God’s Law is Good

Christians, do you believe God’s word? Be careful here. I am not asking if you believe the parts that are easy for you. Do you really believe that, as Paul told us, all Scripture is inspired and profitable?

IF you believe that God is good and God’s word is good, you will have to allow that to impact how you think and feel about the Old Testament. While we are a New Covenant people, and we are grateful not to be under the old sacrificial system, we should nonetheless rejoice in the words that God gave his people.

Look at what God himself says to us about his word, particularly what he is going to tell his people in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 4:5-8 – 5 See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

In that last verse, we see a fascinating question. God says that those who see his people abide by his word will ask, “What great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law?” God is telling us that he is good, that is word is good, and that is law is perfectly just. Either these things are true, or God’s word is not true.

Since we are a people who love the Bible, we must understand that his words are true here as well. His law is good. His principles for justice are right. His orders for Israel, as a nation, were perfect.

While I’m not suggesting that it is the responsibility of the Christian to attempt to establish legal systems that are identical to those of ancient Israel, I am wanting modern Christians to grasp this point if nothing else: God’s law is good. When God told Israel what to eat and what not to eat, for them, at that time, it was absolutely and perfectly good. When God told Israel the penalty for crimes against one another or against God, his justice was good. When God told the people with what particularity they are to address his holiness and his worship, it was good.

Christians, when you begin to think through the law of God, will you be careful to start here? Will you start with the assumption, the word-centered, God-honoring assumption that his law is righteous and good? If you do not start here, you place yourself in a position to say that some of God’s law is good and some is not. You, in that mental move, place yourself in a position to judge the Lord, and that is akin to original sin itself.

Christians, love the word. Love the New Testament. Love the law. Understand that, no, we are not Old Testament Israel. We are not under the same dietary restrictions as was Israel. We are not bound to their ceremonies. But we can look to those ceremonies and find hints of the gospel. We can look to the law to see the glory of being a people set apart for the Lord. WE can look to the law to see our deep sinfulness and need of a Savior. WE can look to the law and see God’s great holiness. We can look to the law and see what justice looks like. We can look to the law and know better what pleases the Lord. God is good, all good, including his perfect and righteous law.

An Example of Man’s Best Guesses

We see a fascinating event happen when Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta. The people gather wood and build a fire to warm the bedraggled passengers. And a thing happens to Paul that adds some level of insult to injury. And in that happening, we can see a solid example of why we ought not trust human conclusions without divine revelation.

Acts 28:3-6 – 3 When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 4 When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

OK, Paul is bitten by a snake. The thing just latched on. Paul shakes it off, and he lives. All things considered, this is a rough day.

But watch the assumptions made by the observers. First, the people draw a conclusion from the evidence they see. They assume that Paul is a criminal getting justice. Even though he survived the wreck of the ship, he is still going to die from the poison of the snake. HE is getting what is coming to him. This is what the natives assume.

Then, after Paul does not die, the people amend their assessment of the situation. He survives a shipwreck and the bite of a viper. Now the people assume that Paul must be a god.

The fact is, the people of Malta were wrong, badly wrong, twice. They used their best guess based on the evidence available to them and their understanding of the world. And what we discover is a simple truth. Mankind, apart from the perfect revelation of God, will misinterpret the world around him time and time again.

Christians, let a passage like this one cause you to give God great thanks for Scripture. After all, without God revealing himself in his holy and inspired word, you too would interpret the world around you wrongly. Either you would have superstition all over you like the people of Malta, or you would be given into the folly of a naturalistic worldview. Either way, you would be very wrong. Thank the Lord for speaking to us in his word. Thank the Lord for speaking to us in the person and work of Jesus. It would be totally just of God to simply destroy us for our sin without ever speaking to us in any way whatsoever. Thank God for choosing to tell us who he is, who we are, and what we must do to be made right with him. Thank God for the Bible.

God is Different Than People Think

You know why Scripture is such a gift? You could never know God without his revealing himself in his word. If God does not tell us what he is like, if we do not pay attention, we will totally have the wrong image in our minds as to who god is, what he does, and what he requires.

I Thought of this in a read through Exodus 19-20. In that passage, the text around the original giving of the Ten Commandments, God makes some restrictions on the people that do not sound like what many around you think God is like.

Why do I say this? In our world, most people think that God is open to any sincere attempt to worship him. People assume that God is open to all expressions of human religion so long as those expressions do not attack other humans. But look at God’s words and God’s standards for the people near the mountain. In two places, we will see something important.

Exodus 19:21-22 – 21 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.”

As God prepared to speak to Moses from the Mountain, he gave two significant restrictions. The people could not approach or touch the mountain while God’s presence was upon it. And the priests could not experience this day without a holy consecration. Either group who disobeyed the commands of God here would die. God himself would kill people for disobedience.

But that does not sound like the modern understanding of God put forth by so many people. And at this point we have to ask, is our picture of god from God’s revelation or from our own minds? God is holy. God may not be approached by sinful man. And God will destroy those who violate his holy standards and remain without his forgiveness.

Exodus 20:25 – If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it.

Here God points out that the people of Israel were not free to make just any kind of altar for worship. If they were to fashion a stone altar with their tools, their touching of the altar would defile it. God was clear that his worship was to be holy. God is clear that he sets the standards as to what is acceptable and unacceptable worship.

The simple thought that I want us to take away from these passages is that God is holy. God is not what the modern American believes. God will judge people. God will judge based on his own standards. God will not bend to our will and our standards. God is not OK with just any old action we want to take. God will tell us how he is to be worshipped.

And in both passages, we see that God is clear that sinful mankind cannot approach him. If we wish to avoid God’s judgment, we must find ourselves under his grace. We are sinners who need to be forgiven. We need to have God apply to us the perfect righteousness of Christ. If we do not have God’s forgiving grace and the imputed righteousness of Jesus, anything we would do that could be considered worship will only serve to bring us under God’s judgment.

So, what do we take away? First, you need Jesus. Ask him to forgive you and cleanse you before the Lord. Surrender to him and be saved by his grace through faith. Then, realize that God has a high and holy standard that is far more dangerous than anything you have ever imagined. Submit to his holy word in order to live and worship in a way that pleases the Lord.

Simple Depth in Glorious Doctrine

Sometimes the simplest of doctrines are the ones we need to remember most. IN churches like the one I serve, there are always folks who are interested in the “deep” things. And, quite often, the things these folks consider to be deep are primarily things that are hard to understand or not broadly known. While we want to study all biblical doctrine, we can, if we are not careful, become fascinated with the obscure and fail to embrace and cherish the simple and true.

Christians, may I remind you that depth does not equal obscurity? May I also remind you that simple does not mean shallow. Sometimes deep study and deep faithfulness means learning to embrace with all of your being the things that every Christian should know.

Here is an example of a few things said in Psalm 18 that we all should love deeply.

Psalm 18:30-31a

30 This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?

Let me point out four doctrines, lovely doctrines, simple doctrines, deep doctrines, that we should love from those lines. First, note the perfection of God. David refers to God by saying, “his ways are perfect.” That is not a shallow truth. God’s ways are perfect. All that the Lord is and all that the Lord does is perfect. There is no flaw. There is no sin. There is no taint. God is absolutely, unquestionably, immeasurably perfect.

How important is that doctrine? How does it change us? When the Lord says that he will do a thing, our response must never be to measure it by whether or not we approve. God’s ways are perfect. Our response, when we see that the Lord does a thing should be to ask the Lord to reshape us in our sinfulness to love and embrace his perfection. Thus, when God speaks of things with which we are uncomfortable, we are the ones flawed, not the Lord.

Second, the word of the Lord proves true. This is a reminder that not only is what God does perfect in every way, all that God says is true. For David, this helped him to embrace the Pentateuch and the words of the prophets around him. For us, this develops for us our doctrine of holy Scripture.

Just like thinking of the ways of God as perfect, we now think of his word as true. So, what happens when our experience or our best understanding stands in contradiction to the word? WE have a choice to make. We either decide that we are more true than the word of God or that the word of God is more true than our experience. Christians, this is a vital piece of doctrine to get right, as it will shape everything you think you know.

Third, God is a shield for all who take refuge in him. What a glorious truth this is. God is a gracious God. God receives kindly those who come to him for shelter. Consider, there is no rule beyond God that says he has to do this. He could turn us away in our cries for his mercy. But he does not.

Here is a doctrine that helps us to understand the grace of God. We are all a people in danger. Our sin would cause us to be eternally condemned. But God is a shelter for all who take refuge in him. If you come to the one true God seeking shelter, he will grant it. We know from the rest of Scripture that there is only one way to come to God for shelter, through the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). But we also are gloriously encouraged by the truth that all who do come to Jesus in faith and repentance are genuinely saved (Rom. 10:9-10, 13).

Fourth, and finally, notice that David also tells us that there is only one God. Who is God but the Lord? Much of the world thinks in the terms of multiple divinities. Much of the world assumes all religions are the same. But the word of God tells us that there is not another God, period.

This doctrine is vital to the believer. We know that all other world religions are false, because we know that there is only one God who may only be approached through the person and work of Jesus. All other claims of authority are illegitimate, because we know that there is only one God. All that oppose God do not merely oppose a religion, they oppose the one and only Creator and Lord. And all who have the favor of God have blessing that can never be removed, because God is the only God. There is no competition for God. There is no alternative to God. There is only the one God.

You might say that all these things are easy to know. Perhaps they are. But that does not make these shallow. These are vital truths. And the more you think about them, the more you embrace them, the more you will love the Lord you serve. I’m glad that we have the opportunity as believers to delve into end times, to think about election, to seek to understand the intricacies of the trinity, to ponder the covenants. But I’m even gladder that we are given by God the chance to know that he is the only God, that is ways are perfect, that his word is true, and that he welcomes all who run to him for shelter. These things should change your daily life, and change it forever. So do not miss them as you seek to study the deep things of the Lord.

What the Bible Really Is

When you think of the Bible, what do you think it is? Be careful here. I’d ask that you not give me an answer that is a stock response, which is true, but which may not match your actual beliefs. If you say the Bible is the word of God, does your thinking in relation to biblical issues match that statement?

1 Thessalonians 2:13 – And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

When Paul preached to the people in Thessalonica, he spoke to them as an apostle. That means that Paul brought the message of God with the authority of God to those people. And Paul was thrilled to see that, when they heard this message of God with the authority of God, they welcomed it as such.

Paul saw that the Thessalonians received the word of God as the word of God. They heard the message, and they understood that they were hearing the word, the communication, the heart expression of God. As a contrast, to make his point clear, Paul said that they did not receive this message as the word of men. This was not a message that they could debate. This was not a message they could receive part of and leave the rest. It is an all-or-nothing proposition.

Dear friends, what Paul said of the Thessalonians needs to be true of us. The Lord as inspired and preserved his holy word. God has spoken. And we need to receive the Scriptures, not as the words of men, but as they truly are, the word of God. We cannot take part and leave the rest. We cannot debate with the Bible. WE cannot adopt what we like or what is popular while letting the rest fly away. We need to read the Bible and realize that, in doing so, we are hearing the voice of God.

Instinct or Understanding

By what standard do we determine what is right? This ought to be an easy question to answer for the Christian. But in our day and age, we are not as solid on this topic as we should be. All in all, there are only two options. You can determine morality by the faithful study of and application of Scripture, or you can determine morality based on your own personal judgment. There are not any other solid choices out there. You choose divine revelation or something else.

In the letter of Jude, we see that there are a people doing evil in the church. They are rejecting biblical morality for their own instinctual standards.

Jude 10 – But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

The folks causing a problem have two things that they are doing. First, we see that they have gotten to a place where they blaspheme what they do not understand. When a standard is set before them that they do not want to follow, they speak out to revile that standard. In contrast, these people who are enemies of the faith in Jude are led to destruction by their instincts.

Let’s not let this seem mysterious. What is happening is simple. There are people in the church to which Jude is writing who do not understand God’s standards related to human sexuality. This is not to say that they cannot comprehend the command of God, but they do not agree with it. Their desires do not match the command of the word. And since they do not personally like or understand God’s standards, they speak out against the word of God and give themselves over to evil practices that go against God’s word and which will ultimately lead to their own destruction.

How do we know this is about sexuality and not merely about some other failure to follow Scripture? In verse 4, Jude says that these people “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality.” That word behind sensuality is a word that repeatedly appears in biblical condemnations of sexual immorality. As Jude speaks of other immoralities that mirror the licentiousness of these people, he compares them to Sodom and Gomorrah and says that they “likewise indulged in sexual immorality” (verse 7). And, in verse 8, speaking of the practices of the sinful, Jude says that they “defile the flesh.”

Jude is clear. There are people in his day who are in the church who are participating in sexual immorality. When they are challenged to stop sinning against the Lord and destroying themselves in this way, they speak out against the Scriptures. Instead of following the standards present in the word of God, instead of following the clear teachings of the apostles, these people rely on their own minds, their own dreams, their own instincts. And, as Jude said, these people determine their morality like unreasoning animals as they walk themselves into the judgment of God.

In no way am I trying to be personally harsh as I speak of this issue. But I must simply let the word of God say what it says. And God clearly inspired very strong language to describe the sexual immorality that was going on in Jude’s day. We cannot tone this down and be faithful to the word. Giving one’s self over to sexual immorality is deadly. Following our human instincts and passions instead of following what God tells us is right is deadly. And there is nothing good to say for those who would hear the word of God, see God’s standards, and speak out against those standards as if they somehow know what is best for us more so than the God who created us.

Of course, Christians, there is something for us to learn here about sexual immorality. We want to be very wary of any group claiming to follow God, yet which speaks out against the plain biblical standards of human sexuality. God is clear that human instinct will lead us to destruction if not corralled by the protective fence of biblical revelation. God has designed us to glorify him. One of the loveliest ways that we can honor the Lord is by submitting to his perfect plan for our lives and bodies. We are not our own. We are bought at a price. And our loving God intends that we honor him in our sexuality.

But the further truth, the foundational thing that we need to grasp, is that we must determine all morality based on the word of God and not on human instinct. WE are fallen. Our moral compass is corrupt. We lack the wisdom of the Lord. We are not naturally holy. For us to make moral choices that will not lead to destruction requires that we are fully submitted to the perfect word of God. Otherwise we will be misled by the blinding influence of our unreasoning instincts. Submit to Scripture and not to your best guess as to how things ought to be.

Not the Word of Men

There are a few questions that a person must answer in order to be in any way pleasing to God. Miss the answers to these questions, and you will be far from the truth. A person needs to know where we come from. A person needs to understand who Jesus is. A person needs to understand what we must do to be saved.

One more extremely significant question is this: What is the Bible? This is one of the most important questions any person can ask and answer. Get this one right, and you will have a proper foundation set for knowing the ways of God. Miss it, and you will be like a rudderless ship, floundering about without direction.

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul, almost in passing, reminds the church there what the Bible is. Paul is here talking about his preaching to these people, and probably including the Old Testament Scriptures as well, but the point carries over to what we now have in the Bible.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 – And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

There are two things to note here. Paul calls his message to the Thessalonians the word of God. And then he goes on to emphasize that it is not the word of men. This is vital. Understand, dear friends, the Bible is the word of God and not the word of men.

Start from the end. What if the Bible is merely the word of men? It might have some wisdom. It might be a somewhat helpful thing. But, if the Bible is merely a collection of the opinions and best guesses of fallible men, it is merely a tool to be used or discarded as we see fit.

But what if the Bible is, as Paul says, the word of God and not of men? Then everything changes. If the Bible is the word of God, it is authoritative. God is our Lord. What he says we must obey. What he wills we must strive to do or be.

If the Bible is the word of God, it is trustworthy. God is perfect. God does not err. It would be insanity to believe that the perfect and holy God of the universe would somehow give to us an errant, flawed, unreliable word and then claim it as his own.

If the Bible is the word of God, then what the Bible says, God says. If we want to know God, we will learn to know him through the word. If we want to be right with God, we do so by the method prescribed in the word. If we want to set our standards in line with those of God, we find those standards in his word.

The Bible is the word of God, not the word of men. Yes, men were used to write it down, but they were carried along by the Holy Spirit of God as he inspired them to pen for us, not the words of men, but the perfect word of God. Let this thought give you the answer to the question about what the Bible is. Know the Bible is the word of God. And let that Bible lead you to faith in and obedience to Jesus.

The Backwardness of Sin

I wonder sometimes if we, as Christians, truly grasp what happens to the human mind that is captivated by sin. I think, theologically, we can speak true things about what it looks like when a person is dead in sin or is following the world, the flesh, and the devil. But, when we think of the world and its practices, I wonder if we really get it.

Consider some of the pet sins of our culture. I’ll not need to name them at this point, as you know if you are paying any attention. Have you noticed how, in our culture, there has been a pattern of acceptance of these sins? Years ago, they were sins that were abhorred by faithful folks. Then, though the sins were abhorred in general, we began to accept their presence. Then, acceptance led to normalization. We began to act as though certain sins were just part of the world we live in. WE began to act as though our best move would be to remain quiet, as culture around us was beginning to accept such practices. And then, before we know it, things that once were abhorred are now applauded and celebrated. Now, all who do not celebrate sins once abhorred are the ones despised by the culture.

That pattern, from abhorrence to applause, is only part of the problem. The other part of the problem is in the local church itself. You see, we want to be loved by the world. Thus, if we are not careful, we begin to compromise on things that the Lord has commanded. We become ashamed of the word of God because we do not want to be social outcasts. Perhaps we hide the word of God because we do not want the world around us to look down on us.

If you look at the words of Jesus, none of this should be a surprise.

John 16:1–4a – 1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

Jesus warned his disciples of hard times to come. He warned them of persecution. Jesus wanted them to understand that the persecution they face is not something he did not see coming.

But take particular note of the attitude of the persecutors. Jesus said that people would be killing Christians, and they would be convinced that they were doing a service to God when they would do so. That is the point that got my attention. It speaks not only to the sin, but to the mindset of those who will come and persecute Christ’s followers.

What I want us to grasp is that this mindset, this thinking that leads to persecution, this darkened thinking is utterly warped and inside-out and upside-down. Jesus warned that men would do that which is as evil a thing as possible, kill servants of the Lord, and they will think, not that they are doing evil, but that they are serving the very God they are attacking. This shows us what sin does to the human mind.

Dear friends, if we are not completely saturated with the word of God, we will let inside-out and upside-down thinking permeate our lives. It is surprisingly easy for Christians to learn to accept what God calls abomination. It is surprisingly easy for Christians to turn what God forbids into something that religious people celebrate. It is surprisingly easy to stop seeing evil as evil.

May we be a people who are biblically minded in all things. May we love the word. May we not allow the world to shape our thinking. May we battle with all our might against the sin that would deceive us into doing that which dishonors God and thinking it to be worship. May we be willing to stand in the face of hardships, knowing that our Savior promised that this world would be hard. May we live for the glory of our God even in a dark world, because we know that the Spirit of God is with us and the Savior we love will return and rule forever.

Four Thoughts from Lamentations 1 and 2

The Book of Lamentations is not often an easy book to read. The words are not hard, but the picture is so very sad. The people of Judah have sinned against God, and the Lord has, as he promised, brought judgment down on the city of Jerusalem. The Babylonians have come in, destroyed the city, and taken most of the people captive. And the prophet Jeremiah witnessed it all.

As I was reading through the first two chapters of Lamentations, a few individual verses got my attention. So, for this post, I decided that I would write a couple of brief thoughts on the verses that stood out to me, some verses which offer thoughts we want to remember.

Lamentations 1:9

Her uncleanness was in her skirts;
she took no thought of her future;
therefore her fall is terrible;
she has no comforter.
“O Lord, behold my affliction,
for the enemy has triumphed!”

The first thought that grabbed my attention is that simple line, “She took no thought for her future.” The people of Jerusalem, by the time of its fall, had simply stopped caring about the future. The people were so into their sin against the Lord that considering the days to come was beyond their scope of thought. They lived for the now, and then they suffered the consequences.

Many of us know what this is like. Around us, we find many who will plan for their financial future. They will plan for retirement and buy insurance. But the same people have no consideration for the Day of the Lord. They are not concerned about what will happen when they meet God. They have not cared about the judgment to come. This is dangerous.

So, the first point I’ll make from Lamentations is the call for us to pay attention to the future. No, I’m not worried so much here about your retirement. Instead, I am suggesting that you take care not to ignore the fact that God has made you for an eternal existence. Think to your future. How will you stand before the Holy God who made you?

Lamentations 1:18

“The Lord is in the right,
for I have rebelled against his word;
but hear, all you peoples,
and see my suffering;
my young women and my young men
have gone into captivity.

The second line that got my attention is the simple phrase, “The Lord is in the right.” Jeremiah has seen the city fall. He has witnessed people going captive to Babylon. And Jeremiah declares that the Lord is in the right.

There are, of course, many reasons that Jeremiah will give us to explain why the Lord is in the right. But what I have on my mind is the simple fact that, regardless of those reasons, Jeremiah is starting from the right place. The assumption that we must make is always that the Lord is in the right. It is impossible for the Holy One to be in the wrong. God has no evil within him. The Lord cannot do evil. The Lord makes no mistakes and is never overpowered. Thus, we must always know that God is God, and that means that God is always in the right.

Lamentations 1:21

“They heard my groaning,
yet there is no one to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my trouble;
they are glad that you have done it.
You have brought the day you announced;
now let them be as I am.

The line that got my attention here is the phrase, “You have brought the day you announced.” Jeremiah is here saying that God has judged the people of Jerusalem as the enemies of God looked on and laughed. Now Jeremiah is asking that God also judge those evil men for taking joy in the city’s destruction.

But notice that this day that has brought upon Jeremiah is a day that the Lord had announced. God told the people this would come. God warned against it. But the people did not care. They chose to assume that the Lord would not bring his judgment upon them as he promised. They chose to think that God would not keep his word. And this was to their destruction.

May we learn from this. God keeps his promises. There are things that God has promised that may feel too far off to matter to us. But we dare not assume that God will not keep his word. What God has said, that he will do. Jesus will return. All humanity will stand before his seat of judgment. All in Christ will be rewarded. All apart from Christ will face judgment. These are eternal judgments. But let us not assume that, because they seem far removed from us, they will not come. God will do all he has said he would do.

Lamentations 2:14

Your prophets have seen for you
false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes,
but have seen for you oracles
that are false and misleading.

Here in the final verse I will include for this morning, we see Jeremiah lamenting the fact that the people have fallen for the lies of false prophets. The nation chose not to believe the clear word of God. They chose not to take the words of Holy Scripture to heart. Instead, they chose to believe their own modern teachers who contradicted Scripture with happy promises of prosperity.

Of course this is a danger for our world too. Many people are ignoring Scripture. Many people are preaching things the Bible never said. Many are telling us that God has changed his view on certain actions. But the Lord is unchanged. The word of God still stands. And we must be careful not to listen to those who say what our sinful hearts first want to hear. Instead, we need to hear those who speak to us the true, unchanging, unfettered, uncompromising word of God.

Two Ways to Handle Scripture

How do you respond to the word of God? There are really only two options. A person will either hear the word of the Lord, fear God, and obey, or they will turn their back on the Lord and face judgment.

In Jeremiah 36, watch the response of King Jehoiakim when the word of God is read to him. While sitting near a nice cozy fire, the king had a chance to hear God’s word and repent.

Jeremiah 36:22-24 – 22 It was the ninth month, and the king was sitting in the winter house, and there was a fire burning in the fire pot before him. 23 As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. 24 Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments.

Depending on what one believes the word of God to be, this is either a non-event or a terrifying act of hubris.

While there are many different pieces of evidence for the accuracy, authority, and inspiration of Scripture, I’ll not go into them here. The truth is, the word of God is real. The God who made us has spoken to us. He has spoken through prophets and later apostles. He has recorded his word for us in holy Scripture, what we now call the Bible. And to mess with or ignore the Bible is a serious offense before the Lord.

The king heard God’s word, did not like what it said to him, and chose to cut it up and throw it into the fire. That was a terrible move for him. Eventually, King Jehoiakim died and his kingdom went captive to Babylon just as God had said in the words Jehoiakim cut up. But we are not super worried about Jehoiakim anyway. What we need to think about is our own response to the word of God.

Friends, may we be people who honor and respect the Lord by treasuring his word. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable (2 Tim. 3:16). The word of God tells us who God is and what God requires. The Bible tells us how to be forgiven by God and to live to please him once he has adopted us into his family. May we never ignore God’s word or dishonor God by disrespecting his word.