Ephesians 6:13-17 – Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
- That last phrase may be reflective of all that proceeds it – “which is the word of God”. Grammatically this phrase modifies the last mentioned piece of armor, the sword od the Spirit is the word of God. But Burton Coffman makes an interesting observation here. He says, “These last six words are descriptive, not merely of the sword of the Spirit, but of the whole armor of God, and of each several part of it also.
- Belt of truth (God’s word); breastplate of righteousness (what God has said is right); gospel of peace (the good news revealed in the word); shield of faith (faith comes by hearing the word of God); helmet of salvation (salvation revealed through the word – 2 Tim. 3:15); and the sword is the word itself.
- Coffman writes… “No passage in all the Bible any more dramatically teaches the absolute necessity of the Christian’s thorough knowledge of the word of God. Not having it, he is naked, barefooted, bare-headed and helpless before the enemy.”
Exploring the Greatness of God’s Word: My opportunities to explore the sword of the Spirit as the word of God have been limited this month. Next Sunday begins a new topic, and there is so much to consider about the place and power of God’s word in the spiritual battle. Today I want explore the greatness of God’s Word, the Bible.
I. The Bible is a Divinely Inspired Book. Inspiration was God’s way of making known to us the truth. The doctrine is summed up in a verse we have visited often: 2 Timothy 3:16-17.”All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. The term translated “inspired” literally means “God-breathed” (in fact the NIV says that). It indicated that scripture is the product of God alone. As He breathed into existence the material world, so He breathed scripture as truth.
B.B. Warfield defines inspiration as …”A supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness” (B. B. Warfield, “Inspiration,” Int. Stand. Bible Ency., p. 1473)
2 Peter 1:20-21 – 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
All or Nothing: The extent of inspiration is contained in the word ALL. The Bible claims comprehensive inspiration – It is ALL God- breathed. We are not in a position to assign truth to certain parts of scripture that we deem important, and ignore others. Every single word and line is equal in its authenticity and force. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “The scriptures cannot be broken” (John 10:35) indicating that none of the Bible can be nullified because they are all the words of God. Jesus also attested to the inspiration of all scripture when he said in Matt 5:17-18. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.(niv)
II. What is the Final Product of Inspiration? The Bible is not just a collection of various writers’ insights or opinions or a very old, revered document, that describes the religious thinking of the past. Consider these qualities of scripture that are naturally derived from inspiration:
The Bible is Infallible and inerrant: What do we mean by this? Infallibility signifies the quality of being free from mistake or falsehood. It declares the scriptures’ ability to be a sure and safe guide in all matters. Though there may be slight variations from the original manuscripts, the text of scripture today continues to absolutely reliable. Consider this; The O.T. scriptures were written some 1200 years before Jesus was born, and recopied from generation to generation, yet Jesus affirmed their absolute accuracy in His own day. He even documented specific teaching of ther resurrection on the basis the tense of a verb in Matt. 22.
The argument for infallibility is very logical: If a perfect God with perfect character is the author (inspiration), then the product is perfect, and will continue to be perfect. Psalms 19:7 “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;”
the Hebrew word (Tamim) translated as “perfect” here means complete, or lacking in nothing. Two companion ideas included here:
- incontestable or free from objection. No one can contend that God’s word is not able to secure its purposes. It is enough, there is nothing missing.
- It is free from error, and blameless in every way. There is no blemish. It seeks the perfection of those who come under its influence.
Isaiah calls God the “God of truth”. Scripture must be inerrant because It comes from an inerrant God. Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.”
The Bible is Authoritative: If the Bible is from God, and therefore perfect, it must be authoritative. It demands that we respond to its truth. God is speaking – we must listen & obey.
The Bible is Effective: God’s word has always been able to accomplish God’s purposes – from creation to redemption to judgment – Isaiah 55:10-11 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Truth by its nature is powerful – as light effectively destroys darkness. We need never doubt the power of God’s word to accomplish His purposes. C.H. Spurgeon once said about the power of God’s word- “The truth is a lion. There is no need for you to defend a lion that is being attacked. All you need to do is open the gate and let him out.” We will consider more about the sufficiency of the Bible in a future lesson.
III. The Bible Testifies to Itself: We need to stand ready to proclaim the sufficiency and truthfulness of the Bible. God provides us with ample testimony to His inerrant word in the word itself. Consider some unshakable testimonies.
The Testimony of the Biblical Writers: The human writers who wrote scripture came from diverse backgrounds (priests, kings, shepherds, fisherman, a tax collector, a physician, etc.) over a period of 1600 years. Yet they uniformly affirmed that they were writing the words of God. They told a single story, from the same authority.
They made historical statements that can be verified. They made correct scientific observations before they were discovered. None of this would be possible without the supernatural assistance of God.
The Biblical writers consistently affirmed that they were revealing the words of God. More than 3800 times in the O.T., the writer states that he is writing under God’s directions. Amos 3:7 “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
In the N.T. there is a continual conviction that the O.T. scriptures were from God – (they quote it more than 300 times). Paul stated in Romans 15:4 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 2 Peter 1:21 “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
The Testimony of Jesus Christ: Jesus stands as the greatest defender of the authenticity of scripture. Jesus declared Himself as the central theme of the entire Bible. John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” He claimed to come to fulfill all scripture through his life, death, and resurrection. If the scriptures are not reliable, then neither is Jesus’ own testimony about Himself.
Jesus used the O.T. scriptures to support His own teaching (what says the scriptures), and never allowed the religious leaders of His day to pervert its original authority as God’s word. He demanded strict obedience to the Law as it was written in His day.
The Testimony of God’s Changed People – the Church: Does the word accomplish what it claims? It claims to be the power of God unto salvation. It claims to be able to create a new heart within those who follow it. It claims to turn uncaring and selfish people into compassionate followers willing to sacrifice even their own lives for Jesus. Can it really do that?
In Acts 2 Peter preached God’s inspired word, ands identified those present as murderers of the Son of God. He called upon them to obey that same word, and as many as gladly received it were baptized. Did this word change them? Acts 2:42-47 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
Those changed people went about proclaiming the integrity and authority of that same word to others. They understood that the scriptures, and the words of the apostles were indispensable to evangelism and accomplishing God’s purposes.
The detractors of Thessalonica described the early Christians as those who had turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6)
Conclusion: Psalm 119:90-93 – Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides. 91 They continue this day according to Your ordinances, For all are Your servants. 92 Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction. 93 I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life. The Psalmist says that he owes his very life to God’s precepts, His word. Of course this is true from a physical perspective. God spoke all things into being, and His word is the power that sustains the world. But this is true from the spiritual side as well.
As Christians, this portrays the essential nature of God’s word to us as well. Our spiritual life was and is provided through the power of God’s word.
- Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
- In Acts 11:13-14, Peter was sent to Cornelius as a preacher of the word with “words by which you and all your household will be saved.”
- Later Paul wrote to the Corinthians – 1 Corinthians 15:1-2– Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
- James 1:21 – Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
We dare not abandon the preaching and teaching of God’s written word. Our life depends on it. We should never be ashamed to speak where the Bible speaks and to be silent where the Bible is silent. Never feel apprehensive when we are called upon to defend our convictions or practices with nothing but a passage of scripture. “Let God be true and every man a liar”.