Dr. Ed Young - Battle for Truth
Our Scripture is found in Psalm 119, verse 105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet. And a light to my path". Say that after me, "Your word is a lamp to my feet. And a light in my path". In 1917, in Petrograd, Russia, now St. Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia, they were having a convention of all the priests in the Orthodox Church, thousands came. In 1917, Russia was called by many Holy Russia because over 100 million plus people who claim to be Christians, and their worship services and beautiful edifices with all their icons, were packed every Lord's day. Holy Russia. And these priests were meeting, and a giant convention came from all over the land.
They spent two days talking about their liturgy. "Do we have all the words right? All the doctrines right?" And they walk through all their liturgy to make sure that they dotted every I and cross every T in their theology. Now, their last afternoon they were there in this convention, they debated over what color their sur piece would be in different seasons of the year, in different times and ceremony. It'd be pink or red or brown, and there were hot debates about the color that they would wear and their sur piece on their robes. Six blocks down the street, there was a group of radicals called Bolsheviks who were planning for a revolution that would absolutely change everything about Russia.
The church was tremendously powerful, but the church was silent, and in eight months, there was a form of government that in it's very foundational documents says there is no God, and there we have the roots of communism, while the church, which could have been powerful in this moment, was virtually silent behind the stained glass and the icons and all of their pious, accepted rituals. Ladies and gentlemen, let me say something to you, and you can believe it or not, but I can assure you that we are at war. We are at war, and the problem is so many of us do not know who our enemy is. Some things we would say and some people would say, "Well, there is our enemy," when that's not our enemy. These are victims of the enemy.
We do not know the strategy of the enemy. We do not know the weapons of the enemy. We do not know exactly where the battlefield is, and we don't know what to do, how to respond. We don't know the weapons that we have available to us. We don't know the sphere of the battle that is going on, and we don't know how to win. This is where we are today. Now, in light of this, everybody agrees on one thing: Liberals, Conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, and Capitalists, you look at anybody everywhere in America, and they all will agree that we're in a mess: corona, political divides, the family, the business world, education.
Anywhere you go, you say, "Man, we are in a mess. We are messed up. We are in a big, big hole". Everybody agrees on that, and everybody points blame, and some who are really guilty of gross naivete, they say, "Well, we can't blame anybody". When there is no cause, there is no solution. And others say, "You know, you can't turn back the clock". If you've ever said that, that's the dumbest statement that ever has come through your lips. "Well, you know, you can't turn back the clock". The clock is manmade, and when the clock is not keeping the right time, you turn it back. The idea, "Well, you don't want to go against history".
I love that. You know history. You can't go against history, and we're in a progressive stance now. We're not a part of progression, we are a part of regression, and when history is taking you the wrong way, you have to do about face, and you have to go back up and reclaim and reset the clock. So, in light of all of this, in this SOS moment, I've done like I have so many times done. All of us have done this. We'd say, "Lord, this is so big, all the different voices, and all the different propositions, the different philosophies, the different theologies, the different approaches, the different backgrounds, and we have a a multiplicity of cultures coming together in this cultural war. Lord, help me. Dear God, give us a eternal perspective. Lord, I want your Word to come and give guidance, speak".
Anyone who's sincere and knows anything of God, you've had moments like that, and many of us are having moments like that right now. "Lord, give us some answers. Give us some direction. Give us some definitions. Give us some approaches at this moment in history," and in the process of asking for God to speak, he reminded me of something that I knew, and at times of pain and sorrow and doubt and fear, we forget sometimes what we already know, and God said in my heart of hearts, "I've already given you my Word. You already have my Word about all of this that you're so concerned about and you're questioning". And I said, "Sure, I get it. You've already spoken".
We have his Word. The Word of God came to us at Christmas. That Word is the Word, the logos became flesh and blood and dwelt among us, so nobody would have to wonder what God is like. Bang, there is Jesus, Jesus, the Word of God. Also, we have the Word of God not only in flesh, in Jesus, we have the Word of God in wood, and that's the cross. How much does God care? How much does God want to intervene in your life and my life? There is Jesus hanging on that cross, and he took all of our shame and sin and hypocrisy, and he took it upon himself, and he died for you and for me so that now we have a straight shot to the Father, and because we've received him, can you believe that God looks at you and looks at me as if I am perfect and you are perfect, and you are complete and I am complete, and you are righteous and I am righteous?
God's Word was on wood. Also God's Word is on paper, paper, the book, the Bible, and now we come to the Bible, people say, "Well, what is the Bible"? Let's go back to the basics. The Bible, first of all, is something that we already know. It's a library. The Bible has 66 books: 39 in the old, 27 in the new. You walk through the old, it's not really that complex. When you look at it from a whole perspective as a library, you have, first of all, the five books of law, and then you have history in the Old Testament. Then you have poetry. Then you have the major prophets and the minor prophets. Bang, zip, there we have 39 books. Go to the New Testament, not too complex. We have four stories: the biography of Jesus. We have Acts, the history of the early church. We have Paul's letters, and then we have the general epistles, and we have Revelation. It is a library.
Also, the Bible is literature. People forget that, and they forget the Bible was written by 40 authors, 1,600 years, and it is literature. In that literature, you have different forms of speech. You have a different vehicles to get the Word of God out. You have poetry. You have prose. You have hyperbole. You have parables. You have didactic teaching. You have all kinds of methods that God used in his (get this word) salvation history working uniquely through the Jews, and the Old and the New, always pointing to the Messiah, to Jesus who would come. It is a library. It is literature, and you don't read poetry like you do biography. Do you get that? You don't read apocalyptic literature the way you do parables.
Therefore, when people say, "Well, you know, the Bible, it's so hard to understand, and you can make the Bible say anything you want to say". Somebody who makes that statement is phi beta kappa on ignorance. You read the Bible, and first of all, there's that word "exegesis". Don't get lost in that. You just read the Bible and understand the words that are there, the context that is there, and you understand what the author was saying inspired by Almighty God, because it's a human book and a divine book. 2 Timothy 3:16, "theopneustos," it speaks. God spoke through human beings who put down his Word to mankind, so we read the Bible, we look at that. It is "exegesis," and what did it mean there and then? You follow me?
What did that mean there and then? And that's a whole part of another big word, "hermeneutics," which is the science of interpretation, and in this, we see now what the Bible meant there and then. Now, we see what it means here and now, and therefore, you can't just say, "Well, it means it", no, no, no, no. We approach it with these understandings, and we see this is the Word of God, and it is a sword, and the Holy Spirit applies it. How important it is that we understand that, because it just throws aside so many pseudo-intellectuals who try to discount it and put it on one side and say, "Well, how do you know this, and how do you know that"? Listen, not anything written as history in the Bible has ever been refuted by anthropology or by archaeology over and over again. The personalities and the history has been absolutely nailed down as true truth.
The Bible is a library. The Bible is literature, and the Bible is law. Well, we don't like that, do we? We don't like anybody who says, "Thou shalt not". We don't like anybody who says, "Thou shalt". Well, this way too dogmatic, but the Bible is law, and we look at the Old Testament. We say, "Well, I don't know about all those laws". See, there were ceremonial law. That's all the Feast of Celebration, et cetera, and that's been basically fulfilled in Jesus. There is civil law. They had a theocracy, and that civil law has been put aside, but in the Old Testament, there is moral law, and that moral law still stands and is relevant today, but some people are upset about that. They looked at the ten commandments, They say, "Well, in the Old Testament, there is that Jehovah God, who was mean and legalistic, and in the New Testament, we have Jesus, who is so sweet and nice and full of grace, and they must be two different gods".
Not so. The ten commandments are based upon the principles of love. For example, love can love only one God. You're gonna have multiplicity of God, love's the true and living God alone and exclusively. Love does not steal. Love does not lie, bear false witness. Love does not commit adultery, so you go around all the law that we find in the Old... we say that it's just expressions of God, how much he loves us so that we'll live lives that are relevant and powerful, so the Bible is a law. It is a law book, but primarily, the Bible is light. I love that. That's our Scripture. The Bible lights us where we are now. It give lights where we're going. Here and there, it is a light, and light just eliminates all darkness, and when we read and study and begin to understand the Bible, maybe just a little verse at a time, all of a sudden, light comes into your life and comes into my life.
But there are those skeptics out there that say, "Well, it may be myth. Who knows that all of this is true. How can you stand there and say this is inerrant Word of God given from God, and say we know that it is really true"? We could spend time in the bibliographical test. We've looked at that. We can look at the history. We've looked at that, but what I like to deal with... and years ago, I was in the basement of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. We had about a room half full of Evangelicals, Bible believers, and half the room of Jewish rabbis and scholars, and we debated as to whether or not Bethlehem was the first coming, and when Jesus comes back, will be his first coming or his second coming? Interesting. Never forget that night. We stayed up till after 1 a.m. in the morning.
In the process, when dealing with this, the best thing you can say to Jewish scholars, and boy, they'll do flip-flops when you get in this area, and you say simply, "Let's look at the prophecies in the Old Testament and see if they're fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament," so that would be the coming of the Messiah. Well, let's just take eight prophecies, okay? Eight prophecies that Jesus could not have intentionally fulfilled concerning his birth, his death, and eight facts, and let's take it to Las Vegas. I know no one here's ever been there, but let's just go to Las Vegas and go to the bookmakers, and let's just ask a question: What are the odds that just eight prophecies written when? Eight hundred or a thousand years before they came to fulfillment would come true in one man, eight prophecies in one, what are the odds?
And the odds were given, by the way, by Dr. Peter Stoner who was a professor of mathematics at Pasadena Community College and other universities. He took some 600 students that were under his tutelage, and they had this project. They would simply decide, mathematically, what are the odds eight prophecies would be fulfilled written 800, 1,000 years before in the Old Testament fulfilled in one man? And the odds they decided was 1 to 10 to the 17th power. Now, most of us have been out of school too long. We don't understand that is one with 17 zeroes after it. That's the odds that eight prophecies will be fulfilled in one person.
Well, let's up the ante. Let's say what will be the odds of 47 prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus being fulfilled? The odds are 10 to 157 powers they'd be fulfilled. Well, let's take all the prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus, who would be the Messiah, so you could absolutely identify him. Let's take all 332 prophecies that were perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ. What are the odds? Let's put it mathematically. If you picked out one atom, follow me, one atom out of a trillion, trillion, trillion atoms from a billion universes the size of our universe, you'd mark one atom, and somehow you would accidentally pick up that one atom out of a trillion, trillion, trillion atoms on a billion universes the size of ours. That's the odds that 332 prophecies would be fulfilled in one person.
Does anybody want to debate with the truth and the authority of the Word of God? Amazing, so we can stand here confidently and say this is God's Word, and this is God's truth. Empirical evidence, scientific evidence, mathematical evidence, how could this be? It must be that God has written it down. That day in that time, theopneustos, through individuals whom he touched and inspired and put it together. Now, bring all of this, the Bible would instruct us in this moment of extremity, but somebody would say, "Well, how do we know things are really as bad as they seem"? Let me tell you a sign that you, perhaps, do not realize. Before every revolution in modern times, there has been a deterioration of music. Every revolution, every one of them, you can look at it and study it. In modern times, a sign that that country is in serious shape, it's been a deterioration in music.
You see, music bypasses all logic in our mind. Music is the language of God. Question, how for thousands of years did emperors rule China? Large hunks of territory, thousands of years, they ruled. What form of government did they use? They let every city and every province virtually govern themselves, but the emperors would disguise themselves and walk through these cities and through these providences, and they would listen to the music, and that the music was sinister, cold, minor key, vicious, the words harsh. The emperor would know that there's a problem in this city and would send his troops, and they would change leadership, but as the emperor went through and listened to music, it was sweet and positive and uplifting and dynamic and powerful, the emperor would know that that particular part of his reign was healthy and whole.
Music is like nuclear power, ladies and gentlemen. It can be used for tremendous good, and it can be used for devastating harm. Quickly, I ran into a verse I'd never seen before, Isaiah chapter 56, verse 10. His watchmen... God is speaking to Isaiah when they're in the middle of a cultural war, in which they lost, by the way. Isaiah the prophet lost the battle for the land. But in the middle of that war, God says, "My watchmen are blind. All of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs. Dogs that don't bark. Dreamers lying down, who love to slumber". Ladies and gentlemen, we are God's watchdogs on our world, on our society, on our city, on our families, and the problem is we are not barking.