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Responding to God's Word

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
January 21, 2021 3:00 am

Responding to God's Word

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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January 21, 2021 3:00 am

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The Bible is a marvelous unequaled book through the centuries people have centered their lives around the Bible, Jesus summed it all up when he said man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God is precious as well as unique is that even mean is it simply that they want to make biblical truth accessible to a culture that otherwise won't understand it. The modern-day equivalent of translating the Bible from Latin into the common languages explaining Scripture so that it's true's are playing its application is obvious.

Well unfortunately that's not the kind of relevance.

Many churches are shooting for what should their goal be raising up a generation of people responsive to God's word today on grace to you. John MacArthur's going to explore this notion of being responsive to God's word and show you what a Christ honoring an truly relevant ministry looks like. As he continues his series.

The Bible driven church and with the lesson. Now here's John first Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 20 the apostle Paul says do not despise prophetic utterances. Knowing so many ways. The Bible is an absolutely amazing book.

There are a number of different angles that one can take in looking at the amazing character of Scripture. Let me give you.

Perhaps some of the more unique ones. Some years ago an Israeli businessman by the name of CL Federman began to brood over the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and he read in the Scripture that it said and below the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. He guessed that such conflagration might indicate underground gas and underground gas gas meant underground oil. He was right. In 1953, Israel's first oil well, went into operation somewhere near the ancient side of Sodom and Gomorrah standard oil company has discovered oil and has been operating wells in Egypt for a long time is generally known that they do that but the reason for going to that ancient land to look for oil in the first place is not generally known that has been said that one of the directors of the standard oil company happen to be reading the second chapter of Exodus. The third verse caught his attention at state-of-the-art of bulrushes, which the mother of Moses made for child was daubed with slime and with pitch gentlemen reason that where there was pitch. There must be oil and if there was oil in Moses time. It is probably still there so the company sent out Charles which it it's geologist and oil expert to make investigations with the result that oil was in fact discovered there's my favorite the world Christian Digest reported that a Haifa policeman who knew his Bible got on the trail of a gang of smugglers. They used to be inconspicuous and asked drawn caravan or cart to move through the city.

The policeman managed to capture some of the asses.

Though the smugglers got away. The officer let the beast of burden go without food for many days and then he turned them loose and just as he predicted from Isaiah 13 the ox knows his owner, and the asses master's crib, the starving animals led the police directly to the smugglers. The Bible is an amazing book.

Through the centuries people have centered their lives around the Bible is precious as well as unique. One of my favorite stories is the story of a little girl in France who was poor and was stone blind sheet obtain the gospel of Mark in braille and learn to read it with the tips of her fingers because she had such a passionate love for the Scripture and read it constantly. Her fingers became callous and by becoming callous diminished capability. She had to discern the letters one day so much desiring to read the Scripture she cut the skin from the ends of her fingers in an effort to increase their sensibility only to destroy the nerves.

She felt that she must give up the beloved book and weeping story says she pressed her lips to the pages of Mark and said farewell farewell to her surprise… More delicate than her fingers discern the form of the letters and all that night she read with her lips.

The word of God and overflowed with joy at this new opportunity. Jesus summed it all up when he said man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. The Bible is a marvelous unequaled book. In fact, it's my judgment that somebody should put a warning label on the Bible and maybe not read like this morning. This book is habit-forming. Regular use causes a loss of anxiety, decreased appetite for lying, cheating, molesting, hating and stealing symptoms of condition are increased feelings of joy, peace, love and compassion. The Bible is the supreme book notebook even comes close to its excellence. The apostle Paul has the supremacy of Scripture in mind in that verse I read you a moment ago when he said, do not despise prophecies or prophesying or prophetic utterances he has in mind the revelation of God is speaking here about our attitude toward God's revelation, whether it be spoken or written not remember this is verse 20 is a part of a list of basics for Christian living back in verse 16 he reminded us to rejoice always, then to pray without ceasing then and everything to give thanks. Then last time we noted, he said, do not quench the Spirit.

Now he goes to really a unique subject all its own, and says do not look down on the revelation of God. The apostle Paul has talked about how the church is to relate to itself leaders. The people people to leaders people to people. Now people to the Lord.

These are all components of what makes an effective church.

Now these last commands are very direct and very specific. Do not quench the Spirit is unmistakable. Verse 21. Examine everything carefully that's unmistakable hold fast to that which is good, very clear. Abstain from every form of evil, very clear. The only one that might be a bit confusing is that second one. Do not despise prophesying's or prophecies. We need to look a little bit closely at this to find out exactly what he is saying just as a footnote for those of you are interested in the language structure in each of the five commands starting in verse 19. The subject is first the spirit.

Do not quench prophecies. Do not despise everything examine what is good, hold fast evil abstain from it so that the emphasis is on that subject.

This causes a very forceful kind of statement in the Greek butts then look at just some of the specific elements of this verse that will free us to understand its meaning.

The word despise means to downgrade the means to consider as nothing or to make absolutely nothing of prophecies prostate chaos is another very important Bible word that is going to take a little bit more study for us to understand what it basically means what God has said what God has said now that falls into two categories, spoken and written, and I want you to understand that the word prostate chaos, which is the word here is used in the New Testament, both for spoken word and for written word is very important because when you go to interpret this. There's not really anything there contextually to help you and so you have to look at the word then you have to go to other texts and find out how it's used. Sometimes it is used for the spoken word. Sometimes it is used for the written word. Let me give you some illustrations of that turning your Bible to Romans chapter 12 and just to kind of help you to grasp this word so that you have a clear understanding of this interpretation.

You will find in chapter 12 of Romans, a list of spiritual gifts.

Then in verse six is that beginning point of that list and it says in verse six we have gifts that differ according to the grace given us.

Let us exercise them accordingly then this if prophecy, according to the proportion of his fate.

Now there is the use of that same word in here.

It has to do with speaking a speaking gift. In fact, first Peter four divides the spiritual gifts into two categories, speaking gifts and serving gifts. The word means to speak before not a prophetic sense, but the stand up in front of people and speak before them, it means literally to speak publicly to proclaim publicly this gift, the gift of prophecy that some Christians have been given is a Holy Spirit given skill for public proclamation of God's word is a Holy Spirit given skill for public proclamation of God's word. Now if we look at the New Testament when the gift of prophecy was really in its fullness. We will see to categories two categories, sometimes when someone exercise this gift. It was revelation. Sometimes it was the first time anybody had heard it. It was a direct word from God.

Sometimes it was not. Sometimes it was simply a reiteration or a proclamation of what God had already said or what had already been written, but the word prophecy does not necessarily tell us anything about the forearm, whether it was new revelation or something revealed earlier, it only tells us about the manner in which it was articulated is a public proclamation. Sometimes a prophecy could be very practical, sometimes very practical. For example, in the book of acts chapter 11 versus 27 and 28 we find a very practical expression of prophecy profits came down in verse 27 from Jerusalem to Antioch and one of them named Agatha stood up and began to indicate by the spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world now. Here God speaks through this man. What is a very practical prophecy wasn't doctrinal. It wasn't to be recorded as a book in the Bible are a part of the book it wasn't theological it was simply practical, and this frequently occurred. New Testament prophets spoke the word of God directly. With regard to the practical life and ministry of the church. In chapter 15 of acts, verse 32 Judas and Silas. Also, being prophets themselves encouraged and strengthened the brother and with a lengthy message there you have a couple of New Testament prophets who are just preaching there just preaching.

No doubt they were preaching and encouraging exhorting word that was not direct revelation at that point but they were simply passing on something which God had revealed to encourage the Saints. There may have been a supernatural element in it. We don't know that it's not indicated in the text as it is in acts 11 where it says he was speaking, actually by the spirit so prophecy is a broad term that refers to public proclamation of the message from God. It can be a new message, at least in New Testament times.

It could be when they were still receiving revelation of God could speak directly to the mouth of a prophet or it could be reiteration that is simply communicating publicly what God had already said and already revealed the miraculous part of it that is new revelation, whether it was practical or doctrinal was distinctive to the early church era. Most often, even in the early times, most often the gift of prophecy was the ability to proclaim God's word already revealed in Romans 12 six. That is precisely what Paul is saying if you look back at that verse a minute I want to call something your attention. That is, of utmost importance in Romans 12 six. He says if you have the gift of prophecy. Use it according to the proportion of the faith. I want to get that translation right according to the Greek. If prophecy, according to the proportion of the faith, not his faith. Possessive pronoun. Not there in the original. Now the word proportion very important on the logging on a login from which we get analogy when we say something is analogous to something else, we mean that it has a relationship of agreement with something else.

If I say that truth is analogous to this I mean that there is an agreeing relationship that whatever this is, it agrees with this. That's why the reformers used to say on the lobbyist group Torah. The Scripture always agrees with itself right, it isn't in disagreement with itself. So what is he saying in Romans 12 six. At this gift of prophecy must be used in proper agreement with the faith very important state in proper agreement with the faith. What is the faith, the faith is used several times in the New Testament as a synonym for the God-given body of Christian truth doctrine, the God-given body of Christian truth, the revelation of God in acts six verse seven, the word of God kept on spreading the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith that is the doctrine truth in Jude.

Jude reminds the reader that we are to earnestly contend for the faith. What faith the once for all delivered to the saints faith. That's the body of revelation we know as the word of God.

In verse 20 of Jude building yourselves up on your most holy faith.

So Paul says in Romans 12 six. Anybody who prophesies is empowered to speak for words for God must be in complete agreement and harmony with God's already revealed the faith in the stand that. So the one who speaks speaks in agreement with the faith. That's how that word is used so if one pauses.

Do not despise prophesying's we ask ourselves, what does he mean we can say first of all he means those utterances coming from gifted men which are in perfect agreement with what the word of God. The word of God revelation. Toward the end of chapter 19 in verse 10 says that I fell at his feet to worship him. That is John and he said to me, do not do that. I'm a fellow servant of yours. The angel said in your brother who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God, then this for the testimony concerning Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Prophecy testifies to Jesus Christ. Prophecy is in accord with the revelation of the word of God. Anytime anyone stands to speak a verbal message. We can judge its validity by acknowledging that it is in perfect agreement with the Scripture.

Prophecies can never deviate from the written word by the way, in Romans 12, the gift of prophecy is in a list that is devoid of any reference to any miraculous gift, no miraculous gifts are listed in Romans 12. Some are listed in first Corinthians 12, but not in Romans 12 so we can then discern that this can be a non-miraculous gift that is simply the proclamation of truth in perfect agreement with the word of God. Let's go to first Corinthians chapter 12 when you take your step further. First Corinthians chapter 12 and verse 10. Here we see this same gift. Again, only this time it is sprinkled in a verse that has discussion of miraculous gift he talks about the effecting of miracles for strengthens 1210 to another person has been given prophecy to another. The distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues are languages to another the interpretation of those languages. Now there you have some miraculous gifts which were unique to the apostolic era, but the gift is here mentioned again, this time among the miraculous gifts so we conclude that there are times when this gift in apostolic time was miraculous. In fact, when the prophet was literally getting a direct revelation from God, not prior given so there were times when it had that miraculous element.

Once that miraculous era of revelation ended with the apostles. We then have the non-miraculous gift remaining. That is the public proclamation of that which is the truth of God in perfect accord with the written word so there were times when the prophet in the apostolic era spoke revelation. There were also times and most often when even at that age they spoke what was reiteration just reiterating what got it already revealed which of course is the way the gift is used today. Now further I want take you in the first Corinthians chapter 14 because you need to understand this gift. You say why because in verse one of chapter 12.

He says I don't want you to be ignorant about chapter 14 the first Corinthians verse one pursue love.

Yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy very important word. Listen carefully.

This is not written to an individual. This is written to a church. No individual can earnestly desire a spiritual gift and therefore get it. He is saying when the church comes together. You must desire earnestly that the spiritual gifts be in operation, but especially that you may prophesy collectively. He's not saying an individual believer is to desire this gift if he doesn't have it, he is saying the church collectively is to desire its use. Why verse three.

One who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation it edifies. It exhorts and it comforts prophecy does all of that prophesying does all of that is essential to the life of the church. Verse six he says if I come to you speaking in tongues are languages what one of my not a prophet you to profit I have to speak by way of a revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching in there.

Again he saying prophecy fits into an intelligible, meaningful, edifying, exhorting and comforting mode looked down verse 39 for a moment of the same chapter he says it again. Therefore, my brother and desire earnestly to prophesy that he says I'm not telling you to forbid languages tongues in its proper usage in ancient times. It had a place but I'm saying when you desire something to be in your assembly desire to prophesy why because it edifies it exhorts and it comforts. Why is the word of God that is able to build you up is the word of God that calls you to holy conduct is the word of God. That is the source of your comfort and anybody who prophesied prophesied the revelation of the word of God. For example look at verse 37 first Corinthians 14. If anybody thinks he's a prophet or spiritual then let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment.

In other words, if anybody says he's a prophet is going to have to square up accurately and be in complete agreement with everything I write because I'm writing the very commandment of God. So anybody who claims to be a prophet has to square up with the Scripture back in verse 24 of chapter 14. He says if everybody prophesies in an unbeliever. None gifted men energies convicted by always called to account while in other words, if an unbeliever comes in a meeting on your prophesying, proclaiming the word of God is going to hear is going to understand what is going to be convicted by it. Verse 25. The secrets of his heart are going to be disclosed if all of his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you back in verse 23 says if you're all jabbering in languages and none gifted or unbeliever enters he's gonna say you're mad have any evangelistic effect at all. Prophecy then is the proclamation of the truth of God in perfect agreement with Scripture is evangelistic, it is edifying.

It is exhortation and it comforts that is prophecy is the proclamation publicly of the truth of God.

We don't live in the apostolic era. Ephesians 220 says the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets were a long way from that foundation we still have the gift of prophecy which is proclaiming the word of God. This is grace to you with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. John is a pastor, author and Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary.

He is titled our current study the Bible driven church John in this study you're making the case that churches need to be Bible driven. The clear implication is that regardless of what they may claim, there are churches that are not driven by the Bible. So what is driving them and what does a non-Bible driven church look like well if it's not the Bible. It could be a lot of things that could be the personality of the pastor could be his showmanship ability. His communication skills. It could be entertainment there could be the prosperity gospel, promising people, health, wealth and success. If you are a Bible driven church. It's pretty simple to make that manifest. You make the Bible the. The core of everything you know when you're in a Bible driven church. Why because the word of God prevails when the preacher preaches. He said he's not a storyteller. He's not making promises of the certain things that are sort of laying up there in heaven for you if you name them and claim them. If you're in a Bible driven church. The word of God will be opened and the word of God will be taught you will find that the music will be reflective of sound doctrine and a worshipful attitude.

People will pray the Scriptures, then people will read the Scriptures you remember talking to an English evangelist to travel all over America for many many years and said that our church was the only church he was ever in an America where they read the Scripture where we read the Scripture and yet Paul says to Timothy read the Scripture specifically so you know when you're in a Bible centered church because everything is conformed around the word of God by talk about this earlier this week and I want to mention it again. I wrote the book ashamed of the gospel to basically unmask the church that looks like the world for what it really is. It is a deviation from what the Lord wants his church to be the book title again ashamed of the gospel 250 pages. It's through the book that you have a hard time putting down it will help you recognize and discern what a Bible driven church really looks like will send you a free copy. That's right, it's 250 page book will send you a free copy. If you've never called or written us before so let's get acquainted with this book this request. Ashamed of the gospel free to anyone contacting us for the first time. It's a great book to a must read book 1 of John MacArthur's best.

It's a book that will show you and your church how to avoid dangerous compromises and how to be a congregation that Christ blesses to pick up, ashamed of the gospel and again it's free if you've never contacted us before get in touch with us today.

You can call our toll-free number 855 grace or go to our website ashamed of the gospel is a practical book that's not just for pastors but for laypeople as well.

It will show you where the church's strength and power come from the qualities of an excellent servant in the role you have been building up your congregation and remember ashamed of the gospel is our gift to you. If you've never contacted us before. Just call 855 grace or go to you can find thousands of free Bible study resources carve out some time to spend there and look up one of John's sermons on a passage or a topic that you might have questions about spend some time reading our blog. You'll find series on compelling topics like glorifying God in the gray areas of life. The doctrine of election purity, and many others. All of those resources and more are available to you now for John MacArthur and the grace to you staff, I'm Phil Johnson encouraging you be here tomorrow when John continues his study the Bible driven church with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you

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