Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. These words from Psalm 19 shed light on the educating power of the Scriptures. Wisdom floods our souls as we sit under its instruction. Today, more about how we all can be changed by the Word.
From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, as you talk today about how the Word of God teaches us, I guess learning is a lifelong process. Dave, yes indeed learning is a lifelong process, but I also have to say that I think that you said so clearly what people need to understand, that there's a difference between wisdom and knowledge. And only the Bible can give us wisdom. Knowledge you can find everywhere.
As a matter of fact, there are those who have knowledge of the Scriptures, but they lack wisdom because they are not humble enough to receive what the Bible says. This ministry of running to win is heard throughout the world, specifically in 20 different countries, all because of the gifts and the support of God's people. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner?
That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their interests. Of course, you need more info. So here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com. And when you're there, click on the endurance partner button.
Or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us open our minds and our hearts to God's word that indeed we might have knowledge, but specifically also wisdom. The famous atheist Bertrand Russell was asked by a Christian, if after you die, you discover that there is God and there is eternity, what would you say to God? He said, I'd tell him that he didn't give us enough evidence. Now the Bible indicates that God has given people plenty of evidence.
As a matter of fact, there's enough evidence not only to believe in God, but to go beyond that and for us to determine what kind of God in which we should believe. Psalm 19 is our text, and I want all of you to turn to it. And we need to look at this together, this remarkable Psalm, because what we have in this Psalm is first of all, God revealing himself through his works and then God revealing himself through his word.
And we're going to begin with the works because there is a connection. You'll notice it says in Psalm 19, I'm beginning at verse one, the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor are there words whose voice is not heard. Their measuring line goes throughout all the earth and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens and its circuit to the ends of them. And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
Wow. What he's saying is here in nature, and of course we're talking about the heavens, we're speaking about the stellar universe, the stars. They declare the glory of God. You know, astronomers tell us that there are more stars in the sky than there might be grains of sand on the seashores of the world. Can you get your mind around it? And yet the Bible says very casually in the first chapter of the book of Genesis that God created this and he created that and he made the stars also.
He just spoke and there they were. Imagine that. And today they declare the glory of God and you think, for example, of the sun. The imagery here is that the sun is in a tent and it's running from one end of the heavens to the other and of course then it hands off its responsibilities to the night and then it comes up again the next day to do its work. And what would we do without the sun? If we were a little closer, we'd get burned up a little farther away, we would be frozen.
And isn't it Jupiter that makes sure that the earth stays in a proper relationship to the sun? I mean the heavens declare the glory of God. And you'll notice it says that they pour forth speech. It is a silent speech to be sure. Nobody hears it.
It's a good thing that it isn't a spoken language or it would have to be translated. But there is now in the heavens God is revealing himself and he's pouring out this speech and he does it to reveal himself. Silent speech but powerful speech indeed. And what does nature teach us? It teaches us first of all about the total sovereignty of God, the power of God, and also the knowledge that God has to be able to do what he's done. Paul in the book of Romans says that the invisible attributes of God are seen through his creation, namely his eternal power and his nature. And this revelation comes continually.
It pours forth speech. It's there every single day. It is there when the seasons come and go. And universally you can go to the farthest tribe in the world and it also there you see the stars and you see the sun and you are reminded of the existence of God, indeed that he exists. And of course the Bible makes a very clear distinction between the creation and the creator. You know there are modern pagans today who want to go back to nature. They want to go back to nature. They need to go further back than that to nature's creator.
And then of course we have atheists. Wasn't it Dawkins who made the statement does the universe have design? Yes. A designer?
No. What sense does that make? You know atheists they don't understand this but logically atheism is totally illogical because even when they build their arguments they are assuming all kinds of assumptions that could only be true if God existed.
But they think that their arguments are very powerful. As a matter of fact if it takes a mind to understand creation clearly a mind must be back of creation to have made it. The universe does not have in itself any evidence that has it has the ability to create itself nor that it has eternally existed as God has. I wish I could spend more time on it except to say that there's plenty of evidence out there. When I was a boy growing up on the farm and I had lots of time because I was the last of five children so I frittered away an awful lot of time. But in the evening sometimes I would run under the sky and then wait till your eyes adjusted to the darkness and there you would see these beautiful stars. I mean I could find the big dipper always easily.
The little dipper was more difficult to find but it wouldn't take but five minutes and I'd be on my knees worshipping God. Absolutely overcome by the immensity of God. Let me tell you something very clearly. God is not hiding himself from men. Men are hiding themselves from God. The heavens declare the glory of God.
And we could say so much more about this atheist sin against a flood of light. By the way Bertrand Russell whom I referred to earlier when he came to the end of his life someone said what is the secret of happiness? He said happiness is the ability to accept the fact that this world is terrible.
It's not a very good end is it? But you know when we think of creation it tells us about the power of God, the immensity of God, but what it doesn't do is to tell us about whether or not this God is interested in us, whether or not we can relate to him, whether or not he's trustworthy. Nature can be very cruel. We'd never guess from nature that God loved the world. Look at the tornadoes, look at the tsunamis, all of these things that happen in our fallen universe and nature tells us about the immensity of God and something about the nature of God but it doesn't help us too much when it comes to asking the bigger personal questions of life. And that's why when you begin in verse 7 here what David now does is he transitions from the works of God to the word of God.
I think I'm going to just take out a moment and answer some questions. Some people may say is it legitimate to look into the Bible to find out what it says about itself? You know the Bible says it's inspired. How do you know it's inspired?
It says it's inspired. If you put it that way it sounds as if it's circular reasoning. But in another way it is perfectly legitimate for the Bible to speak to its own identity. You can do that even in a court of law.
You can defend yourself. More than 1,500 times directly or indirectly the Bible claims to be the word of God. One of the things you cannot say and people say it all the time and don't understand how illogical it is. One of the things you cannot say is you know the Bible is a very good and helpful book but I don't believe that it's the word of God. A good and helpful book with at least minimally 1,500 lies. I don't think that's a good book. That's a fraudulent book.
What would you say to somebody who writes a biography of Winston Churchill and says Churchill came to me saying and then he fills in the blank and then you discover he never met Churchill. Would you say well you know it's essentially a good book but all of those references to the prophets you know the word of the Lord came to me saying no it is legitimate to allow us to take a moment to find out what the Bible says to itself about itself. Now your Bibles are open. I want you to notice that the word God does not occur beginning at verse 7. You see God is Elohim. He is the creator but beginning in verse 7 you have the word Lord which when capitalized refers to Jehovah. Now we discover that God is the covenant keeping God. Now we discover that God is a God who wants to relate to us. Now we learn that God the creator becomes God the redeemer and now we begin to understand in David's mind he gives us about six references or descriptions of the word of God. Six different ways that you can say it and then beyond that what he does is he gives also the benefits of God's word and by the way because it's the word of the Lord the commandments of the Lord the precepts we should not be surprised that he gives to the word of God some of the same attributes that we would give to God himself. Of course we know that men wrote to the scriptures but they were so moved by the Holy Spirit that God preserved them from error and gave us what we needed to know about him and our relationship with him in such a way that in the original manuscripts of course what we discover is that there is inspiration and the breath of God. God breathed the Bible says and the result was his word. Now David was thinking primarily of the law. He didn't even have the New Testament.
We know so much more than David knew and yet with all that notice what David says about the word of God. Now today I'm speaking to hundreds of you who have decided to take the 40-day challenge of listening to or reading through the New Testament in 40 days and you say to yourself you know I did it for a week and it's not working very well and we want to ask a good old-fashioned American question. What's in it for me? What am I going to get out of this? What is the ROI, the return on my investment? I'm spending a half an hour a day doing this so what am I going to get out of it?
Well today we're going to answer that question as we motivate you to keep going no matter what. All right let's look at these six descriptions of the Bible which would also be descriptions really of God. First of all we find perfection.
The law of the Lord is perfect verse 7 reviving the soul. By perfect we mean complete. Now God could have created more worlds. He could have created more planets.
He could have created more stars but so far as we know this is of course what he intended to do is what he did and the universe is complete. He could have given us 70 books in the Bible instead of 66 but the law of the Lord is complete enough for us to know our relationship with him and all of the big questions of life are found within its pages. The law of the Lord is perfect and it revives the soul. Anybody here today you say I need to be revived.
I've had a very hard week. First of all as we learned last time the Bible and the Spirit converts us. In that sense we are given life but even after we are given life what we need is to be revived.
We need to be refreshed. Well the word of God you'll notice it says it revives the soul and that of course is in verse 7. The law of the Lord is perfect. It revives the soul.
By the way it also cleanses the soul. Maybe emphasize that in another message and then you'll notice that the testimony of the Lord is sure. It's faithful. When the word of God speaks clearly, God speaks clearly. So if you wonder what God thinks about something you go to the word of God.
It is sure. It is reliable and you'll notice that it says it makes wise the simple. Who in the world is simple? Well Greek scholars or Hebrew scholars I should say tell us that the simple person the idea behind it in its root meaning is his mind is open. That is to say it is open and it doesn't know when to close.
You know you've met people like that. They accept every idea imaginable and they put all ideas on the very same plane so to speak believing that all opinions are equal which is of course logical insanity and what they don't have is the ability to discriminate to be able to say this is wrong and this is right and this is wise. Knowledge there can be aplenty but wisdom is the ability to apply the knowledge and what does the word of God do? It takes those who are struggling with their own sense of identity and meaning and it enables them to become wise so they begin to discern you know that this is wrong this is right this is the best path. That's what the word of God will do for you.
Testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple. You'll notice the precepts of the Lord are right and they rejoice the heart. You say well I don't get that I don't know how David could have said this in the Old Testament with all of those laws and all of the things that are mentioned in the Old Testament. How could David say that he is refreshed and rejoices in the heart?
By the way the precepts have to do with the doctrines of the Bible. Well even though David didn't know nearly as much as we know when he really needed to meet God he knew that he was coming to a God who is merciful and trustworthy. Do you remember the story of course how David committed the twin sins of murder and adultery and yet when he confessed his sin he said restore to me the joy of my salvation and uphold me with thy free spirit with thy right spirit. How could how could a man who made such a mess still find joy?
Well he found it where you and I find it when we mess up. To come to God to be forgiven and to be received the precepts of the Lord remind us that there can be joy given by God even in the midst of failure. Jesus said these words I have spoken unto you that ye may rejoice. The Bible teaches about a kind of rejoicing that is really not even related to circumstances. Only the precepts of the Lord can do that because where are you going to go to find hope?
Well we have to continue. You'll notice that the commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes. Today people think to themselves they are enlightened because they are free. Someone said and I don't know who it is but it's a wonderful quote he said the real object of human beings is not freedom but rather to find out who your master really is because nobody is exactly free. You don't accept God as your master.
The freedom that you will have is the freedom to live according to your selfish desires and eventually you will be overtaken by sin. And so what David said is the commandment of the Lord is pure. That is to say it is clear. It is not contaminated and it enlightens you.
It gives you perspective. A moment ago I told you about simpletons who allow everything in and they don't know where the beauty is. They don't know where to put it unless they are made wise by the word.
Another way to look at it is a friend of mine said that he lived in France close to Mount Blanc which is really connected between Switzerland and France and he said that there was this house that really faced the beautiful mountain of Mount Blanc and he said the shutters were always closed. He could never understand that. But there are times when we forget that when we come to the word of God and we are open to its message it will keep us from being the simpleton we spoke about a moment ago and it will give us enlightenment and we'll say to ourselves where have I been all these years stumbling around trying to make the best of life not understanding reality not understanding what things are about. Well the word of God the commandment is pure it will enlighten your eyes.
You'll notice it says it is clean. Now we're in verse nine and it says the fear of the Lord. Remember this in context the word fear is the very is a synonym for the Bible. It's a synonym for the law of God the fear of God. Calvin the great theologian said we should give the word of God the same reverence that we give God the fear of the Lord. Wow that's an astounding quotation isn't it that we should give the Bible the same reverence as we give God.
After all it is his word and as we like to emphasize there's the written word and there's the incarnate word and we need to be able to honor both. Running to win is a ministry that is listener supported. Now what makes me excited is the fact that thousands upon thousands of people get to hear God's word and the gospel on a regular basis because of people like you. I'm holding in my hand a letter from a woman in Florida who writes I'm genuinely grateful that you chose this ministry. I want you to know that your sermons have impacted my life so much as I type this my eyes are filled with tears and there's a lump in my throat. I don't know you but for 26 years you have impacted my life and she goes on to say that because of this ministry she is stronger and better equipped. Well that's what it's all about as we frequently say helping people make it all the way to the finish line. Would you consider becoming a ministry partner? We call them endurance partners.
That refers to those who stand with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Of course you need more info. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com and when you're there you click on the endurance partner button and I'll be giving you that information again or if you prefer call us at 1-888-218-9337. If you are blessed as a result of this ministry it's because other people have invested in this ministry and now we're inviting you to participate as well.
Go to rtwoffer.com click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's road map for your race of life. Next time on Running to Win, join us for more on the lessons we can learn from meditating on and studying the Bible. Thanks for listening to our series on being changed by the Word. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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