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God’s Own Defense of Scripture, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
December 7, 2021 3:00 am

God’s Own Defense of Scripture, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Scripture is a beam of the sun of righteousness. It is a crystal stream flowing from the fountain of life, so pure that it purifies everything else. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. What do these verses mean? That's the most important question you can ask when you're reading the Bible. Of course, the answer isn't always obvious. The fact is, we all have questions. We aren't always sure that we know what a passage of Scripture means.

So why that confusion? Does God want His Word to be hard to understand? Consider that today as John MacArthur looks at Psalm 19, a passage that explains in rich detail what God says about the Bible. The title of John's study, God's Own Defense of Scripture.

Now to help you see why you can really trust the Bible, here's John MacArthur with the lesson. It is Job who said, I have esteemed the words of God's mouth more than my necessary food. That is to say, what Jesus said in the New Testament, we don't live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Taking in the Word of God, said Job is more important than eating food. The Apostle Paul said that the church is built on the Scriptures that came through the Apostles and the prophets, Ephesians 2.20. Life in the church is built on the Word of God. It is the life of the church.

It is the food of every individual believer. Thomas Watson, one of my favorite and most beloved of the Puritans was a very eloquent writer. He gave in his writings many tributes to the Bible. In one of them he said this, Scripture is a beam of the sun of righteousness.

It is a crystal stream flowing from the fountain of life, so pure that it purifies everything else. Thomas Watson also wrote this, the devil and his agents have been blowing at Scripture light but could never blow it out, a clear sign that it is lighted by heaven. So on the one hand, we have the affirmation that the Scripture is indeed the Word of God, it is our food, it is the truth upon which the work of God depends and at the same time it is that which is under constant assault by the enemy of God, the enemy of God's purposes, the devil and all who are a part of His Kingdom. In any period of time, Scripture will be under attack. In any period of time, in any place, it will be blown at by those who want to extinguish its light. We find that going on throughout all the history of the church.

We find it going on even today. We have to rise up to understand those who would assault the Scripture and we have to rise to its defense. We are living in a time when the sufficiency of Scripture is under unique assault. The move to psychology as a necessary component in solving man's problems indicates that the Bible in itself is not enough. The search for methods found in the world's economics and the world's businesses and the world's techniques and the world's strategies to apply in building the church are an indication that the Scripture itself is not enough for the life and growth and expansion of the church.

All of these really are a demonstration of the tragic worldliness of the church. When the church has to design its ministry around non-biblical things, it has abandoned its confidence in the Word of God and thus has brought reproach upon God who Himself affirms the absolute sufficiency of His Word. It forces us to ask this substantially foundational question, is the Scripture enough? Is it enough to do the work of evangelism? Is it enough to do the work of sanctification?

Is it enough to solve the problems of the human heart? Is it enough to build and extend and advance the church? Or do we need to concede that the Scripture has its limitations that have to be overcome by psychology, by human wisdom and strategy, by political clout, by new revelations, by wonders and signs?

Do we have to somehow overcome the stigma of the gospel by inventing a more popular message that will be acceptable to people? Is the Bible so lacking in its own power and sufficiency that we have to apply human wisdom and human technique to help God overcome the natural resistance of a fallen world? Well the answer to that question about the sufficiency of Scripture is given by God Himself in Psalm 19. Let's return to Psalm 19. In fact, there are many, many places in the Scripture where its own sufficiency is attested, more than one could exposit probably in a lifetime.

But here is one that is a great and rich and comprehensive summation. Here is God's own witness, God's own revelation as to the sufficiency of Scripture, Psalm 19. And we're looking at verses 7 through 14, let me read them for you. The Law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true, they are righteous all together.

They are more desirable than gold, yes than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey in the drippings of the honey comb. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned, in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors?

Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins, let them not rule over me, then I shall be blameless and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. The opening six verses of Psalm 19 have to do with God's revelation in creation, God's revelation in nature. We call that general revelation. From verse 7 on, it is special revelation, God's revelation in Scripture, in the Bible, God's revealed Word. God has revealed Himself in creation so that it may be known that He exists and that He is powerful and that He is wise and many of the attributes of God, of course, are on display in creation.

But nothing in creation tells us how God may be known and nothing in creation tells us specifically what His will for man is. And therefore, we turn to special revelation. And God gives testimony to the sufficiency of this special revelation, this inscripturated revelation here in these verses. First of all, the sufficiency of Scripture, verses 7 to 9, then the value of Scripture verses 10 to 13, and finally our subsequent commitment to Scripture in verse 14.

Now we are looking at verses 7 through 9, the sufficiency of Scripture. There are parallels in these three verses. Six statements are made, two in each verse that are parallel to each other. They all have six titles for Scripture.

They all have six characteristics of Scripture and each one gives six benefits of Scripture. Scripture is called, in verse 7, law and testimony. In verse 8, precepts and commandment. In verse 9, fear and judgments. Those are titles for Scripture. Looking at it as a many-faceted diamond, it is all of those things. It is God's law, God's testimony, God's precepts, God's commandment, God's fear and God's judgments revealed.

And there are six characteristics. In verse 7, it is perfect and sure. In verse 8, it is right and pure. In verse 9, it is clean and true.

And then there are six effects or benefits. It restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, endures forever. And the final one in verse 9, it produces comprehensive righteousness.

This then provides a complete understanding of the magnitude of the sufficiency of Scripture. And by the way, we are reminded as to who the author is, six times it is of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord. There is no mistaking the author of Scripture.

It is divine. Six times the covenant name of Yahweh is used and He is clearly the one who is the source of this inscripturated revelation. The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. That is to say that Scripture can be viewed as God's law for man's conduct. It is the manual on behavior.

It is the Torah, divine instruction for man's life. And as such, it is perfect, meaning it is comprehensive, meaning it is full, meaning nothing is left out. It is perfect as opposed to incomplete, not perfect as opposed to imperfect. It's not saying that it's flawless, although it is that, but rather that it is completely comprehensively sufficient.

For what? For restoring the soul. The word restoring, transforming, converting, renewing the soul, nefesh, the inner person. The Scripture then is comprehensive, totally sufficient to completely transform the whole inner person.

That is to say, it is all that is necessary to produce total complete transformation. It saves. It is the power of God to save. Remember the words of Peter, we are begotten again by the Word...by the Word.

It is able to convert, it is able to transform. It is sharper than any other sword. It is a two-edged sword that cuts the heart completely open and produces conviction and conversion. It is the Word of God which alone saves.

It does not need any assistance in doing that. The second point we made here is to look at verse 7 again, the testimony of the Lord views Scripture as God's own personal testimony, God's own self-revelation. It is His Law, it is also His self-revelation.

As such, it is sure in a world of things that are not sure, not reliable, this is utterly and absolutely unwaveringly unmistakably accurate and true. And as such, as the true and accurate, reliable testimony of God, it is able to take the simple, meaning those who lack understanding, lack wisdom, those who are naive, undiscerning, undiscriminating, foolish and make them wise. Wise in Hebrew means skilled in all areas of living, skilled in the practical aspects of holy living. Scripture then is sufficient to save. It is sufficient to sanctify, to take one and make that one wise, skilled in all practical aspects of holy living. It is all that is necessary for salvation. It is all that is necessary for the sanctification that is produced by the intake and the application of divine wisdom. Thirdly, in verse 8, Scripture is seen as the precepts of the Lord, precepts meaning doctrines, if you will, statutes some translations have, that is principles for life and godliness, divine principles. It is filled with principles, he says, that are right, literally in the Hebrew, that set the right path, principles for walking down the right path. And as one walks in those principles, the effect is rejoicing the heart.

True joy fills the inner person. And so we find that Scripture is sufficient to produce salvation, sanctification and true lasting heart, contentment and joy. We don't need voices from angels. We don't need conversations with the supernatural. We don't need visions and miracles. We don't need mystical kinds of imaginations and intuitions to be led by God.

We need only His Word. He leads us in a right path, that path becomes our joy. All our true pleasure, all our true delight comes from following the path laid out by the Word of God. People who walk in that path experience joy.

Now that leads us to the remaining three. Number four is in verse 8, the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The commandment indicates that Scripture is a mandate.

These are not negotiable, they demand obedience. Scripture is authoritative, it is binding, it is non-optional, it is not a source of suggestions. The divine revelation of God is a series of commands. Disobedience brings about divine judgment.

Obedience brings about divine reward. So Scripture is the Law of the Lord, the testimony of the Lord, principles given by the Lord and commandment as well. It is all of those things at one and the same time. Now as such, it is pure, is the word. Literally that word means clear. Sometimes when you use the word pure, you think more on the spiritual side.

This is really a simple word that means lucid, transparent, easy to see, giving clear direction. That is to say, the Scripture is not mysterious. The Scripture is not intended to be unclear, it is intended to be crystal clear.

You say, well why then do people not understand it? Because the natural man understands not the things of God. They're foolishness to him because he is spiritually dead.

And additionally, he is blind. The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who believe not, lest the glorious light of the gospel should shine unto them. So you have the spiritual deadness and the spiritual blindness that limits someone's understanding of Scripture. But to the person who has been regenerated, whose eyes have been opened, who has been given life, the Bible is clear.

In fact, our Lord even says you have to become as a little child to enter the Kingdom. It is that clear. The Old Testament says, a wayfaring man though he be a fool need not error. And so God has given us clear understanding. And as such, it enlightens the eyes.

In contrast to the muddied, muddled musings of men who are themselves blind and themselves dead, who invent concoctions of religion that are inscrutable, the Bible is crystal clear. You are able to see the truth in a dark world, to understand, to be comforted in times when no one else can understand what is going on. I remember one time years ago being invited to speak to the philosophy class and Vance philosophy class and the professor was a former rabbi who liked to chew on an occasional fundamentalist.

And so I was going to be the bone for that experience. I went to the class and I was supposed to talk on the subject of Christianity and culture. Well I didn't want to talk about Christianity and culture, I wanted to talk about the gospel. So I think I opened by saying if I remember right, something like, well the great expert on Christianity and culture is Francis Schaeffer, and if you want to know about that, you can read Francis Schaeffer. But I said, I'm here to tell you this, I know this is a philosophy class and I know that you're searching for the truth and I'm here to bring your search to an end. That was enough to lose them all. They looked like somebody had shot off a gun in the room.

The brashness of that, the egotism of that was stunning. I said, I'm here to end your search. Now that's a problem for a philosophy class because you're supposed to get a degree for searching. If you find the truth, the search is over, you can't finish your degree.

So if you're taking philosophy, don't get the truth until you get the degree, then you can get the truth. So I said, I'm here to tell you the truth, tell you the truth about the origin of the universe, tell you the truth about why the universe holds together things that Einstein couldn't figure out. I'm here to tell you where the universe is going in the future, how it will end.

I'm here to tell you about life and death and the afterlife, morality, everything you want to know, I'm here to tell you all of it. And then I said this, and the rabbi professor was as stunned as everybody else. I said, but I...no matter what I say, you're not going to understand it and you're not going to believe it. And one student at that moment spoke for all of them and said, how do you know? How do you know we won't understand it and we won't believe it? I said, because it's a prerequisite for you to understand this, you have to have been transformed by faith in Jesus Christ so that your understanding is opened.

To which he replied, well how does that happen? And I said, good, now we'll talk about how...we'll talk about how you become transformed by Jesus Christ. And so I went in to the gospel, which was no small irritation to the professor. I don't want to live my life in the dark, do you? Proverbs 6 23, the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light.

I want to see it the way it really is. Romans 15 4 talks about the comfort of the Scripture, or the encouragement of the Scripture, as the NAS puts it. The light is turned on in every dimension on every subject from Scripture.

It floods its glorious truth on every dimension of life. Psalm 119 reiterates this, verse 52, I have remembered thine ordinances from of old, O Lord, and comfort myself. In the midst of the darkest times, the truth becomes our comfort. Verse 59, I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies. I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments. I saw the way I was going and I knew I needed to turn to Your Word to enlighten me to change my course. Verse 81, my soul languishes for Thy salvation, I wait for Thy Word. My eyes fail with longing for Thy Word.

When will You comfort me? All comfort comes, all true comfort comes from a true understanding and a true understanding of things is revealed in Scripture. He goes on a number of times in this Psalm to say the same thing in another way. Verse 92, if Thy law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I couldn't have interpreted my suffering. I couldn't have interpreted my troubles if I didn't know Your Word tells me that in affliction You comfort, in affliction You perfect, in affliction You mold me and make me into the man You want me to be, the woman You want me to be.

I wouldn't know that if I didn't have Your Word. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. His lesson today is from his current series, God's Own Defense of Scripture. John, there's so much in this study about the benefit of Scripture, the power it has to change lives, the way it gives wisdom and brings joy, and so much more. But all of that first assumes that we have a clear understanding of Scripture, right?

If you don't have any understanding, you can't reap those benefits. No, the power of the Scripture is in the meaning of the Scripture. And it isn't until you know the meaning of a text, the accurate interpretation of a text, that you access its power. And do I need to say that Scripture is butchered by so many people, so many false interpretations, so many wrong interpretations, basically obliterate the divine intent of a passage of Scripture? In fact, it's pretty common that the Bible is misinterpreted. Every cult, every false form of religion does it. Every politician does it.

Every politician does it, for sure. But pastors do it. And so there's this kind of floating notion that, well, you know, it's the Bible and it's God's word, but there's no real single interpretation and everybody's got his own interpretation. That's what's been conveyed because of the random way in which Scripture is handled. So you don't get the power until you get the message.

You don't get the message until you interpret it accurately. And to help you with that, I just want to mention again the MacArthur Study Bible in its two distinct forms. First of all, it comes in an app, simply called the Study Bible. The Study Bible app is free. You can go to gty.org and find the right version for your device. The Study Bible gives you the entire text of God's word in three translations, New American Standard, ESV, and King James text.

You can take your pick. With the app, you can quickly link to Grace To You sermons and articles related in the biblical text that you're reading. And it's a nominal one-time fee for you to add all the study notes from the MacArthur Study Bible. So the Study Bible app offers all of that. And of course, then, we also have hardbound and leather editions of the MacArthur Study Bible. Wonderful Christmas gift.

I can't think of a better one. And for all the forms of the MacArthur Study Bible, there's still a 25 percent discount from any of those—New American Standard, New King James, English Standard Version, Spanish, Russian, German, Italian, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Chinese versions. You need to get the Bible Study app or the traditional Study Bible today.

Yes, friend, maybe you have a long break at Christmas. There's no better way to spend that extra time than digging into God's word. So pick up the MacArthur Study Bible to see truths that you may have missed, or to gain a deeper understanding of passages that have always confused you. To place your order, contact us today. Call 800-55-GRACE.

That number translates to 800-55-47223. Our customer service team can help you find the right shipping option for pre-Christmas delivery. You can also select an express shipping option when you order from our website, gty.org. And don't forget, every MacArthur Study Bible is currently discounted 25 percent off. So take advantage and order now. Call us at 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org.

Something else to keep in mind. Our website, gty.org, has all the messages from John's current study, God's Own Defense of Scripture, free in MP3 or transcript format. And in fact, all of John's sermons, 3,500 total, are free at our website. You can download those sermons anytime at gty.org.

That's our website one more time, gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for making Grace to You part of your day. And invite a friend to join us tomorrow when John looks at how to get the most out of your time studying God's Word and how to correctly apply biblical principles. He's continuing his study, God's Own Defense of Scripture, with another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-12 20:52:39 / 2023-07-12 21:01:59 / 9

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