Pastor Mike Schumann
So, last week pastor Kyle kicked off our 4-part mini-series on the characteristics of the Bible. His message covered the authority of the Bible. Today’s message, the second in our series of four, is on the necessity of the Bible — what the Bible is necessary for.
After all, the Bible is not necessary in order for us to know that a God of great glory, exists. Psalm 19:1-2 says “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.”
Abundant evidence of God’s glory has been pressure-packed throughout every area of His creation. God’s sovereign signature can be seen, and recognized, on everything that has been made, God’s Divine whisper can be heard day and night, echoing off of sun, moon, and stars. God proclaims His identity and glory through everything he has made, and every word of his proclamation is received by all of humanity, on a worldwide scale.
Psalm 19 continues, “Their voice (the chorus God’s created order crying, “God is here, God is here, God is here!) goes out through all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” The Bible is not necessary in order for us to know that a God of great glory, exists.
Romans 1, New Testament now, agrees, saying, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” God’s sovereign signature can be seen, and recognized, on everything that has been made, God’s Divine whisper can be heard day and night, echoing off of sun, moon, and stars. And every atom in every molecule sings the chorus, “God is here!”
God is here. It is a truth that is plain to all men. People can choose to hide it, deny it, and try their best not to be haunted by it, but God is here! And it’s a message that’s been received by all people. The Bible is not necessary for us to know that a God of great glory, exists.
What then, is the Bible necessary for? Two things, which will form the two points of this sermon. We’ll spend way more time on this first point, which is this, the Bible is necessary to:
We’ll be spending a good chunk of time on the first point and touch on the second toward the end. So, let’s get going, first point: Why is the Bible is necessary to: (1) find forgiveness from God?
Because, even though according to Psalm 19, Romans 1, and many other parts of the Bible, “all humanity knows of God, by simply virtue of observing creation all around us, (yet) none of the “Divine whispers”, heard throughout creation, whispers the truth, which the human, mired in sin, most needs to hear” (x2).
The “Divine whispers” spoken throughout our created world, speak a general knowledge of God.
...The radiance of the blazing sun speaks of God’s splendor.
...The unfathomable depths of the oceans tell of God’s infinitude.
...The microscopic detail of a rose reveals God’s precision.
...The perfect ordering of sun, moon, and stars tell of God’s faultless wisdom.
But no portion of this “general knowledge,” though glorious in and of itself, can save the human mired in sin. In fact, the general knowledge, whispered by creation, has quite the opposite effect. Rather than save the human mired in sin, the general knowledge of God can only condemn him.
Romans 1, after stating, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” continues, “So (because God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them) they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
The Divine whispers, again, glorious in and of themselves, expose, and convict, the hearts of a people who dishonor their Maker. And those who dishonor the pure, holy, good, righteous Maker of the universe deserve the grave.
We need to recognize the absolute hopelessness of such a situation. Really, I want us to resist the urge to get out from under it right now. I think it vital we feel the weight of such inability to save ourselves. Such inability to pull ourselves up out of the grave. For this is the suffocating reality of the man, or woman, condemned by God and without hope in the world — and it is the reality which once was all too true of every one of us.
Had we not, at some point in our lives, been given the word of God:
Had we not been given the word of God, We would not have known just have great our sin truly was. Sure, we may have concluded that we’d made a few bad choices in our time, I mean…we’re not perfect, right? But would we have known that we were, because of our imperfection, walking in active rebellion against the righteous God of the universe?
Had we not been given the word of God, we would not have known just how glorious, perfect, and righteous the God of the universe truly is. Sure, we might have concluded that a “greater being” existed. Perhaps like the Greeks and Romans, we’d have viewed this being as a god of fits, and tantrums, filled with power but also filled with imperfections. We may even have tried to appease this god, tried not to upset him, but would we have fallen on our faces in humble repentance before a God who is eternally existent, perfectly Holy, and cosmically sovereign?
Had we not been given the word of God, we would not have known just how right and just it would have been for a righteous God to take a sinful people and condemn them to everlasting, conscious separation from him and all the goodness, delight, and splendor which flows out from Him.
In short, Had we not been given the word of God, we would not have known just how desperate our cause truly was, as a very unholy before standing before a very Holy God. And, guess what? Those who do not think themselves desperate do not go searching for a savior. They may go searching for a Band-Aid, a pocket-size god to curb guilt and pacify conscience. But they don’t go looking for a savior to pull their condemned and lifeless body out of the grave. No one does that, unless they know their desperate, and in need of a savior.
But, for many of us, at some point in our lives, we got to hear the word of God. And with it, we learned the truly desperate nature of our condition. And, praise God, that’s not all we learned.
Because we got to hear the word of God, we heard that a son of man would come to crush the head of the deceitful serpent. We heard that this son of man would be a king greater than David, a prophet greater than Moses, a priest greater than Aaron. We heard that this son of man would be destined to be lifted on a pole for the world to see, his body pierced, his appearance marred beyond human semblance. We heard this son of man would take his last breath, as his Father turned his face away, and he’d say, “Into your hands, I commit my spirit.” We heard that this son did not stay dead. He is alive, he’s been resurrected from the grave and ascended into heaven, and so will all who believe in Him. We heard that this son is coming back again to wipe away every tear and restore all of creation so that we might be a people of everlasting joy, with this son.
Without the word of God, you would not have heard that. And you would have stayed in the grave. You would have stayed in the grave.
That’s exactly Paul’s point in Romans 10:13, “For “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” But then, it questions: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? Did you see it? You can’t believe apart from hearing. That means, if you don’t hear, you don’t believe.
Paul’s words here, about you in this scenario, are simple, and terribly sobering: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?
Just imagine, if you had grown up in a different country, in different circumstances, and because of that you had never even seen a Bible before, and someone comes up to you and says, “Call on the Lord.”
You might answer, “I am willing to, I am wanting to, but I know not who the Lord is.”
They say, “Trust in what the Lord has done.”
You say, “I am willing to, I am wanting to, but I know not what this Lord has done.”
They say, “Respond to the good news.”
You answer, “I am willing to, I am wanting to, but I know not what it is!”
Paul will then conclude with this most basic fact:
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (2x)
Faith comes through hearing the word of God. Which means without the word of God, faith just not come. So, Point 1, The Bible is necessary to find forgiveness from God.
This leads us right into point 2, The Bible is necessary to live faithfully for God.
Say there’s a person out there who’s received the gracious gift of God’s Word. It cuts deep into him, convicts him of his sin, and calls him to his savior. And say he were to then conclude: Alright, God’s word has been revealed to my soul, I’m convinced by the good news it proclaims, I’ve received forgiveness through believing it’s message. Good, that means the Word of God has served its purpose, it’s accomplished its objective, very good, and now I can, by-and-large, move on ahead without it. Sure, I might consider giving it an honorary place on my shelf, I may even tip our cap to it on Sunday mornings, but, for the most part, it’s done what its come here to do and now it’s time to let it rest.
Does that seem right to you? Does it make sense that God’s word, which would prove to be so necessary for finding our New Life in God, suddenly become entirely unnecessary for living out that new life in God?
Consider this analogy: Consider the farmer who plants a dead, shriveled up seed into a dry, crackly ground. That farmer then grabs his watering can, and pours water on the spot where he had just planted the seed. An observer, who’s obviously not a farmer, says, “Hey, why you pouring water on that dead, shriveled seed? The planter response, “Why, isn’t it obvious, the seed needs water in order for life to grow up out of it.” A few days of the farmer faithfully watering that dead, shriveled seed go by, and all of a sudden, a tiny green leaf sprouts up from a dry, crackly ground. The seed has sprouted forth into life. The farmer, upon seeing the tiny green leaf, grabs the watering can and gives it to the observer, who’s been watching this whole thing unfold. He, the farmer, says, “Here, take my watering can, I no longer need it, the seed has sprouted to life!” The observer, again, not a farmer, says, “Sir, forgive me for my ignorance, but doesn’t the plant still need to be watered in order to keep growing?” The farmer chuckles and shakes his head, “Oh no, can’t you see, the water has fulfilled its purpose, the seed has sprouted to life…no more water is needed here..”
Does that seem right to you?
It didn’t to seem right to Jesus. In John 17, Jesus is praying his High Priestly prayer. He’s just about to leave his disciples, and he recognizes all the opposition and struggle he is leaving them in. How does he pray for them? How does he ask the Father to protect them? What means does he ask to be used? His prayer, “Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth.” That is how they’d live a life faithful to their God — by regular, deep, soul-sanctifying immersion in God’s Word, which would act as a lamp unto their feet, guiding their each and every step until glory.
The Bible is necessary to live faithfully for God.
I was blessed to be reminded of this just yesterday. I was listening to the autobiography of George Mueller, a man whose immense faith in God led him to start an orphanage in the heart of Bristol without any money. No money. He started an orphanage, and in Mueller’s lifetime alone that orphanage would go on to serve over 10,000 orphans, while Mueller himself would go on to begin multiple schools, raise millions of dollars, and travel a total of 250,000 miles, addressing over 3 million people in forty-two countries. That man, as he noted in his autobiography, was asked by someone, “Mueller, how may I have my faith strengthened?”
His answer? “Careful reading of the word of God. For, through it, the believer becomes more and more acquainted with the nature and character of God, and thus sees more and more, besides God’s holiness and justice, what a kind, loving, gracious, merciful, mighty, wise, and faithful being He is, and therefore, in poverty, affliction of body, bereavement in his family, difficulty in his service, or want of employment, he will repose upon the ability of God to help him, because he has not only learned from His word the knowledge that he is of almighty power and infinite wisdom, but he has also seen instance, after instance, after instance, in the Bible in which his almighty power, and infinite wisdom were exercised again and again in helping and delivering his people.”
Mueller, how may I have my faith strengthened?” “Careful reading of the word of God. The Bible is necessary to find forgiveness from God, and to live faithfully for God.
Two Points of Application
First Application: be grateful, for, if you are a believer today, it is because God Himself ordained that a certain time, a certain place, and through a certain medium, His Word would be revealed to your soul. Maybe it happened visually, as you saw God’s word, reading it from a Bible, on a gospel tract, in a daily devotional. Or, maybe it happened audibly, as you heard is spoke by a parent at age 5, a pastor at age 25, or a friend at age 35.
No matter what the medium, audio or visual, God ordained for His word to be revealed to your soul, and through it to awaken you to the Good News that, yes, you are a sinner, but you have a savior, and through faith in Him you can not only be saved from your sin, but brought into everlasting life with God! How grateful we ought to be!
Second Application: If it is true that Bible was necessary for you to find forgiveness from God, then isn’t it also true that the Bible will be necessary for them to find forgiveness from God?
Remember the words of Romans 1, “They (Meaning all people on the face of the planet) are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
So, Redeemer church, those who’ve found forgiveness from God, through His word, those who are striving to live faithfully for God, in accordance with His word, Our call is to be a light to a people who are still dwelling in the same pit of deep darkness from which we all came. Our mission is to bring the word of God to those people who are and will be utterly lost without it. The Bible is and will be necessary for them to find forgiveness from God. So, who “Them” is, is for you to consider. Is it a neighbor who will not find new life in God unless the Word of God is brought before them? Is it a co-worker who will not find new life in God unless the Word of God is brought before them? Is it a stranger in a foreign land that you will need to pack your bags, by a plane ticket, and go out to meet, otherwise they will not find new life in God for they have no access to the Word of God?
Find who it is and tell them. Yes, they need you to model Christlike behavior. Yes ,they need you to be trustworthy, caring, and committed to their life. And, more than anything, they will need you to speak the word.
Tell them of the Holy God who reigns over this world. Tell them of the sin dwelling in every one of us which puts us in the place of judgment before this Holy God. And tell them of the savior, the one who willingly, sacrificially, bore the judgment we were supposed to bear. Invite them to fall on their knees before this loving, humble, and perfect savior and receive the eternal life he so readily gives.
Just think of the news you get to carry. Just think of the God you get to represent. Just think of the new life in Christ you may get to witness before your eyes. Go, tell a people dwelling in deep darkness.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”
Redeemer church, consider yourself sent.