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The Canon and God's Existence #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
February 16, 2024 12:00 am

The Canon and God's Existence #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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February 16, 2024 12:00 am

Welcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is our joy to continue our commitment to teaching God's People God's Word. Don is continuing with the second part of the message we started last time, so let's open our Bible as we join him in The Truth Pulpit.https://www.thetruthpulpit.com2152Click 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 again, I'm Bill Wright. It is our joy to continue our commitment to teaching God's people God's Word. Today Don is continuing with the second part of a message we started last time.

So let's get right to it. Open your Bible as we join Don now in the Truth Pulpit. Let me just say a word to clarify the confusion that surrounds the concepts of natural and special revelation here. And again, this goes to the way that your mind works and the way that you structure your mind to think rightly about competing truth claims, beloved.

All of this is fundamental, essential and should never be neglected by a long-term pulpit teaching the Word of God. There are voices in the professing church of Jesus Christ that the love to use the phrase all truth is God's truth. You've heard that, right?

And it sounds, it almost sounds like a truism. Well, of course that's true. But what you need to understand is that there's a hook in that bait, especially when it's in the hands, when it's in the mouths of scientists who are arguing for evolutionary ideas and, you know, billions of years of existence of creation. They say all truth is God's truth. What they mean by that, the way that they wield that against unsuspecting Christians is this.

They use that general statement to silence dissent against specific ideas that cannot be shown from scripture so that they will say, well, evolution is an established scientific fact. That's truth. Or it is truth that homosexuality is normal behavior and has no moral connotations. That it is not sinful.

That's true. And we know that by what the experts say. And all truth is God's truth.

Well, in theological terms, what they are doing is they are, they are arguing from their sense of general revelation in order to contradict the specific special revelation that is found in scripture in order to advance their idea of science or their idea of ethics and to silence a biblical critique of it. Well, beloved, that violates what we're reading here in Psalm 19. And you must understand this.

I use, I use these words must and I, I emphasize it and I plead with you just because it's so urgent, even if it's not immediately apparent to your mind as you hear me as we speak tonight. This is fundamental. This is a principle upon which the man or woman of God should be willing to contest and even die on if it ever came to them. And I say that because it goes to what the final ultimate authority for truth is. And scripture is perfect and scripture alone. Scripture is sure. Scripture is right. Not nature. And certainly not the fallible passing opinions of men about what nature even means. Scripture alone interprets nature with authority.

And let me just give you a little, if you want this, you can make a little assignment here. You can take this out and you can see, you can see what I mean. Sometime do a Google search using the search terms debunked medical practices. Debunked medical practices.

And what you'll find when you, when you look into that, you'll find that there are, there are scholarly medical journal articles that evaluate what used to be the standard of care in the medical world in different, in different types of medical procedures. This was the science. This is what was true.

This is what they did. Is that even just within the past 30 or 40 years, 40% of those things have been rejected as not a valid medical treatment. Now, looking back, you know, just within the passing of a few decades, what once was established as true and the way to do it is now viewed as something that would be malpractice if it was done by a doctor today. Beloved, don't let pompous men of science hook you with false claims of expertise to get you to turn against the word of God in favor of their secular ideas that deny the final authority and truth claims of scripture. It changes.

It changes. It's just the opinion of the moment. It's just understand that, must embrace that and have settled in his mind beyond all contradiction, beyond, beyond all contest that what this word says properly interpreted is the truth. And to the extent that anything in the world, any philosophies in the world, any so-called science of the world contradicts it. It's not scripture that's wrong. It's the philosophy and science of the world. That is essential to have a proper Christian mind because it goes to what the ultimate authority for truth is.

And it's essential for us to, to know, and to understand that and to be rooted in it. If scripture is the word of God and God is the God of all truth and God can never lie as Titus one, two tells us, then what scripture affirms and what scripture actually teaches. Is what is true no matter what the thinking of men might do to contradict it. And so we determine truth by comparing an idea with scripture, not by aligning ourselves with current and shifting views of science or culture.

That would apply to the way that people understood COVID and the way they responded to that. And in all other manner of things that intersect with our daily life, scripture is perfect and therefore it has no errors in it, in what it positively affirms in its teaching. Now going further, scripture is not only perfect, scripture is powerful. Scripture is powerful. This, this, the flawless nature, the inerrant nature of the word of God was not an abstraction to David. This was not some theory of his.

This was not academic theory, theoretical knowledge to him that was just in the realm of philosophy, but had no connection with his life. No, the fact that scripture is the word of God, the fact that scripture is perfect means something very significant, very practical. It's perfection means that it has power in human lives. It has the ability, it has the might as the spirit of God applies it to our hearts.

It has the power to change us, to perfect us, to convert us. And David expresses this in verses seven through nine. Look at it with me where he 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.

Look at the power that is expressed in this description of the word of God. Verse seven, it revives the soul. It makes wise the simple. It rejoices the heart. It enlightens the eyes.

It is clean. It is true and righteous altogether. And what the true Christian knows by experience, Scripture claims for itself and its ability to do in broad principle. Scripture brings joy. Scripture brings understanding. Scripture brings enlightenment. Scripture brings eternal perspective that is found nowhere else. Scripture has the ability to convict men of sin and lead them to salvation in Jesus Christ.

And we'll consider all of those things more in the next aspect of this series when we come to consider how to know the Bible is true. For now, we simply emphasize the power of Scripture. This is a living word.

This is a dynamic word with power to redirect the human heart, to redirect the human mind in a way that is unlike any other piece of human literature. And as Christians, we rejoice in the fact that Scripture has the ability to help us overcome our sin, to overcome our discouragement, to instruct us in righteousness, to correct us, all of those things. And when we see how perfect Scripture is and we see its power and we know something of its force in our own heart experientially, then we come to the realization that David describes in verses 10 and 11 that Scripture is precious.

It's precious. Verse 10, more to be desired are they than gold. He's still talking about the word of God, the commandments of the Lord. And he's writing this a thousand years before the New Testament.

He's looking back, you know, predominantly at the law of Moses. And even looking at that, he says, oh, this is more to be desired than gold, much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned in keeping them, there is great reward. Beloved, anyone, anyone who understands something about the precious nature of God could never manifest the contempt that I showed when I tossed it away. It's not just about the physical book itself and the pages that are within its binding. It's the content of the truth that it reveals and the knowledge of Christ that it conveys.

Oh, this is precious so that you treat even the physical copy with respect. So much so that in the early days of persecution of the church, one of the ways that the New Testament canon was established was that the early church, the way that it was recognized, better stated, the way the New Testament canon was recognized, is that the authorities would come and demand people to hand over their books to be burned in order to squash the spread of Christianity. What those early Christians did is that they made a distinction in their mind. The writings of men may be explaining the word of God, which could be handed over. And the word of God itself, which could not be handed over. They would either hide it or they would do something to protect the word of God. Even with their blood, they would they would protect it in that way. Because there was a distinction between the word of God and the word of man, and I've never held one.

I've only heard men speak of these and read just a little bit about them. There are there are things called martyrs Bibles from the Reformation that are actually stained with the blood of martyrs who shed their blood over the word of God. Instead of handing it over and and denying the Christ who saved them. Beloved, when when it comes when it comes to thinking about pouring out your blood for the sake of the word of God, now we're starting to see this is precious. When it comes to saying, I'll structure my life or I'll structure my day so that the word of God can be a part of it. We're saying the word of God is precious and by the way that we use our time and our resources, we are displaying whether we consider this word as something valuable or not. What David was saying here in verses 10 and 11. You know, gold at the time was the most valuable commodity in the ancient world. David says this word is more valuable than that. Honey was the sweetest of foods at the time. David says scripture is better than both.

The best that this world has to offer. In other words, David says scripture is better. Scripture is sweeter. That's how a Christian mind thinks the word of God is more valuable than anything else. Let goods and kindred go. This mortal life also.

The body they may kill. God's word abideth still. His kingdom is forever. Luther wrote those words because he understood scripture is precious, more valuable than anything, more valuable than life itself. Now that's what scripture is intrinsically. It's the word of God. It is perfect. It is powerful.

It is precious. Now, at some point I need to relate this all to the question at hand, which is how do we know that God exists? How does scripture enable us to know that God exists? Well, what we need to understand, beloved, is we said that God has revealed himself in creation.

He's made himself known there. What we have to understand is that because this is the word of God, all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. No prophecy of scripture is given by the interpretation of man, but the Spirit of God carried them along, as 2 Peter 1, verses 20 and 21 says.

And the point of it is this, point number two, the canon in God's existence, C-A-N-O-N, the canon in God's existence, we use the word canon to refer to the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments as we have them in the English Bible. And the fact that scripture is the word of God means that God has made himself known there. Through the process of inspiration, God moved in the minds and in the hearts of the human authors of the Bible so that they wrote precisely what he wanted them to write. So that scripture, by the work of the Holy Spirit through the human authors of scripture, the Holy Spirit moved them to write precisely what God wanted so that it is right and proper to say that scripture is the word of God.

It is not the opinion of man. Scripture is not the culmination of an evolutionary process where man kind of gathered up his religious thoughts and finally came to some right conclusions. No, from the very beginning God moved so that it was the word of God from the start. The human writers wrote the very word of God without error to his creatures and then God providentially preserved it throughout the subsequent centuries.

So if you look at the history of the Bible from the time of Moses through the first century completion of the New Testament canon over the course of 1,500 years through 40-some human authors who wrote those 66 books, God has spoken in the Bible. And here's what that means, beloved, as we say, how do we know that God exists? What you must understand and the way that your mind should reason this out is to understand this. Our faith, our knowledge of God, our certainty of conviction of the existence of God is not subjective. It is not based on our personal opinion as the authority by which we believe.

No, no, no, no, no, a thousand times, no. This is so fundamental and it's easy to miss the significance of this. Beloved, you and I know the existence of God based on something that is outside of ourselves, something that pre-existed us, something that will exist after us, something that will continue on after the heavens and earth pass away, Jesus said. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away, Matthew 24 verse 35 says. The fact that Scripture is the Word of God means that God has revealed Himself there. We can find and know the existence of God through the pages of His Word. Now listen, again, it's critical to understand what we're saying and why we are saying it. You know, one of the things that I think sometimes well-meaning apologists, teachers of Scriptures are concerned to do is that they start by trying to construct an argument that will somehow gain favor with an unbelieving critic.

That's a serious mistake. That's a serious mistake and it's not our goal tonight to impress unbelievers with our argument, even though it is true and they will be accountable for their response to it. Beloved, what you and I need to do as Christians is we need to understand our position for ourselves. We need to know what our position is and not try to calculate how we articulate that in a way that will be least offensive or the least likely to provoke a ridiculing response from someone who does not agree with us and who does not believe the Word of God. That's not the way to reason in the Christian life. No, we accept at face value the claims of the Bible to be the Word of God. We accept God's testimony about himself and about his Word, and so we understand that in this book God has made himself known. That's how we know that is a second reason for how we know that God exists. We are not trying to build a case, in other words.

I'm talking like an attorney, aren't I? We're not trying to build a case to convince unwilling people, people who have hardened their hearts against Scripture and against Christ and against the Gospel. We're not trying to convince them. We are building the case, you could say, that God himself has made, that God himself has established, that God has appointed. God has appointed that we would recognize him in creation and honor him accordingly. God has appointed that we would recognize that he has revealed himself in his Word, and there is no higher authority than God himself.

And so it doesn't matter if skeptics are unimpressed with the argument. We're not trying to please them with how we use our minds. We're trying to please God with how we use our minds. God says, I've spoken in the skies. And we say, yes, Lord, speak, your servant listens. God says, I have spoken in my Word. And the Christian mind says, yes, Lord, I believe you have words of eternal life.

Speak, Lord, your servant listens. In both positive and negative ways, Scripture emphasizes this point. Where does faith come from? Where does the ability to believe come from? I was having this discussion with someone not long ago. He said faith isn't something that we work up on our own.

It's not our contribution to the process. What does Scripture say? Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ, Romans 10.17. Scripture says the ability to believe is given to us by the Holy Spirit through the Word of Christ. That's where it comes from. The Word of Christ is critical and essential to that. And so we just make the argument that God makes.

And we're satisfied with that. I really don't care what kind of philosophy doctor would mock what I say here. I'm impervious to that. I don't care about that. I'm not going to stand before a philosophy professor in the day of judgment.

I'm a lot more concerned about what God has to say about the matter. Now, when it comes to the critics, let me just remind you of something in the Gospel of Luke chapter 16, if you would turn there with me. Luke 16.

And I want you to see how this emboldens us to use Scripture in our own minds and in the people with whom we interact. You remember the story of Abraham and Lazarus and the rich man. Luke 16 verse 19, a rich man who was clothed in purple, fine linen, he feasted sumptuously every day. Then there was a poor man named Lazarus covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from that rich man's table.

Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I'm in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, child, remember that you and your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus and like man are bad things. But now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you, a great chasm has been fixed in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and then may cross from there to us.

I'll stop there. I know this is a familiar section of scripture to you. But just grasp the condition of the rich man as he's suffering there in Hades. He realizes that this is a bad place that no one should come to. And so he thinks of the ones that are still living, those that are in his father's house, and he wants them to be warned about this. And you can see that his heart is still impenitent. He's still a proud, arrogant man because he's suffering in Hades, and yet he presumes to tell Abraham what to do.

His suffering is not a reflection of any kind of repentance. But in verse 27, he says, then I beg you, father, to send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Listen to what transpires after that as it pertains to the word of God. Abraham said, they have Moses and the prophets.

Let them hear them. And he continues in his impenitent ways. He argues from hell against God's representative. And he said, no, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent. And Abraham said to him, if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead. The rich man said, if only they see a sign, if only they see a resurrected man, Abraham, they'll believe and they'll turn and they won't come to this place of suffering that I have myself in.

And Abraham in effect tells him, friend, your whole presupposition is wrong. You think that something miraculous will turn the mind of an unbelieving person. They have the word of God. If they won't listen to the word of God, they won't listen to anything else, even if a man comes back from the dead. Beloved, that gives us a sense of the priority and the preeminence and the perfection of scripture. It's a serious mistake to neglect scripture when you're trying to evangelize somebody, to try to make human arguments that they'll listen to.

And this has simplified my thinking on this for a long, long time. If they won't listen to the word of God, they're not going to listen to anything else. So you might as well get to the scriptures. If God uses that, praise be to his name.

If they reject that, they weren't going to listen to anything else you had to say anyway. So get to the word of God. God has revealed himself there, and God uses his own word. In John 663, Jesus said, it is the spirit who gives life.

The flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. In Hebrews 4, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. James 1 18, of God's own will, he brought us forth by the word of truth. 1 Peter 1 23, you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. Now look, beloved, in one sense, all that we're saying for tonight, because we're going to come back to scripture in the future, all that we're saying tonight, how do we know that God exists? He's revealed himself. He has made himself known in this word. And when people turn to the word of God and the spirit of God works in their heart, God makes himself known to them. And so the Bible itself, independent of creation, but in conjunction with creation, is sufficient to prove the existence of God.

The existence of God can be known and is known conclusively and without doubt through God's own self-disclosure in creation and in the canon of scripture. And so it is wrong and it is foolish, no matter how well intentioned they may be, it is wrong and foolish for churches to marginalize scripture, to marginalize preaching in the midst of the chaos in our culture, the church, and the resistance of cosmic forces. Look, beloved, and I'm so grateful for the truth of what I'm about to say, the personality of a pastor can't convert anybody. And I'm glad that your salvation doesn't depend upon my winsome personality, because I get who I am. You know, if it depended on my winsomeness, we'd all be in a lot of trouble here.

It's just grievous to me. You know, from time to time, I go to other churches' websites and I see what pastors say about themselves and their bios and how cool they are and how hot their wife is and what their sports teams, favorite sports teams are. Paul said, we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus is Lord. You and I must meditate deeply on these kinds of truths to grasp them personally and let them shape us at a most fundamental level. And then we must be strong and courageous against the foe. So, beloved, a true Christian, and here at Truth Community Church, we do not apologize for our confidence in scripture. We do not and we never will.

It is the Word of God. Why would we apologize? Why would we try to curry the favor of people who reject the thing that we know is precious and perfect and powerful?

Why would we apologize for that in order to win the temporary superficial affection of someone who is an enemy of God? And so personally and together corporately, we do not retreat before unbelieving skeptics. We make scripture central in evangelism and in ministry.

And we trust the Lord to bless our very inadequate faithfulness as we seek to do this. And you know what will happen? You know what happens as we do that? You know what happens as we make scripture central to ministry, central to our evangelism, central to our lives and the way that we establish our priorities?

You know what happens? God makes himself known. God makes his existence known as his people believe and live in that way. It's exactly what 2 Corinthians 2 verses 15 and 17 say.

And with this, I'm going to close. In 2 Corinthians 2 verses 15 to 17, for we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To one, a fragrance from death to death. To the other, a fragrance from life to life. In other words, as we proclaim the word of God, as we cling to the word of God, we create a spiritual aroma that people, using the metaphor, there's something different here. I sense something here. And as that sensing happens, God is making his existence known through biblical ministry, biblical testimony, and biblical evangelism.

Paul says, and I line up behind him in what follows. He says, who's sufficient for these things? Who's adequate for the transcendent importance of these things? Who's adequate for the transcendent glory of God to be an instrument of making him known?

Who's sufficient? Paul says in verse 17, if we are not like so many peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God in the sight of God, we speak in Christ. Beloved, grasping the role of the canon to establish God's existence is central to the building of a Christian mind. May the Spirit lead us all to Christ as he is found in his word. Let's pray together. Yes, Father, your word is perfect. It is powerful, and it is precious to us. Oh, God, won't you make it precious to each one in this room, each one under the sound of my voice in one way or another in days to come? By your Spirit, expand and deepen our appreciation for your word. Even if we've known this and taught it and defended it for years and decades on end, Father, we certainly haven't plumbed the depth of how great it is, and so we ask for the illumination of your Holy Spirit to expand our minds and deepen our understandings to grasp these things even more strategically, even more powerfully, and to wield them more effectively in the realms that you have given to us. Thank you, Father, for your precious word. May it go forth with great, astounding power as we stand on its sure foundation and as we seek to build a Christian mind together. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much, friend, for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us again next time as Don begins a new message as we continue teaching God's people God's word on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-16 04:53:16 / 2024-02-16 05:05:11 / 12

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