“The Knife that Cuts” – 2 Chronicles 34 (see also: 2 Kings 22:1-23:16)

April 14th, 2013

2 Chronicles 34 (see also: 2 Kings 22:1-23:16)  

“The Knife that Cuts”

 Download Mp3

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  This is the one I esteem, says the Lord: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. — Isaiah 66:2b

 

Background Information:

  • About one hundred years separated Hezekiah’s restoration from Josiah’s.  Neither was more than a momentary arrest of the strong tide running in the opposite direction; and Josiah’s was too near the edge of the cataract to last, or to avert the plunge.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 267)
  • Josiah was but a boy, and yet around him were spiritual Titans–Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Jeremiah.  (Joseph S. Exell, The Biblical Illustrator, 2 Chronicles, 156)
  • (v. 1) A child eight years old, who had been lifted on to the throne of a murdered father, must have had a strong will and a love of goodness to have resisted the corrupting influences of royalty in a land full of idols.  Here again we see that, great as may be the power of circumstances, they do not determine character; for it is always open to us either to determine whether we yield to them or resist them.  The prevailing idolatry influenced the boy, but it influenced him to hate it with all his heart.  So out of the nettle danger we may pluck the flower safety.  The men who have smitten down some evil institution have generally been brought up so as to feel its full force.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 258)
  • (v. 1) Josiah takes the throne in Judah when he is only eight years old.  Then, when he turns sixteen, he begins to seek the Lord with all his heart.  By the time he is twenty years old, he is purging the land of all the false worship that his grandfather, Manasseh, had started.  Jeremiah’s ministry begins in Josiah’s thirteenth year as king, when Josiah is twenty-one years old, and continues some forty-one years–into the Babylonian captivity.  Josiah is the fulfillment of a prophecy from 300 years earlier (1 Kgs 13:1-2), when God calls Josiah by name (2 Chr 34:1-7).  (Dr. Tremper Longman, Quicknotes, 1 Chr Thru Job, 100)
  • (v. 2) Josiah is the only king about whom the Chronicler added that he did not turn to the right or to the left (34:1).  This description is a traditional way of describing fidelity to the Law of God (see Dt 17:20; 28:14; Josh 1:7; 1 Sm 6:12).  This general outlook, however, must be balanced by Josiah’s failure in battle (34:20-24//2 Kgs 23:29-30).  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 475)
  • (v. 3) Josiah began to seek God at age 16 in the 8th year of his reign, a time when he would still probably be under the tutelage of regents.  Though his personal piety may have begun to stir at that time, he did not initiate acts of reform until his 12th year at age 20; this would be the age of his majority (Nm 1:3; 26:2; 1 Chr 27:23; 25:5) and presumably then also the first year of his sole reign no longer under the authority of a regent.  (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 278)
  • (v. 3) The age of twenty was the age of majority in Hebrew culture and, more than coincidentally for the Chronicler, the age when the Levite began his service to Yahweh (cf. Nm 1:3; 1 Chr 23:24).  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 618)
  • (v. 4) Josiah executed the false priests following the examples of Jehu (2 Kgs 10:11) and Jehoiada (23:17//2 Kgs 11:18).  The apostate priests of Josiah’s day were subject to severe punishment for leading the people of Judah astray (Dt 13:1-5).  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 477)
  • (vss. 4-7) The reform begins in Jerusalem and Judah, with the removal of the high places, altars, and sacred poles.  These Josiah not merely disassembles, but destroys, grinding them to powder.  He also puts to death the priests and worshipers of these illicit shrines (34:4-5; compare 2 Kgs 23:6, 14-16).  Then, the reform moves north, to “the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, and as far as Naphtali” (34:6).  Like Hezekiah, Josiah includes the north in his reforms.  However, while Hezekiah could only invite the northerners to participate, Josiah carries his reform to them, going himself deep into the territory of the former northern kingdom, and establishing his authority over it.  By the time Josiah returns to his capital, all Israel has been purged (34:7).

Historically, Josiah was able to reassert control over the north because of the rapid dissolution of the Assyrian empire.  An alliance of Nabopolassar of Babylon and Cyaxeres of Media began taking apart the remnants of the empire in 616 B.C.; by 612 B.C. Ninevah, the capital of the Assyrian empire, had fallen (see the prophecies of Nahum, which date to this time).  Long before this, however, the western part of the empire would have been left to fend for itself.  Josiah was free to assert his independence, and to reunite David’s divided kingdom once more.  (Steven S. Tuell, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Chr, 235-36)

  • (vss. 8ff) It should be noted again that the Temple was at the center of Josiah’s revival.  It was as the people were repairing the Temple that they discovered the law.  As the Temple once protected the house of David (2 Chr 22:10-12), so not it protected the law of Moses.  The Temple had preserved from destruction the two foundational pillars of Israel’s faith, the law and the king.  It also served as the rallying point of Israel’s faith in the coming Messiah.  (John Sailhamer, Everyman’s Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 111)
  • (v. 10) The Chronicler omitted 2 Kgs 22:7 which indicates that no auditing was necessary because of the honesty of these supervisors.  While accounting may not have been necessary at that time, the Chronicler apparently did not want to suggest that this practice be imitated in his day.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 480)
  • (v. 14) Think of what this event tells us about the faithlessness of God’s people during the reigns of Manasseh and Amon; a great portion of God’s Word had been entirely lost!  The famine of God’s Word that had been predicted by Amos had come to pass (Amos 8:11).  Some have aptly named this judgment “the awful silence of God.”  It was more than being a matter of the people’s unwillingness to hear what God had to say.  They had even lost all knowledge of the Book of the Law’s existence (v. 14).  Some have ventured the opinion that the book Hilkiah discovered was the book of Deuteronomy, basing this idea on the striking parallels between King Josiah’s reforms and the content of that book.  Others maintain it was the entire Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, the first five books of our own Bible.  It doesn’t matter either way.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 399-400)
  • (v. 14) We can only speculate as to why the law scroll disappeared from the collection of Hebrew religious documents.  Was it suppressed, or lost, or hidden?  Presumably the scroll fell out of circulation because of the need to hide it for the sake of preservation at the threat of military invasion (e.g., the Assyrian campaign against Hezekiah); or else it was censored by rulers and/or concealed by the priests during one of the lapses of Israel into religous apostasy (e.g., the reigns of Athaliah, Ahaz, Amon, Manasseh).  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 621)
  • (v. 22) Huldah the Prophetess.–Why did the chief priest not consult the very numerous male prophets in Jerusalem?  We would like to know more about Huldah, but never shall.  What we do know is fine–she refused to countenance wishful thinking (vss 24-25), but she encouraged the young king to believe that his good intentions would not be in vain (vss 26-28).  Little did Josiah and Hilkiah and Huldah realize that four miles distant from Jerusalem a lad was growing up who, through suffering, would be led to see deeper into the heart of truth than any man who had yet lived–Jeremiah of Anathoth.  (Abingdon Press, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol. 3, 540)
  • (v. 22) In the ninth century, Asa had had the counsel of Azariah (15:1-8), and Jehoshaphat that of no fewer than four other men of God (18:7; 19:2; 20:14, 37).  In the eighth century, Uzziah had benefitted from the instruction and friendship of Zechariah (26:5), and his great-grandson Hezekiah from those of Isaiah (32:20).  Now here, where there is for once a king who actually, unlike most of his predecessors, seeks a word from the Lord without waiting for the word to come and find him, God has his servant ready: Huldah the prophetess.  (Michael Wilcock, The Message of Chr, 266)
  • (v. 25) The prophetess said, “they have forsaken [God]” (34:25a).  To “forsake” is to become disloyal to the Lord and to seek help either in human strength or other gods.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 486)
  • (v. 28) There is some question as to Huldah’s pronouncement of a peaceful burial for Josiah (34:28a), given his violent death in battle against the Egyptians.  We should note, however, that Josiah is promised a peaceful burial, not death, and this honor is accorded to him (35:24).  Beyond this, the assurance that Josiah will not see the disaster of the Babylonian exile is another way in which the king ends his life peacefully, comparatively speaking.  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 622)
  • (v. 28) Josiah did not live to see the destruction of Jerusalem (34:28), but his death at the hands of Neco scarcely seems like going to the grave in peace.  Many have treated this as a literary critical problem: an old and reliable oracle prior to the events of 609 B.C. was later supplemented with a vaticinium ex eventu after 609 B.C.; cf.J. Priest, “Huldah’s Oracle,” 366-68.  However, it will not suffice to suggest that Huldah’s original prophecy was unfulfilled or in error.  This would have been anathema to the compilers of Kings who repeatedly use the fulfillment of prophetic pronouncements to confirm the efficacy of the prophetic word (Dt 18:14-22); it is hardly probable that such a lapse could escape editorial excision in Kings, much less also survive the Chronicler.  A more natural understanding does not require literary critical effort.  The compilers of Kings and Chronicles apparently understood the first half of Huldah’s prophecy (going to his grave in peace) as defined by the second half (not seeing the destruction of Jerusalem).  (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 281-82)
  • (v. 33) Historically Assyria was growing weaker as an imperial power from the 630s onward and was increasingly beset with problems inside and outside its empire.  Consequently it lost control of the western parts, where Egypt gradually took its place.  By the late 630s and early 620s Egypt was in control of the coastal highway of Palestine and Syria.  There may well have been a political vacuum sufficient for Josiah to exercise some control over the mountainous hinterland, specifically part of the northern territory of Israel, as the reform account implies (v 6).  (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 425)

 

AUTHORITY = The right to impose obligations.   (R.C. Sproul)

 

The question to be answered is . . . Why does the Chronicler make such a big deal about Josiah when it seems apparent that the people of Israel really were not wholeheartedly on board with Josiah’s reforms?

 

Answer: Because Josiah demonstrates the most important step in returning to a former glory.  We must fear the Lord, honor His Word and repent in light of our disobedience and rebellion.   If this fails to take place, there can be no restoration, rebuilding, revitalization, or renewal.  That was the problem with the Judah in Josiah’s day, post-exilic Judaism and it remains our problem in 21st century American Christianity.

 

The word for the day is . . . Authority

 

What does 2 Chronicles 34 teach us about the importance of knowing God’s Word?:

 

 

I.  Josiah’s heart and fear of God attempted to set Judah straight though lacking the Word of God. (2 Chr 34:1-13)

 

“The last words of the verse are accordingly to be interpreted as signifying that Josiah, so long as he lived, allowed no open idolatry, but externally maintained the worship of Jahve.   These measures could not effect a real, heartfelt conversion to God, and so the people fell again into open idolatry immediately after Josiah’s death; and Jeremiah continually complains of the defection and corruption of Judah and Israel: cf. Chap. Xi., xiii., xxv., etc.” (Keil & Delitzsch Vol.3;  495)

 

Josiah is the only person in Scripture who “turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might” (2 Kgs 23:25; see Dt 6:5).  (Steven S. Tuell, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Chr, 234)

 

He knew the way his flock must go, but the flock had other ideas.  It is this that accounts for Jeremiah’s coolness towards the religious movement of Josiah’s day.  The king himself he respects, as we have seen.  But his reforms might as well never have happened, for all the notice they receive from the prophet.  Is the godless Judah we read about in the realy chapters of Jeremiah the same nation that is supposed to have been brought back to God here in 2 Chr 34 and 35?  I look with new eyes at 34:2: “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left”, though he trod that path practically alone.  He was a shepherd whose flock never really accepted or understood him, though his concern was for its own welfare, and though that concern was not only sincere and active but also instructed and right.  He foreshadows the greatest Shepherd-King of all, who came to his own, and his own received him not, but who nevertheless loved them to the end and completed the work he had come to do for them.  (Michael Wilcock, The Message of Chr, 270)

 

“Seeking” the Lord is one of the Chronicler’s regular ways of describing an attitude of humility and devotion to God.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 475)

 

II.  The discovery of The Word informed them of their past and current offenses before God.  (2 Chr 34:14-18)

 

He attributed to the book the absolute authority of the Word of God, and he applied its message to himself.  “He tore his robes” in grief and anguish (v 19).  He knew very well that God’s people had broken the covenant (v 21).  There was no fig leaf of human righteousness to hide behind.  The only thing left for a nation that had proven to be so stubborn and persistent in its rebellion was “a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Heb 10:27).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 401)

 

Through his law God measures us and finds us wanting.  He makes us nothing, teaching us to humble ourselves before him in heartfelt repentance.  Before God, the ultimate measure of all people is how they hear and heed God’s Word.  King Josiah humbly heard God’s message and then sent some of the top men in his kingdom on a delegation to the prophetess Huldah, in order to find out from her what the Lord’s intentions were toward “the remnant in Israel and Judah” (v 21).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 401)

 

III.  God’s Word has authority over Josiah which leads to godly repentance and temporarily suspends God’s judgment. (2 Chr 34:19-33)

 

“Instead of resting content with the fact that he was promised deliverance from the approaching judgment, Josiah did everything that was in his power to lead the whole nation to true conversion to the Lord, and thereby avert as far as possible that threatened curse of rejection, since the Lord in His word had promised forgiveness and mercy to the penitent.”  (Keil & Delitzsch Vol.3;  Page 482)

 

Huldah tells them God will spare Josiah; however, judgment is still coming for the nation–God is not convinced that their hearts are sincere.  Jeremiah describes Judah’s reform as pretense rather than wholehearted repentance (Jer 3:10).  God rebukes Judah for her false loyalty (Jer 7:8).  The temple and the rituals of faith have become a false mask for the people’s true convictions (2 Chr 34:23-28).  Instead of giving up in the face of coming judgment, Josiah leads the people by giving them the Word of God and being an example to them (34:29-33).  (Dr. Tremper Longman, Quicknotes, 1 Chr Thru Job, 100)

 

Once more, the central theme of Chronicles is made plain: “If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever” (1 Chr 28:9).  Josiah, who has spent his whole young life seeking, has found God, revealed in God’s word.

However, finding God can be a disturbing experience!  When the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord in his call vision, he also experienced a profound sense of his own defilement (Isa 6:5).  Simon Peter, discovering that the rabbi Jesus was indeed divine, cried out, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Lk 5:8).  So also, Josiah finds himself and his kingdom (which in Chronicles consists explicitly of “those who are left in Israel and in Judah”) judged and condemned in the words of this law, so that he tears his robes in mourning and despair (34:19-21//2Kgs 22:11-13).  If indeed Josiah’s law book was a form of Deuteronomy, Josiah’s despair may have been prompted by the truly horrifying covenant curses in Dt 28:15-68.  (Steven S. Tuell, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Chr, 237)

 

Josiah, however, is untypical in that he actually seeks out a prophetic interpretation of events.  Among spiritual people, there is a difference between a general consciousness of the standards and demands of God and an urgent quest for his work here and now, for today.  It is this urgency which is usually attended by strength of faith, a firmness of purpose and a clarity of vision in the Christian life.

The tenor of Huldah’s words (vv 23ff.) is that a judgment will fall on Judah because of her chronic sinfulness.  Because of Josiah’s eager submission to God, however, it will not come during his reign (vv 27f.).  Josiah’s response to this word is far from complacent.  (Contrast Hezekiah’s reaction to a similar prophecy recorded in 2 Kgs 20:16-19).  On the contrary, he gathers Judah for a great act of covenant renewal, determined that the people shall be worthy of the mercy received.  Such a spirit is precisely that which the NT also regards as genuinely spiritual (cf. Rom 5:18-6:4).  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 257-58)

 

In a context where reform is going well, the text surprisingly reports that Josiah heard the words of the Law and tore his robes (34:19).  Huldah later referred to this act as an aspect of Josiah’s sincere contrition (see 34:27).  Throughout Scriptures heart-felt repentance expressed itself by the tearing of clothing (see 1 Kgs 21:27; Isa 36:22; 37:1) and other similar physical actions (see Ezra 9:3; Job 1:20; Jon 3:6).  Josiah’s reaction demonstrated the depth of his commitment to the Law of God, a motif that appears frequently in Chronicles.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 484)

 

 

CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: What does this message have to do with Christ and me?:

 

                There are three uses of the Law and commandments of God:

 

 

• First—to restrain us from complete selfishness and violence, which would result in anarchy and constant war (1 Timothy 1:8-10)

• Second—to bring us to repentance and faith in Christ, by showing us how we fall short of God’s glory and need His forgiving mercy (Romans 3:19-20; 7:13; see also Deuteronomy 27:26; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 3:10-12)

• Third—to guide us in the daily life of faith, by showing us what God expects of us as moral creatures (Psalm 1; 19:11-14; 119:9-105; Hebrews 4:11-13) (Foundations of a Living Faith: The Catechism of the Free Methodist Church, 41-42)

 

 

 

A-  God’s Word reveals God’s character and agenda as well as the depravity of our own and the world’s.  (Ps 119; Rom 2:12-27; 3:19-21; 5:20; 7:1-14; Acts 17:11; 1 Cor 15:56; Gal 3:24; Heb 4:12)

 

The genuineness of Josiah’s repentance is not in question.  But what about the repentance of his people?  We notice that the universal joy–a characteristic of Hezekiah’s reformation–is missing.  The people apparently did what they did because they had to.  As Jeremiah once said of them, the name of the Lord was on their lips but not in their hearts (Jer 12:2).  Their worship, for the most part, was an act of pretense (Jer 3:10).  This is not to say that no one listened.  Certainly the Levites were enthusiastic participants during Josiah’s Passover, at which time Josiah’s high officials also showed their faith by willingly contributing a great number of sacrificial animals.  There’s no need to label their offerings a sham.  But those two groups were merely exceptions to the rule, and the prophet’s overall assessment remains unchanged.  In spite of the response of some, the people’s repentance was only skin deep and not one that engaged their hearts and minds.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 405-06)

 

In the book of Jeremiah, there is a stirring passage in which the prophet mirrors in his own life the actions of Josiah here.  Jeremiah is told by the Lord to stand before the people, read the terms of the covenant, and urge them on towards heartfelt obedience (Jer 11:1-7).  But it is all hopeless.  The people pay no attention (Jer 11:7).  The single, solitary voice of assent is that of the prophet himself saying, “Amen, LORD” (Jer 11:5).  The sad truth is that the Word of God can be rejected, and though there will always be a remnant of the faithful wherever God’s means of grace are in use, many in the visible church are merely hypocrites, going through the motions for the sake of propriety.  Once, at a dark and frustrating time in his own reformation, Luther remarked, “I can get no farther than [the people’s] ears; their heart I cannot reach.”  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 406)

 

The book had been lost before it was found.  For how long we do not know, but the fact that it had been so carelessly kept is eloquent of the indifference of priests and kings, its appointed guardians.  Lawbreakers have a direct interest in getting rid of law-books, just as shopkeepers who use short yardsticks and light weights are not anxious the standards should be easily accessible.  If we do not make God’s law our guide, we shall wish to put it out of sight, that it may not be our accuser.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 268)

 

If a man will give God’s Word a fair hearing, and be honest with himself, it will bring him to his knees.  No man rightly uses God’s law who is not convinced by it of his sin, and impelled to that self-abased sorrow of which the rent royal robes were the passionate expression.  Josiah was wise when he did not turn his thoughts to other people’s sins, but began with his own, even whilst he included others.  The first function of the law is to arouse the knowledge of sin, as Paul profoundly teaches.  Without that penitent knowledge religion is superficial, and reformation merely external.  Unless we “abhor ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes,” Scripture has not done its work on us, and all our reading of it is in vain.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 266)

 

The Law is a moral mirror.  A person looking into it sees himself as he really is in God’s eyes.  Yet the Law can no more change a person than a face mirror can make a person clean.  One can look in a mirror to see the dirt on his face, but he can’t wash his face with it.  That’s not the mirror’s purpose.  So it is with the Law.  It reveals man’s sinfulness, but it cannot make him clean.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Romans, 74)

 

If you feel as though God’s Spirit and God’s Word is tearing you apart from time to time . . . GOOD!   That means that God’s Spirit has begun His work in You.  The Bible calls this a contrite heart

 

My advice to Sunday Schools, no matter what their denomination, is:  Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives.  To the influence of this Book, are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this must we look as our guide in the future.  Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.  -Ulysses S. Grant

 

That admonition was not seen as inappropriate, since nineteen years earlier the National Teachers Association, the forerunner of the NEA, had adopted a resolution declaring, “The Bible should not only be studied, venerated and honored as a classic for all ages, peoples, and languages. . . but devotionally read, and its precepts inculcated in all the common schools of the land.” (Lyle E. Schaller ; The Seven-Day-a-Week Church,  158-59)

 

One thing the Bible makes abundantly clear is that human beings with a stake in their self-centered lives are experts in fooling themselves. ( D. James Kennedy; What Is God Like?, 73)

 

The whole inspiration of our civilization springs from the teaching of Christ and the lessons of the prophets.  To read the Bible for these fundamentals is a necessity of American life.  -Herbert Hoover.  -Christian heritage

 

Fight truth decay – study the Bible daily.

 

“Every thinking man, when he thinks, realizes that the teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally–I do not mean figuratively, but literally–impossible for us to figure what that loss would be if these teachings were removed.  We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals; all the standards towards which we, with more or less of resolution, strive to raise ourselves.”  -Theodore Roosevelt (Adrian Daily Telegram, 5/2/02)

 

True repentance only begins when one passes out of what the Bible sees as self-deception (cf. Jas 1:22, 26; 1 Jn 1:8) and modern counselors call denial, into what the Bible calls conviction of sin  (Cf. Jn 16:8).    (J. I. Packer; Rediscovering Holiness, 123-24 )

 

It is impossible to righteously govern the world without God and the Bible. — George Washington.

 

That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests. — Andrew Jackson.

 

The N.T. is the very best book that was or ever will be known in the world. — Charles Dickens.

 

Within the covers of one single book, the Bible, are all the answers to all the problems that face us today—if only we would read and believe. — Ronald Reagan.

 

Never let good books take the place of the Bible. Drink from the Well, not from the streams that flow from the Well.  — Amy Carmichael.

 

I said that every Discipline has its corresponding freedom.  What freedom corresponds to submission?  It is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way.  The obsession to demand that things go the way we want them to go is one of the greatest bondages in human society today.  People will spend weeks, months, even years in a perpetual stew because some little thing did not go as they wished.  (Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 111)

 

B-  High esteem for God’s Word leads to renewal and restoration whereas rebellion against God’s authority ALWAYS results to a disaster, either in the present or future. ( Dt 30:19-20; 32:47; Josh 1:8;  1 Kgs 18:21; Ps 1; 19:7-11; Isa 66:1-2; Amos 8:11-12; Zech 1:1-6; Mt 6:19-33; Jn 17:17; 2 Tm 3:15-17 )

 

The discovery reminds us that the true basis of all religious reform is the Word of God.  Josiah had began to restore the Temple, but he did not know till he heard the Law read how great the task was which he had taken in hand.  That recovered book gave impulse and direction to his efforts.  The nearest parallel is the rediscovery of the Bible in the 16th century, or, if we may take one incident as a symbol of the whole, Luther’s finding the dusty Latin Bible among the neglected convent books.  The only reformation for an effete or secularized church is in its return to the Bible.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 264-65)

 

While Joash would remain faithful only so long as Jehoiada lived (24:2, 15-18), Josiah never turned from following the LORD to the right or left (34:2), and “for the duration of his life they did not turn from following Yahweh” (34:33).  No foreign army would invade Judah in his day (34:24-25, 28; contrast 24:23-24).

For the Chronicler’s audience the instruction regarding exile and restoration could not be missed.  Josiah’s faithfulness forestalled the disaster that would come on Jerusalem (34:28).  Faithfulness was ever the path to enjoying the blessing of God.  (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 282)

 

In summary Ezra says of the Israelites under Josiah that “as long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the LORD.”  Yet the testimony of Jeremiah, who actively supported the king’s reform (Jer 11:1-5), shows that for many this “following” may have consisted more in external compliance than in commitment from the heart (11:9-13).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 552)

 

When parents allow their kids to argue about every order or assignment, there is an authority problem in the family–and it doesn’t necessarily belong to the children.  There are plenty of parents who either have refused to accept the authority that goes with having children or have not realized they are supposed to take it.

During the sixties all authority came under question, and today we are living with the consequences.  Although respect for authority died three decades ago, authority itself did not.  The world is still set up in such a manner that God, as Creator, has authority over it, and He has given parents authority over their children so they will learn respect and obedience from a loving source.

Children know instinctively that someone has to be in control, and they figure “Why not me?”  When a parent stumbles at all in this area, questioning even for a moment his or her own authority, children jump at the chance to step in and take over.  If this happens regularly, the parents may as well say, “Look, being the authority is too much trouble, so whenever it’s easier for me, you can be your own authority.”  One of the many problems with this scenario is that the child is somehow supposed to read the parent’s mind and know who’s in charge of every different situation.  This, of course, is impossible and leads to the kind of scene we see so often in public places: parents begging for obedience. (Jay Kesler; Raising Responsible Kids, pgs.19-20)

 

The Heidelberg Catechism has this to say about submitting to authority.

104 Q.  What is God’s will for you in the fifth commandment?

A.  That I honor, love, and be loyal to my father and mother and all those in authority over me; that I obey and submit to them, as is proper, when they correct and punish me; (Ex 21:17; Prov 1:8; 4:1; Rom 13:1-2; Eph 5:21-22; 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-4:1) and also that I be patient with their failings (Prov 20:20; 23:22; 1 Pet 2:18)–for through them God chooses to rule us (Matt 22:211; Rom 13:1-8; Eph 6:1-9; Col 3:18-21). (The Heidelberg Catechism, 58)

 

Stand on the Word of God and you won’t fall into error.

 

There is also a link between repentance and the knowledge of the truth, without which none can be saved.  Paul advised Timothy to be “kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25).   (Robert Roberts; Repentance, 70)

 

As life became easier and diversions more plentiful, men are less willing to accept the authority of their clergy and less willing to worship a demanding God, a God who dictates how one should live and puts a great many bodily and psychological pleasures off limits. (Robert H. Bork; Slouching Towards Gomorrah, 281)

 

Bibles that are falling apart usually belong to people who are not.

 

“Youth today love luxury.  They have bad manners, contempt for authority, no respect for older people, and talk nonsense when they should be working.  Young people do not stand up any longer when adults enter the room.   They contradict their parents, talk too much in company, guzzle their food, lay their legs on table and tyrannize their elders.” — Socrates 500 BC

 

There can never be a true revival unless it comes in God’s way.  And it will never come except through the continued declaration, “It is written.”  There is in our day a neo-orthodoxy which is in reality a pseudo-orthodoxy because there is the attempt to establish the truth of some of the Christian doctrines without the underlying foundation of the authority of the Word of God.  All such attempts are building upon the sand.  The rock of the Scriptures must be the basis for all doctrine or there is no truth.  (Donald Grey Barnhouse, Man’s Ruin, God’s Wrath, 209)

 

Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.  And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of Him (Proverbs 2, 3).  Every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein.  (Harvard 1636 Student Guidelines)

 

All the scholars are required to live a religious and blameless life according to the rules of God’s Word, diligently reading the Holy Scriptures, that fountain of Divine light and truth, and constantly attending all the duties of religion.  (Yale 1787 Student Guidelines)

 

American society is awash in relativism.

What is the basis for law if there is no absolute truth?  The basis is whoever has the majority–rule by the 51 percent.  Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that “law is the majority vote of that nation that could lick all others.”  Pure pragmatism.

The inevitable result is tyranny, drawn into the vacuum of moral chaos.  If authority cannot be established among people by their shared assumptions, by their agreement about the meaning of life, then it will be imposed on them from the top.  As William Penn said, “If we are not governed by God, we will be governed by tyrants.”

When truth retreats, tyranny advances.  (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 292)

 

C-  We should always repent and submit to God’s Word (2 Chr 7:14; Ps chps 1 & 119; Lk 8:21; 11:28; Rom 7:14-25 )

 

If people are not governed by internal values, they must be governed by external force.  Take away the Bibles that direct a nation’s soul, and the government will bring out the bayonets.  (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 194)

 

Needless to say, this view of human reason contradicts the biblical point of view as it has been explained in previous lessons.  The fall of man involved the entirety of man; all aspects of his personality were corrupted by sin.  As a result, reason is not the judge of truth; only God can act as such a judge.  Moreover, sin has so affected mankind that even rational abilities are not neutral.  Christians seek to use their reason in dependence on God.  Non-Christians seek to be independent in their thinking; there is no neutral ground on which to deal with unbelief.  Human reason can be as much a hindrance as a help to faith in Christ.  As St. Augustine once said, “Believe that you may understand.”  To rest our faith on independent reason is to rebel against God.  Reason must rest on our faith commitment to Christ and our faith must rest on God alone.  (Richard L. Pratt, Jr.; Every Thought Captive A Study manual for the Defense of Christian Truth,  74)

 

Christians, like everyone else in today’s economy, are consumers, but they dare not apply consumer values to God.  Notice the implications of the phrase “church shopping.”  Surely, shopping for a church in the same way we shop for a major appliance is dangerous.  Instead of looking for a church that teaches the Word of God, we sometimes look for a church that “fills our needs.”   The church does not exist to provide members “services”; rather, it should challenge its members to engage in “service” to God and to their fellow human beings.   When we think like consumers, we put ourselves first, picking and choosing what best corresponds to our desires.   Christianity is a matter of truth, of submission to a Holy, righteous God whose authority over us is absolute and who in no way is subject to our consumer preferences.  Christianity must not be tainted with consumerism.     (Gene Veith; Postmodern Times, 119)

 

Biblical authority must never depend on human verification for it is the unquestionable Word of God.

The problem with much of the popular tactics used by many defenders of the faith today may be summed up as a problem of authority.  The apologist must see clearly that the nonChristian is in need of forsaking his commitment to independence and should turn in fait to the authority of Christ.  If however, trust in Christ is founded on logical consistency, historical evidence, scientific arguments, etc., then Christ is yet to be received as the ultimate authority.  The various foundations are more authoritative than Christ himself. . . . if beliefs in Christian truth comes only after the claims of Christ are run through the verification machine of independent human judgment, then human judgment is still thought to be the ultimate authority. (Richard L. Pratt, Jr.; Every Thought Captive A Study manual for the Defense of Christian Truth, 79-80)

 

“Wilful sin reveal a very bad state or frame of heart.  It indicates that men have lost, in a great measure, the sense of God’s authority and the awe of His judgement, and therefore, such sins are the more heinous and offensive to God.  As Christ explained, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin” (John 15:22).  The coming in of so much light made their sin inexcusable and took away all pleas and pretenses that they had to excuse or cover it before.”  (Robert Roberts; Sanctify the Congregation; 125)

 

This is how we tend to look at life nowadays.  The weaker the sense of a structured universe in which human beings have to play out their lives, the less likely it is that they will bear in mind obligations to any authority outside of themselves.   If the role of a human being is inevitably played out in an environment which is a random aggregate of fragmentarinesses, he or she will clearly have to find meaning and pattern within his or her own being.  One reason for the decay in our time of respect for authority, of the sense of obligation to principles and codes, is precisely this loss of any sense of an earthly scene in which there is design and purpose, in which things may hang together irrespective of your participation or my participation in experiencing them.      (Harry Blamires; Recovering the Christian Mind, 157-58)

 

Stanley Hauerwas, a professor of religion at Duke University, explains what’s happening in education.  Public schools treat ethics as a matter of individual decision making, he says.  The goal in moral education is to teach students how to make up their own minds.

The trouble is, Hauerwas says, is that, “most students don’t have minds worth making up.”

Hauerwas does not mean that as an insult.  He merely means that most students have not had their minds trained by confrontation with the great principles of truth and justice expounded through centuries of Western culture.  Students have been told that all they have to do is look within, judge their own feelings, choose what “feels right” to them.

The result is people who approach ethics as though it were a consumer choice—who insist that they are free to choose between, say, a Sony or a General Electric radio.

. . . The implicit message to youngsters is that junior knows best.  Making up their own minds implicitly means rejecting the teachings of their homes and churches.   In fact, ethical maturity is actually defined in educational theory as the autonomous individual making his own choice.  Any external authority is suspect.  If you listen to anything outside your own feelings, you are not truly mature, independent, and autonomous.   (Chuck Colson, A Dance with Deception, 30-31)

 

George Bernard Shaw, about 50 years ago, wrote that the average person today is about as credulous as was the average person in the Middle Ages.  In the Middle Ages, people believed in the authority of their religion, no matter what.  Today, we believe in the authority of our science, no matter what.  (Neil Postman; Technopoly, 57)

 

We have reached the turn of the century and the post-Christian society isn’t working.  It’s as simple as that.  But nobody is going to say so.  Nobody’s going to admit it.  Why?  Because erotic passion is assumed to be a stroke of destiny that overtakes people, overwhelms them in an irresistible tide of wholly admirable mutual devotion.  That is the post-Christian estimate of erotic love.  It is a god.  It has its own authority.  No man or woman of sincerity and generosity can resist it.  There is no freedom of choice in relation to it.  In comparison to its power and authority, the claims of growing children count for nothing.  As for the husband or the wife from whom the new partner is being detached, they too must peaceably accept the inevitability of their loved ones’ surrender to the destiny that has claimed them.  (Harry Blamires; The Post-Christian Mind, 52)

 

Their own authority, these critics tell us, is not the Scriptures, but the Lord Himself.  Now this sounds very impressive and very imposing at first, as if they were but stating that for which we are ourselves are contending.  It sounds as if it were a highly spiritual position until, again, you begin to examine it carefully.  The obvious questions to put to those who make such statements are these: ‘How do you know the Lord?  What do you know about the Lord, apart from the Scriptures?  Where do you find Him?  How do you know that what you seem to have experienced concerning Him is not a figment of your own imagination, or not the product of some abnormal psychological state, or not the work perchance of some occult power or evil spirit?’  It sounds all very impressive and imposing when they say, ‘I go directly to the Lord Himself.’  But we must face the vital question concerning the basis of our knowledge of the Lord, our certainty with respect even to His authority, and how we are to come into practical possession of it.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Authority, 36)

 

Reason is not God and possesses no such authority.  Its judgments are based on the tenuous, sinful, and subjective pre-suppositions of a creature and are neither grounded in being or in truth.  Reason can only establish a connection with being and truth insofar as it rests, not on its own mythical authority, but on God and His Word.  (Rousas J. Rushdoony, By What Standard?, 14)

 

You need to allow Scripture to trump your feelings

You need to allow Scripture to trump your reason

You need to allow Scripture to trump your experience

 

“Whatever pretenses men make of thankfulness for the Word of God, however they speak of it as a privilege to have light and the means of grace, if they do not yield obedience to the light and conform themselves to the commands of it, they are practically unthankful and do in effect cast it behind their backs (Nehemiah 9:26).  (Roberts; Sanctify the Congregation, 127)

 

This, then, is the essence of sin; man’s rebellion against recognizing his dependence on God in everything and the assumption of his ability to be independent of God. (Richard L. Pratt Jr.; Every Thought Captive A Study manual for the Defense of Christian Truth, 29)

 

The truth is that Christian thinking does not focus on human rights but on human duties.   The connotation of the concept “right” points back to the individual.  The connotation of the concept “duty” points outward from the individual to some authority claiming recognition.  But, of course, if there is no overall authority transcending that of the civil power, then the concept of “duty” cannot be brought into play except within the sphere of civic and legal obligations.  That being so, it is interesting to observe how the concept of “duty” has all but disappeared from modern thinking.  We prefer the concept of “responsibility” which puts us in charge of things, to the concept of “duty”, which points to authority outside and above ourselves.  (Harry Blamires; The Post-Christian Mind, 26)

 

Do you have a God that can tell you to change your mind?   Can God argue with you?  (Matthew 6 and Hebrews 12:5)

 

Does the truth come at you?   Does God’s Word argue with you?   Does the truth comfort you?  Jesus is the final prophet.   Jesus is the truth in a person   – Tim Keller

 

Why are the rebellion and disobedience like the sin of the divination? Divination is seeking to know what to do in a way that ignores the word and counsel of God. It discounts the guidance and revelation of God, or regards them as wrong or insufficient. And that is exactly what disobedience is based on . God says one thing, and we say, “I think that I will consult another source of wisdom.” In the case of divination the added source of wisdom is a medium of some sort. But most often in the case of disobedience the added source of wisdom is simply oneself! Disobedience of God’s word puts my own wisdom in the place of wisdom. What does it say about your doctor if he writes the prescription for three pills a day and you decide to take them once a day? It says that you put yourself above your doctor. You distrust his skill and competence and good will. It is a great insult, and he could not take pleasure it that – and you won’t get well. (John Piper, The Pleasure of God, 247)

 

The Spirit of God

Lead the People of God

To Submit to the Word of God

 

D-  Ultimately, God’s Word drives us to seek Christ and His grace and mercy as there is no other hope. (Rom 5:20; 7:1-25; Gal 2:19; 3:10-25; 1 Tm 1:7-8)

Covenant renewal for ancient Israel was repairing or restoring a relationship with God broken because of their willful violation of the stipulations regulating the relationship.  Repentance or humbling oneself is the first step in renewing a covenant relationship with God, as King David well knew (cf. Ps 51:17).  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 623)

 

“Some people claim they are troubled by parts of the Bible that they do not understand.  What troubles me is the parts of the Bible that I understand only too well.”  —Mark Twain

 

The LAW only tells us what not to do.   The LAW in no way equips us to follow it.  — Steve Brown

 

Satan would have us define ourselves as holy by the Law, when God gave us the law to define us as sinners.    — Heard on Insight for Living 9-9-98

 

The law was given to drive us to Christ.  But if we do not know His Law, the Law cannot do its job to bring us to repentance and thus drive us to Christ.

 

Don’t criticize the Bible; let the Bible criticize you.

 

The Bible does not need to be re-written, but re-read.

 

Sin will keep you from the Bible but the Bible will keep you from sin.

 

“To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end itself, to approach Bible study with no higher motive than to desire to know all the answers, is the direct rout to a state of self-satisfied self-deception.  We need to guard our hearts against such an attitude, and pray to be kept from it.”   (J. I. Packer; Knowing God, 17)

 

Man does not establish authority; he acknowledges it.  This is the proper procedure, though seldom observed.  Man wants to acknowledge only that authority which he himself establishes or at the least gives consent to.  All other authority is offensive to his sense of autonomy and ultimacy.  As a result, the claims of Scripture are particularly offensive to the natural man, because so much is involved in the admission of their truth.

To recognize the claims of Scripture is to accept creaturehood and the fact of the fall.  The fall necessitates an infallible Saviour and an infallible Scripture as Van Til has shown.  Moreover, the concept of the infallible Word involves and requires the idea of God’s complete control over history.  This means that God is self-contained and ultimate, controlling all reality, with all reality revelational of Him, knowing all things exhaustively because He controls completely.  To accept fully the concept of the infallible Word is to claim all facts for God and to insist that reality can only be interpreted in terms of Him and His Word.  This runs counter to the natural man’s claim to be the pont of reference and the source of ultimate interpretation of factuality.  But it is this sin of man which makes Scripture necessary.  Scripture speaks to man with authority, and with sufficiency, that is, as a completed Word.  It speaks with perspicuity, clearly and simply telling man who he is, what the nature of his sin is, what his remedy is and where it is to be found.  The attributes of Scripture are thus necessity, authority, perspicuity and sufficiency.  (Rousas J. Rushdoony, By What Standard?, 145)

 

The law by itself kills off any hope of rightness and righteousness through human ability and effort, but it kindles hope in God ever brighter as we walk in the law through Christ in us the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).  (Dallas Willard; Renovation of the Heart, 214-15)

 

Gipsy Smith told of a man who said he had received no inspiration from the Bible although he had “gone through it several times.” “Let it go through you once,” replied Smith, “then you will tell a different story!” .

 

“To realize that the Bible is narrow (“these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ”) is to make it deep — like a well dug down and down until it refreshes all those who draw from it for every task of life.  To pursue the Bible, as it reveals God-in-human-flesh, is to find not just Christ but the world that Christ created, the humanity that he joined, and the beauty that he embodied in himself.”  (Mark Noll; The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,  250-51)

 

You were not created to be a law follower.  You were created to love and the Law is simply a guide, a rule to assist you to know how to love and how to define love.

 

The faith will totter if the authority of Scripture loses its hold on men. — St. Augustine

 

Thus, as the law taught us what God is like, it also taught us what sin is.  The tyranny of the law was that it offered no option but to try to be like God through our own efforts.  (John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, 431)

 

The law which itself reveals the pattern of good works should drive us to Christ.  Christ is the point of the law; Christ is the goal of the law; Christ is the meaning of the law.  So if you try to follow and obey the law, but avoid Christ, you have missed the whole point of the law.  (R. C. Sproul, The Gospel of God: Romans, 178)

 

Jews were to see their inability to keep the Law and, because of this, look to the Messiah all the more.  God designed the Law this way.  Moreover, even if by some miracle a Jew was able to keep EVERY SINGLE tenet of the Law, he would likely still fail in one—his attitude.  The Law, after all, creates a horrible “Catch-22” almost by necessity.  The better you “keep” the Law, the more you think yourself basically “good” and the less you humble yourself before God.  You quickly become self-righteous and prideful.  Thus, though you may be able to keep many outward tenets of the Law (as the Pharisees did), your motivation for doing so would have shifted from love of God to love of self.  All the outward piety in the world cannot cover a sick and twisted heart. Period. — Chris Scripter

 

Paul’s righteousness based on the Law brought him into direct conflict with the Truth.  He was a persecutor of true worshipers, as is everyone who tries to live by the Law.  Just as Cain could not tolerate Abel, those who seek to stand by their own righteousness find the presence of those who stand by faith in Jesus intolerable.  The righteousness of God, based completely on the atonement of the cross, strips away facades and lays bare the pride of man.  The cross is the greatest threat to man’s self-centeredness.  Paul testified to the Philippians that to know Christ he had to give up everything that he was.  When he perceived the righteousness of Jesus, he counted everything that he had so valued in life as rubbish (Phil 3:2-9).  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 23)

 

E-  Only Christ has perfectly submitted Himself to the Father and thus perfectly obeyed God’s laws.  Jesus is the ONLY hope we have for being reconciled to God and it is HIS Spirit living within us that gives us the power and motivation to tremble at His Word like Josiah and begin to live as those created in the image of God.  (Mt 3:15; 5:17-18; Lk 22:37; 24:44; Acts 3:12-20; 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 8:1-16; 10:4-5Gal 2:15-3:25; 5:22-23; Eph 4:17-32; Phil 3:8-10; Heb 4:15)

 

The largely positive reign of Josiah (641-609 BC) follows the terrible downfall in Amon’s day.  As such, Josiah served as another model of fidelity.  Nevertheless, later in his life Josiah failed to be faithful to God’s command and suffered the judgment of defeat and death.  As a result, Josiah’s reign also warned the Chronicler’s post-exilic readers to continue in faithful service to God.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 472)

 

Bible study by itself will not produce spirituality.  In fact, it will produce carnality if it isn’t applied and practiced. — Gene Getz

Puritan author, Samuel Bolton, “The law sends us to the Gospel, that we may be justified, and the Gospel sends us to the law again to enquire what is our duty in being justified.”  The Law informs us of what God requires and the Spirit empowers us as we fulfill our duty. (Alister Begg; Pathway to Freedom)

 

The Law is a guide.  Your salvation is in Christ.  Therefore there is no room for pride, self-confidence or self-righteousness.  All have failed miserably under the Law.  (Eph 2:8-9)  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

 

Jesus did not come to John to confess and repent of his own sins, of which he had none.  He came to make himself one with those who did submit to the rite in order to fulfill all that the Law required.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. One, 123-24)

 

Love Constraining to Obedience    by William Cowper

Chorus: To see the Law by Christ fulfilled,
To hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child
And duty into choice.

 

The law cannot condemn a believer, for Christ hath fulfilled it for him; divine justice cannot condemn him, for that Christ hath satisfied; his sins cannot condemn him, for they in the blood of Christ are pardoned; and his own conscience, upon righteous grounds, cannot condemn him, because Christ, that is greater than his conscience, hath acquitted him. (Thomas Brooks; Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by, 143)

 

I am a firm believer in the Divine teaching, perfect example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  I believe also in the Holy Scripture as the revealed Word of God to the world for its enlightenment and salvation. — Rutherford B. Hayes

 

The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin. — A.W. Tozer.

 

If you are a follower of Christ, then you must have within you a deep desire to want to love and obey God’s Word because that is what drove Jesus.  Constantly, Jesus refers to his actions as being what His father told him to do or Jesus does what he does so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.   How can you say you follow Christ and contradict the very principle upon which his life was based . . .  To fulfill the Scriptures.  You cannot call yourself a Christian and do less than read, obey and love God’s Word. Otherwise, to call yourself a Christian and to live contrary to what we have just said, is to make a mockery of Jesus.   – Tim Keller on tape on Acts 3

 

Spiritual Challenge: Know God’s Word.  Know the consequences of disobedience. Give God’s Word the proper honor and authority it deserves. Begin to understand God’s heart and mind and will.  You will soon discover that we tick God off a whole lot more than we will ever realize and yet He continues to love us and be patient with us anyway.   His love endures forever.  And His ways are better as well as higher than our ways.

 

The absence of authority in much contemporary preaching is directly attributable to the absence of confidence in the authority of the Bible.  Once biblical authority is undermined and eroded, preaching becomes a pretense.  The preacher stands to offer religious advice on the basis of the latest secular learning and the “spirituality” of the day.  The dust of death covers thousands of pulpits across the land.

But when the bible’s authority is recognized and honored, the pulpit stands as a summons to hear and obey the word of God.  True worship takes place when the authority of the bible is rightly honored and the preaching of the word is understood to be the event whereby God speaks to his people through his word, by the human instrumentality of his servants–the preachers.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 118)

 

Worship point: When you study God’s Word and realize just how far short we have fallen from His standards, and how corrupt and depraved this world is without His Word; you will worship Him in light of His justice, wisdom, knowledge, grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience and love for us. 

 

 

God is everywhere. However, He does not want you to reach out for Him everywhere but only in the Word. Reach out for it and you will grasp Him aright. Otherwise you are tempting God and setting up idolatry. That is why He has established a certain method for us. This teaches us how and where we are to look for Him and find Him, namely, in the Word. — Martin Luther.

 

To worship God is also to bow before his absolute, ultimate authority.  We adore not only his power, but also his holy word.  Psalm 19 praises God first for revealing himself in his mighty acts of creation and providence (vv. 1-6) and then for the perfection of his law (vv. 7-11).  When we enter his presence, overwhelmed by his majesty and power, how can we ignore what he is saying to us?  So, in worship we hear the reading and exposition of the Scriptures (see Acts 15:21; 1 Tm 4:13; Col 4:16; 1 Thes 5:27; Acts 20:7; 2 Tm 4:2).  God wants us to be doers of that word, not hearers only (Rom 2:13; Jas 1:22-25; 4:11).  (John M. Frame, Worship in Spirit and Truth, 4)

 

Scripture itself condemns worship that is based only on human ideas: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men” (Isa. 29:13).  This word of God through Isaiah was repeated by Jesus in Matthew 15:8-9 and Mark 7:6-7.  Paul in Colossians 2:23 condemns “self-imposed worship,” worship unauthorized by God.  (John M. Frame, Worship in Spirit and Truth, 39)

 

There is no room for invention in the Christian faith.  The majestic religious ideas that we are capable of putting together and the intricate ways of salvation we are able to construct are less than worthless-they are detrimental for true religion and true spirituality.  To be a Christian means that a person voluntarily limits his religious thinking to the Bible’s material and voluntarily allows the Bible to function critically with respect to all of his religious experience. (Samuel T. Logan, Jr. The Preacher and Preaching, 49)

 

. . . . the authority of the Bible is no longer recognized.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Revival, p 14)

 

Hollowness is the disintegrative disease of weightlessness brought on by our crisis of cultural authority.(Os Guinness; Fit Bodies Fat Minds, 93)

Quotes to Note:

Briefly one may sum up the clash between the Christian mind and the secular mind thus.  Secularism asserts the opinionated self as the only judge of truth.  Christianity imposes the given divine revelation as the final touchstone of truth.

The marks of truth as Christianly conceived, then, are: that it is supernaturally grounded, not developed within nature; that is it objective and not subjective; that it is a revelation and not a construction; that it is discovered by inquiry and not elected by a majority vote; that it is authoritative and not a matter of personal choice.   (Harry Blamires; The Christian Mind, 107)

 

A dusty Bible leads to a dirty life.

 

Christ:

The law fulfilled

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply