Robert Jeffress - The Bible Tells Me So? - Part 1
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". The average American has more than three Bibles in his or her home. At first, that sounds like an encouraging statistic but tragically too many Bibles remain on the bookshelf collecting dust. Well, when we fail to reach for our Bible we're definitely missing out. Today I'm going to describe how to make informed life-changing decisions by consulting the ultimate guidebook for life. My message is titled: The Bible Tells Me So, on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
One of my favorite stories is about the atheist who decided to go mountain climbing. He had almost reached the summit when his foot slipped and he began to slide down the slope of his mountain. Toward his death, he grabbed hold fortunately of a tree branch that was sticking out of the side of the mountain. He grabbed hold of it, but realizing how flimsy it was and it was incapable of holding them for long. In an act of final desperation, he looked up into heaven and he said, "Is there anybody up there who can help me"? And to a surprise, a voice boomed from heaven, "Yes, I can help you, but first you must let go of the branch". The atheist thought for a moment, he looked up and he said "Is there anybody else up there who can help me"?
You know, there are a lot of Christians today who are just like that atheist. They want to hear a word from God about a particular dilemma they may be confronting, but even though God has already answered their question in his word they're not satisfied with that. They want to hear a fresh word from God. The fact is, although everything we need to know about God's will isn't found in the Bible much of it has already been revealed to us. And today, as we continue our series on discovering the will of God for our lives we're going to discuss the relationship between the Bible and knowing God's will for your life. I hope you'll take your outlines and keep your Bible handy with you.
Today we're going to talk about what God's word can and cannot do when it comes to discovering God's purpose for your life. Now, before we do that, I think it's very important that we understand first of all what the Bible is. What is the Bible? And I've made three statements on your outline there about the Bible. First of all, the Bible is God's perfect Revelation. It is God's perfect Revelation that simply means every word in the Bible can be trusted. Think for example of 2 Timothy 3:16. You've heard that verse expounded for years for decades from this pulpit. It says, "For all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for correction, for training in righteousness.", 2 Timothy 3:16.
Now that word inspired all scripture is inspired by God. You've heard that word inspired comes from the two Greek words. Literally all scripture is God breathed. And guess what? God doesn't suffer from bad breath. All right? Every breath of God is good. It's true. All scripture is God breathed or consider what Peter said about the truthfulness of God's word in 2 Peter 1:21, for know this that "No prophecy was ever made by an act of the human will but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God". Now, what is Peter trying to tell us? He's simply saying this. Paul wasn't in his jail cell one day when he said, you know "In order to pass the time I think I'll write some scripture". He didn't take out his pen and tablet and say, "Okay Philippians 1:1 Paul..." That's not how it happened.
Or Moses didn't sit down and write the first five books of the Old Testament in order to leave a family tree for his descendants so they could know from whence they came. No, all scripture was initiated by God, not men. Now, God used men he used men, their individual personalities but he used them to communicate his message without error. God is the one who initiated scripture and he moved. And that word means he carried along people to communicate his passage. The Bible is God's perfect Revelation. It has no errors in it whatsoever. And you say, well pastor sure that's what the Bible claims for itself. But how do I know those claims can be trusted any more than we can trust the blurbs you find on the back of a book extolling how wonderful the book is.
Is there really any external evidence to confirm that the Bible is God's truth without any error in it? The answer to that is beyond the scope of this message. But let me just say there is all kind of archeological. There is all kind of of of scientific and historical evidence that confirms every word of this book. And if you've ever dealt with this whole issue of whether or not God's word is true I want to suggest a book to you that you pick up. It's the most helpful book I've ever read on the veracity of scripture. It's called seven reasons you can trust the Bible. It's by Erwin Lutzer, L-U-T-Z-E-R. He's the pastor of Moody Church. He's preached here many times and it talks about the historical, scientific archeological evidence for the truthfulness of God's word. God's word is God's perfect Revelation to us.
Secondly, God's word is God's complete Revelation to us. You may say, well, I believe this book is God's word but is it all of God's word? I mean, how do I know God's not continuing to give Revelation about himself today? I mean, after all, that's what the televangelists claim. They claim God is speaking to them. God is giving them new information about himself. How do I know that this book is all there is to know about God? Now let me make something very clear. I believe God can do anything he wants to. If God wants to give new information about himself he is perfectly capable of doing that. The question is not can God give additional information? The question is is God giving additional information about himself?
And the answer to that is very clear in scripture turn over to the Book of Jude. Jude is the next to the last book in the New Testament. It's easy to skip it in a hurry to get to Revelation and so forth but it's easy to skip because there's just one chapter. But look at Jude verse three. Jude says, "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints".
Now, in that short verse, Jude had said a mouthful. He said, first of all there is a body of truth of doctrine called the faith. It's a finite amount of material about God, the faith. There is a body of doctrine called the faith. And notice what he says, "It has been delivered". Past tense. The tense of this verb suggest in the original language an action that is not an ongoing action it has ceased. This body of truth of doctrine called the faith has been delivered and it's no longer being delivered and it has been delivered.
Thirdly, once for all. Let me tell you this morning God is not giving new information about himself contrary to what Muhammad thought. When he gave us the Quran. Contrary to what Joseph Smith thought when he gave us the book of Mormon, there is no more truth about God being given today. Everything you need to know about God, Jesus Christ, heaven, hell, salvation, is contained in this book. This book is God's complete Revelation. But third, this book God's word is also God's living Revelation. And this is perhaps the point that most people overlook about the Bible.
Now, I can take Webster's dictionary and I can believe that Webster's dictionary is perfect that there are no misspellings in it that every definition is accurate. I can believe that Webster's dictionary is complete that it contains every word I will ever need in life. But even though Webster's dictionary is perfect and it's complete, how likely am I tonight when I get home to open up my copy of Webster's dictionary and start reading "Ant, apple, aardvark? Oh, doesn't that minister to me? Do you do that with a dictionary"? Of course not. Even though it's perfect and complete, it's not living. And that's what distinguishes the Bible from every other book that was written.
By the way, how many people do you know that regularly get up early on a weekend morning, get dressed get their family dressed, get their little children dressed have a knockdown drag out fight, get in the car, and rush 30 minutes perhaps even in the fog in order to attend a one hour lecture on Shakespeare. Do you know people that do that on a regular basis? And yet, think about this. For 2000 years, God's people have gathered together regularly sometimes under great difficulty under sometimes great danger and threat of their own lives. They have come together for 2000 years millions of them around the world for one reason to listen to the Word of God. Why is that? It's because God's word is living.
Hebrews 4:12 says it best "For the Word of God is living. It's active. It is sharper than any two edged sword". That word active means it is full of energy. I like what one commentator says in his paraphrase. He says, for God's word is always doing something to people who listen to it or who read it. Jesus said in John 6:63, "These words are spirit and they are life. This book is God's living Revelation to us". Now, what I'm trying to communicate to you is don't ever think of this book as some third class piece of mail addressed to occupant.
Now, this book is a first class piece of communication from God that is directed to you and it is the primary way that we're going to discover God's will for life. But as wonderful as the Bible is there are some things it cannot do for us. In fact, the Bible is only helpful when we use it in the way that it was designed to be used. For example, how many of you're grateful that you have an automobile? Would you raise your hand? You're grateful for your car. Wouldn't you admit that a car is a great mode of transportation? Sure, beats walking.
A car is a wonderful mode of transportation as long as you use it correctly. But if you ever try to use a car to navigate across the Atlantic ocean or you use a car to try to fly over a mountain, you're going to be sorely disappointed and ultimately destroyed. A car is only good as long as you use it for the purpose it was designed to be used and it's the same way with God's word. God's word is helpful in discovering God's will as long as you use it correctly. Let me talk about three things that the Bible cannot do in helping you discover God's will. First of all, the Bible cannot predict your future, okay? The Bible cannot predict your future.
Hadden Robinson tells a story about a well-known Christian leader's wife who was seriously ill near death in the ICU ward of a hospital. The Christian leader was so discouraged one morning he was having breakfast by himself in his home before he went to the hospital. He was so discouraged he asked God to just speak to him give him a precise word, and he reached for one of those scripture verses in those promise boxes. And he picked out the scripture verse. And to his surprise, it was John 11:25. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life: he who believes in me though he were dead yet shall he live".
And he was so encouraged by this that he took a second verse and it was Psalm 118:17, "I shall live and shall not die" declares the Lord. And this guy started thanking God for the word he had given him. And he went to the hospital and he said to the nurses who are attending to his wife, he said "God spoke to me today and told me my wife is not going to die". 24 hours later, his wife was dead, and those nurses were left to one of two conclusions. Either this guy was a religious nut or God couldn't be trusted to keep the promise he had made to this man. Now, the fact is neither was true. This man had misused the Bible. God never gave us the Bible to predict the outcome to predict our future. So don't try using the Bible as a sanctified horoscope to tell you what's going to happen. It was never meant to predict our future.
Secondly, the Bible cannot answer our every question. Some people try to use the Bible as a theological encyclopedia to answer every question we have about life in general or our life in particular. As a pastor, people ask me difficult questions all the time and most of them start with that three letter word. Why pastor? Why did God allow my boss to terminate me? Why did God take my mate? Why did God allow my child to be killed? Why is it that ungodly people seem to do so well and godly people seem to suffer all the time? Perhaps you have your own list of why questions.
Think about Job. He certainly had his list of questions after losing his health and his possessions and his own children he asked God, why? What's interesting is when you read The Book of Job God does answer Job, but he never answers the why question. He only answers the who question. He says, "Job, all you need to know is I'm in control and I have a plan. I'm working out. And even if you could understand it I choose not to reveal it to you right now. The fact is you could never comprehend what I'm up to". And God says the same thing to us. He rarely answers our why questions but he does remind us that he's in control.
Don't try to use the Bible to answer your every question. And number three, the Bible cannot provide specific direction for every decision we face. It's not going to provide specific direction for every decision we face. Paul little tells a story about the man who was so depressed and despondent that he finally in the last ditch attempt reached for his Bible took his Bible, dusted it off and wanted to hear some word from God about what he ought to do in his despondency. And he opened it up, and he zeroed in on the verse, "And Judas went out and hanged himself". I thought, you know, that's certainly not what I need to do. So he went to another verse, "Go and do us likewise". Thought, this isn't working. I'll give it one last chance. He finally found a third verse, "And whatever thou doest, do it quickly".
Now, if you're looking to the Bible to try to tell you every step that you're going to take, you're going to be disappointed. For example, you can search through the scripture, but if you're looking for what vocation you ought to choose in life, you're not going to find that answer in the Bible. Unless you have a pension for fishing or tent making it's just not going to be there. Okay? Or you may say, "God show me whom I'm to marry, whom I'm to marry". And you know what? Unless their name is Paul or Peter or grace you're not going to find their name in the Bible either.
Now, the Bible does not give us an answer for every decision that we're facing or pastor of the Bible can't predict our future. It can't answer our every question. It can't give us the guidance we need for every decision. What good is the Bible? What does the Bible do for us when it comes to discovering God's will for our life? I thought you'd never ask. So let me answer it for you. Here are three things the Bible can do for us when we're searching for direction in life.
First of all, the Bible confirms God's sovereignty. The Bible confirms God's sovereignty. That term sovereignty simply means God's in charge. God has a plan that he's working out. And when I read the Bible I'm reminded that even when I don't understand God has a plan that he's working out. When I left here back in 1985 to go pastor my first church in Eastland, Texas, I'd been at the church a few months when I was invited to come and speak at the annual associational meeting that was going to be at the First Baptist Church in Breckenridge.
Now, I was asked to speak that afternoon and then at the evening session I had finished the afternoon session. I was getting ready to go on the platform for the evening session when an usher came down the aisle and he tapped me on the back and he said Dr. Jeffress, there's an emergency phone call for you in the pastor's office and I think you'll want to take this. So I walked back and took the phone call and the voice on the other end of the line said that my mom who had been in surgery that day, exploratory surgery, she hadn't been feeling well. That when they went in they found cancer had spread everywhere and it was so hopeless that they just sewed her back up and said she only had a few months to live. And the person said, we think you ought to come to the hospital if at all you can.
Well, I knew what my parents would want me to do in that situation, and I stayed and I preached the message that evening and as soon as the invitation was over, Amy and I got in the car and we made our way to st. Paul hospital. And I remember driving through those back roads of west Texas on the way to Dallas. I remember silently just asking God some questions. I i wasn't angry, but I was wondering. "God why in the world would you take my mom 54 years of age an effective Bible teacher here in this church a witness for Christ in the school where she taught countless teenagers one to the Lord through her ministry? Why would you take her like this"?
As I was thinking through and asking those questions I turned on the radio and the instant I turned on the radio I heard a familiar voice, a pastor reading this passage of scripture, Romans 11:33, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgements and how unfathomable his ways for who has known the mind of the Lord or who became his counselor". And in that instant, God gave me exactly the word I needed. His word grabbed hold of me and said, "Robert, I have a plan I'm working out. Even though in the darkness you can't understand what that plan is". That's what God's word will do for you. It will remind you that God is in control of everything that happens.
Secondly, God's word is valuable because it convicts us of sin. I can't tell you the number of times after a sermon somebody has come up to me and said, "Who told you"? I say, "What do you mean"? "So obviously somebody told you about my situation and you tailor made that message just for me". Well, you know the answer to that. I didn't know about their situation, but God knew about it and he was able to use his word to penetrate that individual heart. That's what God's word does.
Hebrews 4:12 again, "For God's word is alive. It's active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword piercing as far as the division of the soul and the spirit of both joints and marrow, and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart". God's word cuts through all the malarkey and gets to the heart of the matter in our life. That's the Jeffress paraphrase.