Have you every stopped to consider why you do what you do? For example, what are you doing right now? You are about to listen to a guy preach a sermon based on a book that was written between 2 and 4 thousand years ago. Really? Why would you do that? How could that possibly be relevant for your life today? I mean, if I told you that next week I’m going to preach on how to operate a rotary phone, or learning how to crank start a Model T, would you say, “That’s something I need to know. Tell me more!”? If I told you that from now on we’re going to read from a newspaper that’s 100 years old, would you say, “Yep, that’s what I believe in.”? I doubt it.
So why are you basing your faith on a book that is far older than that? If you’ve never thought about questions like these, I can assure you, that other people have. In fact, maybe they’ve directed those questions at you. “You don’t actually take the Bible seriously, do you? How can you be so old fashioned? How can you be so out of touch? Why bother with that piece of ancient history?”
My friends, today here at Mount Olive we begin a sermon series entitled “Wise Up: Ancient wisdom for a modern world.” Each week, we’ll study a portion of what’s called God’s Wisdom literature, better known as the Book of Proverbs. We’ll see how God’s ancient wisdom applies to some modern day issues like marriage, the family, money and alcohol. But before we can take on any of these topics we need to tackle a more basic question, namely, why would we even consider looking for answers to modern day problems in a book that is thousands of years old? Or to put it another way…
Why Bother with the Bible?
In a sense, that’s a legitimate question. And our text for today offers three very legitimate answers. Why bother with the Bible?
- Because it’s the voice of God
- Because every word (of the Bible) is flawless
III. It is a refuge for our lives
First, the Bible is the voice of God. Now maybe I should say right up front, there are a lot of people in our world today, in fact, a lot of church-goers, who would deny that the Bible is the voice of God. For many people today, the Bible is not “God’s Word to Man.” It’s “Men’s Words about God.” Do you see the difference? Many people see this book to be a merely a compilation of religious writings. It’s the result of good intentioned, but often misguided human beings writing down their thoughts about who they think God is and what they think God expects of us. For many people, the Bible is nothing more than men’s words about God.
But that’s not how the Bible describes itself. What does the Bible say? Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man. In other words, Scripture didn’t originate in someone’s head. The Bible is not merely what man thinks. Rather, as that passage goes on to say, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). In other words, God gave his apostles and prophets the very words they were to speak. Those words were not Paul’s words or Moses’ words. They were God’s words. Isn’t that what St. Paul meant when he wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed”? God breathed into his inspired writers the very words he wanted them to write. Isn’t that why you so often read in the Old Testament phrases like, “And the Lord came to”…(one of the prophets and gave them the words to speak).” Or you think of God’s words to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 36:2, “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you.” Even though God used human instruments like Moses and Paul, the words of the Bible are not the words of men, they are the words, they are the voice of God.
Do your realize what that means for your life and mine? It means that through this book God Almighty is speaking to you. It means that through this book you get a little insight into the mind of the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe. Can you imagine being able to listen to the One who in the words of our text, …has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands…who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak…who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!”
Well, through his word, dear Christians, you do know who God is. You do know what he’s done for you. And through his Word you can go right to the source of all true knowledge. What a blessing to be able to go right to the source.
Kind of reminds me of the time I went to an outdoors show in Oshkosh and ran into the guy who made the goose call I’d been using for years. Over the course of time, that call had gotten way out of tune. Well, you can imagine my excitement to be able to go up to the manufacturer of my call and say, “Can you fix this?” He said, “Of course I can. I made it.” I’m thinking, “This is great! I’m going right to the source. I’m going to the creator of my call.”
My friends, in a sense, isn’t that what the Bible allows us to do? It allows us to go back to the source. It allows us to go back ti our creator. We can go back to the one who made the world, who instituted marriage, who knows how life works. Why bother with the Bible? Because the Bible is the Voice of God.
But now, someone might say, “Okay, I’ll grant you that. I’ll grant you that God speaks to us through his word. I believe that someone could hear a message from God in this book. But to say that everything in the Bible is God’s Word? To say that the Bible is therefore 100% accurate, even when it’s talking about science and history and geography? C’mon!” That that brings us to our second reason, Why Bother with the Bible? II. Because Every Word of the Bible is Flawless.
Isn’t that what the inspired writer of Proverbs says? Every word of God is flawless. Now, what does that mean? It means that all Scripture, the entire Bible, both Old and new Testaments is error free. There is not one mistake, not one contradiction, not one stretching of the truth, not one embellishment of the facts. When the Bible says that Jonah was swallowed by a fish, and Moses parted the Red Sea and Elijah went up to heaven in a chariot of fire, those are not fables; they are historic facts. How do you know? Because all those events are recorded in Scripture and Jesus said, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). In other words, Scripture cannot be proven wrong. If you think about it, it’s a logical argument. If #1: God by his very nature cannot lie (because God is holy) and #2: All Scripture is God-breathed, (every word of Scripture comes from God) then #3: All Scripture must be true or as the writer says, Every word of God is flawless.
Again, do you realize what that means for our lives? It means that the Bible sets a standard that doesn’t change. In the Bible God gives us a truth that doesn’t need to be edited, updated or massaged to fit a particular audience. Someone once told me, “If you tell the truth the first time, you don’t need a good memory.” Do you understand what he meant by that? He meant, if you lie, if you embellish the truth, if you twist the facts, you’d better remember exactly what you said, or the next time you tell the story, it’s not going to match. You’re going to be exposed as a fraud, as a liar. But if you tell the truth the first time, your words will stand the test of time.
My friends, couldn’t that be said of the Scriptures? Jesus once said, Father, “your word is truth” (John 17:17). While human beings are constantly revising their version of the truth, their stories about how the world came into existence or where humans came from, or what the definition of marriage is, God’s truth has stood the test of time. God told the truth right from the start. Scripture says, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27). And the Lord God…brought her to the man…and they became one flesh (Genesis 2:22-24).
My friends, isn’t it comforting to know that in a world that is constantly changing (I mean, I can’t keep up with what version of the iPhone I’m supposed to have), still when it comes to what is really important, when it comes to what is right and what is wrong, when it comes to how life works and how it doesn’t, when it comes to how God feels about us and what he’s done for us, God’s truth hasn’t changed. It’s still right here in God’s inspired, inerrant word.
Why bother with the Bible? I. Because it’s how God speaks to us. II. Because every word is flawless. And therefore III. The Bible is a refuge for our lives. What do I mean by that? Look at the words of our text. The inspired writer Agur writes, Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Notice a couple of things there. Notice the connection between the flawlessness of God’s Word and the fact that God is our shield and he’s where we take refuge. Both pictures (God as a shield and God as a refuge) emphasize the idea of God protecting us from harm. I mean, isn’t that what a shield is for? To protect you from the swords and arrows of the enemy. And a refuge is where you are safe from harm.
So the question is, what is the connection between the fact that God’s Word is flawless, that is, it has no holes in it, and the fact that God is our shield and refuge? Well, look at it this way. Would you feel comfortable going into battle with a shield that’s flawed, a shield that is full of holes? I don’t think so! If that shield is somehow defective, if it’s full of holes, you’re not going to feel safe; you’re not going to be protected. I mean, would you put on a parachute that says, “This device is missing some parts”? Would get in a rental car that has a little sign that says, “The brakes on this vehicle work more than 50% of the time”? No way! To feel safe in something, you need to trust it. You need to know that it’s not defective.
Well, so it is with God and his Word. If you can’t trust God’s Word, you can’t trust God. But the fact is, you can trust God’s Word, because it’s flawless. And therefore you can trust God. God and his promises to you become your shield and refuge in life. That means that you can trust that in his Word, God is telling you the truth. Granted sometimes that truth gets a little ugly. God is not afraid to tell you and me that we are filthy sinners worthy of hell. But more importantly, in his Word, God tells us the truth about himself. He reveals that he is a good and merciful God who for Jesus’ sake, has forgiven all our sins. And really it’s that good news of God’s pardoning love in Christ that leads us to know only put our trust in God, but put our trust in his Word as well. Ultimately, it’s the gospel which the Holy Spirit uses to lead us to believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and ever relevant Word of God. May God bless the time we spend reading, studying, believing and applying to our lives his holy, precious Word, that ancient wisdom for a modern world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.