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's message will be preached by Dr. Ted Miller, a professor in the School of Religion. We're very, very thankful this morning to have Dr. Ted Miller to come this morning and speak to us on the authority of God's Word. Listen carefully, if you will. Please take your Bibles and turn to Psalm 119.
We're in a variety of passages, but we'll be there at least twice. So in meditating and thinking, which is where most sermon prep begins, for me at least, on the topic that I've been tasked with delivering, I'm thinking about authority. And the thought occurred to me, you know, I've actually had a pretty good relationship with most of my authorities in my life. I'm not saying I'm perfect. I'm not saying I have never gotten away with anything and I have no intentions of going full James 516 and confessing any of those to you right now.
And I would love to actually spend today sharing with you my tips on how to get along well with your authorities. But I'll note that in summary, most of them would reduce to simply not being a fool. Of course, we know that there's different kinds of fools. There are great fools, I would say. They're the people I know who are simply bothered by anybody telling them anything to do at any time to their lives.
They sort of have to go through life with some sort of rebellious, flamboyant flare as if they were to star their own reality TV show and movie cameras documenting their own mindless torturing of their own life. So I assume that you are familiar perhaps with the class of great fools out there and I assume that most of you are not in that class, much like I would like to think that I am not. You and I are admirably skilled at managing our relationship with our various authorities. I get pretty good at managing my relationship with my parents, with various teachers I've had, coaches, bosses, and so on. Whoever in my life happens to populate that mystical realm of being in charge of me in some way. And so we know how to keep them happy and for the most part we're able to go about our own lives for the most part with causing very little trouble to most anybody else. However, when I come to this book and the voice that I hear in this book and the words that I read in this book, I find that I'm actually interacting with a very different kind of authority than I deal with on a daily visible level.
I find here a species of authority that's unlike anything that I can compare to any parent or teacher or coach or boss. It doesn't take long as a child to learn that you can manage and successfully hide things from your parents. It doesn't take long as a student to realize, you know, if I really wanted to I could get away with a lot.
The teacher would simply never know. Or one day, or maybe you're already having this experience, you'll be an employee and you'll realize, I don't much like my boss, but I like my job. I think I'm just gonna outlast my boss. And you can do it.
You can pull this off. But just as we are made in God's image, not the other way around, so human authority is an inferior copy of divine authority. And we will make great mistakes if we assume that everything that's true about human authority is likewise also true about divine authority. But man, and all of us with our endless, fathomless, and often fallen ingenuity, we've decided that God's authority can be managed.
You know, he may draw close from time to time, but eventually he'll weary of it and go back to his own business, allow us to pursue our own affairs as we like. So our time together, I want to address not just the topic of authority, but the idea of the fact that we are encountering, in God's Word, a different kind of authority in very specific ways than we deal with in any other kind of authority. And just as Dr. Talbert last week said, you know, it's very difficult to talk about the trustworthiness of God's Word without talking, without getting into the topic of the trustworthiness of God himself. So it's very difficult to really pull apart and practice around paper the topics of the authority of God's Word from the authority of God himself. So I'd like to explore, however briefly, a couple ways that God's authority in his Word is not like the various finite authorities that you and I may regularly interact with.
In Psalm 1, 1989, it says, forever, O Lord, thy Word is, and what's the next word? Settled. I don't hear the word settled all that often.
I suppose in history of Civ you might hear it, the various people settled in a various part of the world, or part of the country. But you do hear it, and you actually might start hearing it now, the fact that we've had the death of a justice on the Supreme Court, and means there's now a vacancy in our political system, tasks the president with nominating a replacement, and the Senate with advising and consenting. And so they're going to go at some point through a nomination process and a series of confirmation hearings. And you may hear some senators ask the prospective justice, this nominee, whoever it may be, what do you think about, and they'll name some case law. What do you think about Brown versus Board of Education, or Plessy versus Ferguson? What's your view on eminent domain and the recent decision with Kelo? What's your opinion on this? And the prospective justice might say something like, well, I consider that particular case to be the settled law of the land. That is, I'm not going to go back and revisit it. But quite frankly, he's one of nine justices.
And there are very few laws in the human history that are absolutely totally settled. My uncle is in LA. He's in his early 70s.
He carries around with him. He showed me at our last reunion at the Outer Banks. He said, I got to show you something. He showed me his first Social Security card with this number. And on it, it said, this number shall never be used for identification purposes.
I thought, well, that's definitely a different era. Okay, apparently some way, I didn't even know that happened. Apparently some later Congress or just natural process of the way history unfolds has decided that that previous legislation simply was not as settled as we might think. And perhaps we need to think through, so why is it that God's law is settled? If you think about the character of God, first of all, he's omniscient.
I mean, what further information does he need to be provided by some later hearing to make the proper declaration about a particular topic? He knows everything. He's also eternal. He never steps down. He never abdicates.
He never leaves a vacancy that his administration has to later fill. All of his power is united in one and it is fixed and established and eternal. So what he says on any topic through his word is simply the way it is. It is in fact settled and no one can challenge it without challenging the omniscience and the eternality of the one who speaks these words. As a practical example, we might look at one of the first declarations that God ever made to man.
He told Adam and Eve, in the day that thou eatest the tree, thou shalt surely die. When we, when you and I come to death, we're dealing with something that we simply cannot manage. Man, I know that there are things you can do to end your life earlier. I know there's things you can do to extend your life. You know, be smart about it.
Don't be a great fool. But we come to the fact of death, we are dealing with something which is just simply unavoidable. Even, as an atheist recently said, if you and I, if we were all marooned on a desert island and he says, you know, we don't really need God to step in and tell us how to behave. I think we'll, you know, we can figure this out on our own. Even if that's true, we somehow finally create this awesome mythical utopia instead of some adult version of Lord of the Flies. There's still going to be that moment when one of us finally breathes our last and our bodies are lowered into a grave or strapped to some makeshift raft and pushed out into the deep and the great curse will have found us again. It's like we're living in the worst nightmare you can imagine. A company of people under a curse that we cannot escape.
We cannot, you may try to escape, you may try to ignore it, but you cannot get away with it. It's not the curse of some witch doctor or some evil sorcerer. It is a curse pronounced by the all-powerful God who rules everything. And he said as simply as can be put in Ezekiel, all souls are mine. The soul that sins that shall die. All souls are mine.
Yeah. Everybody belongs to God. You can't leave his jurisdiction.
You can't renounce your citizenship. I remember when my own father passed away rather suddenly at 67, we had very little advanced warning of this about two or three weeks. We knew he wasn't well. He said he wasn't.
So finally he said, I think my body's shutting down. That was on a Tuesday. He passed away on Good Friday of 2009. I remember standing there and looking at his body in the casket, reflecting a lot of other thoughts, but it never crossed my mind to think, well, my dad was a investment analyst.
He traveled a lot. I don't want to do that. It never crossed my mind to think dad just died. Okay. Note to self, don't do that. I cannot escape this.
I cannot get away from this. God has declared by his authority that the soul that sins, it shall die. And every time death visits our race, it's a reminder of the absolute unmistakable inescapable authority of God. But there's another kind of way that God's authority is different. Not just you can't, you know, you decide you don't like the laws of America, you can move.
All right. You can't move out of God's jurisdiction. But there's another way in which God's authority is not identical to any other kind of authority that I interact with.
And this is, I find, answering a common mistake for many of us. It's that God's authority, when he invites us to respond to him, is nothing more like the kind of invitation that I get from my authorities. Now, there are different kinds of invitations that you and I may get, right? I mean, I may get invited by a colleague. I mean, if a friend of mine invites me to lunch, I can say yes.
I can say no. It's a pure invitation. If you look at how God expects us to respond to his word, and if you do a quick word study of the word obey in Scripture, you'll find, it doesn't happen every single time, but you'll find that the word obey, particularly in the Old Testament, shows it very regularly with another word, and that is the word voice, my voice, or the voice of God. That God actually wants me to respond to his voice, to his words, with obedience.
It is not merely some kind of invitation. If you think about the kind of power that God's word has, this is the power that took nothing and made something out of it. This is the power that could tell a storm, be quiet, and it just stops doing anything. This is the power by which Christ comes to a demoniac who's been abandoned by everybody, except a legion of demons says, come out of him. This is the power that a Gentile centurion acknowledges that Christ has. He says, you don't even need to come to my house to do this miracle because I'm a man under authority. I've got all this activity going in and out of my house.
Why is it happening? Because I told him to go, and he went, and I told him to come, and he comes, and you've got that kind of authority. Your voice can rule the universe, and it's that voice that doesn't just invite us to respond. There is weight behind the invitation. You may, in fact, ignore the invitation, but it cannot be done without consequence. As Christ in his lament at the end of Matthew 23, after issuing a bunch of woes to the Pharisees, he says, O Jerusalem, how often would I have, what, gathered? You as a hen gathered your chicks under your wings, and you would not. Oh, well, I guess you wouldn't respond to my invitation. Your house is left to you desolate. And if you go back to the Old Testament, when man responds to the voice of God, there's always blessing. When man rejects the voice of God, it is always a curse and a judgment, and you simply cannot pretend that God's invitation is not a summons.
It is a true invitation, but much like the parable that Jesus tells about a man, a king who prepared a banquet, invited a bunch of people, and they blew them off. Yeah, I just bought some property. I got some new livestock.
I got to train them. Yeah, you know, I might come, might not. He goes and destroys all and invites new people to his banquet. That's the kind of authority that you and I are interacting with. It is an absolute authority that God, by his sovereign choice, allows us to resist and fight, but you cannot fight it without your house being left desolate, because it's not merely an invitation. Third, God's word is not just an authority in its inescapable nature, but in the totality of what it addresses. God owns everybody. I've already alluded to all souls are mine. Psalm 24, the earth is the Lord's, the fullness thereof. What's it say next? The people, all they that dwell therein.
Now, if you're a believer in Jesus Christ, you've come by his invitation and command and summons to respond to his grace. He owns you in another way. And guess what? He owns all of you and he owns all of me. And there's no part of me that I get to somehow reserve for myself.
It is a total and complete ownership. And I don't really encounter anything like this. All right, so I'm a teacher.
I have a certain degree of derived authority in my classroom. You might like it. You might hate it.
Either way, guess what? Survive the term. You'll be out. You know, stay in touch.
I like you. You know, like my children, I really hope they stay in touch with me. But as I've told them, you are going to move out one day, right? I don't want you living in my basement all your life, okay?
But guess what? I might be a good dad. I might be a bad dad, but they can outlive my authority. Now, with the desire to control my life, and the thing about this, I think it's more than just a desire to control, because I don't think that control is inherently a anti-God thing to do. I mean, God created Adam and Eve to tend and keep the guard. God brings order out of chaos. God wants man to take and bring some order out of his creation. But I like to think of the kind of order here as a kind of ultimate veto control, where I say to God, God, you've come as far into my life as I want you to go no farther.
Or I've followed you as far as I will follow you and no farther. I kind of control this as veto power. If I am entirely owned by God, and He gives me commands in this book, He is free and sovereign to address any part of my life that He wants. And you can't even play the game of, you know, the Gnostics play, the body's inherently bad, the spirit's inherently good.
I mean, Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 6. Your spirit and your bodies, they're all owned by God. He takes them as dwelling. You want to get something really angry? Mess with his personal property, especially where he lives. It provokes him to jealousy.
Don't do that. Don't start fights with God. He owns me and he owns you in an absolute sense. And I know that there's different things and different ways of understanding this. And there's different even opinions of say the spiritual self-assessments that we want to encourage you to do, whether formally or informally.
Guess what? I can rewrite that in a biblical sense that all of you would hate and you wouldn't just be hating me. I'll just use Romans 12. Let love be without the simulation, abhor that which is evil, cleave that which is good. How are you doing so far?
All right. Don't ever get back at anybody for evil that they do to you. God will repay.
How are you doing there? I mean, I could go through and list these commands that God makes and starts feeling like a straitjacket and it's not man-made rules either because God owns you and he feels no qualms to say things about every single part of your life. He owns your behavior. He owes your words.
He even owns your feelings, right? There's two different stories in scripture that end in very interesting ways that expose this. I remember many Bible conferences ago an elderly gentleman coming and speaking from Columbia International University was invited, I think this was about 20 years ago, and he said, I'd like to invite you to turn to Jonah 5.
I need to let the joke settle into all of us. He said, I really would like to invite you because there's a part of this story that I really wish I could hear what God said happened because here Jonah finally obeys, goes to the end of the preachers, they all repent. Jonah's sitting on a mountain sulking and God says, what's wrong with you Jonah? Don't you understand how I love this city and the people in it?
And Jesus actually gets the same kind of encounter in Luke 15 from a bunch of sons of Jonah who are all saying, hey, why are you hanging out with all these people? And I know that it's really easy for every generation. My generation was really nice to the people who are ostracized by the previous generation. And you can, and I love millennials, you can deceive yourselves into thinking you're the nicest generation.
Guess what? Every generation ostracizes somebody. I'm not being down on anybody. I'm just saying it just moves.
The group moves. And Jesus comes with people who are not going to help anybody out with their social involvement, their professional advancement. And he interacts with them and people are standing back going, I don't get you. And Jesus says, no, you don't get God. And then he tells three back to back to back parables.
What are they? You know, if you had a friend who found a lost sheep, wouldn't you be happy over a sheep? If you had a friend who lost her, a coin, we think it's probably part of her dowry perhaps, and she found it, wouldn't you be happy with her over a coin? Or one of the most painful losses you can imagine, a parent losing a child. There are many ways to lose a child. This father loses a son and the son finally comes back and the older brother is the son of Jonah. He's mad about the whole thing. And Jesus says, don't you understand?
I love people and I love it when they repent and come back to me. God owns everything about you and he wants you to totally absolutely imitate him in every way. I remember when I got, my parents were very into my education number of ways and that included all year round. And so in the summers, my mom had a certain number of things I had to do. I had to practice trombone, had to practice bassoon, had to study Latin, had to study the Bible, certain number of chapters every day. And I got a report card. She does not, she says she does not remember this, but I had the four by six note card in a shoebox in my attic. She gave me a grade for all these things, including attitude.
It's like, it was below a sea. Who are these people? Why am I living here anyway? All right. Okay. Just wait it out.
You'll get out from under the household. Okay. But how long are you going to live until you're outside of the absolute total control of God? We're constantly jockeying for position somehow with God. Yet there's one more thing that we need to think about from God's authority. And this begins to expose Satan's greatest lie about the authority we find in this word. And that is in Psalm 119 verse 145. I walk at Liberty for I seek thy precepts.
Very odd. I mean, there's the awesome moment of summer vacation where we all run out and say, I'm finally what? I'm finally free.
I don't have all this structure over me. Diabolus in Bunyan's holy work comes to the city and says, I'm a city of man's soul. So I've got something to announce to you. You're enslaved. I'm here to liberate you. And a great deal of the story, which we just finished reading, of course, they teach called Christian masters is the question.
When is this city free? Are they free under the rule of Diabolus or are they free under the rule of Emmanuel and Shaddai? God's word actually liberates. And what God wants to give you and what God wants to give me is the kind of Liberty that he enjoys. God cannot be condemned by his own law. God's son cannot be condemned by his own law.
The spirit of God who dwells in us cannot be condemned by his own law. What kind of Liberty does he want to give us? Among other kinds, he wants to give us the freedom to not be what? Condemned by his own law. What amazing freedom.
And so the very authority of God that places this curse as pronounced in this book over our entire race, this same authority of God has found a way through the Lord Jesus Christ to give us not just freedom from the curse, but absolute and total Liberty. And so Satan lies, you won't be free. You'll lose your individuality.
You won't be authentic. So eternally moving target, but I will walk at Liberty for I seek thy precepts. And here's my problem.
I know that God's authority will free me. And it's really hard to keep up. It's like there's something wrong inside me.
It's something wrong with my wiring. A couple of years ago for that same course, Christian Masters, I had a student write, I wish God would make me a robot. I can't remember what I wrote. That's kind of weird because it would be like a self-canceling wish. You would never wish anything again because robots don't wish for things.
Not a reflection. I still think it's kind of weird. And I actually really like the comment because there's something wrong with me. What I wish is that God would take me and want the very absolute control that would liberate me. I am constantly prone to pull away from his authority and destroy myself. Very much like the echoes of the hymn that we're going to have asked us to close with. Prone to wander. Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. The God I love.
If I love him, why would I be prone to leave him? Take my heart. It knows what the right thing is to do, but I need you to take it and seal it so I feel totally at home in your court.
The place where your law, where your authority is immediate and absolute. Seal my heart for your course above. When we respond to God's inescapable liberating authority, it's like the greatest gift that he could ever give a creature. And we are always his creatures. You've been listening to a sermon preached at Bob Jones University by Dr. Ted Miller, which was part of the series called God's Word in Our Hands. These daily programs are made possible by the many friends of Bob Jones University and this radio ministry. If you appreciate these programs and benefit from the faithful preaching and teaching of God's word, would you consider sending us a special financial gift today? You can easily do that through the website thedailyplatform.com and then click on the give button on the home page. We'd also love to hear about how this program is helping your Christian walk. Please send us your feedback using the contact button at the bottom of the website thedailyplatform.com or you can call us at 800-252-6363. The Bob Jones University School for Continuing Online and Professional Education offers convenient and affordable online programs. Whether you're seeking to expand your skills, pursue a passion, or develop a ministry on your own time, qualified and engaged instructors will help you reach your goals. For more information visit scope.bju.edu or call 888-253-9833. We hope you'll join us again next week as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform.
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