Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Whether it's the general chapel service for the whole student body or services for those in the ministerial class or seminary, everyone at the school is blessed by the preaching of the word each day from the chapel platform. Today on The Daily Platform, we're continuing a study series entitled, God's Word in Our Hands, which is a study of the divine revelation of scripture. Today's message will be preached by Dr. Pearson Johnson, who teaches in the Division of Ministries in the School of Religion. As we continue our series this morning on God's Word in Our Hands, we're honored to have Dr. Pearson Johnson come and speak to us this morning. Dr. Johnson is a real God send to us here at Bob Jones University. Both he and his wife Amy and their children were ministering for many years at the Inner City Baptist Church in Allen Park, Michigan, when really God moved in their heart to actually have an interest in what we were doing here on the university campus with our Center for Student Care and really after really much prayer, God really led them to connect with us and then they came this past year serving here and I'm so thankful for Dr. Johnson's heart, his desire, his love for students, his passion for ministry, his passion for discipleship, evangelism, and also helping students grow spiritually and so he's going to come this morning and give us a message I think that will be very helpful and practical on the sufficiency of scripture.
Dr. Johnson. Well it's my privilege to be here today and certainly glad to be a part of what God's doing here at Bob Jones University, but it's especially a privilege for my wife and I to be able to minister to you. I look out as I was sitting up here, you know, I didn't think you could see much because of the lights up here, but really I see a lot of things. I see a lot of faces, people the Lord has privileged us already to get to know. Some of you on campus, I was able to teach the freshman class, a ministerial class. I'm really excited about the guys that God has brought here.
Some of you, a couple of you guys are down here, a couple of you guys are over here. I saw you. God has burdened you to minister God's word to people and that is a very exciting thing. There's no better thing to do than to minister God's word to people and today we're going to talk about the sufficiency of God's word. Let me give you a little bit of a testimony of how God led us here. God brought us from Detroit and we lived in a suburb of Detroit, Allen Park, ministered at Intercity Baptist Church as Dr. Pettit mentioned and really God has given us, given me a pastoral heart.
I really want to shepherd his people. I had the opportunity to be a student here. I came in 1989 as a math major.
I was almost one of those people, as Dr. Pettit said in chapel, that give problems to other people, right? God rescued me out of mathematics, thankfully. But while I was in that program, I really appreciated my teachers. I believed then that the math teachers were some of the most godly people on campus as they shared God's word with me as a math student. It really gave me a burden for knowing God more fully and effectively. I went after my undergrad to work in Northland Camp and it was at that time that God gave me a confidence in his word.
I served as a counselor for a couple summers and many of you that have worked at camp, you understand this process. You get people into your cabins, you get them under your ministry there for a week and you find out that you really are very insufficient for doing anything that can change their life. But you also find out in that time of personal insufficiency that God is the one who is sufficient and that God has given us his word and he's given us a tool of prayer to affect change in people's lives. And at that time in my life I realized that God, you can use someone like me to see people change and grow as long as I depend on your word and as long as I depend on you through prayer. And so God called us to ministry.
At that point I came back for seminary and in a sense completed my education and was able to minister for the last nearly 20 years up in Michigan. Now one thing I've learned to expect here when I tell people we're from Detroit they always say, Detroit aren't you glad you moved to South Carolina? Or they say something else about Detroit and we used to have a bumper sticker t-shirt slogan up there that said, say nice things about Detroit. So if you say something mean about Detroit then you can expect a full reenactment of the Civil War at that point.
We love Michigan, we love Detroit, we love the people of that city. But we're also glad God has called us here. Let's look at what God has told us here. Before I do that the student care office is a place I want to explain that a little commercial for the student care office is a place where students and faculty and staff can come for confidential biblical counseling and for resources for helping others in mentoring and discipleship relationships. God has led us here to work with you as students and faculty and staff. God also has led Kristen Barnes here. She's our women's counselor and many of you have met her already. She as well is a God sin. She has a heart for ministry to people.
She knows God's word and as we are in the process of growing ourselves we certainly want to help others grow. This is election season and I have up there a picture of Calvin Coolidge in a recent biography that was written about him. It's a good time to reflect on American history. Coolidge was the 30th president of the United States. He was known as Silent Cal. He came to office in 1923. He was the vice president.
His president Warren Harding died of a heart attack and so he ascended into office at that time and became the president. He also won re-election the next term easily. He was instrumental in cleaning up several scandals in national government at the time. He had a reputation as one biographer said of honesty and integrity that helped him restore faith in government.
Certainly we need that today don't we? One of his biographies was titled A Puritan in Babylon but he was known as being a man of few words. At one dinner party it was said that there's a wife who or a lady that talked to Coolidge's wife and she made a wager that she could get Coolidge to say more than two words during the entire dinner party.
At the end of the party after not hearing anything she went up and shared that wager with the president. President Coolidge he uttered two words you lose. A man of few words who knew the importance of words. He knew the importance of words and that's really what we want to talk about today.
The importance of God's word. I want you to think I want you to think about this today. I don't think any of us are sitting here today saying I do not believe in God. I think we would all say God I believe in you.
I believe in you God. But I want to encourage us to think today as we say God I believe in you I want us also to say God I believe you. You see God has spoken to us in his word the Bible. He has told us his mind. He's been gracious enough to reveal himself and his will to us in the scriptures. And so as we say God I believe in you we also should just as firmly say God I believe you. I'm gonna make reference to this book taking God at his word and I would encourage you if you've listened through this series this chapel series about God's word in our hands and you've kind of struggled to grasp some of the truths and in the series and you struggled more importantly to believe them.
I would encourage you to pick up a book like this by Kevin DeYoung. He's a young relatively young pastor up in East Lansing Michigan. Pastor's in a college town where Michigan State is and he wrote this book to really minister specifically to people of your generation to give you confidence in God's word taking God at his word.
I encourage you to pick that up. But in this book DeYoung states that traditionally protestants have highlighted four essential characteristics of the scripture. Some of these we've talked about in chapel some of these we haven't. The first being necessity that is general revelation is not enough to save us. God's word is necessary. We see God revealed in creation. We know God's presence and God's justice and God's judgment in our consciences as we discern right from wrong but that revelation itself is not enough to save us.
We cannot know God savingly by means of personal experience or human reason. We need God's word to tell us who we are, to tell us how to live, to tell us who Christ is, to tell us how to be saved. God's word is necessary and thankfully by God's grace we have his word.
Second Peter 1 says he is by his divine power given us all things for life and godliness through the knowledge of him and we only know him through the revelation of him and through his son Jesus Christ that is given in the scriptures. God's word is necessary. God's word is clear. We believe in clarity. Carrie McGonagall spoke about this last week.
It's sometimes called perspicuity but clarity is a good way to look at that. The saving message of Jesus Christ is plainly taught in the scriptures and can be understood by all who have ears to hear it or eyes to read it. We don't need an official magisterium to tell us what the Bible means. God's word is understandable. Aren't you glad you can open God's word and you can read it and you can understand what it says? God's word is understandable. Now first Corinthians 2 14 says the natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of God for they are spiritually discerned or spiritually appraised.
So we do need the spirit to illumine our eyes and illumine our minds to understand the word but when we have the spirit we also have the ability to clearly understand God's word. Authority is the third essential characteristic of God's word. God's word is final. The last word always goes to the word of God. This was a reformation principle.
Sola Scriptura was one of the primary calling points of the reformation. That is by scripture alone we discern the truth. They affirm this in terms of one phrase which I'll translate into English. Scripture is the norm of norms that cannot be normed. That is everything is ultimately judged by the scripture. Every council, every body of believers, every leader, and every opinion that we have. It's all normed by the norm of scripture. Scripture is the grid by which we need to shove every thought that we have. Every philosophy that we believe and hear about.
Every pressure the culture gives us. We should push through the grid of scripture because it is the norm of norms that cannot be normed by anything else. The church is an institution and people is always accountable to the word of God and the word and the spirit will norm the church, will reform the church. We see that taking place in history in the reformation. We see in the reformation God and his spirit and the word reforming or norming the church into conformity with his word through the ministry of Martin Luther who after much agony and much searching and much bearing of his own guilt finally realized that the just will live by faith. That it is how the salvation comes by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone and that that alone is taught in the scripture. God norms even the church and our beliefs by his word and finally God's word is sufficient.
That's our topic for today. God's word is sufficient. It is enough. God has given us everything in his word that we need and we'll talk more about that here.
I have some definitions of sufficiency and I don't want to do this to be academic but I want you to think as I share these definitions. Are these things I agree with? Really in my heart and in my mind are these definitions things I agree with? Because these give an accurate description of what the scripture claims to be in and of itself. What the scripture promises.
A few different ones. John Freeman in his book doctrine of the word of God says this the sufficiency of scripture means that scripture is clear enough to make us responsible for carrying out our present responsibilities to God. None of us as a child liked expectations that were unclear. None of you as a student probably like expectations that are unclear.
You like to get a syllabus that outlines the course and what you need to do to succeed in that course. So God has not left us without expectations that are clear. The scripture is sufficient in that it is clear enough to make us responsible for carrying out our responsibilities to God. No one could say that God has not revealed enough for us to be saved or to live a life that is pleasing to him. DeYoung says this we don't need to add to it to meet today's challenges or subtract from it to mesh with today's ideals. Westminster confession of faith says this the whole council of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory man's salvation faith and life are either expressly set down in scripture or by good and necessary consequence that is by drawing principles from the scripture may be deduced from scripture unto which nothing at any time is to be added by new revelations of the spirit or traditions of men biblical counseling coalition which is a group of biblical counselors and counseling organizations came together and and stated some of their guiding convictions and this is one of them they say but we believe that God's word is authoritative sufficient and relevant the inspired and inerrant scriptures rightly interpreted and carefully applied offer us God's comprehensive wisdom that is how to live life we learn to understand who God is who we are the problems we face how people change in God's provision for that change in the gospel no other source of knowledge thoroughly equips us in ways that transform the human heart that's key no other source of knowledge thoroughly equips us in ways that transform the human heart the wisdom given by God and his word is distinctive and robust he comprehensively addresses the sin and suffering of all people in all situations God's word is sufficient let me talk about a few things we don't mean when we talk about the sufficiency of God's word when we say the scripture is sufficient we do not mean the scripture by itself is all we make use of when when you say sola scriptura it's not sola scriptura doesn't mean the scripture naked and by itself it means by scripture alone we evaluate all the things in which that we do some may argue I have no creed but the bible they say the bible itself is enough they mean they don't need creeds and confessions and theologies and catechisms and curricula I appreciate Dr Pettit's presentation to us of why the creed is important why the university creed is important post-reformation churches do not make use of creeds or theology or catechisms because they believe the scripture is insufficient as a matter of fact Michael Horton says in his theology he says we make use of these precisely because they believe the scriptures are so clear and consistent that their principal teachings can and should be summarized for the good of the whole community children as well as adults and so we have creeds we have confessions of faith we have theologies we have catechisms we have classes we have sunday school because we believe the scriptural truths can be put together in forms that we can understand so it doesn't mean you just read the scripture it means you learn from the scripture and from godly people we also don't mean that when we say the scripture is sufficient that we are not we're not saying the scripture gives all the information about all possibilities for all times we're not saying it talks about everything possible Carl Truman says in some areas the scriptures are sufficient for teaching principles but not necessarily for providing specific details cultural cultures change circumstances change people are all different scriptural principles can be applied across the board to many different situations that is scripture doesn't speak explicitly to in vitro fertilization or gender reassignment surgery or christian rap but it does give us principles that are sufficient to shape our answers to those challenges or to him in our beliefs about what we can do to worship god one of my friends wrote this the bible principles supply all the inspired revelation we need even though they do not spell out all the data that we could have to reach wise conclusions the scripture is sufficient by saying the scripture is sufficient we're we don't say we are always right and cannot be corrected we can't say because i believe in the bible everything that i say is correct again what i say must be normed by the norm of scripture that cannot be normed you have to listen to what i say even in chapel today and say does that agree with the bible a lot of abuse and dictatorial leadership has taken place under the guise of biblical belief we must always run back to the scriptures to evaluate the truth of what is said what we listen to and how we are guided by saying scripture is sufficient we don't say that the use of scripture is simplistic that is that we just slap a verse on a problem and that makes everything better the bible is not a set of proof texts but it is a set of contexts we'll just pull a scripture verse out and say this is your problem this is the solution i'll be very honest with you here and i'm hopefully honest with you and everything i say but extremely honest the student care office you come with a problem it's not always easy to say this is the verse that applies specifically to that problem god has given us means beyond just scripture verses he's given us contexts and situations throughout all of scripture that we can learn principles from and apply to specific situations but god hasn't just given us the words of scripture in the words of scripture he's told us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much and so when you come with problems and we deal with the scripture with your problems i know that the bible says there's also another resource that is powerful to affect change and that is prayer and so we can go to the lord in prayer and say god there's nothing that i can say that will change the situation or circumstances there's i don't have the wisdom to completely deal with a complex problem but god i know that you're the creator of the world and that you love this person and that you can help them we can go to the lord we don't just slap a band-aid on a problem but we deal with the problem with the scriptures and we also take those things before the lord in complete dependence on him god has also given us the church or the fellowship of believers that's something revealed in his word he has brought around us people with different gifts to help support us and build us up and edify us galatian says if a brother is overtaken in a fault you who are spiritual restore them in a spirit of meekness consider yourself considering yourself lest you also be tempted god has brought people around us in a community that can encourage and support us so it's not just the use of bible verses that show that god's scripture is sufficient god has revealed means by which he can affect change this also doesn't mean that lost people can't help us with our problems it doesn't mean that biblical counseling provides the only help someone can get with any of their problems the biblical counseling coalition says god's common grace brings many good things to human life there are numerous sources of help such as scientific research or medical practice or organized observation about human behavior those we counsel reflection of our own life experience literature film and history culture all these can contribute to our knowledge of people and many sources can help with some relief however we must also realize that nothing outside of god's revelation provides a comprehensive system of principles and practices that deal with the whole of the human condition we can get help turn your bible to second timothy three in the closing time let me just reflect on the passage of scripture that god has given us sufficiency clearly stated second timothy three paul is talking to timothy it's a transition time in world history really it's a time of transition in church history where the apostles are moving off the scene he's equipping timothy to take over and lead the churches in ephesus and he's telling him this is how you are able to take the course from here on out chapter three verse 12 he says yay and all that will live godly in christ jesus shall suffer persecution but evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse deceiving and being deceived but continue thou in the things which you have learned and has been assured of knowing of whom you have learned them and that from a child you have known the holy scriptures which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in christ jesus all scripture is given by inspiration of god and is profitable for doctrine for reproof for correction for instruction in righteousness that the man of god may be perfect or mature or complete thoroughly furnished unto all good works paul tells timothy in his coming ministry and paul tells us in our present ministry and paul tells every one of you in your present circumstances in life that god's word is sufficient to meet the needs of your life and your growth paul tells timothy we will always be in contrast to the world evil men and evil philosophies will get worse and worse all who live godly in christ jesus will suffer persecution because of their distinction from the world don't think that if you believe god's word is sufficient then you will be accepted by everyone around you certainly that wasn't the case with timothy that's not the case with us we understand that we will need to consistently continue in the word paul tells timothy continue in the things that you have learned and become convinced of and i want to encourage all of you here today you've heard from god's word you've believed in jesus as your savior timothy from a child had known the holy scriptures which eventually made him wise to salvation god has done that in most of your lives as well continue trusting his word if you trust god's revelation for your salvation certainly you can trust god's revelation for your sanctification in every one of your circumstances we've trusted in what god has said for our eternal destiny we can trust in what god has said for our temporal circumstances god's word is sufficient we need to consistently continue in the word we can have complete confidence in the word and we can do that because of its source it was breathed by god it was given by god himself the creator and sustainer of the universe our god who loved us so that he sent his son to die on the cross for our sins we do that based on the source we do that because it aligns with the purpose of scripture which is to mature us to equip us for every good work you know we were recreated in christ jesus unto good works paul says in ephesians chapter 2 he said how can i do what god has called me to do we can do that because god has given us his sufficient word he's given us his he tells timothy a word that teaches us doctrine that gives us for proof it matures us it equips us he teaches us what to believe it protects us when we are wrong that's where proof it sets us back on the right path it cares for us and corrects us that's when paul says when he says for correction and it strengthened us for instruction in righteousness affirm with me the fact that i started with i believe in god do you believe god how you think about his word will show whether or not you believe in the sufficiency of scripture i would encourage you to do so let's pray god you are great and god you are good one of the ways we know your goodness is because you've graciously revealed yourself you've revealed your son you've revealed your will in your word and god you've given us a word that is sufficient for life and godliness that fully and completely equips us for what you've called us to do and how you've called us to live god i pray for every student and faculty and staff member here today that they would have a confidence in your word that guides them through their lives that they would believe in you and that they would believe you pray you'd help us with this in jesus name amen you've been listening to a sermon preached by dr pearson johnson a faculty member in the bob jones university school of religion i'd like to invite you to attend one of our summer camps for both middle and high schoolers bju has over 50 camps to choose from so there is one for you here's just a few aviation astronomy cinema computers culinary criminal justice media music nursing theater robotics soccer basketball volleyball golf and there's many more come explore your future during a week of what we call edu camp for more information about our camps visit our website go to edu camp that's e-d-u-c-a-m-p dot bju.edu thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow as we continue the series about the divine revelation of scripture here on The Daily Platform
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