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The Authority of Scripture

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 16, 2021 12:01 am

The Authority of Scripture

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 16, 2021 12:01 am

In a world of unreliable witnesses, Scripture can be trusted absolutely. In a world of lies and deception, the Bible is completely true. Today, John MacArthur equips Christians to stand firm for the authority and sufficiency of God's Word.

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R.C. Sproul
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John MacArthur

Coming up today on Renewing Your Mind. I have a friend who is probably the single most significant collector of antiquity Bibles in the world. He has the single greatest private collection in existence. And he gave me what he thought would be a treasure and it is next to the living, breathing humans in my house, it is the greatest treasure I possess there. He gave me the first Bible ever printed in Scotland, the first one, 1576. It is in amazingly good condition.

I don't know what that says about the people who had it. But nonetheless, it now sits in a beautiful hand-carved cherry wood pulpit modeled after some etchings of a Puritan pulpit and handcrafted by a gentleman who wanted to make me a cherry wood pulpit that would be a replica of a Puritan pulpit not using any nails, purely tongue and groove, no glue, nothing. And when you lift the lid of that pulpit, you're exposed to this immense treasure of the Word of God. It isn't that I need that Bible to get to the truth. I have Bibles that are much easier for me to read, frankly. It is that I need that Bible to remind me of the heritage. If the printing press was invented in around 1545, that's not too many years after the printing press.

And to realize the painstaking involvement of hand carving every single letter, dropping them in some kind of a frame in the right sequence so you spell the words on the page, putting down the big flat piece of paper, rolling the roller across it so that it was inked, taking it off and then dumping all the letters and starting on the next page, you understand what they went through to produce that. What is remarkable about that Bible is it's got to be one of the first study Bibles. It has as many notes and footnotes as the Geneva study Bible. They were so afraid somebody would mess up the interpretation of the text.

And all kinds of helps beginning and end. It was a treasure beyond all treasures when it finally found its way into the churches where the people could come and read it and hear it expounded. We have a great heritage. We take the Word of God for granted. We have more Bibles than we need, but we stand as the beneficiaries of some people who basically gave their life for the Word of God. My friend, the Bible collector, has a Bible that is his most treasured possession of all. He keeps it in a special place in his museum, and when first he let me look at it, he didn't tell me what I was looking at. I opened it, and he said, just leaf through it. And it was published a little before the one that I have. The translators of that particular translation had to flee from England because of the persecution against them, and under the protection of John Calvin were able to do that translation and then come back and have it printed.

But this Bible was a Bible that was still a part of the time of persecution. And as I went through it, I noticed that it had been submerged in liquid. You know how books look when they've been wet?

And about two-thirds of the way up it had a wavy line where it had been dipped, but it wasn't brown like water, it was pink. And I said, what is this? And he said, well, the story of this Bible that comes with it sort of tucked in from centuries bygone is that when martyrs were executed for their faith, it was not uncommon for them to be cut before they were burned, and their blood fill a bowl and a Bible thrown into the bowl as testament to what happens to those who adhere to this book. The battle for the Bible for those folks was a bit more threatening than it is for us, but certainly no less important. Satan is a liar. He is a deceiver. He incessantly propagates lies that destroy God's truth. One of those lies is that the Bible is not the Word of God.

And that lie, of course, is at the foundation of everything, absolutely everything. I count it a privilege and an honor and an overwhelming responsibility to speak to you on the authority of Scripture. To do that, I am drawn to the Old Testament, which in recent months I have come to love more than ever, but nothing to me is more clear in the Old Testament than that, the Scripture is the Word of the living God. Now there are basically two places that I could go where this is most clearly dealt with. One is Psalm 119, and you would all die while I was still in it.

If you know anything about me. So I've opted out for Psalm 19. Open your Bible, if you will, to that Psalm. Psalm 19 is a psalm about revelation. The first part of the psalm is about what theologians have called general revelation. It's about the heavens declaring the glory of God and their expanses, evidence of the work of His hands.

It's about that revelation of God that comes through the created universe which reveals, as Romans 1 says, His Godhead, His power and leaves men who deny His existence inexcusable. The second half of the psalm is about special revelation, written revelation, Scripture. And that begins in verse 7, and it is to that that I want to draw your attention. Reading from the New American Standard, verse 7, 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 clear, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true. They are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey in the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned.

In keeping them, there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Equit 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. There is no more concise tribute to the authority of Scripture than this. God, with an economy of words, says everything that needs to be said to encompass the length and breadth and depth and height of Scripture's sufficiency. Obviously, the Bible has been embattled on a number of fronts, the head-on frontal attack against its inspiration, and I think we've done pretty well in countering that and answering that. There has been a rear assault in recent years from the experientialists who want to say, yes, the Bible is true, but so are my visions and revelations, which attacks the singularity of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. There have been the side attacks that say, well, the Bible certainly is true and certainly is the Word of God, but it lacks contemporary psychological, sociological sophistication, and therefore it suffers a little bit from relevancy problems. And we've done our best to address that. I think all of those things have seen their day. But the battle today being waged with regard to the Scripture is a battle with regard to its sufficiency.

Does it really cover everything? Is it really all we need? And that is what this psalm primarily addresses. If you'll look at verses 7, 8, and 9, we'll approach those verses as the core of what I would like to say to you. You will notice there are six statements about Scripture, two in each of those three verses. And those six statements have parallel characteristics. Scripture is given six titles, described with six characteristics which produce six effects, six titles, six characteristics producing six effects. Scripture is called law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and judgments. Its characteristics are it is perfect, sure, right, clear, clean, true. The effects, it restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, endures forever, and the last one produces comprehensive righteousness. That really covers the issue of scriptural sufficiency. And I think you'll see as that begins to unfold when we discuss it.

Let's take the first statement. The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. Scripture is law. It is written by God as a manual for man's life. It is the manufacturer's manual.

It is the maker's manual. He has designed us, He has made us, and He has laid down the laws of operation for maximum benefit. It is God's law for man. That's one of the facets, one of the viewpoints of Scripture as you look at it. And He says, as God's law for man, it is perfect. Wanting to know what that word meant, I spent a whole afternoon chasing it around the Hebrew lexicons and after about two and a half hours discovered that what it actually means is perfect.

Frankly, it was a bit disappointing. But that in itself needs a definition because the perfection of which it speaks is not perfect in the sense of that which is opposite imperfect, but perfect in the sense of that which is opposite incomplete. In other words, the Bible is comprehensive. The Bible is complete. In fact, one lexicon gave an excellent definition of the Hebrew word. It was this, all-sided, s-i-d-e-d, all-sided so as to cover all aspects of something. The Bible is comprehensive.

It covers all aspects related to what? The rest of the verse, the rest of the statement, restoring the soul. Now we all know the Hebrew word nephesh is the word translated soul. In the normal English versions of today, it is probably translated by about 20 to 23 or 24 in some cases, different English words, soul, spirit, being, heart, self. A number of English words are used to translate nephesh in the Hebrew, but it always means the same thing, the inner person, the inner person as opposed to the body, the inner person, that eternal being. The Scripture is comprehensive so that it can take the inner being and restore it.

What does that word mean? It can mean renew, but the best meaning is to transform. The Word of God is so comprehensive, it can totally transform the whole inner person. That's what Scripture claims for itself. That is why Peter says we are begotten again by the Word.

That's why Paul says faith comes by hearing a message about Christ. It is the Word that produces the life and the energy of the Spirit of God. It totally restores, transforms the whole inner person. It is more powerful, says the writer of Hebrews, than any two-edged sword. It can pierce to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

It can cut to the core and convict and transform. That's the power of the Word. Timothy, you have known from a child the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise unto what? Salvation.

That's the power of the Word. I was in Florida some years ago and was preaching over in Sebring, and afterwards a man came up to me. I'll never forget him. His name was Tim Evelina, and he said, I have to talk to you. I have to talk to you. And I said, great, let's sit down and talk. We sat down on a chair in the church, and he said, I got to tell you about my life. He said, I'm a fifth-generation Jehovah's Witness. My father is in charge of the Jehovah's Witness movement in the state of Florida, and I work for the Jehovah's Witnesses.

I train all of their local pastors. And he said, just a matter of a few weeks ago, I was driving across Alligator Alley down in the south of Florida, and he said, I turned on a car radio, and you were preaching. And he said, I didn't know who you were. But you were preaching, and I listened to you, and all of a sudden you said, Jesus is God. And you read some Scripture to support it, and I reached over to my radio and turned it off and said, that's a lie.

And then I got curious, and I turned it back on again. And he said, it was a Monday, and you kept talking about the fact that the Bible says Jesus is God. And then you said you were going to be talking about that the rest of the week on your radio program, and I was compelled to listen every day. And then on Friday, you said that you were going to continue the series on Monday through the next week.

And so I made sure I heard the next five. And on Friday I was in a motel not far away from here, he said. As I was traveling around doing my training of all the local JW leaders, I was in a motel, and I looked up to God, and I said, if you Jehovah indeed came into this world in the form of Jesus Christ, would you let the light break on my heart? And by the morning I had given my life to Jesus Christ. He said, I'm a Christian.

And he said, that's only been about four or five weeks ago. And he said, now I've been going back around to all those same places, and I only know one message, and it's Jesus is God. And he said, I just want to ask you to do something. Would you pray for my father and my mother, and would you pray for my wife and three grown sons, all Jehovah's Witnesses?

I said, I will. And within six months I got a wonderful, beautiful letter from him telling me they were all in Christ. God works through His Word. How do you reach a pastoral trainer in the JW?

How clever do you have to be? How about just hollering at him for ten straight days that Jesus is God and showing it to him in the Word? I had a man call me in my church. He said, I have to see you right away.

I'm desperate. I said, great, come on Sunday before the Sunday night service. He came at four o'clock.

He walked in. He said, my name's Steve. I'm a doctor. He said, I got some serious problems.

You got to help me. I said, I'll do what I can. He said, you got to know this, I'm Jewish and I don't believe in Christianity, but I've been coming to your church for four Sundays. I said, why? He said, because I have so many problems, some guy told me to come here. And he said, all four Sundays you've been doing this series on delivered to Satan, which is not seeker friendly, you can imagine. So, he said, you were talking about me.

I know I'm damned. I said, why do you say that? He said, well, I'm an abortionist. I kill babies for a living.

That's my practice. Last year, my clinic did $9 million worth of abortions. He said, if a woman doesn't have a reason, I give her one to get her money. That's being honest. He said, furthermore, I divorced my wife, married my second wife, and now I'm living with a woman who's not my wife. And I haven't got the courage to go back to my second wife because I actually like her better. He said, I just bar mitzvahed two of my kids. I've been under psychiatric care for a year, and I'm facing bankruptcy.

Can you help me? I said, no? Are you kidding? How are you going to help a Jewish abortionist who's under psychiatric care? I said, but I know someone who can transform your life. He said, who? I said, Jesus Christ. He said, ah, yeah. He said, I thought you'd say that. I said, well, look, if you don't want transformation, that's your choice. But if you're interested, I'd like to introduce you to Jesus Christ.

He said, I don't know who He is. I said, well, let's start with that. I reached over and picked up a Bible. I opened it to the book of John. I said, see this book called John? He said, yeah. I said, you take this Bible with you. You read John every day, and when you know who He is, you call me. Because these things are written that you might know, right? That's the thesis.

You say, what, no tapes? You just turn that guy over to the Bible? That'll get confused. Now, the Word of God is like a line.

You don't defend a line. You just let it out. It'll be all right. So, Thursday, He calls me. He says, I got to see you. I said, come in on Sunday, same time, 4 o'clock.

He walks through the door, doesn't even look at me. He's got this Bible in His hand, walks by me, sits down on the chair and looks up and says, I know who He is. I said, you do? He said, yep. I said, well, who is He? He says, God. Jesus is God. I said, Steve, you've got to be kidding me. You're a 50-year-old man. You've been in Judaism all your life.

This is Thursday from last Sunday. This is a big change. I'll never forget what He said. He said, He has to be God. He said, because nobody could do what He did or say what He said if He wasn't God. He's giving me back exactly what John said.

If you can't believe my words, believe my works. He got it. By the power of the Spirit of God, He got it. He had to be God. And then He said, and do you know what else He did?

I said, no, what? He said, He rose from the dead. And then I don't know why He said this, but He said, and He did it fast. I don't know like it struck Him, you know? I mean, it is fast.

It's three days, but if you're reading, it's a minute and a half. You're out of that chapter. He's out of there, you know?

So I said, Steve, I said, so is God. So why did He come? He came to die. Why did He come to die? He came to die for my sin.

How do you know that? He said, you know, I found this book called Romans. He'd read Romans. The law of the Lord is comprehensive enough to totally transform the whole inner person. And I said, well, what does this mean in your life?

He said, what it means is my wife is meeting me for church tonight and I've written this afternoon my resignation letter to the abortion clinic. That's the power of the Word of God. Well, I don't know about you, but stories like that thrill me, the power of the Word of God on display. We've heard a great message from Dr. John MacArthur today on Renewing Your Mind. This week we're concentrating on the essential truths of the Christian faith. It's a series in which Dr. MacArthur, along with Alistair Begg, Sinclair Ferguson, James Montgomery Boyce, and R.C.

Sproul explain some of the key truths of biblical Christianity. We'd like to share the entire series with you. Contact us today and request the USB drive. There are 12 messages, plus we'll include a bonus series, the classic collection by Dr. Sproul. You'll get both of these with your gift of idiom out when you contact us at 800-435-4343. You can also make your request and give your gift online at Dr. MacArthur's more than 50 years of pastoral ministry have given him great insight into God's Word and its power in the lives of Christians, and we're always grateful to have him here on Renewing Your Mind. Again, you'll benefit from this insight as well when you request the series, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith.

Our phone number again is 800-435-4343, our web address, Well the Bible tells us that faith without works is dead. But what role do those works play in our salvation? We do not work for our salvation, but we ourselves in salvation have become God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance that we should do. Our teacher tomorrow is Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, and we hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-24 12:36:16 / 2023-12-24 12:45:02 / 9

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