Monday, September 19, 2011

God's Revelation, Man's Salvation

Psalm 19 - We will focus on verses 7-11, but take a quick look at the first six verses of this Psalm.

Psalm 19:1-6 – General revelation – This is God’s self-revelation that is seen in and by all of creation. 

Take a quick glance down the text:
Verse 1 – The heavens declare the works of God’s hands
Verse 2 – The day and the night speaks the knowledge of God
Verse 3-4a – Creation utters not a word, but there isn’t any place where their words have not gone.
Verse 4b-6 – The sun demonstrates the expanse of the Word of God. There is nothing hidden from its heat.

The question has been asked before: ‘What of the man who has never heard, what happens to him?’ That man does not exist. There is not a person on the planet that has not received God’s self-revelation. Romans 1:18-20. All men have true knowledge of God. Romans 1:21-23. All men have rejected true knowledge of God. Romans 1:24-31. All men have rejected true knowledge of God and have sinned. Romans 1:32. All men are condemned for rejecting true knowledge of God and for their sin.

Psalm 19:7-11 – Special Revelation – God’s self-revelation in the Word of God.

At first glance, it would seem that these verses focus on what the Word of God provides or what the effects of the Word of God are. In fact, you could preach a series of sermons from these verses on what the Word of God provides. But as I read the passage again and again, I began to realize that it is not so much about what the Word of God provides as it is what the Word of God is. The theme of the verses is a deep description of God’s special self-revelation in His Word. These characteristics of the Word of God are also characteristics of who God is. Every aspect of the Word declares to us something about God. Only when we realize that this is the theme of the text do we realize how blessed we are to hold God’s Word and experience the benefits of having God’s Word. Because of what the Word is and who God is, we can know and experience what only God can provide.

The Word of God is:

1.       Perfect – converting the soul

“perfect” – speaks of moral completeness, it is undefiled.

“The law of the Lord is perfect;” by which he means not merely the law of Moses but the doctrine of God, the whole run and rule of sacred Writ. The doctrine revealed by God he declares to be perfect, and yet David had but a very small part of the Scriptures, and if a fragment, and that the darkest and most historical portion, be perfect, what must the entire volume be? How more than perfect is the book which contains the clearest possible display of divine love, and gives us an open vision of redeeming grace. The gospel is a complete scheme or law of gracious salvation, presenting to the needy sinner everything that his terrible necessities can possibly demand. There are no redundancies and no omissions in the Word of God, and in the plan of grace; why then do men try to paint this lily and gild this refined gold? The gospel is perfect in all its parts, and perfect as a whole: it is a crime to add to it, treason to alter it, and felony to take from it.” –C. H. Spurgeon

“converting” – ‘to turn back’ to restore. In this case it speaks of the restoration of spiritual life. Notice the depth of conversion by the Word of God. Conversion is not just conversion of practice or conversion of thinking; it is conversion of the most profound part of a man—his soul.

Life is something that only God can provide. Spiritual life is something that only God can provide. Men cannot create life. Men cannot create spiritual life. Ephesians 2:1 tells us that we were dead in our trespasses and sins—lost and without hope. But Ephesians 2:1 also tells us, “And you HE MADE ALIVE.” God, in His grace, gives spiritual life to spiritually dead men. The Word of God is the source of that life. I say that because Ephesians 2:8 tells us that our salvation is through faith; and Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing the Word of God.

2.       Faithful – making wise the simple

“sure” – faithful, confirmed

“the whole of Scripture is true, coming from the God of truth; having for its principal subject Christ, who is truth itself, and being dictated by the Spirit of truth; and particularly the Gospel part of it, and all the truths therein contained, especially the doctrine of salvation by Christ, which is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation: the Gospel is a testimony of record which God himself has bore concerning his Son, and eternal life by him, and therefore sure and to be depended upon; for if the witness of men is received, the witness of God is greater,” – John Gill

“making wise the simple” - Psalm 119:130 – “The entrance of your words gives light, it gives understanding to the simple.” The word translated ‘simple’ here does not mean simple-minded. It does not mean one who doesn’t have a great mental capacity. Rather, it is used to describe someone who does not have much life experience. It describes the Christian that is new in the Lord, just taking his first steps in the faith.

Because the Word of God is sure, we can have wisdom. If followed, the Bible can make anyone wise. Even the most inexperienced child can be wise by heading the instructions that God has given. Praise God he equips even the youngest babe in Christ to live a wise life!

Commenting on James 3 concerning true wisdom, John MacArthur said “True wisdom, the wisdom that comes from above, is not a matter of how much one knows but of how much one trusts, loves, and obeys the Lord.”

Do you trust the Word that God has revealed? By trusting and obeying the Word of God, any believer can live a wise and rewarding life—even the most young and inexperienced.

Notice the progression so far: Man is converted by the Word, made wise in his practice, and now made joyful

3.       Right – rejoicing the heart

Listen to Spurgeon again: “His precepts and decrees are founded in righteousness, and are such as are right or fitted to the right reason of man. As a physician gives the right medicine, and a counselor the right advice; so does the Book of God.” C. H. Spurgeon

Continuing in the upright Word of the Lord rejoices the heart. Psalm 1:1-2 – “[Happy] is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” The way of the Lord may be a narrow way, and the way of the Lord may be a difficult way, but it is a straight way. If we just walk one foot in front of the other, we will have sure footing and sure reward for our faithfulness. Joy is experienced not from being free from trials, but from knowing and obeying that right path to walk on in the midst of those trials. Joy comes from living a life that pleases our heavenly Father.

Do you lack joy? Your lack of joy is directly proportionate to your time in the Word. If you are going through life avoiding or neglecting the Word, you will live a sour, bitter, unfulfilled life. You will not have wisdom for living and you will not have joy. The Word of God provides joy. As a son has no greater joy than to hear his father delight in his son for a job well done, so the Christian rejoices when each of us hears ‘well-done’ from our heavenly Father.

4.       Pure – enlightening the eyes

There are no defects, no flaws, and nothing missing. The word of God is pure. Think about how significant these words are. David, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, tells us that the word of God is pure. Keep in mind that he is writing this when there was very little of God’s Word recorded. David would have basically had the books of the Law, and his prayer journal. But David reveals to us that the word of God is pure. How great a truth this is! God’s word is pure in its individual parts, but how much more pure in its entirety!

Two things come to mind here. (1) On the straight and narrow path that the Lord intends for us to walk, the purity of the Word lights the way for us. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105. God’s Word reveals to us the way to go and the things to avoid. (2) I think of how a lens brings clarity. Put on a pair of glasses with the wrong prescription and you will lack clarity in your vision. But put on the right prescription and your vision will clear right up. God’s Word reveals to us a proper perspective for all of life’s circumstances. He tells us how to act and react in a way that pleases Him.

5.       Truth – by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward

The Word of God is true and righteous altogether. By truth, error is revealed. By righteousness, sin is revealed. The Bible reveals to you and warns you, Christian, the errors of your way. Thus it can prevent you from making poor choices and wrong turns in life. Secondly, the Bible reveals to you the sin in your life so that you can repent and forsake your sin.

We are a privileged people to have the Word of God. David tells us in verse 10 that the words from God are to be desired more than much fine gold and it is sweeter than honey. But with the possession of God’s specific self-revelation we also have a greater responsibility before God. You see, the men that have never heard the Word of God are held accountable for rejecting the true knowledge of God that they did have, but we are held responsible for how we respond to God’s specific words.

David understood this. He understood that he was being held responsible for the Word of God. Look at verse 12. “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” We must understand that as we look into the perfect Law of God that it shows us our sinfulness. It reveals to us even our secret faults.

James 1:21-25: “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

There is an illustration here in James. On the one hand we have a man who peers at his face in a mirror. He sees himself, walks away and forgets what he looks like. On the other hand we have a man that looks into the perfect law of liberty. The word translated ‘looks’ describes a man that is bent over looking into the Word. He searches the Scriptures to find his faults—his wickedness—to find cleansing and forgiveness. He receives the Word with meekness in order to save his soul.

David’s prayer: “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.”

David knew the effects that the Word had on his life. He knew that the Word converts the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, and warns a man. And David knew the responsibility that came with knowledge of the Word. David needed cleansing from sin. He needed a Redeemer.

Praise God we have a Redeemer in Jesus Christ. He has redeemed us by the blood his own precious blood. He paid the penalty that we could not pay. He makes it possible for our hearts to be cleansed and for our lives to be pleasing to God. Indeed, God’s revelation is our salvation.

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