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The Canon and God's Existence #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
February 15, 2024 12:00 am

The Canon and God's Existence #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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February 15, 2024 12:00 am

https://www.thetruthpulpit.comWelcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's People God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so let's join him in The Truth Pulpit without further delay.Click the icon below to listen.

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Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so without further delay, let's join him right now in the Truth Pulpit. I want to start tonight's message with a little background maybe to set the stage for what we have to see from God's Word tonight.

It's a little bit of a combination of two personal anecdotes that have a spiritual purpose, not a self-display purpose, to them. I've told you in the past, I've mentioned it from time to time, the night before I was converted to Christ, I thought that I was a Christian, a friend and I got together, there was a lot of drinking, things like that that were done. In the middle of my wickedness, I thought, I'm sinning against God and I don't care, I'm going to do what I want to do, and did, and I woke up the next morning greatly convicted about my sinfulness, and it was at that point that I repented and put my faith in Christ. I don't need to go into the details of that any more than that, but just that there were, on that night before November 19th, 1983, that night there were certain laws that I broke, I knowingly, willfully broke, and I realized that in the morning, in the Spirit of God, it moved in my heart, awakened me and led me to Christ, for which I am very profoundly, profoundly grateful. And I've all, for the longest period of time, I looked back at that and, you know, thought just what a great sin that was. What I didn't realize until quite recently was that there was a prior, a prior episode in my life that I want to describe to you, again, because it sets the stage for what we're talking about so critically here this evening, and I've mentioned this a time or two as well, but I've never quite put them together even in my own mind in quite the same way.

A few months prior to that drunken night of which I am ashamed, there was a night of even greater shame that I, you know, I didn't appreciate the significance of it at the time. I made this silly profession of being a Christian. I was not a Christian, but I claimed to be one, but there was absolutely no fruit in my life. I had no interest in the Word of God. I could not say the name of Jesus Christ.

I literally could not force those words off of my, off of my lips. I had no, I prayed only when I wanted things. I had no church that I went to. I had no love for the people of God.

So it was a completely bogus claim to being a Christian is my point. But still, there was this thing in my mind that I needed to be a Christian, that I needed to do something about that, and so one night in particular, I remember, I don't have the exact little Bible, it was a little Gideon's Bible. Did any of you ever get Gideon Bibles on a college campus or something like that, those noble people handing out the Word of God? I had one of those that had been given to me on the college campus some time earlier, and I thought, you know what, I really should read the Word of God tonight. And so I picked up a little Gideon's New Testament, about the size of this, and I was actually laying in my bed.

I was half asleep, I was tired, and I didn't care one whit about what I was reading. I just felt like I needed to go through the motion of reading the Word of God. And so I turned to, as I recall, I turned to the book of Galatians.

Don't ask me why. You know, it was just a random human act there, and I read the first five verses of the first chapter of the book of Galatians. I couldn't have told you five seconds later what I had read, but I remember this very, very distinctly. I closed the Bible, and I'm laying on my bed, I won't lay on the platform for the sake of theatrics, but this sickens me to remember that this is what I did. I, laying on my bed, I took this, I took a precious copy of God's Word, and I tossed it over on the dresser. And as I did, I thought deep in my heart, there, God ought to be satisfied with that. What I want you to see and understand is this, is that that moment of tossing the Word of God aside was a far greater sin than anything that I did to become intoxicated on that night later when I was actually converted to Christ. Because what that act did, and what that was an expression of, was in my heart I despised the Word of God. I held it in utter contempt.

It's the only way that you could do something like that. I remember distinctly the motions of my heart at that time, and it sickens me to remember that. I wish I could cut off the hand that did that in order to disassociate myself from the act. And here's what you need to understand, beloved, as we enter into this. That distinction and the greater sin being the tossing of the Bible rather than the night of drunkenness, that may not be immediately apparent to you, but believe me, that is by far the greater sin. In fact, it is that greater sin of despising the Word of God that enabled the subsequent sin of intoxication to take place.

There was no fear of God in my eyes. That's why I could hate His Word enough to just treat it with that kind of contempt. And that action was a reflection of a heart attitude toward the Word of God that was far darker, far more sinful than what would come later.

Now, let me be very clear so I'm not misunderstood here. It is sinful to be a drunk. It is sinful to be intoxicated and to pursue that. And there is no question that that night of intoxication was a dark sin all of its own. But there are degrees of sin, and it is far more sinful, beloved, to despise the Word of God than anything else.

Despising the Word enabled me to pursue that night of intoxication later. It was a prior greater sin which enabled the fruit of my heart to come out on the night prior to my conversion. The Word of God is precious, and it must be treated that way.

It must be honored that way. And if you can grasp something of that distinction, you can enter into the spirit of what we have to say this evening. In Isaiah chapter 66 verse 2, you don't need to turn there. I'm still getting used to my new ESV Bible. But in Isaiah chapter 66 verse 2, God... Actually, let's go to verse 1 because it's a great tie-in to what we said on Sunday about creation and God's existence. Now, we're moving into the canon in God's existence. In Isaiah 66 verses 1 and 2, it says, Thus saith the Lord, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.

What is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? Verse 2, All these things my hand has made. And so all these things came to be, declares the Lord.

He's speaking about creation there. But then he goes further than creation, as we are going to do tonight, and he says, But this is the one to whom I will look, he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. Beloved, the measure of a godly heart is the response to the Word of God, and contempt for Scripture, neglect of the Scripture, despising the teaching of the Word of God even, is all an indication of a heart that is deep and dark in sin.

Just as mine was that particular night as a student at Indiana University. And I start this way and I emphasize these things to help you see that as we go to the Word of God tonight, and you can turn to Psalm 19, I want you to, I want you to have a sense that we are making, we're going to be teaching an understood theme that Scripture is the Word of God. But as we are saying that, I want you to, maybe better stated, I pray that the Holy Spirit would help you see that we're reaching for some of the greater, broader, easily overlooked significance of the fact that we have the Word of God in our hands. And that the Word of God has a, when it is properly respected and properly seen and understood for what it is, it has a profound effect on the heart to cause the heart to tremble before it, to a sense of respect and a desire to honor that word that is the, which is a unique distinguishing mark of true conversion. Someone that does not respect the Word of God is not a Christian no matter what else they may say, no matter what kind of visions they may have seen or claimed to have had. It doesn't matter if someone says, Jesus stood at the end of my bed and told me all about himself. None of that stuff can overturn the fact that central to true conversion is this deep conviction that the Bible is the Word of God.

And that conviction has a framing way in which the Christian mind works. And so tonight we're looking at Psalm 19 again. We looked at the first six verses on Sunday. We're going to look at the next five verses here this evening. But let me just say this, that we're beginning a series that I've titled Building a Christian Mind. And we are responding to the existential challenges from the culture, the evangelical church itself, and the cosmic forces of Satan. And we are bringing the Word of God to bear on all of those forces and trusting the Spirit of God to use his word to build up Christians in right thinking and developing a biblical mind. And I want to say that as I introduced this two or three weeks ago, it is only by ignorance or carelessness or foolish pride that we could minimize the threat that that combination of the culture, the evangelical church, and the cosmic forces of Satan pose to our well-being and to the well-being of the Church of Jesus Christ.

It is essential. It is essential for us to understand the depth and the supernatural aspect of that threat. That's why we're doing this series and we recognize the threat and we take it seriously. Having said that, I want to be clear that while we are, you know, we are sobered by what we face and the environment around us, we're confident as we look to the future. We will never forget, we will never lose confidence in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ who said in Matthew 16 18, I will build my church. Despite the cosmic forces of Satan, despite a weak and insipid church, despite a culture that has abandoned any pretense of concern for truth and absolutes, we're confident in the Lord Jesus Christ to build his church. But we also know something else, that the Lord who appointed the end, that is, he will build his church and bring his bride to completion. The elect will be saved and they will persevere and they will be secure in the end.

We're aware of that, we affirm those things gladly and enthusiastically, but we also are mindful of something else. We know that the Christ who appointed the end, that his church will be built, appointed the means by which that church would be built. He doesn't simply zap the church and everything's perfect and great, it's not like that at all.

No, he uses means that he has revealed and commanded in Scripture for his people to follow, for his people to heed, and that comes through the teaching and the proclamation of the word of God. Jesus Christ builds his church through the teaching of his word to his people, Matthew 28 verse 20, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age. What is that saying to us except this? It's that Christ by commanding the teaching of his word by his appointed representatives, speaking to the apostles there in Matthew 28, Christ expands his kingdom by reaching the minds of men so that the apostle Paul could say in Colossians chapter 1 verse 28, him, meaning Christ, him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Maturity comes through receiving the teaching of the word of God and that's why I'm glad that each one of you are here with us here this evening. When you realize the centrality of the word of God and the special, you know, there aren't words to convey how precious Scripture is. You realize how precious it is in and of itself. You realize that it is the word of God that he uses in order to create faith in people and draw them to Christ. It is the teaching of the word of God that he uses to build up his people and that he uses to build up his church. You realize the central function of Scripture in everything that is at stake in these challenges that we face in the age in which we live. Well, you know, I mean here at Truth Community Church, we embrace that and we embrace our duty to engage the battle for the mind and we gladly instruct out of the word of God is that which is central to our worship and central to our fellowship. And we consciously avoid things that while they may seem good and in and of themselves, actually just function as a distraction from keeping people's minds focused on Scripture. And so the word of God is central to this and this word that we hold in our hands collectively together here this evening is God's appointed means by which he communicates the knowledge of himself and in which he has made himself known. So on Sunday, we started this series, How to Know God Exists.

There's two aspects to the series. There's the overarching thing taking months titled Building a Christian Mind. Part of the way that you build a Christian mind is that you know, you understand why God exists.

You know that. You don't simply believe it, but you know why you believe it. How do we know that God exists? There is nothing more fundamental than that. You realize that when we say that Scripture is the word of God, there is a presupposition in that by saying it's the word of God, you're presupposing the existence of God simply by ascribing that title to the book that you hold in your hands. So how do we know God exists?

Nothing is more fundamental than that. Last time on Sunday, we looked at the first six verses of Psalm 19. The heavens are declaring the glory of God and the skies are declaring the handiwork of his hands, I paraphrase. And what we said last time, we said that we know that God exists by the creation that is around us. To know that God exists starts with the recognition that God has imprinted himself on the universe in which we live. We said last time that you live as a guest in the realm of God. You are not God, you are not supreme, you are not the most important person in the universe.

God is. And you live in his realm, and as a result, you are accountable to him. And without rehearsing all of the points and different things that we said on Sunday, what we saw last time is that the reality of creation around us, the physical universe, the physical realm in which we live, creation puts man on notice of the existence of God. The nature of the universe, the magnificence of its magnitude, the magnificence of its precision, the glory of its beauty, all of that and more puts us on notice that there is a God who is responsible for what we see around us.

And scripture says those who deny that are suppressing the truth that they know inside to be real, and that God will hold them accountable and judge them for that. And so creation puts man on notice of the existence of God. And the corollary of that, the implication of that is that man, meaning you and I, we are responsible to seek this God who placed us in his creation and has made himself known for us. There is a moral obligation to seek him, and God holds accountable those who do not do so, those who live in defiance of him, those who sin against him, those who ignore him. All the different ways that sin manifests itself in illicit, immoral behavior, in careless, godless living, living for pleasure rather than living for the glory of God, living for the accumulation of wealth rather than for the glory of God.

All of those things are morally culpable, and the nature of creation is such that everyone is on notice that that is not the way to live. God has spoken in creation, and therefore we know that he exists by what we can observe with our senses and take in and compute with the minds that he has given to us what it is that we see all around us. And so every day, every day that every person, all seven billion people or whatever, walk in the world, they're walking under an umbrella that calls them to seek God, and they are responsible to do so.

Now, so we know God exists because of what we see in creation. Pivot now to the word of God. We see that he has spoken in a second area as well, not only creation, but he has spoken in his word.

And here we turn now to our text for these series of three messages, Psalm 19, looking at verses 7 through 11 as we kind of go through this psalm sequentially as we look at its verses together. Let me read verses 7 through 11 where it says, the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving 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 rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them, as your servant warned, in keeping them, there is great reward. Just as an aside to tie my introduction in with the reading of the Scripture there, the preciousness of the Word of God highlighted there in verse 10, more desirable than gold, even much fine gold, sweeter than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. David is saying this is one precious word that God has given to us.

And it is in this word, as we're going to see, it is another place where God has made himself known. He has revealed himself and it is in and through the word that we know that God exists. John Stott, the late Anglican teacher of God's word, said in his book titled Your Mind Matters.

He said this. He said, God has revealed himself in words to minds. His revelation is a rational revelation to rational creatures. Our duty is to receive his message, to submit to it, to seek to understand it and to relate it to the world in which we live. One of the highest and noblest functions of man's mind is to listen to God's word and so to read his mind and think his thoughts after him, both in nature and in Scripture. Now, when it comes to building a Christian mind, beloved, one of the most foundational planks in creating that structure of thought and the way that your mind operates is to understand this, that preeminently your mind has been given to you to search after the revelation of God, to know him and to respond to him. To respond to him preeminently as he has offered to you in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but to respond to his creation and honor him, as Romans 1 says, to honor him for what you see, by what you understand with your mind, to use your mind to enter into the written word of God. Your mind has been given to you, beloved.

Think about it this way. God, in realizing that God gives different mental capacities to different people, so we're all going to engage these things at different levels of depth, I suppose you could say. But understand this, beloved.

This is so, so critical to the whole series we're going to be gladly doing for many months here. God has given you a mind capable of rational thought, of processing information. He has given you that mind so that, in a very real sense, you can give that mind back to him, and give him back a mind that you say, my mind belongs to you.

Your will be done, not mine. Transform my mind. Renew my mind. Strengthen me in my thinking, God, for my desire and the highest use of my mind is to aspire after and to think like you think, to the extent that you enable me to do that. And to interpret the world around me, not according to the godless presuppositions of the world, but to stand out, to stand apart from that, and to process what I see and how I think through what you have revealed in creation and in the word. Psalm 19 certainly reflects that spirit as we continue on in the text.

And our first point for tonight, our first point for tonight is this. It is simply the perfection of God's word. The perfection of God's word. Now, as you read about creation in the first six verses, the transition to verse seven seems abrupt on a first reading. Verse six says, speaking about the sun, it says, its rising is from the end of the heavens and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. Then, without any apparent transition, David says in verse seven, the law of the Lord is perfect. It seems abrupt, and he goes on to describe the word.

And in the contrast is not just in terms of the theme and the topic of the different sections. He even uses a distinct name of God that does not appear in the first six verses. In verse one, he said the heavens declare the glory of God, but in verse seven, he says the law of the Lord is perfect, the Hebrew name Yahweh.

So in contrast to a more generic name of God used in the first half of the psalm, here in verse seven and following, David uses the personal covenant keeping name Yahweh, or Lord, as it's indicated in our English text. And here's what is going on just in terms of following the flow of thought in the psalm. That switch and the abruptness of it, by the very abruptness of the change in theme, David is stressing the superior revelation that is given to us in the Word of God.

Creation puts men on notice in a nonverbal way. In Scripture, God addresses the highest faculty, the rational faculty of man, and communicates the knowledge of himself and the knowledge of his will to the highest faculty of man. And David uses six words to describe God's written revelation as we look at verses seven through nine. You see him referring to it as the law of the Lord, the testimony of the Lord. Verse eight, the precepts of the Lord, the commandments of the Lord. Verse nine, the fear of the Lord, the rules of the Lord. Now, you could look at each of those words individually with word studies, and I've done it that way in the past, but it's sufficient for tonight to simply say this, that together these words and these terms collectively show the practical purpose of God's revelation in his word.

They bring the will of God to bear on the one who reads and hears, and for our purposes, going further. Remember, we're talking about building a Christian mind, and we need to stop and just think at these most fundamental levels in order to have these things grab our hearts with the conviction that is necessary to sustain us in the midst of the hostile environment in which we live. The fact that God addresses verbal revelation to the mind of man tells us that he is seeking an intelligent response. He is evoking intelligence reverence, well-founded trust, and detailed obedience. The very fact that it is in a written form and not in some kind of mystical communication that cannot be rationally described tells us that God intends for your mind to be engaged at the most fundamental level of responding to him.

Let that sink in. You think, and I include myself in what I'm about to say here, if we think about the different ways that we squander time, the trivial things that we talk about, the trivial things that we engage our mind with so often, we realize that the way that we use our minds falls short of the glory of God. We need to recognize that and come to grips with that and realize that if you've been called to Christ, you've been called to a higher purpose.

And just as you have been given physical abilities, you've been given material resources to be a steward of, God has given you preeminently a mind which is to be given over to him. Last time we talked about general revelation and the fact that creation is a general revelation that is nonverbal and it goes out to all men, and all men have a capacity to see that and understand it to some extent, but general revelation does not communicate a full knowledge of the attributes of God. It does not tell us about the gospel of Christ or how a man is to be saved from his sin.

You can't learn that by just looking at the skies. That's why it's so foolish to say I'm just going to worship and go out and sit in my tree stand and wait for the deer to come by because that sentimental sense of communing with nature is neglecting the special revelation of God, that revelation of God that is found in the human languages in the scriptures. There's no need to talk about worshiping God by communing with nature if you have no interest in his word.

You're despising it and you're tossing it aside just like I did so many years ago as a college student. No, in scriptures, what makes scripture so perfect, so wonderful, so delightful is that God has declared in words that can be understood spiritual truth about his attributes, about sin, the nature of Christ, salvation, judgment, and so much more. These eternal things which are of surpassing significance can only be known through the Bible. And as you continue to read on in David's psalm here, the word of God given through David, you see a few attributes of scripture itself. First of all, we see that scripture is perfect. You see this in verse 7, and let's look at the adjectives now. We've seen the synonyms that are used, the nouns that are used to describe the word of God. Now we see the attributes that God assigns to his own word as we read on.

And it should just build up that sense of reverence, that sense of contrition of spirit, that sense of treasuring what we hold in the 66 books of the Bible. David says this law of the Lord is perfect. The testimony of the Lord is sure. Verse 8, the precepts of the Lord are right. The commandment of the Lord is pure. The fear of the Lord is clean.

The rules of the Lord are true. So we see it there, it's perfect, it's sure, it's right, it's pure, it's clean, it's true. You know, just contemplating it as a believer and just seeing how scripture describes itself, that in itself has almost a cleansing, sanctifying effect as we just contemplate what the word of God is in and of itself.

Realizing that here is something that is pristine. Here is something that is good and true and reliable in contrast to the filth that pours out through media every moment of every day. These six terms in those three verses, together they express the flawless and the inerrant nature of the Bible.

The Bible is unique and supreme and final in its truth claims, and every other truth claim is evaluated by scripture, not the other way around. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-15 05:02:07 / 2024-02-15 05:14:06 / 12

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