Calvary Road Baptist Church

“A GREAT CHURCH HAS A GREAT BIBLE”

 

A week ago, I brought a message to you about our great God. I addressed the objective and comparative greatness of God, as well as owning God as your God, and being owned of God as His own. A great church, which is to say a church that has great grace from God, is a church that embraces and whose individual members does the great God embrace. Today’s message speaks to the greatness of our Bible, that Book that is itself comprised of sixty-six books that were penned by some forty human authors over a space of approximately 1600 years, the only rule of faith and practice for genuinely born again believers in Jesus Christ.

Was I preaching to a different type of crowd, I would level an assault on the other so-called sacred texts in existence. I would rail against the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, as well as the many other ridiculous writings of Hinduism that, by the way, make no claim of inspiration. Since Buddhists are not agreed about what writings of theirs are or are not binding for those of their belief system, I would have to once again point out the fallacy of following the philosophy of a man who abandoned his wife and child to wander the countryside in a hippy-style journey of self-discovery, who they identify as the Buddha. Is Islam, the religion that was spread by sword point evangelism, valid? Islam has the Quran, of course, as well as the seven most famous books of the Hadith. However, the Quran is so shot full of factual and logical errors that Muslims tolerate no serious investigation of their sacred texts. What are they afraid of? I point out in the book I co-authored with Dr. Hymers that the Quran identifies lightning and thunder as two angels, claims the world is flat, misidentifies Moses’ mother Miriam as the Lord Jesus Christ’s mother Mary (they were born 1500 years apart), and claims that wicked Haman mentioned in the book of Esther was the prime minister of an Egyptian Pharaoh (again, off by about one thousand years).[1] I could tell you more if we had more time.

How about the governing documents of non-religious belief systems? Communism is a belief system discredited everywhere in the world but North Korea, Venezuela, and on American university campuses, though sensible people see that system’s flaws when they read The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital. Then there is the shake your fist at God document that secular humanism is somewhat governed by, The Humanist Manifesto II. Not much need to comment about that piece of work. Evolutionism is governed, at least generally if no longer specifically, by Charles Darwin’s book The Origin Of Species By Means Of Natural Selection Or The Preservation Of Favoured Races In The Struggle For Life. Of course, anti-Christian evolutionists don’t like Darwin’s original title, so they shorten it to The Origin Of Species. The whole title sounds ominously racist, because Darwin was very much a racist.

Just a little tease to whet your appetite. I could spend a week poking holes in each belief system’s governing documents, their versions of sacred texts. And there is a place for exposing such official and semiofficial writings as being the dangerous counterfeits they really are. This morning, however, I want to concentrate on the Bible, that love letter from heaven written to us by God, Himself. However, my plan in this message is not to present to you anything like a systematic treatment of the Bible as a great book firmly in the grasp of a great church.

I want to lie before you some of the Bible’s usefulness to you in your life, as it has been useful in my life. However, keeping in mind that the Bible is God’s Word, that they are the holy scriptures that are forever settled in heaven, given to us by inspiration of God, you must approach any consideration of the Bible with the right attitude.[2] The epistle written by James informs his readers that there are preconditions to receiving the benefits of God’s Word, which includes a setting aside of one’s sins, a settled posture of humility of the mind and heart, and a determination to obey its instructions rather than just being satisfied with knowing its precepts: “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves,” James 1.21-22.

Therefore, acknowledging that this Book is not like any other book, allow me to be very personal in recounting the usefulness of this great treasure God has placed into our possession and preserved through the centuries from the attacks of our enemies:

 

First, WHAT THE BIBLE IS USEFUL FOR IF YOU ARE DEAD, SPIRITUALLY DEAD

 

Of course, we all come into this world dead in trespasses and sins.[3] Therefore, since we are incapable of saving ourselves, incompetent to breathe life into that which is dead, we are at the mercy of Another. We are reminded of the Lord Jesus Christ’s words to Martha in front of the tomb of her dead brother Lazarus: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life.”[4]

To be sure, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Author of life, and only He is the Savior of sinful men’s souls. However, the usefulness of the Bible to lost sinners cannot be overestimated. Listen to His words to men who studied the Hebrew Scriptures, but to the wrong end. Whereas they thought the Bible was an end in itself, Jesus told them otherwise: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”[5]

When a spiritually dead sinner makes use of the Bible, it is not for the purpose of learning enough to go to heaven, or knowing enough to impress God so He will grant access to His throne room. When James told his readers, in James 1.18, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth,” he was declaring that the Bible is the means to an end rather than being an end in itself.

Agreeing perfectly with the Savior, James shows us that God uses the Bible to impart life to the lost, by pointing the sinner to Jesus Christ. Here is how it works: The preaching of God’s Word to sinners is God’s means of imparting faith to sinners, Romans 10.17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It is with that faith gained through the preaching of this Book that a sinner then comes to saving faith in Christ, Romans 10.10: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Therefore, you see, you cannot scorn the Bible and expect to be saved from your sins. Neither can you possess a low opinion of this Book without having a low opinion of the Subject of this Book, Jesus Christ. If you are lost, and you do not want to remain lost, you need to read this Book and you need to hear this Book preached. Refuse the message of this Book and God will refuse you.

 

Next, WHAT THE BIBLE IS USEFUL FOR IF YOU ARE WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING

 

Few people are as ignorant as I was when I was converted. I think I knew the bare minimum of the truth sufficient to be converted the night I came to Christ. I had read the book of Genesis, making me a creationist who was impressed with God’s power. Then I read the first twelve chapters of Exodus, showing me the need for blood atonement and a substitutionary sacrifice. Coupled with a vacation Bible school lesson I was taught when I was a child, identifying Jesus as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” John 1.29, that night I came to Christ a profoundly ignorant sinner.

I knew very little besides the importance of trusting Jesus for deliverance. I was even unaware that I should refer to myself as a Christian, and my first public profession of faith was at a lunchtime Bible study at work, where I told the others, “I became one of you guys yesterday.” Later, when asked if I had a church home, I responded, “I guess not. I don’t know what that is.” I had no clue Christians should faithfully attend church. However, I did know one thing. I knew that I should read the Bible. Therefore, I read it and read it and read it and read it and read it. If you lack understanding, read God’s Word. Psalm 119.130 reveals that, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” However, and this is especially true if you are not saved, you may not understand what you are reading. Remember the Ethiopian eunuch, in Acts 8.30-31, when he was approached by Philip: “Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?”

God’s plan to help you understand His Word, so that you will then have understanding of important matters, is for you to be taught in churches like this and by men like me.[6]

 

Third, WHAT THE BIBLE IS USEFUL FOR IF YOU ARE PROUD

 

Pride is a terrible sin, which the Apostle Paul warns in First Timothy 3.6 that young Christians are particularly susceptible to: “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” A novice is a new and untested Christian. On top of that, both Peter and James warn their readers “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”[7]

What is pride, but having a high opinion of yourself, a high opinion of your station, and a high opinion of your abilities. Of course, God hates that, because pride is accompanied by an attitude of independence and feelings of self-sufficiency, so a proud person does not feel like he needs God or God’s help in anything.

How is the Bible helpful in such cases? The Bible reminds us that we are but dust, that God formed our first father from the dust of the earth, and that we were created by God to depend upon Him. Further, it is in God’s Word that we see Job’s evaluation of himself after an encounter with God (“Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes”), Isaiah’s reaction when he catches a glimpse of God’s glory (“Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts”), and the great Apostle Paul’s appraisal of himself (“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing”).[8]

It is far more difficult to be proud when you read that such giants of the faith clearly saw themselves as pitiful and weak before the great God Almighty. We see, then, that the Bible grounds you, and reminds you that you have feet of clay. That is a good thing, for then you can obtain grace from God. Of course, the proud do not much read their Bibles, and get little from scripture when they do read the Book. However, we know the proud will eventually fall. Sadly, Proverbs 16.18 is usually read after its prediction comes to pass: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Therefore, when you crash to the earth with a bloody nose and a severely wounded pride, God’s Word lends perspective and shows you what really happened to you. You were lifted up with pride, God then resisted you as He said He would. Therefore, without God’s grace to hold you up, you came crashing down. I am very experienced in such matters.

 

Fourth, WHAT THE BIBLE IS USEFUL FOR WHEN YOU ARE AFFLICTED

 

Affliction is an integral feature of life, as much a part of living as being born and dying. We all face affliction, in that it is a part of the human condition since the Fall of Adam into sin and God’s pronouncement to Adam and Eve before ejecting them from the Garden of Eden. However, affliction is different for the unsaved person than for the child of God, as we learn in God’s Word. You see, it is in the Bible that meaning is given to the believer’s affliction, that purpose is associated with his suffering, and that intelligence is associated with our troubles. For the lost, it is all so meaningless.

In the Bible, we learn that others have it worse than we do. Are you suffering from a physical malady? Consider Satan’s brutal and withering attack against Job. Are you despondent to point of despairing of life itself? Consider Paul’s testimony to the Corinthians: “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.”[9] These considerations do not encourage us so much as remind us that we are neither the first to suffer nor the last, and that we certainly are not experiencing the worst suffering men have endured. What does encourage us is the meaning back of our suffering as saints of God, for there is always meaning in what God does and allows to be done in a Christian’s life.

God’s Word shows us what our heavenly Father’s intentions are toward us, to conform us to the image of His Own Son, Jesus Christ.[10] To accomplish that end, God uses afflictions, among other things, to squeeze us, to bend us, and to shape us so that we will be more useful to Him, and more like His Son, Jesus Christ. Do you realize that we could not know God’s plan for our lives apart from His Word? Neither could we know what our proper response to afflictions should be, except from the examples we see in the lives of such as Joseph, Daniel, and the Apostle Paul, in the midst of their afflictions, and from the instructions given to us.

James told his readers to “count it all joy” when they were afflicted by various means.[11] The Apostle Paul wrote from a Roman jail to tell the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord alway” and “be careful for nothing,” after both he and Silas had sung praises in the Philippian jail following a beating.[12] Those men were not insane, or in any way out of touch with reality. Quite the contrary. They were aware of more reality than can be taken in by the eyes and ears alone. God’s Word revealed to them eternal truths, and gave them a heavenly perspective of their afflictions, something each of us can put to use in our lives. That is why afflicted Christians love the Book so much.

 

Fifth, WHAT THE BIBLE IS USEFUL FOR IF YOU ARE FOOLISH

 

Are you foolish? I am foolish in so many different ways. Although “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” Psalm 111.10, my life has been riddled with instances of foolish thinking, foolish talking, and foolish decision-making. It is only when I make use of God’s Word that I can look upon past thoughts, speech, and decisions as having been wise. What is wisdom? Wisdom is essentially right use of information, proper use of knowledge, and good decisions that glorify God. So, how does one go about acquiring wisdom? Some people naturally acquire some wisdom by means of their experiences of life. They learn from their mistakes. However, God’s Word speaks directly to you if you, as I have been, are foolish.

For example: The messages I am preaching on Sunday evenings to single men about marriage, are sermons wrapped around very straightforward directives found in the Bible that only single men who are Hell-bent on folly would ignore. With respect to other things, useful wisdom can be acquired even for decisions about matters the Bible does not speak to directly. Recognizing that “Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom,” First Corinthians 1.30, the child of God can acquire wisdom in three ways after his conversion to Jesus Christ: First, you can ask God for it, James 1.5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Next, you can acquire wisdom from reading the Bible, examining the wisdom of such men as Joseph and Daniel, such women as Ruth, Abigail, and Esther, and such writings as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, and First Corinthians and the epistle written by James in the New Testament. Of course, Christians, just like some lost people, also acquire wisdom from life experiences.

How wonderful is God’s Word as a guide through life! Psalm 119.105 declares, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” There is no better source of instruction, a manual for living life the way it ought to be lived, providing wisdom and insight along the way to see you to your chosen destination, than this precious Book, the Bible.

 

Sixth, WHAT THE BIBLE IS USEFUL FOR IF YOU ARE DISCOURAGED

 

Have you ever been truly discouraged? I think Dwight L. Moody once said that he had never known God to use a discouraged Christian. Perhaps you are like me, and you are prone to fits of despondency, what Winston Churchill referred to as his black dog of depression. The great Mr. Churchill was not a Christian, as far as we can determine, so the remedy for fits of depression and discouragement available to Christians were out of his reach. Using God’s Word, we can see that discouragement generally results from having your heart set on something and not getting your way. We find this to be the case with Job. We find this to be the case with King Ahab, husband of the infamous Jezebel.[13] We also find this to be the case with the Apostle Paul. Lost people get discouraged. Christian people get discouraged. Everyone gets discouraged. The question you might ask is how to deal with discouragement.

We find that since discouragement is so frequently the result of not getting our way in some matter, it is good to be reminded from God’s Word that life and ministry and service is not at all about you or me getting our way. It is about God getting His way. Therefore, once you get past being irritated for not getting your way, and recognize you should have no expectation of getting your way, half the battle is won. The Bible shows us that God is sovereign, and He created all things for His own glory.[14] This is how Joseph and Daniel were able to serve God despite being captives, despite being under the thumb of a foreign despot. They were concerned with God’s will, not getting their own way.

A second facet of this issue of discouragement is the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. Every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and Galatians 5.22 shows us the Holy Spirit always, and in every circumstance, works to produce joy in those He indwells. Joy is the opposite of discouragement, so how can a Christian be discouraged while being indwelt by the Holy Spirit? I am an expert at this, so I know. Discouragement comes upon a Christian only when he grieves and quenches the Holy Spirit.[15] That is right. If you will stop sinning against the Spirit of God who indwells you, He will produce joy once again in your life and the dark clouds of discouragement will evaporate into the bright sun of a new day. These things we learn from God’s wonderful Word, the Bible.

 

Seventh, WHAT THE BIBLE IS USEFUL FOR IF YOU ARE DEFILED

 

Sin, of course, is a contaminant. It defiles the soul and corrupts the conscience of every person. What is sin, you ask? First John 3.4 informs us “sin is the transgression of the law,” a violation of God’s will, either by doing something you should not do or by failing to do what you should do. Thus, if you tell a lie you have committed a sin of commission. However, when you withhold your tithe you have also committed a sin, a sin of omission.

What do we learn from the Bible about cleansing from the defilement of sin? A great deal, I assure you. Of course, if you are a lost person, your problem runs deep, in that you are both spiritually dead and spiritually dirty. I spoke earlier about the usefulness of the Bible with respect to someone who is spiritually dead. The Bible is also useful in dealing with the defilement of sin. Are you lost? Are you not a Christian? What is called for in your case, according to the Bible, is the application of Christ’s shed blood to cleanse away your sins. It is with regard to that person who trusts Jesus that First John 1.7 declares, “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” However, the Bible is very clear in its assertions that not even Christians are without sins we commit from time to time. Therefore, every child of God is faced with the fact of personal defilement from the sins we commit. How is the Bible useful for the Christian who is defiled by sin? Psalm 119.9 is very clear on this point: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” God’s Word provides instructions for dealing with every Christian’s sins. One example: Are you a grudge-holder? Do you find it very difficult to forgive anyone who you think has done you wrong? Ephesians 4.31-32 speaks directly to you: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

 

How important is this Book to God? Psalm 138.2: “. . . thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” This Book is very important to my heavenly Father. How important is this Book to Jesus? You remember that Jesus told His enemies that this Book testified of Him. As well, John chapter one tells us Jesus is the Word, so there is a correspondence between the written Word, this Book, and the living Word, God’s Son. How important is this Book to the Holy Spirit? He wrote it. This is His Book. He inspired the men who put pen to paper. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” Second Peter 1.21. How important should this Book be to our church? In First Timothy 3.15, the Apostle Paul informed Timothy that our church, and churches like our church, are “the pillar and ground of the truth.” That is, our task as a congregation is to, among other things, be upholders of the truths of this Book.

Important to God the Father, important to Jesus Christ, important to the Holy Spirit, important to our church, important to anyone who is lost but wants to be saved, important to any Christian who wants to be clean from the defilement of personal sins. The only people who do not believe the Bible is important will be those who are judged by it in the end. That is why you need to read God’s Word every day, sit under the preaching of God’s Word at every opportunity, and commit yourself to obeying God’s Word in every respect, first by obeying the gospel and coming to Jesus, and then by obeying the Book God uses to give sinners life and forgiveness.



[1] R. L. Hymers, Jr. and John S. Waldrip, Demons in the Smoke of the World Trade Center, (Oklahoma City, OK: Hearthstone Publishing, Ltd., 2002), pages 117-118.

[2] Psalm 119.9; 11, 16-17, 25, 28, 38, 41-42, 50, 58, 65, 67, 74, 76, 81-82, 89, 101, 105, 107, 114, 116, 133, 140, 147-148, 154, 158, 160-162, 169-170, 172; 138.2; Romans 1.2; 2 Timothy 3.16

[3] Ephesians 2.1

[4] John 11.25

[5] John 5.39

[6] Ephesians 4.11ff

[7] James 4.6; 1 Peter 5.5

[8] Job 42.6; Isaiah 6.5; Romans 7.18

[9] 2 Corinthians 1.8

[10] Romans 8.29

[11] James 1.2

[12] Philippians 4.4, 6; Acts 16.25

[13] 1 Kings 21

[14] Revelation 4.11

[15] Ephesians 4.30; 1 Thessalonians 5.19



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org