The Word Enduring
Jeremiah 36:27, 28, 32; John 21:24, 25; II Peter 3:13-18
Continuing a series of lessons on the Bible as the word of God, we emphasize this week the enduring quality of this word. It is God's word, and is as eternal as its Author. It is truth, unerring and unchanging truth, and is eternal as absolute truth is eternal.
So approaching the present passages of scripture, we may outline the lesson as follows:1. The Word Preserved, Jeremiah 36:27, 28, 32 a. Original and copies, 27, 28 b. "Progressive revelation," 32 2. The Word Reserved, John 21:24, 25 a. Reliable testimony, 24 b. Abundant evidence, 25 3. The Word Observed, II Peter 3:13-18 a. Observed in promise, 13 b. Observed in peace, 14 c. Observed in patience, 15 d. Observed in prudence, 16 e. Observed in perseverance, 17 f. Observed in progress, 18
Notes on the Printed Text:
The Word Preserved, Jeremiah 36:27, 28, 32. By divine direction, Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the scribe wrote in "a roll of a book" God's words "against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations." (Jeremiah 36:1-4.) When this roll was brought to the attention of Jehoiakim the king, he had it read in his presence and then cut it to pieces and burned it all on the hearth (w. 21-25).
From the prince of darkness to his puppet Jehoiakim, from medieval popes to modern seminarial pipsqueaks, enemies of truth and righteousness" have always sought to destroy the Bible. Here is a book that exposes sin and condemns it for the deadly thing it is, a book that belittles man and magnifies God, a book generally hated by the proud and mighty and loved by the poor and humble, a book whose every page rebukes the dearest desires of human flesh, a book that makes foolish the learning and wisdom of the world, a book more viciously attacked than any other in the history of the world, and yet a book miraculously preserved by the God Who gave it for the salvation, comfort, and edification of His people.
Original and Copies, 27, 28. Destroying material copies of the word cannot destroy the word itself. "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89.) If it were possible for the enemies of truth to burn or otherwise destroy all the Bibles and Bible portions in the world, God's word would remain written in the hearts of His children here on earth and eternally "settled in heaven."
Reproduction of the original text of Jeremiah's roll was not dependent upon the human memory of the prophet, any more than the first writing was dependent upon his human understanding. In each case, the words of the prophet were the words of God, faithfully recorded by a faithful scribe.
"Progressive Revelation," 32. Quite contrary to Satanic theories of "progressive revelation," we have here a good example of progressive revelation in the only true sense. Genuine revelation from God has never involved any contradiction of previous revelation. It has always included the truth of "all the words of the book" previously written, and the only words added have been "like words." From Genesis to Revelation, the progression of revelation is harmonious.
The Word Reserved, John 21:24, 25. Lawyers and other people with little worth saying generally say it with a great many words. Sometimes, it seems, the weaker the case the wordier the defense. Bureaucrats can fill a Sears, Roebuck catalog with regulations calculated to confuse themselves and their victims. Considering the infinite extent and importance of its subject matter, the Bible is the briefest of all books. It exhibits a holy reservation and conservation of words, so that an infallible guidebook for all the world for an endless eternity can be held in one hand of one little mortal.
Reliable Testimony, 24. The disciple referred to is no doubt John himself, the brother of James and: son of Zebedee. "We know," that is, true believers in Jesus know, that his testimony is true; and we can say the same thing about every other writer of inspired scripture. We need only to believe and, so far as possible, understand the testimony; we do not need to sift out the truth, because there is no error in it.
Abundant Evidence, 25. Some commentators call this verse hyperbole. They fail to consider Who and What Jesus was and is. "Upholding all things by the word of his power" (Hebrews 1:3), He directs in detail all the phenomena of nature. To recount His deeds would require the writing of exhaustive biographies of every man and beast, every bird and insect, every tree and blade of grass, every microbe and virus, not to mention the endless though invisible peregrinations of molecules, atoms, and electrons.
I suppose that John supposed correctly. I am thankful that God led him to limit his writing and that, even so, he gives us abundant evidence of the divine character and saving power of Jesus Christ.
The Word Observed, II Peter 3:13-18. Wonderful as the word of God is, it was not given to us merely to admire, but to observe. Both fear of judgment and hope of mercy demand that we give attention to the word of God. Verses preceding this passage remind us of God's judgments destroying the world: in the past by water, in the future by fire.
Observed in Promise, 13. Destruction of the world by flood ia the past and by fire in the future is by the power of the same word of God that holds forth the promise of new heavens and a new earth. The present earth is full of wickedness, and even the heavens "shall wax old as doth a garment" (Hebrews 1:11, and so are "reserved unto fire"; but the new heavens and the new earth will be indwelt by righteousness. Man vainly attempts to improve himself by improving his environment: God works in the hearts of men to create a holy people, and will later provide an environment fit for their habitation.
Observed in Peace, 14. Far from encouraging laziness or indifference, the genuine operations of divine grace call for the utmost diligence on our part "that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." This Is possible only in our Lord Jesus Christ, through personal faith in Him.
Observed in Patience, 15. Both in allowing more time for other sinners to come to repentance and in teaching us to be "patient in tribulation" (Romans 12:12), "the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation." The inspired writings of Peter and Paul, like all the scriptures, are in perfect agreement at this point as everywhere else.
Observed In Prudence, 16. Difficult truths are treated as simply as possible in the Bible, but eternal truth is necessarily beyond the grasp of mortal man, and undoubtedly the Bible contains "some things hard to be understood," Prudence demands that we be careful about drawing inferences and jumping to conclusions, lest we be found among the "unlearned and unstable" who destroy themselves with their twistings of scriptures.
Observed in Perseverance, 17. Assurance of everlasting salvation does not guarantee spiritual stedfastness to the careless. Even true children of God need to beware of "being led away with the error of the wicked." If Satan's cohorts have failed to prevent our salvation, they will still do their utmost to destroy our usefulness in service.
Observed in Progress, 18. We must not be content to hold our own: to try no more will mean to fail even fn that. We must press onward and upward.. Growth is a law of life, and, to cease to grow is to begin to die. We are commanded to grow in grace, which means that we are not as great in grace is we need to be. We are commanded to grow fa the knowledge of our Juord md Saviour Jesus Christ, which means that we do not know Him as well as we ought.
Key Verse: "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." - Mark 13:31.
These are the words of Jesus, but only the everlasting God, Creator and sovereign Ruler of the universe, could so speak without blasphemy. His word will stand, and we must stand with Him in His eternal truth if we would stand with Him in eternity. ============
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist weekly paper, May 4, 1969. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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