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The Character of God's Word

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
October 16, 2023 4:00 am

The Character of God's Word

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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October 16, 2023 4:00 am

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We're dealing with a supernatural document that is inerrant in every word. It is sufficient. It contains everything you need for all issues of spiritual life.

It is effective, that is to say wherever it is unleashed, it comes with power and impact and it always accomplishes what God wants it to accomplish. And finally, it is the determining matter when it comes to where you belong or in what kingdom you exist. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Why do people around the world get up earlier than they need to each morning or go to bed later in order to read a book written thousands of years ago? What makes the Bible worth studying so diligently? Find out today on Grace to You as John MacArthur shows you how to get the most from God's Word. Now, John, that title, How to Get the Most from God's Word, in a way it summarizes the focus of your more than five decades of ministry. You want to help people understand what Scripture means by what it says. You want to equip them to study the Bible and even teach it on their own. Yeah, in reality, nothing is more important than that. Men shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Wow, what an all-encompassing, all-inclusive statement that is. And we know that we're commanded in Scripture to be diligent to study the Scripture, to be workmen approved of God who don't need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. We are not only to know the Word of God, we are to understand the meaning of the Word of God. We are to love the Word of God, get to the point where we can say with David, oh, how I love your law.

It is my meditation all the day long. So I can't think of anything more important than knowing the content of the Word of God. And we're going to do a series now that's going to give you the tools to do that. The title of the series, How to Get the Most from God's Word. We're going to look at the character and the nature of the Bible, Scripture, what it takes to study the Bible, how to interpret the Bible for yourself.

Of course, that's critical because the meaning of the Scripture is the revelation, and how to close the gaps in understanding so you can come to a true knowledge of Scripture. Look, I've spent 50 years as a pastor teaching God's Word week in and week out. And what I'm going to be sharing with you in this series is the things that I've learned about the Bible and about being an effective student of the Bible to glean the most that is available there. That's right, John. And, friend, you'll want to stay here as John shows you why the Bible is such a priceless resource and how to apply its truth to your life.

So with that, here is John with a lesson. I want to ask you to turn to an Old Testament passage which will be a launch point for us, Jeremiah chapter 8, Jeremiah chapter 8 and verse 9. In the ministry of Jeremiah, one of the unhappy assignments that he had as a prophet was to speak against the leaders of his nation who had misled the people. The prophets had failed, the priests had failed, the scribes had failed, the wise men of the nation had failed in leading them to the truth of God and to righteousness.

And I suppose in a sense, in Jeremiah 8 and 9, there's a summation of the tragedy of inept leadership. Verse 9 says, the wise men are put to shame, they are dismayed and caught. Behold, they have rejected the Word of the Lord and what kind of wisdom do they have? What Jeremiah is saying here is you can take all of your leaders, all of the educators, all of the experts on law and ethics and morality, all of those responsible to teach you divine truth and put them into one category and the category is the category of folly because if they have rejected the Word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have? The implication is they don't have any. Wisdom comes from God and it comes through His Word.

And apart from His Word, there is no real spiritual wisdom. When the leaders of a nation, even the nation Israel, reject the Word of the Lord, there is no wisdom. When I was invited over to New Zealand, I had the opportunity to speak to the New Zealand parliament in the parliament house. It was a very interesting and wonderful opportunity and they asked me to address this subject.

This was the requested subject by the New Zealand parliament. What happens to a nation that abandons the Bible as an authority or as its authority? They had watched because they know the history of the United States. They had watched the decline of the Scriptures and the Bible in the public realm in our nation and they could see it coming in their own nation, a nation basically established by immigrant people who came from the United Kingdom bringing Christian principles and biblical truth and they're following the same basic path we're following and they wanted to know what's it like when we give up the Bible as our authority. And the answer is right here in Jeremiah 8, 9, what wisdom do they have? What they are left to is voting on morality.

Polls, opinion polls, call up 800 lines, 900 lines and give your opinion of this and your opinion of that so that we can form our morality. Wisdom with regard to spiritual life, time and eternity is all found in the Word of God. The Bible is the source and the only source of divine wisdom. And it is a tragic thing to realize that the Bible is under assault from so many, many angles.

The Scripture is depreciated by rationalism, existentialism, egoism, relationalism, ritualism, liberalism, mysticism, probably a few other isms as well. These are the things that are being elevated today. The human glory is on the main forefront, letting man be everything he thinks he wants to be to fulfill himself.

That is dominating. There is no authority outside man. Government itself is having a hard time exercising authority because it has given to people so much personal freedom. This approach to religion...the approach to religion that comes in this environment is an existential kind of mystical approach where you're allowed to believe whatever feels good for you, whatever you think God is doing is no doubt what He's really doing. Whatever you think He's saying is surely what He's really saying. All of these things attack the singular, clear authority of the Word of God. Now you say, why are you bringing this up in a series about studying the Bible?

Because I've learned one thing through the years and it's been reiterated to me again and again and again. The diligence with which you approach the study of Scripture, which is so critical to the blessing of your life, so critical to your joy, so critical to your usefulness, so critical to the glory of God, the diligence with which you approach this critical study of Scripture is directly correlated to your view of Scripture...directly. If you have a weak view of Scripture, I promise you, you will have a weak interest in it.

It is the seriousness with which you hold this document that is the initial compelling matter to motivate you in its study. People ask me often how it is that I can structure my life to spend so much time in the Scripture. How is it that I can discipline myself, they often say, to give so much time to the study of the Word of God, including all the preaching and teaching that I do, all the writing of books, writing of a study Bible, and that really is a fair question and I understand why they ask the question. But may I perhaps surprise you by saying this, the difficult thing for me is not to get the discipline up to study the Bible, the trouble for me is to have the discipline to stop and attend to other things that need to be attended to.

You say, why is that? Because I understand what this document is because of the value that I place upon it, the weight I place upon it in my life and in your life, I am compelled to it. In fact, I wrote a little set of notes, just explanatory notes in the front of the study Bible, and you can read them when you get one, but it says something...I can't remember exactly what I said, but something along the line of the fact that the difficulty for me was not getting up every day and spending the necessary time to write all these notes and to dig into the Word of God.

The difficulty for me was not getting to it, the difficulty for me was leaving it. The challenge for me is to leave it because I hold it in such great esteem because I understand its riches and its treasures and as the psalmist said, it is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey from the honeycomb. It is your view of Scripture that is the foundation of everything in terms of addressing Scripture with great diligence and care. And so as we begin to talk about how to get the most out of your Bible and how to study the Bible effectively, we have to start with making sure you understand what this is, the treasure that you hold in your hand. Now obviously no society can survive without the application of the truth of Scripture as no individual can survive without the application of the truth of Scripture.

Write is not determined by a popularity contest and it's not determined by a poll. It's determined by what God has said and God has spoken in the moral and ethical and spiritual realm with very clear terms. No society will survive abandonment of the Bible as its standard and ours won't any more than any other. Our society will continue to disintegrate into unbridled iniquity at a rapid rate until and if there...and unless, I should say, there is a return to the Word of God.

It's inevitable. The Bible claims some amazing things for itself. I'm going to give you seven of them. These are things the Bible claims for itself and this will help you foundationally to understand what you're dealing with. You have in your hand one book and yet divided into two testaments, the first testament divided into 39 separate books, the second into 27, one called the Old Testament, one called the New Testament.

You're familiar with that. You're familiar with Genesis to Revelation and places in between. But do you understand this document's supernatural character? This is not a human book, though it was written over a period of about 1500 to 1800 years and there were over 40 different men whose actual pen was placed on the parchment to write down the words.

It is singularly authored by God and those men who wrote these various books at various times in various places wrote under the direct inspiration of the Spirit of God who was conveying to them the revelation of God from His mind to that pen so that what was produced was the very Word of the living God. This is not a human document. This is a supernatural book and it makes some supernatural claims. First of all, it claims for itself to be infallible...infallible. That is to say that everything that it affirms is absolutely true. If it says something about capital punishment and it does, then what it says is true. If it says something about marriage and divorce, what it says is absolutely true. If it says something about worship, that is absolutely true. If it says something about Jesus Christ, that is true. If it says something about the nature of man, what it says is absolutely true.

If it says something about the history of Tyre or Sidon or the history of Babylon, or if it says something about the future of a coming Babylon or a beast or an Antichrist, if it says something about a man named Peter or a man named David or a man named Paul, or if it says something about a man named Adam who had a wife named Eve and they had some children named Cain and Abel and Seth and it says something about a garden, everything it says is absolutely true. It is infallible. And of course that's the testimony it gives for itself. Summed up in Psalm 19, the Law of the Lord is perfect. The Law of the Lord is perfect.

It contains no flaw. The prophet said, it is like silver tested seven times in a furnace, all that could be imagined to be of dross is burned away and it is absolutely, purely true. Everything it says historically is true. Everything it says prophetically is true. Everything it says spiritually is true. Everything it gives us in terms of direction in life is absolutely true. It is infallible. That is why it has always been called the standard for life, for faith and practice. Two, it is inerrant.

Now we're moving away from the content that it affirms to the specific words. When I say it is inerrant, I mean that the Bible in its original autograph, that is to say in the very document written by the inspired writer, was without error. Now you've got to know that's a challenge. To write anything without error is a challenge. Sometimes people come up to me and say, have you seen this part of your book? There are a lot of errors on this page.

How did those get in there? I don't know whether I made those errors, whether whoever inputted in the computer made those errors, whether whoever was the proofreader made those errors, or whether somebody was correcting something else and typed in an error where there wasn't one. I don't know, but I know one thing, it is near impossible to write something without error. But when the Word of God was written, it was written without error, as the Spirit of God superintended it, Proverbs 30 verses 5 and 6, every word of God is pure. Every word of God is pure. Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee and thou be found a liar. This is an inerrant Scripture. Thirdly, it is complete. It is complete. That is to say, this is all God wanted to inspire.

This is it. From Genesis to Revelation, all these 66 books sums it up. Deuteronomy 4 to 2, you shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it.

That's very similar to Revelation 22. And Jude 3 says, it became the faith once for all delivered to the saints, the content once for all delivered to the saints, the canon of Scripture, called a canon because that's the word for standard, a word for a read which was used as a measuring rod, and this is the standard. It is the standard. It is complete.

Nothing needs to be added. When John wrote Revelation in 96 A.D. on the island of Patmos as God was revealing it to him, it was 30 years after most of the completion of the New Testament, and this was the final...this was the end, this was the last bit of Revelation called the book of Revelation to close out the canon of Scripture which had begun with Genesis. It is comprehensive and complete. Everything necessary for life and godliness and spiritual knowledge is in here. This is a complete Scripture. Does not need science and health and key to the Scriptures. Does not need the Book of Mormon and the doctrines and the covenants.

Does not need the writings of Madame Blavatsky, Judge Rutherford, Annie Besant, or anybody else. This is the complete Word of God. There is no more inspired revelation beyond this. This is God's once for all delivered to the saints' faith. And all Scripture is inspired by God, right? According to 2 Timothy chapter 3 and verse 16, 2 Peter 1, 21, holy men were moved by the Spirit of God as they wrote this, and it is not of any private origin.

It came from God. It is infallible, inerrant, and complete. Fourth, it is authoritative...it is authoritative.

That is to say that when it speaks, you better listen. It is not a book of suggestions. It is not a book to be put alongside other books. It is not a book to be compared with the writings of Confucius or Buddha or somebody else, Mohammed. It is not a book to be compared with the writings of other ethicists through the years. It is not a book to be compared with other religious musings and writings or put beside Aristotle and Plato or the writings of some other philosopher.

It alone is authoritative. Isaiah 1, 2 says, "'Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken.'" You better listen, God has spoken. Psalm 119, 89, "'Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.'" Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.

This is an authoritative book. Fifthly, it is sufficient...it is sufficient. It is all God wanted to say. It is all God said by way of revelation through inspiration and it is all we need. Again back to 2 Timothy 3, all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for instruction, for correction, for reproof, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

It is sufficient. Nothing more is needed for spiritual life than this Word. Now we need to understand this Word and many books help us to understand it, but all spiritual truth necessary for life and godliness is found in this book. Sometimes I hear people say, well, there are people who have such severe psychological problems, they can't start the sanctification process until they get some psychological help. That's folly.

The Bible does not wait for human wisdom to jump start it. It is sufficient that the man of God may be perfect, completely furnished for all good works. Six, it is effective. It is effective. In other words, powerful. But effective sort of is a little more direct.

What do I mean by that? I mean it impacts lives. It accomplishes divine purpose. Isaiah 55, 11 and 12, so shall My Word be that goes forth. It shall not return unto Me void, but shall accomplish what I please. The Word never returns void, it always accomplishes the purpose for which God sends it. Throughout Scripture, God says, I will accomplish all My good purpose. Who is going to stop Me? Who is going to prevent Me from fulfilling My Word? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, heaven and earth will pass away, but Thy Word will not pass away.

Jesus came even Himself to say, I have come to fulfill the Word, not to set it aside. It is effective. Wherever it goes, it penetrates powerfully. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow as a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. It just penetrates the heart. It cuts deep. It is effective. To some it is a savor of life to life, to others a savor of death to death.

But it comes with power. It achieves God's purpose, sometimes for grace and sometimes for judgment. What God says will come to pass. His Word will always be fulfilled. Finally, it is determinative. It is infallible, inerrant, complete, authoritative, sufficient, effective and determinative.

What do I mean by that? It is the Word of God that separates men and women. It is the Word of God that becomes the dividing line between those who are in the kingdom of God and those who are out of it. It is the Word of God that distinguishes between the saved and the lost. It is the Word of God that distinguishes between those who will go to heaven and those who will spend eternity in hell. It is the Word of God that separates those who are God's children from those who are Satan's children. The Word of God is the determining factor.

You say, what do you mean? Listen to the words of Jesus, John 8, 47. He that is of God hears God's words. You therefore hear them not because you are not of God. Indifference to the Bible is a dead giveaway. Diffidence toward scriptural truth is a dead giveaway that one does not belong to God. If you belong to God, you hear God's Word. Jesus put it this way, my sheep hear my voice and they follow me.

It is natural for a human being to seek oxygen. It is natural for a new creation in Christ to seek truth, the truth of God. A person may claim to be a Christian, but if they have no interest in Scripture, you have a right to question the claim because an attitude toward the Word of God is a determinative reality. This is God's Word. In the Old Testament alone, there are over two thousand claims made by the Scripture that say this is the Word of God. And the New Testament adds to that. This is God's Word.

As such, it is the determining factor. If you hear God's Word, you belong to Him. If you don't hear His Word, you don't belong to Him. In fact, you can't understand the Bible, it's a lost book to you, it's a maze and a fog, then you're a natural man who understandeth not the things of God because they're spiritually discerned. But if the Word of God enlightens your heart and opens your mind and brings joy to your heart, as the psalmist pointed out, and takes your simplicity and turns it into wisdom, then the Spirit is alive in you. You belong to God and you're hearing His Word.

Well beloved, we start at this point with an understanding of what we're dealing with. We're dealing with a supernatural document that is absolutely true in all that it affirms, that is inerrant in every word, that is complete, that is nothing is missing, you don't need anything beyond this to have the inspired revelation of God. It is authoritative, that is it speaks as commands. It is sufficient, it contains everything you need for all issues of spiritual life. It is effective, that is to say wherever it is unleashed, it comes with power and impact and it always accomplishes what God wants it to accomplish. And finally, it is the determining matter when it comes to where you belong or in what kingdom you exist. God's people listen to His Word.

You can do a little heart examination on where you are with that regard. Summing up just those things, Joshua 1.8, one of the great Old Testament passages that exalts the Scripture says, this book of the Law, referring to Scripture, shall not depart from your mouth, that is it should be the constant topic of your conversation. Why? Because you shall meditate on it day and night. Now whatever you're thinking about all day and thinking about all night will show up in your conversation. So he's saying you ought to be dominated by the Word of God. It is the dominant thing in your life meditatively, it becomes the dominating thing in your life conversationally. And then it's into action that he speaks so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. You meditate on it, you talk about it, and pretty soon you begin to live it out.

Then you will make your way prosperous, then you will have success. But you need to do according to all that is written in it. There are many Christians who can't do according to all that is written in it because they don't understand it.

That's why it's incumbent upon us to study the Scriptures so that we can understand it, so that we can do it, so that we can be blessed and prosperous and have good success. Here we are then, committed to this as Christians, absolutely committed to it in a world of people who are not only indifferent, but frankly in our culture, outright hostile to the Bible. It is not a standard that this world wants to accept. It is not a standard that our nation wants to accept, and that's tragic.

In order to deny the Bible, they have to behave in a kind of a schizophrenic way. I'll show you what I mean. Most all of our life is built on fixed laws. I mean, we just operate that way all the time. You break scientific laws in the physical world and you get results that are negative. You break moral laws in the spiritual world and you're going to get negative results as well. There is a morality built into this world that is fixed. Just like there are laws in the physical world that are fixed and that if they are violated, bring serious consequences, there are laws in the moral world that are fixed and if violated, bring far more serious consequences.

Better Jesus said. Fear you should destroy your body than your...what?...your soul. Fear not those who destroy the body, but fear whom who destroys the soul. We take such tremendous care to operate within the scientific laws to preserve the body. We build these buildings, these massive skyscraper buildings with all of the science of architecture so that they don't collapse and crush all the people in them.

We build great ships that go out in the ocean and the great depths built according to standards of navigation and standards of flotation and all those kinds of things to preserve the life of those people with tremendous care. And yet we live in total moral relativity, which is just contrary to everything we know about the operation of the universe. Why do men do that? Because they love their sin, that's why. That's the only reason. Not because it's logical. This kind of schizophrenia is because we are unwilling to live in a fixed moral realm and that is precisely what God has designed and He's revealed it here.

There is a morality built by God into the world that is fixed and violated, it brings tragic results and the Scriptures lay that out for us, absolute laws. It's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. John's current study here on Grace to You is titled How to Get the Most from God's Word, looking at how the Bible describes itself, the complete, inerrant wisdom of God.

And now friend, keep in mind we have a resource that can help you put into practice what you're learning in this series. It's the MacArthur Study Bible. It has helpful charts, maps, more than 25,000 study notes from John to help you dig deep into Scripture. To order, contact us today. Call 800-55-GRACE or order from our website, gty.org. The MacArthur Study Bible is reasonably priced in a number of translations and shipping is free. Again, to order, call 800-55-GRACE or shop online at gty.org. That's our website, gty.org, and while you're there, you'll find thousands of free Bible study tools that will help you better understand God's Word and see it transform your life. That includes blog articles by John and our staff, daily devotions, more than 3,500 sermons, which you can download free of charge in MP3 and transcript format, and that includes the messages from John's current series called How to Get the Most from God's Word. And remember, if you'd like to own John's current series on a five-CD album, a great gift for a new Christian, or maybe put it in your church library, you can purchase those CDs as well at our website, gty.org, or call us at 800-55-GRACE. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for starting your week here with us and be back tomorrow when John continues to show you how to get the most from God's Word with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-18 23:26:18 / 2023-10-18 23:38:41 / 12

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