Charles Stanley - More Than A Book
Where do you turn when trouble strikes? You've got a lot of choices and people oftentimes turn to the wrong thing. And sometimes people don't know which way to turn. They just feel helpless and hopeless. Let me tell you the first place you ought to turn to, and that is to the Word of God. Because this book is more than a book. It's the unfolding revelation of Almighty God. And what you'll find from beginning to end, God meeting the needs of His people. It's a promise book. But unlike all other promises, the promiser has infinite power and is able to keep every single promise He makes right on time. Where else could you go? What other book is like this?
There is none like it. And as you look at the Scriptures, God is all the way through the Scripture working in the lives of His people. And so, when you think about what this book is, for most people, it's just another book. But I want to show you why it's not just another book. It's far more than just another book. And when you pick it up to read it, you probably are usually looking for something specific, some need you have or some issue that's going on in your life. But, sometimes you can't find the right place. You wonder, "Well, where do I turn? It must not have an answer here".
Listen carefully. God's Word has the answer for every single circumstance of life. This is the divine revelation of Almighty God given to us to live by, to discover who He is, what He's like and how we can live every single day knowing in our heart that we have a security that is divinely given in Almighty God. So, we might ask the question: What's the purpose of the Bible? Well the purpose of the Word of God, why did God have all of this written for us so that now we have from Adam and Eve all the way to the end of the world? Why, what did he have in mind? His primary purpose was to reveal the one true God.
There are all kind of so called gods, and people believe all kind of things. And they act like they believe. God gave us His Word in order that you and I would understand who is the one True God, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent all powerful God. For example, if you didn't have the Bible, what would you think about God? How would you describe Him? Well you talk to people, for example, who don't believe the Bible, you'll find out what, what the world thinks when they don't have the Bible. They think all kind of things, erroneous kind of stuff. But God has given us a very clear picture of what He's like.
The second purpose of it is to lead us to salvation, that is, to help us understand that we are sinners and only by the grace of God, His goodness and love and mercy and undeserved favor. That He forgives us of our sins, writes our name in the Lamb's Book of Life and forever we're His children. He wants us to know that. Then there's a third purpose for it and that's this: He wants us to understand, not only who He is and to be saved, He wants us to understand how to live a godly life, how to live a life that displays His character and His ideas, His purposes and His works.
So, there is purpose. And if you'll think about, for example, the epistles of Paul, what are they all about? They're all about how to live a godly life. Somebody says, "What's a godly life"? It's a holy life. It's a life of obedience, not perfect, but it's a life of obedience. And when there are actually disobedience, there is immediate repentance and restoring our fellowship with Him. So, it's there to reveal all of, to all of us who God is and what He's like. Lead us to salvation, lead us to live a godly life. But there's a fourth one, and that is He has given us this book in order to know how to serve Him and to share it with other people.
So, this isn't just another book. This is a divine, holy message from Almighty God to mankind to know who our creator is; who our Savior is, what life's all about and how we can end up spending eternity with Him. To close this book is a disaster. For a person to say, "I don't have time for the Word of God," you don't have time to live. To say that it doesn't have any answers. My question is: You haven't read it. To criticize the Word of God is a sin because you are criticizing the very words of Almighty God, words of promise, words of joy, words of peace, all the words that come to our mind when we look at the Word of God.
So, that being the case, I want you to look if you will in Psalm one nineteen. Psalm one nineteen is all about the Bible, for example, the hundred and fifth verse, he says, "Thy word is," what? "a lamp to my feet and a light to my path". All of us need light in this darkened world. "A lamp to my feet," so, I see what's going on, "a light to my path". So, I can know where to walk. So, to me that's the whole Bible in one verse. The Bible is, "A lamp to my feet, a light to my path". And you remember what Isaiah said, one of my favorite verses is about the Bible. Isaiah forty, verse eight. "The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever". Which he's saying to us, "It does not change".
For example, somebody says, "I'd like to change some verses in the Bible". I know what they are. Do you know what they are? I'll tell you what they are. All the verses that talk about sin and judgment, or hell. They want to change those verses. They change any verse whose, listen, any verse that talks about their sin, they'd like to eliminate that. This is the divine revelation of God. You, listen, you may tear it out of your Bible, but you can't tear it out of reality, out of God. This is His Word and listen, His word is for our benefit. God doesn't cheat us out of happiness and joy and pleasure.
So, all right, we declare this Bible is more than a book. Why? Because it's timeless. It doesn't make any difference what's going on, where, when. The truths of God's Word are timeless. They are never outdated under any condition. Secondly, it is infallible. That is, it is without error. People will say, "Well the Bible's full of error". Like what? Now people think the Bible's full of error, the error they bring up are things that have to do with our sin. And so, when people have unbelief about the Bible, it has something to do with their lifestyle and the way they're living. The Bible is infallible. Somebody says, "Well, there've got to be mistakes in the Bible".
Let me ask you a question: Since God is all powerful and He created everything that exists, can He not speak through men's hearts and lives and guide them to give us a Bible that would never mislead anybody? And the answer is: Yes, He can. There may be some things I don't understand, but that doesn't make it fallible. The Bible is the infallible Word of God and listen, where in the Bible does He make a mistake? Where does He say the wrong thing? No place. This is God's infallible Word. It's the revelation of the one true God, Jehovah. It's a trustworthy guide for every single circumstance of life. You cannot, you cannot think of anything for which the Word of God is just lost for an answer. Whatever the situation.
Think about this, all the way back to Adam and Eve, to this present moment, the Word of God is adequate for every single need. And the Word of God is truthful. And where did God ever make a mistake? Where did God ever say, "Oops"! Where did He ever say, "I forgot that". What did He ever, where did He ever say, "Let me think about it". He doesn't have to turn to a book, nor a computer, nor to ask someone else. This is the absolute awesome Word of the living God and it's adequate for every single thing. A trustworthy guide. Likewise, it exposes man's sin and hopeless condition. "The wages of sin is death; the gift of God is eternal life". "And all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God".
What people don't like is it points to their sin. Our whole moral society today is where it is because people do not want to believe this book. And they say, "Well, you know, I used to believe the Bible". Well now you don't believe it because it nailed your sin. And so, the truth is, listen, God is not going to overlook anything. So, you come to the Word of God and you say, "Well, this is my lifestyle". Well that's fine. What's the Bible say? If the Bible agrees with your lifestyle, you better stay with it. If your lifestyle disagrees with the Word of God, you are in serious trouble, because God judges sin. Not because He doesn't love the sinner, He loves the sinner, but He wants us to know the truth.
And some people want to pick and choose. It's like you go to the restaurant and they give you a menu. They don't just serve you a hot dog cause you walked in. They give you a menu. The menu's about that long. There's something on both sides, more than you could ever possibly eat, and you choose. Well, when it comes to the Word of God, there's no choosing. The choosing is either I believe it or I don't. Or I obey it or I don't. And one of the reasons I think people have a problem with it, is this: It pictures for us the consequences of sin.
In other words, think about this. God starts out with Adam and Eve and everything's perfect. And He warned them there would be consequences of their disobedience. And so, all the way through the Scripture God is doing what? He's keeping His Word. He says there are consequences for obedience; there are consequences for disobedience. And if you'll think about it, in this society we live in, whether you're talking about spiritual things or political or whatever it might be, nobody wants to talk about consequences. But the truth is there are consequences of sin.
Now somebody say, "Well I just don't believe that". If you're not a follower of Jesus, look at your own life. You say, "Well I've got everything going my way". For a season, and you're being misinformed. You're being misguided. This is a law that cannot change. You ask any farmer. You reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow. Is that true, sir, as a farmer? He wouldn't be a farmer if he didn't believe that and practice it. Because if I sow beans today, I'm going to get beans tomorrow and get beans the next day. If I sow, if I plant apple trees, I'm not going to get orange trees or pear trees. It's a principle that cannot change. You know why? God is perfect. God is omniscient, and His laws are for our good. And that principle alone is a warning against sin against God.
So, when somebody says, "I don't believe the Bible," so you just say to them, "Well do you believe the principle of sowing, reaping"? "Oh yeah, I believe that". But what they don't like is the consequences. And my friend, there are consequences for obedience; there are consequences for disobedience. Then I think the Bible is more than a book because it tells us of God's unconditional love for us. That is, God doesn't love us "if". He loves us, period. "For God so loved the world, listen to this, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life". He didn't say, "I won't love them". God loves everyone whether they're obedient or not. But by His laws, disobedience brings the consequences.
And so, when I think about His unconditional love, His unconditional love, that's His nature. That's who God is. God is a God of love. And therefore, He loves us unconditionally and He tells us in His Word how we can be saved from our sins. He just doesn't condemn people for sin. He tells us how we can be saved. Do you remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus? He said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God". Then He takes all the next verses, almost the rest of the chapter to explain what He means by the new birth. Paul put it this way, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord you shall be saved from your sins".
And Paul said it another way. He says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; not of yourselves; Not of works lest any man should boast". It's by grace through faith that we're saved. So, the Bible tells us how we can get right with Him. Then of course, the Bible tells us why Jesus came to earth. He wasn't just somebody. The Son of God coming to earth. Why did He come? He came in order to save us from our sins. That's His purpose for coming. He didn't come just to be an example. He came to save us from our sins. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life".
You say, "Well, what do I need to be saved from"? Sin. Sin is a destroyer. Sin destroys everything that is good and right. He came to make it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins. And that's why Paul put it this way. "If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you'll be saved". Where did that come from? It came from the Word of God. Then, it shows us why we have a virgin birth? Here's the reason. The Spirit of God bestowed upon Mary that which was necessary for Jesus to be born of a virgin without contact with man. Why? Because the Lamb of God had to be a perfect Lamb. And you recall all through the Scriptures when they had sacrifices, the sacrifice had to be perfect. No sick lambs. No blemishes, perfect.
And so that was the picture and the symbol all down through the ages. When Jesus came, He came as the sacrificial Lamb of God. He had to be perfect and sinless. And so, when normal men and women have that relationship, that nature is passed on from the man. No father, earthly father. God the Father brought the Lord Jesus Christ into the world, born of a virgin, the perfect sacrifice. Had to be perfect because of why He came. So, He died on the cross for us, what reason? He bore your sin and mine in His body on the tree the Bible says. Suppose Jesus had not died on the cross? Watch this. Suppose then not had been any crucifixion or resurrection. Then how would you be saved? How many of us have been good enough to go to heaven? None Jesus came as the sacrificial lamb to die for the sins of the whole world. And the Bible says that God placed all of our sin, all of our sin for all humanity on Him and then God crucified Him.
We say Romans did it. He came into the world for the purpose of being crucified as a sacrifice for your sins and mine. And so, the Bible explains that. The Bible also explains to us about His resurrection. Now we hear about other gods and this, that and the other and so forth. How many other gods have you heard about who've risen from the dead? Anybody? Come on, anybody, they know some other god that's risen from the dead? No, they do not because there's no such thing. Watch this, Almighty God, in His love for us, in His desire for us to understand His whole plan and that we would believe it, put His Son through the cross. And then raised Him from the dead to give proof that He was the Son of God and that He was everything He said He was. And so, Jesus rose from the dead by the grace of God, His plan, so that you and I would never have to wonder if He's going to keep His promise or not.
And the ultimate test, the ultimate test of all of God's promises was and is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If He can raise Him from the dead in keeping with His promise, what promise can He not keep? He can keep every single one of them. This is not just a book. This is a book of the Revelation of the plan of God for all mankind. And so, somebody says, "Well, where's Jesus now"? He's where He said He would be, at the Father's right hand, He says in Hebrews. Doing what? Interceding for us. He's the living Christ. And for all of us who have been saved by His grace and love and mercy, and that's how we're saved. All of us who've been saved know that Jesus is real and that He's alive and that He is seated at His Father's right hand, listen, answering our prayers, comforting our hearts, healing our bodies. You name it. All the things that He's doing. And there's no other explanation for what He does.
And then of course, somebody says, "Well, what about God the Father"? It tells us where He is. He's seated on His throne. He sees all the sinfulness and the wars and the bloodshed and all these things. But think about this. From the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, God's hand has been active. He gave us the Ten Commandments, for example. He gave us ten, it's a wonderful number. He gave us enough that we would remember and not too many to remember. I'll ask you this: What would you add to the Ten Commandments? God has given us His law for our good, and He gave the Ten Commandments for our good. And any time you break them, you violate God's choice of what He knew in His infinite all good mind of His what was best for us.
Then of course, the Bible explains to us the Person of the Holy Spirit and His work in our life. When you trust Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit comes into your heart to bear witness of that. And listen to what He says, "He sealed you until the day of redemption". Now who can break God's seal? Nobody. That's why when you are saved by the grace of God, you're saved for eternity. Now I know some of you don't believe that. I'm sorry you don't. I used to not believe it. When I grew up, I grew up with people who, who taught me that if I sinned against God, I'd be lost. Well I was miserable.
As a teenager, I thought, "Dear God, how am I going to make it"? Until I finally recognized salvation's not, watch this, once you're saved, it's not conditioned upon anything. The grace of God saves us for all eternity. If we disobey Him, what happens? He says, He gets the rod out. It's a rod of grace, but it can sting. He talks about His divine, loving chastisement. And so, God, in His awesome love for us, saves us and, listen, He saves us not temporarily. When Paul says, "We are sealed unto the day of redemption," until the day He calls us home, we are sealed by His grace. Not by our good works.
That's the goodness and love of God. This the unfolding revelation of how God works, how He thinks and how He loves us and how He judges wickedness. God doesn't fail to keep His promise. We can make promises that we intend with our best intention with all of our heart to keep, and we can't keep them sometime. Not true of Almighty God. And then of course, it removes the fear of death. And in one verse Paul said, "Absent from the body, present with the Lord". What does the lost person say? What do you think's going to happen to you when you die and you've lived an ungodly life. "Well, I'll just disappear". No, you won't. "I'll disintegrate". No, you won't. You see, you're not reading the Scripture. You're just trying to work your way out of going to hell. The Bible says, "It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment". If you're saved by the grace of God, absent from the body, present with the Lord. That's His awesome promise to us.
Let me ask a question. If you don't have Jesus Christ as your personal Savior who died on the cross, laid down His life voluntarily, sent by the Father for the purpose of dying for your sin, taking your sin debt upon Himself and dying a substitutionary death for you. If you don't have Him to deal with your sin, who's going to deal with them? Nobody but yourself. And you know what? It'll be too late. If you want to die one of these days, which you will, and go to heaven, you ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sin, surrender yourself to Him, and all these questions you have about this, that and the other will be cleared up. How many times have I met people who say, "I used to doubt this question, doubt like, and argue with people. When I got saved, somehow that all seemed to disappear". You know why? Because you began to understand who God really is. What will you do about it? Will you listen to this message, turn it off and still doubt and play the fool? Or will you listen carefully and realize you have everything to lose and nothing to gain by turning away from the truth of God's Word. I pray that'll not happen to you.
Father, how grateful we are that You've given us Your Word. How grateful we are that You're patient with us, that You've given us the Holy Spirit to help us understand the Word. And You've given us the opportunity to live it out day by day, and then to share it with others so that they too can know Christ. And so, they too can go to heaven one of these days when they die. We love You and we praise You and we pray that all of our lives will be living expressions of the truth of the Word of God. And we love You, Father, for reminding us that the grass will wither, the flowers will fade, but Your awesome Word will stand forever. We love You, Father, for grace that we cannot comprehend. In Jesus' name, amen.