Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. What do you trust in? Your government, your savings account, the future?
When you come right down to it, there is little we can trust in. But there is one book we can trust with our eternal destinies. The Bible is the written revelation of God to mankind.
If you'd like to hear what its power can do, and do for you, stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win, with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, some people treat the Bible as great literature, but the believer is to see it as a powerful weapon of truth, as it were, a sword.
David, that's right. As a matter of fact, the Scripture encourages us to see the Bible, the Word of God, as a sword, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We here at Running to Win are committed to give you resources to help you in the Christian life, specifically to be able to defend the faith, to give a reason for the hope that is within you, and that's why we are making available a book entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. Let me give you a quote. This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. That's one of the quotations I have in the book. It's a quote from Robert Chapman. This is the second to last day we are making this resource available.
For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. And we're so thankful to the many of you who connect with us in this way.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now let us be reminded of the power of God's Word. Let's suppose you were stranded on a street, a dimly lit street in Los Angeles late at evening in riot-torn Los Angeles.
Your car had a flat tire and you were sitting there wondering what you were going to do next and about a dozen young men come out of a building next door and they see your plight and they begin marching toward you. What difference would it make to your disposition if you knew that they were on their way home from a Bible study? I think even an atheist would feel better if he knew that. Today I'm speaking on the topic of the power of the Word of God, the power of the Word of God. As you know, this is the last in a series of messages entitled Seven Reasons Why I Believe the Bible is God's Word.
We talked about a logical reason, a historical reason, a prophetic reason, a Christological reason, a scientific reason, a providential reason. And now we get to a personal reason, namely the power of the Word of God. There's no book like it. Here's a young man riding along in a train brought up in a Christian family and even savingly believing on Christ but in anger toward God taking his brand new Bible and throwing it out of the window of the train as far as he could fling it. Weeks later he comes back in repentance knowing that he had done wrong and just created God's Word and he's looking for where he threw his Bible and discovers that it was found by a young man in that community who took it and read it and had been converted by it. So here he is with a brother in Christ as a result of the Word of God. There's no other book like that. There is none except the Bible.
The Bible is called light. My word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path. You're walking along and the Ten Commandments are like ten lanterns that guard the ditch. Don't slip into the ditch.
Here they are. Stay on the path. Word of God, Jeremiah says, is not my word like as a fire says the Lord. It's like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces. It takes hard hearts who when they understand the love and the compassion and the mercy of God in desperation come to him and their hard heart is made soft by the power of the Word of God.
It is a seed that falls into the ground and when it begins to grow it becomes so strong that it cracks the concrete. It is a sword as we shall see in a moment. The Word of God is all that and more. Would you be surprised if I were to tell you that the Word of God actually has some of the characteristics of God and does what God does.
Does what God does. I want you to take your Bibles and turn to Psalm 19 for a moment. Psalm 19 where we have a great psalm on God's two great books.
His book of nature and his book of revelation, the Bible. Psalm 19 begins by saying the heavens are telling the glory of God and their expanse is declaring the work of his hands and if you were here for the message you know that I preached on a scientific reason why we believe the Bible is the Word of God and I referred to this passage along with many others. But I want you to notice that in addition to the book of nature where we go out and we say the heavens declare the glory and the power of God there is another book and we pick that up in verse 7. This is the book of the law now and the difference is this that nature may tell us that God is powerful but nature cannot tell us that God loves us. It cannot talk about the mercy of God and the forgiveness of God but language which is much more precise can tell us exactly what God is like.
We may not understand it all but at least we know what the text tries to communicate. And now I want you to notice this carefully and if you have a pen in your hand you can underline six descriptive adjectives which refer to the Bible but which also are characteristic of God. Let me be very clear that the Bible is not God. We do not bow before the Bible but the Bible is the voice of God. And there are some things that may be said about God that cannot be said about the Bible but there are some things said about the Bible which can also be predicated of God. They describe the Word and they describe the living Word, Christ, the incarnate Word, both.
Look at this. You'll notice it says in verse 7 the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul or restoring the soul. The law of the Lord is perfect and God is perfect.
He is perfection too. And notice what the power of the Word does is it restores the soul. It brings us back to God. It ministers to our spirit as to who we are.
It touches us at the deepest level of human need. In fact, it not only restores us, it gives us life. James says of his own will he begat us through the Word of truth. And you remember 1 Peter chapter 1, the scripture says we are born again not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible by the Word of God which lives and abides forever.
I speak today to some of you. I hope the majority of you who are saved, you know that your name is written in heaven. You've come to assurance of eternal life. How did God do that miracle? He did it through the Word empowered by the Spirit of God but he did it through the Word, through the message of this book. That's what God does.
It grants life. So notice that the law of the Lord is perfect. You'll notice it also says it is sure.
There's a second word for you to underline. It is sure. That means it is dependable. We sing great is thy faithfulness. Is God dependable? Yes, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, therefore I will not fear what men will do unto me.
There is that sense of dependability upon God that we know that he is always there and that his promises are going to be with us. Well, that's what the text says about the Word of God. It is sure, making wise the simple. Now, sometimes when we talk about the simple, that is a derogatory term, but in the text that's not what it means. It means simple people are people who tend to go astray.
People who tend to make unwise decisions is not that true of all of us. Are we not simple in that sense that we just sometimes don't know what to do and we seek wisdom? Well, there it is in the Word. The commandment of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. Next word, verse 8, the precepts of the Lord are right. In Hebrew, that word right is the same word from which we get righteousness. Isn't God always right?
Yes, God is right. He sets the standard and when we begin to see God's standard and we begin to see reality as it is, we discover that there is rejoicing in the heart. Next word, also verse 8, it is pure, enlightening the eyes. What could be more pure as God than God? The Scripture says that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
Interestingly, evil spirits, which are sometimes called demons in the New Testament, are always spoken of as unclean spirits because they are the opposite of God. God is purity. God is whiter than the snow.
God is the one who sets the standard of righteousness and holiness and the Word of God is pure, the text says, enlightening the eyes, enabling us to see reality as it really is. It's like buying a suit and you want to walk outside so that you can see it in the sunlight because these artificial lights sometimes give a wrong impression. They dilute the color. They give a shade that is not true. God is the true shade, the true color.
Then notice another word, it says clean. It says in verse 9, the fear of the Lord is clean. Now you might think, well, why does it say the fear of the Lord? That is another synonym for the Word of God because it says in the book of Deuteronomy, I am giving you this law so that you might fear the Lord all the days of your life. Sometimes, by the way, you'll find preachers like to say, well, it doesn't mean that we're scared of God, it just means that we revere him. Well, I don't know whether or not that can be proven biblically. It seems to me that God wants to make sure that people are afraid to disobey and there's nothing wrong with being afraid of God, especially if you're about to do something that he does not like.
It's good to be afraid of him. And the text says that the fear of the Lord, which is a synonym for the Word of God here, it is, what does it say? It is clean.
It is clean. God is clean and pure, enduring forever. And then one more word, verse 9, last part of the verse, it is true. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. And God is truth. And Jesus said, thy word is truth.
Now don't miss my point. Do you notice how that the character of God and the character of Scripture are really one and the same? What the Bible says about itself, it can say about God himself. No wonder the psalmist goes on to say, yea, verse 10 there, more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold. I challenge you to go to Wall Street and preach that and people will be laughed at. Or you can go down to the LaSalle Street here in Chicago, the great banking industry, and say, I found something more precious than gold, yea, than fine gold. And then it's the Scriptures. Could you imagine how that would go over in today's society? But it's because our values are totally reversed.
The price tags have been rearranged. That's why, because it's sweeter also than honey and the drippings of a honeycomb. I have to pause here because many of us, when we read the Old Testament with its harshness, we say to ourselves, you know, how could anyone have loved God's law back then? How could anyone have loved the word before you have the book of Romans and before you have John, the Gospel of John, and before you have 1 Peter with all those lovely promises? How could people in the Old Testament have enjoyed the word? Well, all that David had here was the Old Testament. And he says, I find God's word, God's law, sweet, sweeter than the honeycomb.
Think this through. What the, what food is to the body, and we need food in order to live, the Bible is to the soul. And just like we are fed by a balanced diet physically, so we need to be fed by a balanced diet spiritually, and it's all there in the word of God. For example, the word of God is meat.
That's what it says in the book of Hebrews. I have fed you with milk, but now I'm going to feed you meat. It is also, as I mentioned, milk, as newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word. So you have milk, you have meat, you have bread. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
And then if you want something to put on your bread, you have some honey for the bread. And you have all that you need to nourish you and to strengthen you and to restore and to refresh your soul. It is all in the word of God. Spurgeon, the great preacher of the last century, said, why? This book has wrestled with me, it has smitten me, it has comforted me, it has smiled on me, frowned on me, clasped my hand, warmed my heart, it weeps with me, it sings with me, it whispers to me, it preaches to me, it maps my way, and it guides my goings. All within the word of God.
You remember Jeremiah? He said, thy words were found and I did eat them and they became unto me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart, for I am called by thy name, O Lord of hosts. But you see, friends, today, with all of our computers and with all of our television sets and with all of the input that we receive from the world, our appetite is so diluted oftentimes that the word means nothing to us. And what we need to do is to understand that the appetite needs to be developed by use and by dependence upon the living and the true God. Is it any wonder that the psalm ends by talking about the great power of the word to examine us? It says, moreover, by verse 11, by them is thy servant warned in keeping of them.
There is great reward and preserving us from sin. Verse 12, who can discern his errors, acquit me of hidden faults. Keep back also thy servant from presumptuous sins.
Let them not rule over me. All of those sins that we willfully commit, how are we going to be kept back from them through the word of God? Then shall I be blameless and shall be acquitted of great transgression.
And it ends with a prayer. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. Now, I could have concentrated in more detail on these last verses, but I chose not to do so because I want to turn to another passage. But before we do that, do you understand how clearly the Bible shows that the character of the word is actually the character of God? Now, what I'd like you to do is to turn to the book of Hebrews for a moment, where we shall see that the power of the word is actually the power of God. Hebrews chapter 4.
Hebrews chapter 4. The character of the word is the character of God. And the power of the word is the power of God. Chapter 4 opens, it says, therefore let us fear lest a promise remains of entering into its rest.
Any of you should seem to come short of it. And then it says, for indeed we have had good news preached to us just as they also, but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not mixed with faith in them that heard it. In other words, the word of God doesn't automatically do all of these miracles. It has to be mixed with faith.
There has to be a receptive heart, which the word itself, by the way, is also able to create and does create. And if it did not, our hearts would not be open to God. But now it's in this context he goes on to say in verse 11, let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same examples of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit of both joints and marrow, and is able to judge the thoughts and the intention of the heart.
And there is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. What a passage of scripture. Notice it says that the word of God is living. King James says quick, and people may think that it's fast.
No, quick is the old English word for alive. The word of God is alive and it is active. It is not a static message, because behind the message comes the very word and the authority and the power of God. Read about an old preacher who used to do street preaching, and he took his hat and put a Bible under the hat, and then in order to get attention would say to people, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, and point toward the hat. And everybody wanted to, what's in it? Is there a rabbit in it? What's under his hat? And then he lifted it up and there was a Bible. Kind of hokey, I think, but he made a point. He made a point. It is alive.
It is active. And then notice now what it does. It cuts us open. It cuts us open. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. When a surgeon has an operation that he performs, he uses a knife. But notice that the word of God is sharper than a knife, first of all, but it cuts both ways. Wherever it lands, it cuts.
Not just in one direction. It is a sword with two edges. And you'll notice it says it is sharper. Here we have the language of dissection. The Greek word is very clear here. It means to cut, to dissect, piercing as far as division of soul and spirit. The idea is going right through the soul and through the spirit, all the way through.
And may I simply interpret it this way. It does not mean that it divides the soul and the spirit, as if to say that they are intertwined and it has to divide them. Rather, the idea is it goes through the soul and it goes through the spirit, just like the joints and marrow do not have to be separated, as the text goes on to say here in a poetic way to emphasize with imagery the power of the word of God, because the joints and the marrow are not even really together, but rather it goes through the joints and it goes through the marrow. We might say that the word of God cuts through to the bone.
It dissects every single part of us. And the text says it is able to judge the thoughts and the intentions of the heart. That word thoughts in Greek means words that ideas that come to us that we meditate on.
That word would be reflections of the heart, things that we think about when we're going along the expressway, the thoughts that we have about different people, the anger that arises within our hearts or our reflections as we come to church about things that happened to us this past week or things that are going to happen in the future. And also the intentions of the heart, what we intend to do, the things that we would like to do but can't, all of the musings of the mind and the heart, the word of God sits in judgment upon and discerns moment by moment, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, it's all there. Now why is this so important? Because you and I are born sinners. We are born sinners and as a result of that we are born with a defense mechanism and there are some people whose mechanism is more finely tuned than others and we do not want anything to penetrate across our radar.
We don't. And we can see it more clearly in people who are addicts like alcoholics who oftentimes build up such a defense system that they cannot be at fault. Everyone has to be at fault. No one can find out what they are going through. Everybody in the family has to lie for them.
There's a whole network that is built up to protect this citadel, to protect people from knowing who that individual really is. But you know that's true of all of us. It's true of all of us. And we do it through rationalizations. We do it through avoidance. We are people who want to protect ourselves and will not allow anyone in behind the armor including God, including God. And what the word of God does is it cuts through, it goes right under our radar system, it cuts right through and it lays us bare. Lays us bare.
Sees the whole thing. Yes, my dear friend, the power of the word of God that lays us bare. It's the word of God that penetrates our hearts and shows us who we really are and leads us to the hope of redemption. You've heard me say this before but we here at Running to Win are committed to giving you resources that help you in your Christian walk. We're making available a book entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible.
This is the second to last day that it will be available to you for a gift of any amount. I began this program by reading a quotation from Robert Chapman and the entire quotation is in the book. It says, regarding the word of God, it is a light to direct you, food to support you, comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's character.
It goes on to say paradise is restored, heaven opened, the gates of hell disclosed. Now for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
Hope that you have a pencil so that you can write that down. RTW offer, of course, is all one word. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago to help you understand God's Word as the roadmap for your race of life. Next time, why the Bible describes itself as being sharper than any two-edged sword. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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