In this session of Secret Church 17, Pastor David Platt reminds Christians that the Bible is good for their lives. We must not only affirm the truthfulness of God’s Word, but also to embrace its goodness. The goodness of God’s Word has implications for the way we study it, for our need to memorize it, for how we use it in the home, for its role in preaching, for its role in our decision-making, and for its overall purpose—to conform us to the image of Christ and to bring us in step with the Spirit of Christ. Ultimately, the goodness of God’s Word should lead us to take its message to our neighbors and to the ends of the earth.
- What We Know about the Word
- The Purpose of the Word
- Making the Word Known
Here we go. We’ve hit four questions. Is the Bible divine or did humans create it? Is the Bible true? Can we trust it? Is the Bible clear? Can we understand it? Is the Bible sufficient? Is it the only book we need? All of that leads to our last question. Is the Bible good? Is it worth giving our lives for? I don’t it think takes long to answer this question in light of all the other questions we’re going to answer.
Think about what we know. We know that God is good. The goodness of God booms across the first chapter of the Bible. Everything that comes from His hand is good. Light, dry land, waters, vegetation, plants, trees, sun and moon, sea creatures, every living creature that moves, every winged bird, beasts of the earth, livestock, everything that creeps on the ground, man and woman made in such a way that God saw everything He made, it was very good. The goodness of creation shouts the goodness of God. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good…” (1 Chronicles 16:34). “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good…” (Psalm 100:4-5) “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:9).
God is good and the Bible is God’s Word.
It is breathed out by Him in such a way that to believe and obey the Bible is to believe and obey God. If the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, then believing and obeying this book is believing and obeying God. To turn that around, to disbelieve and disobey the Bible is to disbelieve and disobey God. So if God is good and the Bible is God’s Word then it follows that the Bible is good and it promises good. The commands of God promise the people of God that “if they obey them it will go well with them” (Deuteronomy 6). The people of God say in verses 24-25:
And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.’
The Psalmist cries out for life according to God’s Word. “He hopes in God’s rules and takes comfort in them” (Psalm 119:52). He says in verse 92, “If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.” How do you get through affliction? You cling to the Word of God as your delight. It says in verse 111, “Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.” They are better than money. “I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold” (Psalm 119:127). Over and over again, all the way down to the disciples confession in John 6:68, “’Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…’”
If the Bible is good, how should we study God’s Word?
So if the Bible is all these things—divine, true, clear sufficient, and good—then think about what this means for our lives and for the church, and for the world.
Implications for studying and memorizing God’s Word
We want to understand this book then, don’t we? “Give me understanding that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart” (Psalm 119:34) which means:
We must read the Bible prayerfully knowing we never study the Bible alone. The Spirit of God will help us understand this Word. What a thought! Open up this book. You have a supernatural encounter with God waiting for you.
We must read the Bible prayerfully and humbly. We want to know God. This is more important to us than anything in the world. This is our boast (Jeremiah 9:23-24). We want to know God so we must read the Bible prayerfully, humbly and carefully. We want to understand it rightly so we spend the time it takes toward that end. We know the Bible does not yield its choicest fruit to the lazy.
We must read the Bible carefully and joyfully. We want to experience it fully; it’s spoil just waiting for us.
We must read the Bible confidently knowing the Holy Spirit is in us to help us understand it, just like Jesus promised.
We must read the Bible diligently. Knowing God deeply doesn’t happen overnight.
We must read the Bible completely. Don’t skip over certain parts. We read the whole book, not parts of it. I want to encourage you to have some plan for reading through the Bible on a regular basis in your life.
We must read expectantly. Read with a way to record your thoughts. If you’re meeting with God to hear from Him write down what you learn. I’m a huge proponent of journaling. That’s a part of my time with the Lord on a daily basis. It helps me meditate, pray and study the Word. I would encourage you to read with a way to record your thoughts.
We must read the Bible personally. You don’t fall in love with somebody by proxy so we all need the church, we need pastors who preach the Word—we’re going to talk about that in a minute—but we can’t survive spiritually just listening to others teach us the Bible. We need to be in it ourselves and when we are we will fall in love with the Author of the book and find true life under the authority of the book. “In Your righteousness give me life as I long for your precepts” (Psalm 119:40).
We must memorize as we read —hide the Word in our heart—key verses and key chapters. Do you have some plan where on some regular basis you are memorizing verses or passages or chapters in the Bible, learning and then reviewing those things? Some of you might immediately think, “Well, I’m not really good at memorizing.” There’s no question God has given different people different measures of grace when it comes to memorizing, but all of us can memorize verses in the Bible.
You may say, “Except for me.” Let me ask you this question: What if I told you that between now and tomorrow night at this time I would give you $1,000 for every verse you could memorize? I think you would learn! So the question is not whether or not you can memorize. The question is what is it worth to you? “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (Psalm 119:72). Do we believe that or not? Spend time memorizing.
These are clear implications in our lives. The thing is we go back to duty and delight. Some of you might think, “Ah, but it does feel like duty for me. I want it to be delight. How do you get a hunger for God’s Word?” Here’s the answer: You read God’s Word and the hunger grows the more you’re in it.
While we were dating, I remember the first time I ever went over to my wife’s house to eat. I grew up in a house where we never ate seafood. My dad hated seafood so we all hated seafood. Well, I go over to her house to eat and you’ll never guess what they’re serving? A whole spread of seafood! I’m thinking, “This is great. I’ve got to make a good impression so I’ll just down the seafood and say, ‘Oh this is so good. Thank you all so much!’” The only problem is they bought it. The next time I went over to her house they are like, “Oh, let’s have seafood. David loves seafood. We’ll have seafood.” I hear myself responding, “Oh, yes. Thank you, guys. That’s very thoughtful.” Then I started going on vacation with her family down at the beach and they would be like, “Oh, David what is your favorite seafood places?” I’m like, “Ah, they’re all so good!” I’m thinking I know where the good burgers are. I don’t know any seafood places. The end of that story is today I love seafood. You know why? Because I had to eat it to get a wife! The analogy does break down there though.
It’s not like I’m saying, “Well the Word doesn’t taste good. Just eat it and it will get better at some point.” That’s not the point. The point is, the more you feast on something the more your appetite for it grows. Don’t be shocked and surprised when you spend hours on your phone, on the Internet, on TV doing other things and then you go to God’s Word and you don’t have an appetite for it. Don’t be surprised. Your stomach is full with all the stuff this world offers. You start feasting on this, though, it changes everything and your appetite for the things of this world will go down. Your appetite for the goodness of God’s Word will go up.
It’s kind of like my kids. We get to their birthday and say, “We’ll take you anywhere you want to eat.” And what do they say? “McDonalds.” Are you serious? They could go to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. That’s technically on the table. Instead they choose processed hamburger meat. Why is that? It is because they have never tasted Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. That actually is a good thing at this point, so I have no desire to expose them to quality steak. McDonald’s is much better for the budget so I’m not radical about offering them Ruth’s Chris. The picture is once they tasted something they are going to be like, “Why did I ever choose McDonald’s?” Because it’s better. Implications for our lives we’ll find life in this book.
The Bible is good so we should teach it in our homes
If all of this is true about God’s Word then we need a verbal commitment to the Word in our homes and a visible commitment to the Word in our homes. So what Deuteronomy 6:6-9 is talking about “teach thy words diligently to your children, talk about them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the way, when you lie down, when you get up, write them on the door posts of your house.”
We must teach the Scriptures in our homes. Parents, do not merely farm this out to programs in the church. Programs in the church are helpful but they need to hear the Word of God from you every day. He’s commanded us to teach our children that the next generation might know the Word of God and the works of God. We tell the stories of Who God is, how God has worked in the world, and we warn against sinfulness based on those who have gone before us—that’s what Psalm 78 is all about—and we exalt the Savior. In your teaching of the Word in your home point to Jesus over and over again. Everything centers around Him. Implications for studying and memorizing in our lives and homes.
Implications for preaching and listening in the church.
Now, I’m going to talk to you about preaching for a minute and you might be tempted to tune out if you’re not a preacher, but listen close because if you’re a Christian you need preaching and teaching of the Word every single week. We see this in Scripture and I’ll show it to you. You need to have right expectations for that preaching and teaching, what it is doing and saying.
There’s a reason the very beginning of the church in the New Testament, after all these people were saved at Pentecost, that they devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching, the authoritative Word of Christ. Jesus is not here physically right now so how does He lead His church, His body, His bride? Through His Word. Oz Guinness plainly observes, “If Jesus Christ is the head of the church and hence the source and goal of its entire life, true growth is only possible in obedience to Him.” Conversely, if the church becomes detached from Jesus Christ and His Word it cannot grow however active and successful it may seem to be.
The church is formed by the Bible
The church is a community formed by God’s Word. The church only comes into existence because people are saved by the proclamation of the gospel at the center of God’s Word.
The church is formed by the Word of God and as such the church is a community focused on the Word of God. There’s the Eutychus passage right there. Wake up before you fall over dead (Acts 20). The picture is clear.
The church was focused on God’s Word and reveres the magnitude of God’s Word. People say, “You’re talking about the Word almost like it’s up here on the level of God.” Well, listen to Psalm 56:4: “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” The Psalmist said he praises the Word of God. Talk about reverence for the magnitude of this book.
Do we realize the significance of God’s revelation? What we have been talking about tonight? Just think about the wonder of God’s Word. Creation formed by His Word. He said let there be something and all of a sudden creation comes into being. That’s a powerful word. Storms are stilled by His Word. Jesus speaks and the wind and waves stop. Fevers are cooled by His Word. Jesus speaks and the sick are healed. Demons are cast out by His Word. Jesus speaks and demons run. Sin is forgiven by His Word. Jesus speaks and sins are wiped away. The blind are made to see by His Word. The dead are raised to life by His Word. The entire universe responds to His Word.
Isaiah 40:26 tells us God brings out the starry host every night: “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.” God brings out the stars one by one and He calls them by name. There are trillions of stars in our galaxy and tonight God is bringing them out one by one and calling them by name. I don’t know what their names are but our God knows their names. Think about the majesty of God!
Listen to this comment on preaching from Charles Misner who was close to Albert Einstein. Think about Einstein, this genius who knew so much about the universe and listen to what Misner said about Einstein: “The design of the universe…is very magnificent. It should not be taken for granted. In fact, I believe that is why Einstein had so little use for organized religions.
Although he strikes me as a basically very religious man, he must have looked at what the preachers said about God and felt that they were blaspheming. He had seen much more majesty than they had ever imagined and they were not talking about the real thing. My guess is he simply felt the religions he had run across did not have proper respect…for the Author of the universe.”
The church should reflect the goodness of the Bible
So church members who listen to preachers, is it evident in the preaching in your church that someone is speaking for the glorious God of the universe? Or is there blasphemy that’s underestimating and misrepresenting His majesty? If we really realize the significance of God’s revelation then we need to remember the seriousness of man’s proclamation. Pastors and preachers have the responsibility to stand and speak for God, to explain the Word of God. That is a serious task. Think about it. The preacher exposes the voice of God. That’s the purpose of preaching. You may have heard the term before “expository preaching.”
Years ago I was teaching at seminary down in New Orleans and I was professor of expository preaching. I was preaching at a college conference during that time and this college student was introducing me and said, “This is David Platt. He teaches suppository preaching…” Did he just say suppository? No, expository. Expose not suppose or whatever else goes with that.
The whole point of preaching is to expose the voice of God. That’s what the preacher does. Here is what the Lord has said and the preacher exposes the voice of God and in the process is exalting the greatness of God. I hate it when I’m about to preach somewhere and somebody says, “We’re going to have some more time in worship and then David’s going to speak…” No, I’m going to worship, too. If preaching is exposing the voice of God then preaching is exalting the greatness of God and preaching is worship. Preaching is intended to be worship. Look at Nehemiah 8:5:
And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
All Ezra did was open the book and they stood up. They lifted up their hands shouting “Amen, Amen.” They bowed down with their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. All they did was open the book. That’s worship right there. Nobody strummed a guitar and all that happened. Preachers preach in such a way that people praise God and His Word. That’s God’s design.
- “In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise…” (Psalm 56:10).
- “We lift up our hands to His commandments because we love them” (Psalm 119:48).
- “…you have exalted above all things your name and your word” (Psalm 138:2).
God puts His Word on the level of His name. The church must revere the magnitude of God’s Word. This is no light thing when we gather together in the church. We open this Book. We hear it. We speak it. This is a serious thing.
The church respects the authority of God’s Word
Apart from the Word, the preacher is helpless. The preacher has nothing to say in the church if he’s not proclaiming, explaining, exhorting, or comforting from the Word of God. So a guy gets up, reads a verse, then goes on telling stories, anecdotes, giving tips for life. There is no authority in that.
The preacher only has authority to stand and speak to God’s people if he is standing on and speaking the Word of God. That’s why any pastor must be “…able to teach…” (1 Timothy 3:1-2). That is just so comforting because this is freeing for me. I don’t have to make something up every time I preach. I just explain what is there. I am not the chef. I am the waiter. My job is to get food to the table and get it there hot. That is the point. That is what the waiter does.
I remember in college being in a campus ministry worship gathering and there was a guest speaker whom everybody loved. He came every year, but this was the first time I had heard him. I was sitting there in the front with my Bible and when he got up, the first thing he said was that he forgot his Bible, which was clue number one that things were not going to be going well that night. Then he started telling us that he had prayed about what God would have him say to us that night.
He was a pretty funny, an entertaining storyteller, and he told all these stories about how he tried to find a word from God, saying all these things and telling stories for twenty-plus minutes. Then at end he said, “I did all these things to try to hear what God wanted me to say and nothing really came so maybe God does not have a word for us tonight.” And then he brought it to a close and that was it.
I’m sitting there looking at my Bible which I brought and I’m thinking, “Brother, you got 66 books. They are the Word of God. Just open it and read it and you got a word from God. You don’t make something up. You have got the Word of God.”
So apart from the Word, the preacher is helpless. This is good news for the preacher because we have help. We have 66 books to help.
Apart from the Word, the church is powerless. That’s what Proverbs 29:18 says: “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” God has given His Word to His church.
The church recognizes the relevance of God’s Word
The church recognizes this is what we need every week more than jokes or tips or life lessons. We need God’s law and God’s Word. The Word speaks to contemporary needs with eternal promises. Consider a few of the promises throughout the Bible:
Promises of success.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:8-9).
Promises of blessing.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:7-11).
Promises to guide.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).
Promises to comfort.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins (Isaiah 40:1-2).
Promises of peace.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).
Promises of wisdom.
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27).
Promises of salvation.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
If the Bible promises all these things then why would we want to listen to anything else every Sunday when we gather together?
The Church Realizes the Purpose of God’s Word
We’ve seen the purpose of God’s Word is to conform us to the image of Christ, to bring us into step with the Spirit of Christ, and to focus in preaching. Do we focus on human tips or divine text? Do we want a preacher who is going to give us tips and life lessons he’s learned or do we want him to explain the Bible? There are massive trends in the church in our day away from explaining the Bible from cover to cover. People want to know how to parent teenagers, manage money, relieve stress at work, and on and on. But here is the problem.
We’ve already seen the Bible was not written to address all those things so if a preacher or pastor wants to address those things then where is his material going to come from? He is going to have to go a Christian bookstore and get the latest tips for the Christian life. He’s going to preach that instead. Of course, he will sprinkle a couple verses here or there from the Bible but he is not going to be preaching through Leviticus and a variety of other books and passages in the Bible.
When we focus on human tips and tricks instead of the divine text what preachers end up doing is robbing the church of the truth that it is necessary for realizing God’s purpose in our lives. People are robbed from hearing the Word that they most need to hear to look like Christ and live in the Spirit. In the process, preachers make disciples of themselves. And what is worse in the end, we have robbed God of the glory due His name. There is another way.
When we focus on the divine text instead of human tips we fill our lives and the church with the truth that is necessary for realizing God’s purpose in us. We give people what they most need. In the process, we make disciples of Jesus and ultimately glorify God by becoming like Christ. Preaching in the church must realize the purpose of God’s Word.
The Church Reveals the Effect of God’s Word
The Word elicits conviction.
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).
People realize the gravity of their need and the greatness of God’s provision and grace.
The Word explains conversion and tells people how they can be saved. When they have been saved by the Word then His Word establishes a craving in them for God. As they are led by the Spirit they long for the Word. When preaching and listening are happening in the church according to God’s design the people of God want more.
Going back to what I’ve told my kids, “Let’s feast on Ruth’s Chris every week when we gather together, not processed hamburger meat.”
Implications for praying and working
If the Bible is divine, true, clear, sufficient, and good then we pray according to God’s Word. Jesus has promised us that if His words abide in us we can ask for whatever we wish according to His Word and it will be done for us. We pray according to God’s Word appealing to God’s promises (John 15:7-8). This is how Moses prays in Exodus 32. Look about two-thirds of the way through this passage and check out the audacity of this prayer. This is when God has said that He is going to show His wrath among His people because they were worshipping a golden calf. Moses steps in and intercedes. Listen to what he says:
…Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.” And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people (Exodus 32:12-14).
Moses just said remember to God. Just as a reminder God is Omniscient. He knows everything. It seems a bit bold to look to God and say, “Maybe You need to remember something.” That’s exactly what Moses is doing. He is showing us how to pray and that it is right to call on God, to be faithful to His Word. God delights in responding to those kinds of prayers. We call out before God, appealing to His promises. We were praying for unreached people groups earlier in Iran so let’s just bring the Word to bear on their prayers. Like 2 Peter 3:9: “God, You desire their salvation.” Revelation 5: “Jesus, You have purchased people for God from every nation, tribe, tongue and language. You have purchased people from every people group in the world so claim that which You have purchased. Show Your salvation to every single one of those people groups in Iran.” “Ask according to my word and it will be given to you” (John 15:7). There is confidence in praying like that, appealing to God’s promises. Cling to God’s character. I love the Psalmist in Psalm 82, calling on God to rise up and judge the earth.
I think about being in Nepal and seeing the horrors of sex trafficking. Girls have been kidnapped and taken from their villages and put to work at 13 years old. I’m seeing this and falling on my face there in Nepal and I’m praying Psalm 82: “God rise up and show justice and mercy…” “You are just. May these traffickers be saved or be smitten. Have mercy on these girls. Defend the weak.” You cling to God’s character.
We pray the Bible because it is good
We pray clinging to God’s character and we pray imitating God-inspired intercession. Pray the Bible. Pray from Paul’s prayers in his letters. Pray for your life. Pray for your family. Pray for your friends. Pray for the church according to these prayers. Spend time praying from Ephesians 1 and 3; Philippians 1; Colossians 1. These are great prayers to pray. Imitate God-inspired intercession. He inspired these prayers.
We work according to God’s Word. I mentioned earlier the common question of how do I find God’s will for my life? The good news, God’s will is not lost. God’s will is revealed in God’s Word. To use Oswald Chamber’s illustration of how do we walk in it? Walk on the path. We make decisions in our lives, our families or in the church that are not specifically spelled out in God’s Word. So what do we do? How do we walk in God’s will? How do we know what God wants us to do in those situations?
Here’s my encouragement to you: Based on all we have talked about commune with God continually from the start until the end of the day. “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice…” (Psalm 5:3).
Commune with Him. Walk, abiding in Him. Hear God’s Word constantly. Just soak it in. In the morning, during the day, “on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). Be familiar with the voice of God.
For illustration, let’s say my cell phone starts buzzing and I don’t know who it is. I pick it up without looking at the caller ID and hear “Hey babe.” Now, if that’s the first thing I hear let me tell you what I’m not going to hear after that. It’s not going to be, “Hey babe. This is Heather Platt, your wife of 18 years.”
That is not what is going to follow. Do you know why? As soon as “hey babe” comes out there is no question who was on the other end of the line. There is no need for my wife to identify herself at this point. “Heather Platt.” “Heather Platt? Oh, yes, my wife of 18 years. Oh hey. How is it going?” That’s not the way that conversation goes. Why? Because there is a familiarity with the voice and the way she speaks so that immediately I know who it is.
That is where we want to get in our relationship with God. We are just soaking in His Word. We know His voice all the time and we are going to listen to His voice all the time so that when we walk through decisions where we don’t have a specific word from God, we are familiar with His voice. We are walking in step with His Spirit.
Commune with God continually. Hear God’s word constantly. Then when you are making a decision, ask if the Bible prohibits a certain action. Or on the converse, will a certain action cause you to neglect a command in the Bible? If the Bible addresses what decision you are going to make, obey the Bible. But if it does not then commune with God continually, hear God’s word constantly, and then exercise wisdom confidently.
Ask God for wisdom which he promises to give. Pray with humility for wisdom. Gather information. Learn as much as you can. Consider options and put them all on the table. Seek godly counsel from other people who are communing with God, continually hearing the Word constantly, and then act accordingly. Align with His Word, seeking His Spirit, doing whatever you do for His glory. These are implications for praying and working.
Consider implications for sending and going. We talked about how all people have God’s general communication in the world. God has revealed Himself in history, nature and the human heart in a way that all people have that revelation. Now remember the effect of general revelation leads to condemnation. We know that whatever the law says it says to those that are under the law so that every “mouth is silenced and the whole world is held accountable to God” (Romans 3:19).
Now, realize in light of that many people do not have God’s special revelation in His Word today. In other words, all they have is God’s general revelation. They do not have God’s Word verbally proclaimed to them or written down in front of them. So the Bible may not be available in their language or the gospel may not be accessible where they live. These are people whom we call unreached. There are over six thousand people groups comprising at least 2.8 billion people who have not yet been reached with special revelation from God. They do not have access to it.
What is key there? Sometimes people say, “I don’t know why we talk about unreached people around the world. There are unreached people in my office or unreached people in my neighborhood.” The reality is those people are not unreached. You say, “How do you know?” They are in your office. They are in your neighborhood and they have access to the gospel. How do you know? Your office. You are their access. They have access to the gospel.
We are talking about 2.8 billion people, over six thousand people groups, who do not have access to this Word. Nobody is there to tell them; they do not have a church near them that is proclaiming this Word and have not received special revelation. If we remember, the effect of special revelation leads to the opportunity for salvation.
Oh God, cause light bulbs to go off in minds and hearts right now. Help thousands of people to feel the weight of this. If these 2.8 billion people in over six thousand people groups do not hear and receive God’s Word they cannot experience salvation from their condemnation. What do they do if they can’t hear it? “Faith comes from hearing, hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). They will only be saved if they hear the Word; if they have special revelation made accessible to them. Therefore, brothers and sisters it is the responsibility and privilege of everyone who has God’s Word to make it known to everyone in the world. You’ll be witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Look at Acts 2:16-21. This is Peter’s first sermon at Pentecost. Let’s do a preaching evaluation of Peter. How did he do in his first sermon? He’s explaining what was happening with all these people speaking and prophesying in different tongues and he says this was what was uttered to the prophet Joel and he starts quoting from Joel. The passage he is quoting from is Joel 2:28-32. Let’s check Peter and see if he quoted Joel correctly. Peter says, “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…”
Look at Joel 2: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…” Okay he got that right. Peter said, “…your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…” What did Joel say? “…your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…” Peter: “…your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…” Look at Joel: “…your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” He switched it around, but it’s his first sermon; give him a break. That’s pretty good.
Then he says, “…even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” And then go back to Joel: “Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” Wait a minute. He did not say, “And they shall prophesy?” Peter just added that phrase. It is not in Joel. “Peter, you blew it again. You are always open mouth, insert foot.” The disciple with the foot-shaped mouth just quoted wrong from the Old Testament.
Wait a minute. Before we go too hard on Peter realize that there is actually something very significant going on here because there is a big difference between Joel 2 and Acts 2. Peter is talking about the Spirit being poured out and says, “They shall prophesy.” Think about the difference between Joel 2 and Acts 2.
In Joel 2—we talked about this earlier—were a lot of people prophets or only a few people prophets? Just a few people. Joel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and others like them. In the New Testament the Spirit comes down at Pentecost on all of God’s people, not just a few people. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. That’s a promise to all believers. There is big difference in Acts 2. He is saying His Spirit is being poured out and they are all prophesying.
We are called to share the Bible because it is good
Do you realize what this means? In the Old Testament a few people had the privilege of speaking for God. Ladies and gentlemen, every single follower of Christ in this gathering here or around the world, if you have the Spirit of God in you, you have been given the privilege of prophesying and proclaiming the Word of God. When you hear prophecy do not picture anything more than proclaiming God’s Word. God has put His Spirit on every single one of us for this purpose. This is not just for a select few people. All of us have been created, commissioned, called by God to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth, however and wherever He leads.
By going as witnesses right where we live to friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who need this revelation from God all around us. All of us have spheres of influence where we live right now and God has put us there because He loves the people around us. He wants them to know the good news of the gospel. He wants them to know how they can be saved on your campus, in your dorm room, in your apartment, in your neighborhood, in your office, wherever you are.
God has put you there for the proclamation of His Word right where you live. And then going wherever God leads. In a world where 2.8 billion people have never heard the gospel surely God is calling multitudes more people to take the gospel to them. Surely it makes no sense for any follower of Christ with this Word to put conditions on where you might go to make His revelation known. It is our responsibility and privilege to go right where we live and wherever God leads.
By sending. God raised up every one of our churches to be Antiochs—sending out men and women, filled with the Spirit of God for the spread of the gospel of God, for the glory of God to the ends of the earth. He desires to send people from each of our churches with much of our resources.
Session 7 Discussion Questions
Study Guide pp. 109-133
1. Why do you think some Christians find it difficult to consistently spend time reading and meditating on God’s Word?
2. In your own words, what does it mean to read the Bible humbly?
3. Does the fact that God’s Word brings us joy mean that we will always feel like reading it? How would you counsel another believer who feels cold or apathetic toward God’s Word?
4. What three verses (or passages) would you like to memorize? Develop a plan to memorize these verses in the upcoming weeks.
5. What are some of the effects the Word of God should have in the home?
6. What does it mean that the church is formed by God’s Word?
7. What are some signs that a church does not view God’s Word as its authority?
8. What should be the goal of reading God’s Word?
9. What counsel would you give someone who was looking for God’s will in terms of choosing a job?
10. What kind of priority should we put on getting God’s Word to areas where the church is persecuted or non-existent? Why do you think so few churches are concerned with getting the message of the gospel to the unreached?
Key Terms and Concepts
- What We Know . . .
- Good is good. (1 Chronicles 16:34)
- The Bible is God’s Word. (2 Timothy 3:16)
- The Bible is good. (Psalm 119:129)
- We must study the Bible prayerfully, humbly, carefully, joyfully, confidently, diligently, completely, expectantly, and personally.
- We should not only read the Bible, but also memorize it.
- We should have a verbal (speaking the Word) and visible (living according to the Word) commitment to the Word of God in our homes
- The Word forms the church and serves as the authority in the church. The preaching and ministry of the church should be centered on the Word of God.
- The purpose of God’s Word is to conform us to the image of Christ and to bring us in step with the Spirit of Christ.
- God’s will is not lost, but rather it is revealed in his Word. Always obey the Bible, but when it does not explicitly address your question, follow these steps:
- Pray with humility.
- Gather information.
- Consider options.
- Seek godly counsel.
- Act accordingly.
- All people need the message of the gospel in order to have the opportunity to be saved. Over 6,000 people groups and at least 2.8 billion people do not have access to the gospel.
- It is the responsibility and privilege of everyone who has God’s Word to make it known to everyone in the world.