His revealed Word to us.
God did not just sit in heaven and write a book. He came to this earth in the person of Jesus Christ and demonstrated what perfect love is, demonstrated what God’s standard is, incidentally, not the law, but Christ. Prior to Christ that was the standard. But when you match up the law up against Jesus, which do you think is the strongest standard? Adn the standard of righteousness was given in Christ Jesus our Lord. That is why the whole bible is about Jesus.
Now, therefore, as we begin this study, there are reasons that we are doing this study. First of all, it is vitally important to each and every one of us. But in this world we are in, and especially in the Christian world, input that is coming in from the world into the Christian community, we do not know what the Word says. We do not have confidence in it. We do not have convictions toward it, and therefore, we are as the scriptures says are being tossed to and fro by every wave of doctrine.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
I am not talking merely about spiritual doctrine. I am not talking merely about what the New Testament says and what the Old Testament says. I am talking about the doctrines of man that are also coming into the Christian community. I wish all we had to deal with was what was written in the Word of God, and coming to decisions and determinations and convictions about what it is really saying. I wish that is all we had to deal with.
1 Corinthians 1:18-21
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[Isaiah 29:14]
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
We are not only dealing with that, but we are also dealing with every idea and philosophy and psychology that has permeated in the Christian community. I cannot stop that. I can talk about it but I cannot stop that. But I can insulate my own mind and hopefully bring truth to you, our listeners, so that you too can be insulated, not isolated from, but insulated from the heresies that are coming into the Christian community that gets people’s minds off of the truth of the Word of God and onto some man’s idea. That is foolishness to God.
1 Corinthians 3:19
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”
Now, folks, if it were not important, it would not be in scripture. If it were not important, I certainly would not be wanting to teach it, not just for the sake of doctrinal issues but for the sake of my own life. Unless we have a plumb line, how are we going to match whether something is true or whether it is error?
17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
If any of you ladies hung wallpaper. If you did, I hope you did not do it with your husband. If you did, you would probably be divorced now (laughter). If any man has tried to build a house without a plumbline, you are going to have the funniest looking walls and house you have ever seen in your life. There is absolutely nothing to gauge whether that board is straight, whether that piece of wallpaper is straight on the wall or not. You cannot eyeball it accurately.
So this is the plumbline we are going to be talking about. Is this Word you hold in your hands true? Can you rely upon it? Can you absolutely depend upon it? Because if you cannot, then you need to throw it away because it is merely just another philosophical book with just another idea of another man, and it is just an opinion. But if the Word of God was given to us by God Himself, it ceases to be an opinion. It is truth. That truth will set you free.
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The question that Pontius Pilate asked Jesus is a marvelous question. What is truth?
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.
Had he had been around, he would have heard Jesus answer that question. Jesus said, “I am the truth”. He would have heard Him say, “If you know the truth, it will set you free“ and “when Son, who is truth, has set you free, you shall be free indeed.”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
So, we are embarking upon a very exciting and important subject. Unfortunately, many times, it is a teaching that kind of gets shoved to the background because it is more exciting to teach about law and grace, forgiveness, resurrected life and gifts. In so doing, we weaken the foundation that we are to stand on. So I, quite frankly, believe that this study, over the next number of weeks, will be one of the most important ones we have ever done in the history of our ministry. I cannot encourage you enough to get one of our study guides. If you haven’t, do so. It is worth the investment and your time. Please do not go through this study without studying through this workbook.
Turn to A Closer Look at the Word of God.
First of all, we need to take a look at what Christ claimed about His own Word. No book can equal the Bible’s impact upon individuals and nations. The Bible has been printed, read, translated, revered and attacked more than any other writing on the face of this earth.
The Bible was written over an immense time span (16 to 17 centuries) by forty-plus different authors from all walks of life, including those of political leadership, fishermen, herdsmen, generals, kings, doctors and tax collectors. This book was written on three continents, in three languages, during times of war and peace. The writers wrote out of moods of joy and despair. Yet, they deal harmoniously with scores of controversial subjects, always resulting in one unfolding story – God’s redemption of man. These facts should be sufficient to persuade any thinking man, who honestly seeks truth, to carefully examine this unique, life-changing book.
Our primary reason for placing ourselves under scriptural authority is not the Bible’s uniqueness, accuracy, or even its power to change lives. Nor is it because the church universally has accepted the Bible’s divine inspiration and authority for more than eighteen hundred years. Rather, the supreme reason for accepting the Bible, as inspired by God and its authority in our lives is simple faith in and commitment to Jesus Christ.
In the first book of the Classic Christianity Study series, A Closer Look at Jesus Christ, it was established that Jesus Christ is God, who became flesh and walked among men.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
He taught by word and deed; He died to pay the penalty for our sins and then rose from the dead to give eternal life to all who receive Him. If Jesus is God, we must accept all that He said; if He is not God, we are not compelled to acknowledge anything that He said. It is necessarily a “package” deal.
Our attitude toward the Scriptures must be developed by understanding first, who Jesus is, and secondly, what He said about the Word of God.
Some time in later studies, we are reversing this. We will be studying the book on the Deity of Christ. But I believe the majority of our listeners have come to grips with that issue. It will help when we do get to that to study the depth of it. But the fact of the matter is, if you have, in your own heart, you have come to the conviction that Jesus is God, then we must, as necessity, must come to the conclusion and the conviction that if Jesus is God, then what He said is truth. For God is not going to lie to you. He claimed Himself to be the truth, and if God is the truth and God is the one who through His Spirit wrote the Word, then that and that alone is the reason that we can depend upon the Word of God that we hold in our hands today.
What a privilege it is for us to be able to have a bible. Not just a bible, but bibles. I have bibles all over the place. Yet there are parts of the country where people have none. So we are privileged above all people to go to any store at any time and buy the words of God. Is that not amazing? The pearl of great price, the book that tells us about the Lord Jesus Christ.
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
So, I pray that as we begin our study time together, that you and I will open our hearts to ask God to reveal to us truth. Let that truth set us free. I talked about, how in my own life, that a number of years ago, driving down the central expressway in Dallas, Texas, on the way to the biggest Christian schedule you could ever imagine, with tears down my face, for I lost the joy of salvation. I cried out to God, “if you said truth will set you free, I am certainly not free”. What that means is this. “I have a misunderstanding of your truth. There is nothing wrong with Your word. It is truth. There is something wrong with me and my understanding of it or else I would not be miserable.”
“So I want to start afresh with you, and I want you to come and to teach me truth afresh. I do not care what I have been taught in the past. I want to start over. I want you to renew my mind and to teach me truth and to set me free.” That is exactly what the Lord began doing. As I said, so many times, education can teach you what the bible says but it is only the Holy Spirit that will teach you what it means.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[Isaiah 64:4] –
the things God has prepared for those who love him –
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
Let us turn to Luke 25:25 and see what Jesus Himself said in regard to our approach to the Word of God.
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
Now, that is interesting isn’t it? He called those who do not believe all that the prophets had spoken of in scripture foolish and slow of heart. And, it is amazing, isn’t it, in contrast to people who say, “I am brilliant but I am an atheist or agnostic?” No. Jesus says you are foolish and very slow of heart.
Another thing. How much of what the prophets spoke are we to believe? Some of it? No. All of it. When we take a look at where the teachings of the prophets were located, it was obviously in the book Jesus held in His hand, the Old Testament. In fact, that was the only bible Jesus held in His hand, if, of course, in those days they would have had a bible. They had scrolls. If He had one, those would be the only writings He would have held in his hand, what we know today as Old Testament writings. It is not because He did not like the Old Testament writings. It had not been written yet. It had not been revealed yet. He was the New Testament. What can we conclude concerning the Old Testament? That it was true. That everything in it is to be believed.
I do want to delineate there that everything in the Old Testament is true. The scripture is inerrant. It is to be believed that it is true. But we also have to understand that the teaching was under the Old Covenant. It was the teaching that we would not know where man came from if it had not been for the book of Genesis. So it is the teaching of the beginning of mankind, of God’s dealing with His creation, taking us right to Moses and the giving of the law and from Moses to Jesus, where the grace of God was introduced. It was continual dealings of God with man.
Also, there was a plan of God from day one. In the garden of Eden, when man fell, a plan of redemption took place and the whole Old Testament is an unfolding of that plan that in the fullness of time was fulfilled through Jesus Christ. In the meantime, a plan was being unfolded. The Old Testament is an unfolding of that plan.
17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
That is why we are told in Colossians that the law is a shadow, not the reality itself. Christ is the reality. This was a foreshadowing. But until Christ came, it was not known as a foreshadowing. It was the unfolding of God’;s plan of redemption.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.
So even though a new plan went into effect on the day Christ died, a New Covenant does not negate the truth of the Old Covenant that we were under and that God initiated as a foreshadowing of the reality that was going to come in Christ.
So it is not as if it is not true because it is true. It is not applicable. What I mean by that is the unfolding and the progressive revelation that was taking place until Christ came is certainly true that that occurred. But now that He has come we are under something new. The old has been replaced. It does not mean it was not true. It has been replaced.
You have a pair of shoes and you wear it out. Then you get a new pair of shoes. It does not mean that the old pair of shoes was erroneous or bad. They have been used. They were used for the intelligent purpose for which they were created. They wore out and a new came into effect. Thank God for that.
What we are going to do then is not only discuss those things but to talk about Christ’s testimony then too. First of all, what did He testify to Satan, to the masses, to the religious leaders, to tradition, and then to His disciples? Those will be five areas in this first lesson that we will be discussing regarding Christ’s personal testimony concerning the Word of God.
Let us start with our enemy, Satan.
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
That is an understatement in the bible.
3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
That is when the tempter comes, when we are in a weakened condition. You would think he would ease off, but he comes to get us in our weakened condition.
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[Deuteronomy 8:3]”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
I want to clarify that this “if” is not what is called a conditional “if”. In the Greek language, this “if” is more expressive than in the English language. That “if” means “inasmuch as” and is not questioning if he is the Son of God. Satan knows full well who he was. “In light of the fact, inasmuch as, you are Son of God, tell those stones to become bread.” Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, and after forty days and forty nights, he was hungry and the tempter came to him and asked, “In light of the fact, inasmuch as, you are the Son of God, tell those stones to become bread”.
In other words, the world is saying, and is like what is going on in the world today, that nothing is new under the sun. There is nothing new that has occurred under the sun. We just think it is new. There are no problems that are new. There are no phobias that are new. There are no syndromes that are new. Everything that you experienced today has been experienced forever.
It is interesting that the same challenge upon the word of God is in essence is a challenge upon Christ Himself. You cannot separate Christ from the Word.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
You cannot separate the Word of God from the person of God. The difference between Jesus and us is that when he speaks something it is total truth and a total reflection of all that He is. That is not the case with us. We can be as phony as can be. We can be hurting on the inside and yet say that everything is fine on the outside. The fact of the matter is that very seldom is what we say a real reflection on what is going on in the inside. But when Christ says something it is a total reflection of all He is and all that He is. It is a total reflection of Him.
So today the attacks upon His Word is nothing more or less than an attack on His personhood, upon His identity as to who He is, God. So we are saying the same thing takes place. Unfortunately in many religious circles, what is said is, “if you are the Son of God, do a miracle for me.”, “Turn those stones into bread” and “Do a miracle so that I can believe in you.”, In other words, we do not realize that a sign and the seeking of a sign is a repudiation of faith.
I see people today who say “I understand the Word of God”, and are even teaching the grace of God but are still seeking. Seeking gifts. Seeking this. One of the reasons is we have never entered into that Sabbath rest. As long as people keep hanging on to the fact the Sabbath is a day instead of a rest, you will never be at rest. You have got to let go of those things. You cannot hang onto those things. You have to let go of them in order to enter into that rest. If you are still seeking, it is because you have not found.
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works [or labor], just as God did from his.
If you lost something, as an example. Let us say you lost your watch and you are looking for it and looking for it, and you find it, and you put it on your wrist. Are you still looking? Of course not. You found it. If you are still seeking something, it is because you have not found the Lod. It does not mean you are not saved. You are not resting in it. You have not entered a Sabbath rest. There are people in Christ who are still wandering in the desert, even speaking spiritual truths in the desert, but not at rest. You cannot be seeking when you have found.
There we are. We have already possessed a pearl with a great price and we are going into the ten cent store to buy junk jewelry. We own a pearl of great price and are still looking for junk jewelry. That is a conclusion that we got to come to. “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus, in essence, is saying, “I am not a miracle worker. I can do that, but I did not come to be a magician. I came to give you life.” He answered more gently than that.
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[Deuteronomy 8:3]”
That is a great admonition today. Man is not living by bread. “I can turn these stones into bread, but if I perform that little miracle for you, what good is it going to do?” It is like saying, “I am not going to believe in God until He heals my leg, until He makes my legs longer.” Man does not live with a long leg. Man does not live on the exterior. You live by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. That is where your life is lived, not in whether you are physically this way or that way, but by living by the words of God that come out of the mouth of God. We live in the invisible you not in the house, not to be preoccupied with the exterior of the house. But what is going on inside, down under the skin, that is where the word of God feeds you.