Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P11 (03-02-21)
It is so easy to assume someone is a believer. They go to church. They talk the talk. They pray. They sure act like one. They are even nice-sounding people. But the truth of the matter is the only person who really knows is the individual himself and God. But we can do ourselves or someone else a disservice by not asking probing questions about what truth is. We could also just assume they think just like us, and know what we know. But what if we also do not know the truth. Do we really simply want people to know what we know?
We may know Jesus is God, that he died, was buried and rose again and we even know about the Trinity, and believe that to be true. But does that necessarily mean that we know God? Does that mean we understand what it means to be born again? I may have even heard the phrase born again, but it might have a totally different connotation of meaning to me than what God really intended me to understand and know. What if I had religious baggage and thought I was born again as an infant, not being familiar with what the word of God says or, more importantly, what it means?
So it is so important that we believe something is true because of a conviction formed by reading the word of God yourself, with the attitude of not assuming that I know what it means because I can repeat what a Baptist preacher told me or what a Catholic priest told me. No, I need to have the attitude of asking the Lord, ”Lord, I will not know what this means unless you reveal the meaning of it to me.” Instead of going to the word with arrogance, with all your preconceived ideas of what it means, and then trying to get the word of God to conform to your own understanding, instead, lean not on your own understanding, but rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you. Have a humble spirit. And anyone who has the Holy Spirit living in Him has the capacity to be taught by the Spirit who has promised to guide us into all truth and to make these things known to us.
Now, let us think about the Old Testament stories. Many people have been taught they are fairy tales or myths. How would you logically approach the word of God to discern if what people are claiming, or what you might be currently thinking, is true or not? Did events such as Noah”s flood actually happen? Again, let us look at the testimony of the word of God, from those who were with Jesus, on what they had to say on such events as the flood and about a man named Noah escaping on an ark?
When we have read from eyewitness testimony of the apostles and how all such prophecies of the Old Testament prophets were all fulfilled in Christ, and from that evidence have formed a conviction that Jesus really is God, then read what Jesus says about such events. What reasonable conclusions can you come to? Jesus either lied, and in that case, He would cease to be God, or we would find something written in the scriptures where Jesus would correct any error in such Old Testament stories. But we do not find anything of the sort.
Instead we have the testimony that the word is true. Even Peter testified that the word of the Lord endures forever, unlike the grass that fades away, and the word did not have its origin in the will of man but men were carried along by the Holy Spirit to record truth that God wanted us to hear, know and understand concerning ourselves and who He is. By knowing these things, these events in history have a far greater meaning and implication on our lives than just merely that these events occurred in history. They have bearing in us coming to Christ for new life, for these events testify of God’s coming day of judgment and a way of escape by His extending grace to us, where God’s grace is received by faith.
Jesus often quoted from the Old Testament, and testified of many events and people that existed in history. He testified that the word is true. Since Christ Himself testified that a flood occurred, then we should pay attention. For if Jesus really is God, and we are convinced of that by overwhelming evidence, even of an empty tomb, then we should carefully consider the evidence we have before us. But look beyond the natural realm. Ask the Lord what He wants you to know concerning these people and events, for the deeper revelation of truth to your soul. What was the faith of Noah that pleased God, such that He found favor with God and was rescued from the flood?
As we go through A Closer look at the Word of God, as one of our bible study series, people have a tendency to put this kind of study on a back burner. I can do the same thing. Yet every time I taught through this study in its preparation, which has been going on for years, it has been the most exciting and fun studies we ever do. But again, I believe Satan paralyzes our mind with the thought that everybody knows this.
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
It is sort of like the Deity of Christ. You obviously know Jesus is God. So we assume everybody knows that. But assuming is a dangerous thing we do because we can never assume anything in this world. I can recall so many incidences of talking to someone and because their vernacular had some spiritual words to it, there would be somewhat of an assumption they were Christians. There are people, because they are a pastor or a priest, you assume they are Christians, yet nothing could be farther from the truth.
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
You can be in any occupation, including that of ministry and not know the Lord from a spoof. In the same way as if you worked for General Motors and not have a clue, have never met the president but I am working for him. He does not know who I am and I do not know who he is but I am working for him. This is the same kind of thing in Christianity. You can be out working for God and not know who He is, but you know the vernacular. You know how to communicate the product so to speak. So we can never assume.
1 Timothy 5:24-25
24 The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. 25 In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.
The only person who really knows whether you are born again or not is you and God. That is it. Outside of that, there is no way to know beyond a shadow of a doubt. I would certainly stake my life on the fact that you are in Christ and I am sure you would stake your life on the fact I am in Christ. But the truth of the matter is that only you and I know individually about ourselves but not each other. Certainly the evidence is there but we do not know. The assumption is unless you get to know somebody, there could be a false assumption that could be taking place. So it is with all assumptions.
We make a point about the Deity of Christ and we assume everyone understands that. As it was in my life that until I was truly challenged as to why I believe that and I got into the word of God, I did not know. That is why our first book on A Closer Look at the Deity of Christ, the person of Christ, that book came as a result of a study of that. I did not want to believe in my heart that Jesus was God with a cursory understanding of that nor because somebody told me He was. That is a flimsy foundation to base your life system on is that somebody told me that.
160 All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.
That is why I tell people almost every day, do not take me for anything I am saying. I could be lying through my teeth to you. The only way to know what I am saying is true is to get into the word of God and check it out on your own. If you are born again you have the promise from the Holy Spirit of God that the Holy Spirit in you will reveal to you truth of what the word of God is saying to you if you are in a situation of being a receiver rather than going into the word of God to prove your own preconceived notions.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
You do not approach the word of God with the attitude, “Here is what I believe. Now, you show it to me in the word of God, Lord.” It is irrelevant what I believe. The fact of the matter is, what is truth? Instead, the attitude to have is, “Unless you reveal that to me, I will not know what it means. When you do reveal it to me, then I am going to know.” So you approach the word of God with a spirit of humility, not with a spirit of arrogance, saying “I have this all figured out because I went to seminary. I listen to the radio and I have a good pastor. Now, God I want you to confirm that to me so that what I believe is true.” That is not the way you approach the word of God.
In our first study, it was around the Deity of Chist. Now we were talking about the testimony of the word of God. How can we rely on the word of God as absolute truth and the foundation and the cornerstone for our life? In the first chapter, we talked about Christ’s own testimony about the word of God. If Jesus is indeed God, and that is who He is, then what did He have to say about His word? You cannot separate the word of God from the person of God, unlike us whose words sometimes are totally contrary to what is really going on inside. But with God, that is never the case. God is never feeling one way about something and sharing another. What He says is an absolute truth and an absolute reflection of who He is. Christ’ testimony about the word of God is it is absolutely true. He testified that to Satan and the masses and to the religious leaders. He talked about that to the traditionalists. Generally He communicated that to His disciples.
2 Peter 1:21
21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Then in the lesson we just completed, we talked about Christ’ testimony as He related to the apostles. Then the apostles testimony concerning the word of God with such passages in Peter is that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. Prophecy never had it’s origin in the will of man but men who spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus told them that. He said that “I am going to pass onto you everything when the Holy Spirit comes to live in you and bring back to memory everything I want you to know.”
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.
So just as Christ Jesus, while here on this earth, never did anything of His own initiative. He certainly could have been as God but He behaved as a man and lived on this earth as a man in order to show us how to live on this earth. “I do nothing on my own initiative but I speak those things only that the Father has taught me.” He told us, “that if you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” That is an attitude of dependency. When you do that you shall know the truth and then the truth shall set you free. That is Christ’s own testimony of how we live on this earth.
4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
We are told again in the book of Hebrews that the word is living and active. It is not a dead book. It is living and it is active. It is active today in your life and in my life. It is living today in your life and in my life. It says that in the word.
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
That is God Himself, sharper than any two-edged sword and it penetrates to dividing soul and spirit, joint and marrow. And it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Every action of a man comes from the attitude of his heart. Therefore, there is nothing today anyone is doing that does not come from what he is thinking. That is why the word of God is the instrument that God has used for the renewing of the mind, which then renews the attitudes and that results in a change in behavior. So there is no behavior of man that does not stem from what he believes, in the attitude that he is formed in regard to his belief system. That is why to get to a root of a man’s problem, you must get to his thinking patterns. That is what the word of God points to and that is what it does. It is sharper than a two-edged sword and it judges the thoughts and the attitudes of the heart.
Turn to our study in chapter three, titled the Old Testament: Myth or Truth?. These studies are designed for one hour at a time, but that is hard for me. An hour to me is an introduction. So is the Old Testament myth or is it truth? To our listeners, let me share with you where I am coming from. My vantage point I am coming from is strictly from the word of God. It is not that I have something against psychology or psychiatry. It is just not true according to the word of God. If I was making that statement according to my own opinion. But if I was making that statement from my education or personal opinion that would just be another opinion of another man. I am making my statement based on the testimony of the word of God itself. That is the purpose of these lessons to lay that out for you so you too can make decisions in your life as to whether you are going to rest on truth of the word of God or rest on the brilliant ideas of man, which is, quite frankly, foolishness in the eyes of God.
1 Corinthians 1:19-21
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.
I am also not coming from the vantage of some wide-eyed bible thumper saying the word of God is true, pounding their head to it just to make some noise. I am saying what I am saying from a deep conviction, not from wide fanaticism but from careful study of the word of God, but also approaching that from a logical standpoint. If Jesus is God then God is not going to lie to men. If Jesus is God and He says the word of God is truth, then quite frankly that settles the issue for me and I do not know how you can get more logical than that. You can get subjective if you want to, saying that you do not feel that way. But we are not talking about subjectivity but stark objectivity. Those are decisions we have to come to.
So we get to addressing the Old Testament, and ask is it true or is it myth? So very logically you are going to see in your own mind that according to the word of God. So are we talking about in the record of a true story or are we talking about some mythical story? You are going to have an opportunity to make that decision. I cannot make that decision for you. I cannot. Nor am I going to try to persuade you one way or another. But I am going to persuade you to look into the word of God and try to draw a logical conclusion from that.
Let us pick up in Isaiah 40:8, again the testimony of God to His own word.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
Once again, if this statement is true, and if this truly is the word of God, then how long is the word of God going to remain relevant in our lives? Does it just go up to the 19th century and just fade away? In other words, maybe the word of God is like grass or like a flower and it fades so some new revelation can come in and stand forever. Or is it the fact that the word of God is going to stand forever, meaning that it is as relevant today in the 1900s as it was back in 500 or 300 or 200 A.D. or 2000 B.C? It makes no difference whether the word of God is as relevant today as it has ever been. Man does not change. That is the issue.
9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
The same problems I have today are the same problems that Job, Noah and Abraham had. There is no difference. As you read the Old Testament, you might as well be reading today’s newspaper as it regards man. Nothing has changed. If that is true, where should we go for direction in our lives? You do not have to be too brilliant. If Jesus truly is God and here is the key issue to this whole matter. He said the word of God is true and His very word testified to the fact that just like grass that withers and flowers that fade, that is the world. If the word of God is standing forever then there is only one place that I can go to that is going to be the same today, yesterday and forever and that is the word of God for my basis of truth, the standard of truth, the plumbline of life, the compass to tell me which direction I am going instead of eyeballing it. If the word of God becomes our standard of truth then anything that is outside of that is contrary to that.
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
1 Peter 1:23
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
To people who come up and say truth is not confined to the word of God, I beg to differ with you on that. Truth is confined to the word of God. People come up and say medical science is absolutely true. There is no such thing. If it was, it works the same way, on everybody the same way. You can use aspirin to get rid of headaches in some people but not in others. That ceases to be scientific. We are a variable. There is no constant except God. Therefore, do not come up with any scientific truth that has not been developed by God. People say, “This is just an adjunct to God’s truth.” No, it is not. We are a variable. If you come to my treatment center, you can get done in 40 days or 60 days. It depends on when the insurance runs out. But that is a variable because we are dealing with people. A man making that statement is making a flat lie for there is no such thing as that.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
First of all, there is no such thing as a permanent cure as to your mind. You can go back to stinking thinking any time you want to. So the word of God has to be a constant renewal of your mind in order to plug into truth, not just for today but for every single day of your life. So if the word of God is standing forever that means I need it forever. I need it today, tomorrow and the next day. That is what renewing of the mind is all about.
When talking about confirmation of Old Testament events, He is the ultimate confirmation of Old Testament events. There are a lot of people who say it is a bunch of myths and fairy tales. They say it is not true and there are contradictions. Not if you understand it, it isn’t. It might look like it. But if you rely on the Holy Spirit to tell you what it means, there is no contradiction.
Let us look at something like the flood. There are volumes of information about the flood and it’s implications on mankind. On everything that at least I understand and I am certainly a far cry from being scientific. But the issue is from what I understand that even the dating tests taken on this earth are inaccurate. We are always being told it is billions of years old. While that is being determined, there is a total discount of the fact this world was totally surrounded by water. That was totally discounted and that to me throws off any piece of scientific evidence in regard to the dating of this earth. The doubters and skeptics have discounted the flood as a flood. A biblical student has held closely to the viewpoint that the flood was an actual historical event and was used as example of power and judgment and salvation of God toward man.
We hope this study we are embarking on will help each and every one of you to establish your own convictions on this important account. Turn to Matthew 24:37-39. Who is speaking? This is Jesus speaking. Who is Jesus? He is God. So we have God speaking to us.
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
Luke records Jesus again saying the same thing.
26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
It goes ahead to say in 2 Peter 2:5.
2 Peter 2:5
5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;
That was Peter. Not only was Christ Himself testifying to the fact there was a flood, then we have Peter an apostle testifying of that.
1 Peter 3:20
20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,
When you look at that type of thing, reading this deal, you realize the moral conditions of the world have not changed at all. The same things going on then are going on now and even of more degradation than what we can see today, or maybe not so any more. Look at the response of Noah and his activities to what God told him to do, to build an ark. So he built an ark. My understanding is that prior to that time, there was no such thing as rain. The earth was watered by the mist. There was no such thing as rain coming from above. So when talking about a coming flood, it was difficult to understand how that was going to take place. Yet it was recorded that it did. It was verified that it did by the Lord Jesus Christ and verified again by the apostle Peter. Like Jesus, if he was not God, then he certainly testified to a pretty idiotic event, if it was not indeed true.
I get a little revved up whenever I start teaching through the sufficiency of the word of God because the more I study it and rethink the whole issue, the more irritated I get in my spirit of hearing a Christian cast doubt on the total sufficiency of the word of God. As I said before, if the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword and it absolutely gauges the attitudes of a person’s heart, then everything we do stems from our attitude and that stems from what we are thinking. So the key to any behavioral problem is the renewing of the mind and the bible certainly speaks to every aspect of that.
So people who are naming themselves as Christians and then casting doubt on the sufficiency of the word of God, they are not only doing a great injustice to their own lives but certainly doing great injustice to people who are listening or watching in confidence in them. So those of us in ministry especially to sit back and ask what in the world is our calling? Is it to be a psychologist or preacher or was it to preach the sufficiency of the word of God? If our calling is to preach the sufficiency of the word of God, then why are we compromising and bringing into our churches and assemblies every idea of man that is perpetuated under the name of psychiatrists. If we are not welcome in the psychological camp, then why are they welcome in the Christian camp?
So what we have done is both. Let us become a Christian psychologist. I am not saying you cannot be a Christian and get a degree in psychology. But if you believe in the sufficiency of the word of God, then there is no way you can be commingling two thoughts, especially when they contradict one another. So sorry if I sound a little testy when I get into this subject. But the more I get into it, the more irritated I get in my spirit when I see what is taking place in the Christian world today. I challenge all pastors in the country to get back to the sufficiency of the word of God. You can rely on it a hundred percent. You are more qualified to counsel anybody than any degreed psychologist in the world today. You have a book you can study. Ask God to reveal truth to you.
2 Corinthians 3:6
6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Never take a secondary position to anyone in regard to your ability and your competency to communicate truth that will set people free. I pray to God that you will never allow the renaming of something. That is what people do. Where are you going to find out how to treat anorexia in the bible? You are not. You will not find it in there. That is why someone named it anorexia. Who in the world put a name like that on it? The very same profession who that says we are only ones who know how to treat it. So if I rename it I can tell you what it is and tell you how to treat it.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Self centeredness is talked about in scripture. That is involved in every one of those behavior patterns. Are you anorexic or a child of the living God? If a child of the living God, then throwing up after you eat is not consistent with who you are. That is how you have to deal with that because you have to change a person to see that is their identity, if they are in Christ. If we do not want to talk to Christians, we should not be on Christian radio and television. If you are in Christ and indeed in Christ then you have a brand new identity. If you have a brand new identity, you will find your mind reprogrammed or renewed on truth and Jesus promise is that truth will set you free. Free from what? Any behavior problem that you have. I will tell you some day what I really believe.
I am not sure what this has to do with Noah. Maybe because we are flooded with a flood of junk perpetuated to the Christian community.
Let us go back to Jesus’ testimony in regard to that event. When Jesus is talking about that and Peter verifying that, that there was a flood, did they state this as an actual account or as a mythical story? No, it is an actual account. What if this account that had been written in the Old Testament had been wrong? In other words, there was no such thing as Noah or a flood, then do you think Jesus would have corrected that, and said something like this. “Guys, do you know that the bible is not really inerrant, and one of the big ones is in regard to the flood. There really was nor a Noah and really not a flood. That was really kind of a mythical story.” But He did not say that, did he?