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April 28, 2013 Essential Tenet 1: Gods Word the Authority of Our Confession

April 28, 2013

Essential Tenet 1: God’s Word – the Authority of Our Confession

Trusting God’s Word – Keep Listening and Reading

Isaiah 55:8-11

2 Timothy 3:16-4:5

John 1:1-3

 

Children’s Sermon: “This Little Light of Mine”  (Ps. 119:105)

Tell me some rules you know.  Tell me one that you like to live by.  What does that rule do for you?  Where did that rule come from?  Can anyone tell me a rule that comes from the Bible?  Why would someone want to follow that rule?  We learn and follow God’s rule because God knows best and is willing to tell us how to live so that we can honor him and leave at peace with one another.  It’s kind of like a light shining on our path, showing us the way.  What did you learn in Sunday School today about that?

 

Alternate Intro: William Wilberforce

In the late 1700s, when William Wilberforce was a teenager, English traders raided the African coast on the Gulf of Guinea, captured between 35,000 and 50,000 Africans a year, shipped them across the Atlantic, and sold them into slavery. It was a profitable business that many powerful people had become dependent upon. One publicist for the West Indies trade wrote, "The impossibility of doing without slaves in the West Indies will always prevent this traffic being dropped. The necessity, the absolute necessity, then, of carrying it on, must, since there is no other, be its excuse."

By the late 1700s, the economics of slavery were so entrenched that only a handful of people thought anything could be done about it. That handful included William Wilberforce.

But he began to reflect deeply on his life, which led to a period of intense sorrow. "I am sure that no human creature could suffer more than I did for some months," he later wrote. His unnatural gloom lifted on Easter 1786, "amidst the general chorus with which all nature seems on such a morning to be swelling the song of praise and thanksgiving." He had experienced a spiritual rebirth.

He abstained from alcohol and practiced rigorous self-examination as befit, he believed, a "serious" Christian. He abhorred the socializing that went along with politicking. He worried about "the temptations at the table," the endless dinner parties, which he thought were full of vain and useless conversation: "[They] disqualify me for every useful purpose in life, waste my time, impair my health, fill my mind with thoughts of resistance before and self-condemnation afterwards."

 

We all base our life on some system of beliefs.  It may be one of the world’s religions or on a particular philosophers deliberations.  It may be based on something we’ve seen in a movie or read in a book.  It may be based on our own personal traditions.  It may be a mixture of many things.  So why choose the Bible as the authority for your life, your living?  Out of all the other options, why choose this one thing to build your life, your belief, your actions on?

 

As a person who proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord, why is it important to hold God’s Word as the authority of your confession?

 

Let’s look at God’s Word to find some answers to this question

 

Isaiah 55:8-11  (READ)

How often have you declared, “I know better than God!”  How often have you behaved like you knew better than God?  I wonder if we don’t behave like we know better than God more often than we’d like to admit!  We act on our own wisdom, we refuse to wait on God and trust him to answer prayers, instead, taking matters into our own hands. The prophet states a hard truth: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

If we believe that God is the one who made us, the one who created us, then we have to concede that maybe he knows more than we do.  And maybe we have to confess that we don’t always get it right and that we are dependent on Him to tell us the way things ought to be.  And he took care of that!  He reveals himself to us in his written Word.  The One who created us gave us a guide to live in relationship to him:  First creation, then the written Word, then himself in human form – Jesus Christ, and then the presence of the Holy Spirit.  All of these proclaim the word and will of God and what does the end of this passage say? That as God’s word goes out, “It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

 

God’s Word is the authority of God the Creator of the universe and of all life.  That makes it a good foundation for us to accept as our counsel, guide and navigational tool for life lived in a manner that pleases God.  When we proclaim that Jesus is Lord of our life, we by necessity of that proclamation, put ourselves in submission to the Word of God.  It becomes our “new philosophy”, our modus operandi – the reason we do the things we do.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-4:5 (READ)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,

correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.

Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

 

But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

 

Paul wrote this passage in a letter to Timothy, a young preacher.  It was meant to encourage him in the ministry God had called him to, and they are also words that teach us about the dependability of God’s Word to be useful in our lives.

 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

I need to throw in a disclaimer here.  It is not every human being’s goal to please God.  It is not every person’s desire to live to honor Jesus Christ.  These instructions were originally written to a person whose desire in life was to honor God and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed.  Today, these words continue to teach, rebuke, correct, and train those who would seek to please God and honor Jesus Christ as Lord.

 

It is for this very reason that God has given us His Word!  God’s word, Scripture is what will guide us in all of our living.  It will equip us to do the will of God.  The church is dying because God’s Word has been relegated to a pile of books marked “Good suggestions for living” rather than to the spot of “Vital!  Must read and follow!”

 

Paul warns Timothy about a time coming. We are living in that projected time. Paul said:  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 

 

This is happening all around us and has been for years.  We pick and choose what we want to believe and call the rest religious fundamentalism.  We have to take the whole Word of God – Genesis to Revelation – as the Word of God that is the authority of our Confession.

           

John 1:1-3 (Read)

Do you believe those words?  Do you believe that Jesus was with God, was God, in the very beginning of time?  Do you believe that Jesus created the world? The Bible tells us this is so.  This passage declares to us the authority of the Word of God over all that is created.  And how does accepting that shape your faith?

 

Concl.  So what?  What difference does believing this truth, that the Bible is the Word of God, make in your life?  I think it has to mean that the voice you allow to lead you does not come from a talk show host, the evening news, or this pulpit, without first checking to see that it lines up with Scripture.   I think it means that the voice you follow and obey is the one revealed in this book.  I think it means we think twice before we make a decision or declaration based on what we “feel” or “think” or “have experienced”. 

 

Accepting the Word of God as the authority of our lives should make us look, act, and think differently than the world that surrounds us.  We are living in a post-Christian era where the church, Christianity, the Bible are not seen as relevant.  We live in a time where truth is relative, where feelings trump wisdom, where everyone is allowed to pick whatever way they choose with no solid ground to stand on. 

 

What would happen if you decided today that you would listen to no other voice except the Word of God?  What would happen if before you expressed an opinion about a controversial issue you first said, “I need to see what the Word of God says about that” and then went to see for yourself?  What would happen if before you heard any other voice in the morning, you opened the Bible and let God speak first?  I’m going to give you these challenges for the coming week.  See for yourself how it shapes your thinking, your speaking and your doing.

 

Let us stand and confess our belief using a section from Second Helvetic Confession

We believe and confess the canonical Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles of both Testaments to be the true Word of God, and to have sufficient authority of themselves, not of men. For God himself spoke to the fathers, prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures.

And in this Holy Scripture, the universal Church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God; and in this respect it is expressly commanded by God that nothing be either added to or taken from the same.

We judge, therefore, that from these Scriptures are to be derived true wisdom and godliness, the reformation and government of churches; as also instruction in all duties of piety; and, to be short, the confirmation of doctrines, and the rejection of all errors . . .