Dear friends, I make no apology for believing in the Word of God as both authoritative and sufficient for all of life and godliness. I am a Bible believing preacher because I am convinced that it changes lives. I have seen it happen in my own life and I have also seen it happen in the lives of others. It is a great joy to see people saved. It is even a greater joy to see them grow in their spiritual walk with the Lord.
His Powerful Word is all we need for Life and Godliness (v3)
The church lives in the age of information and worldly wisdom. She has drifted away from preaching God’s Word alone. It is no longer seen as sufficient to meet the needs of modern man. God’s divine power is all we need for life and godliness. This is the same power that created the universe and everything in it. It is the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the grave. It is the same power that brings life to those who are dead in their trespasses and sins. But how do we get this power?
It comes through our knowledge of Him – our knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord. And how do we get this knowledge of Him? We get it through the written Word – the Bible. We got it first in the Old Testament that prophesized His coming to redeem God’s people. Then we have it in the New Testament that was written by the Apostles moved by the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle John said that if all was written concerning our Lord Jesus Christ all the books in the world could not contain that information. But what was necessary for our salvation and living out a godly life during our pilgrimage upon earth was written down. This was also recognized by all the early Christian Fathers who at that time were very careful not to add anything to or take anything away from God’s Holy Word.
Quote from Early Christian Doctrines, J.N.D. Kelley, “The holy and inspired Scriptures, wrote Athanasius a century later, are fully sufficient for the proclamation of the truth; while his contemporary, Cyril of Jerusalem, laid it down that with regard to the divine and saving mysteries of faith no doctrine, however trivial, may be taught without the backing of the divine Scriptures…For our saving faith derives its force, not from capricious reasoning’s, but from what may be proved out of the Bible. Later in the same century John Chrysostom bade his congregation seek no other teacher than the oracles of God; everything was straightforward and clear in the Bible, and the sum of necessary knowledge could be extracted from it. In the West Augustine declared that in the plain teaching of Scripture we find all that concerns our belief and moral conduct; while a little later Vincent of Lerins (c.450) took it as an axiom the Scriptural canon was “sufficient, and more than sufficient for all purposes.”
But then the tragedies of all tragedies happened – the Bible was not given to the common people and it was only interpreted by the Catholic Church. At which time many unbiblical doctrines were added and many of the clear doctrines were removed so that God’s people were plunged into the darkest era of the church. It was not until centuries later that God’s Word was rediscovered and given back to the common people as a rule for all of life and piety.
Once again the power of God’s Holy Word transformed His people bringing them out of darkness and back into the wonderful light of His Gospel. The entire western world took a giant step forward out of the dark ages and into God’s marvelous light. Once again the Bible became the only authoritative guide for God’s people and revivals swept across Europe and even into this country.
But what’s happened in our day? Again the church has drifted away from its biblical roots and entered a new era of being lukewarm. Faith and the Bible are no longer the norm, but the reason of man through the philosophies and psychologies of the world has entered in and has choked the Word of God and the results in the church are devastating.
We see this so clearly in the seventh church of the book of Revelation, which many believe that is a clear representation of the last church before Christ’s glorious return from Heaven. Here was a church who thought she was rich and in need of nothing. She had her expensive places of worship, the best of music, and the most beautiful sermons that modern rhetoric could deliver. Yet she is a church with the form of godliness but has no power to really change lives. And here is the reason why. She took the hot teachings of God’s Holy Word and mixed them with the cold and frigid teachings of the world and ended up with a lukewarm church making little or no impact upon the lives of God’s people or the world. And what does Christ say at this point to the church living in the last days? Repent or I will spit you out of my mouth. He tells them to be one or the other – hot or cold but stop combining your worldly wisdom with my Holy Word that can change lives.
And friends, that is exactly the power of God’s holy Word – it is meant to change lives – to grow people from one degree of glory to another. No preaching should take place in the pulpits of our churches unless it is God’s Holy Word. It is time for the churches of America to repent. It’s time to return to clear biblical preaching alone for it is the only thing that will change the heart of man.
If a church is not growing spiritually there is a good chance that it’s dead. Now I am not talking about numbers, but I am talking about spiritual growth. We hear so much about numerical growth in our churches today and somehow relate that to a healthy church. I would rather have a small church that is spiritually alive than a huge church that’s spiritually dead. You simply cannot equate the two as the same. However, I will say that a spiritually alive church will attract more because God will add to their numbers day by day. If God is going to call out the sinners in this area and send them to a church – which one do you think that he will add them to? He will add them to a church that is alive and growing in Christ by the power and authority of His Word – the Bible.
His Powerful Word gives us great and Precious Promises (v4a)
There is no hope in the world today and this too has greatly influenced the modern church. There is no wonder the church has turned to the world searching for hope. This is one of the greatest dangers facing the modern church – she has lost her hope. We, like Eve in the Garden, have questioned God if He can really deliver on His promises.
God had promised Abraham that He would make him into a great nation. He has fulfilled His promise even unto this day. This promise includes all of Christianity throughout every age for we are His spiritual descendants. We have seen the fulfilling of the promise made to Israel that they would be a blessing to all nations because of their coming King of Kings after the lineage of King David. We have seen the promise of the Holy Spirit that has been poured out upon all believing men and women fulfilled at Pentecost. And since that day we have seen many other great and precious promises fulfilled in the life of believers. Yet the world wants to take that hope away which destroys our faith in the Risen Lord.
Briefly, I want to look at just one great and precious promise this morning that we as the people of God have misplaced and no longer believe –really believe. The first promise is found in II Corinthians 5:17, it says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” On the surface everyone in this auditorium will say I believe that, but do you really? Friends, this is an awesome promise! This means that when you come to Christ and make Him your Lord and begin to let His Word make changes in your life, you will never be the same. It means that the old hang-ups will soon pass away. It means that no matter what your past was, no matter what your environment was, no matter what your daddy or grand daddy did – you will be changed. Old things will pass away.
Yet, we hear just the opposite in the world today and unfortunately we hear it also in the modern church. Friends, God promises to change you so much that you will not even know yourself a few years after following Him. In fact, the Apostle John says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (Now, watch this!) Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (I John 3:2-3) Friends, the world has robbed the church of its hope for change.
This is seen most clearly in the worldly system of psychology which has entered the church. It has done so through its literature, through its books, through its counseling and even through its preaching. This is a tragedy! For it has not helped people to change by putting off the old life and putting on the new, but it has kept the church in bondage to endless psychological counseling, drugs, and even hospitalization. We have become a nation that is being counseled. Over 21% of the nation’s population which is about 44.7 million people is currently being counseled by some form of psychology for some form of mental illness. This has also been translated into the modern church.
Friends, the world needs to return to its biblical hope by revisiting the promises in Scripture and believing them – believing that God will fulfill His promise. The Bible says, “Praise be to the Lord…Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.” (I King 8:56) God will fulfill His promise. He will deliver you from the bondage of your past. He will cure you of all the emotional and psychological problems that disturb you. He is the one who has the power to do that and He chooses to do it through the proclamation of His Holy Word and your application of it. Friends, do you really want to change and be all that God wants you to be? If so, then you just need to begin by believing it!
His Powerful Word enables us to participate in the Divine Nature (v4b)
What is it that keeps us growing in Christ? What keeps us putting off the old nature and putting on the new? What allows us to escape the corruption in the world that causes evil desires? It is our participation in the divine nature – it is our communion with the risen Lord – it is our fellowship with God the Father – it is our companionship with the Holy Spirit.
It is rather sad that many in the modern church never get to this point. They have joined a social club. They like the friendship of the people. They like doing things with their family. They like the good music and the participation of their children in worship. They may even like the sermons, but here is the problem: they don’t really have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They do not hear his voice. They do not hear the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They don’t feel the warming in their heart when the Scriptures are read. Moreover, when they read the Word of God there is a veil over their eyes. They don’t understand what they are reading or how to apply it to their life. Their non-participation in the divine nature has left them in bondage to the old nature following all of its evil desires.
While preaching in a crusade in Riga, Latvia many years ago (in fact two weeks after the revolt in Moscow), there was a Russian military officer with whom I had the privilege to share the Gospel. After I had shared the Gospel he said it made perfect sense and he would love to receive Christ, but how could he know for sure that Christ is real? I remember telling him that he just needed to step out on faith believing and then Christ would make Himself known in a very real way. He said, “I will think about it.” The next day was my last day in Latvia and I preached my last sermon at the Russian church. I was surprised to see this same Russian military officer come forward at the conclusion of the service to accept Jesus Christ publicly. Later I had an opportunity to share with him about his decision. He said simply, “After you left I prayed believing and Christ made Himself real to me. I know that He is alive! So I asked him to be my Lord.” Praise God for His powerful Word!
Dear friends, it’s time to let God’s Holy, authoritative, sufficient Word change your life for ever- to grow you from one degree of glory to another – and to allow you to participate in His divine nature. Just imagine the possibilities! Imagine with me for a moment what would happen if the church would follow this principle of sanctification in the Holy Spirit. I will tell you that we would be an oddity in today’s world for people would come from all over just to be a part of God working in the lives of His people. This building would never be big enough to contain its worshippers. It would be a glorious day indeed. This participation in the divine nature is a calling to His glory – to His power and majesty – to His goodness – and to His love.
I am sure that is exactly what the Apostle felt when he was on the Mount of Transfiguration. Listen to his own words, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (II Peter 1:16-18)
Wow! Notice that Peter and the other Apostles with them also received honor and glory! It takes your breath away when you participate in his majestic glory. It fills you with awe when you participate in His glorious fellowship. It humbles you when you participate in His divine nature. Friends, let’s let God be God and respond to His calling today! He wants this day to be different in your life. You respond to His calling today to participate in His divine nature made possible by the simple, yet powerful gospel of Jesus Christ.