The Word of the Lord (Inspired)

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Psalm 19:7-14

INTRODUCTION: We are beginning a new series this morning on the Bible called “The Magnificent Word of God.” I had originally planned on doing a topical series where we would look at various aspects of God’s word – its inspiration, its infallibility, its authority, its everlasting nature and so on. And so I had begun looking for various Scriptures which taught these different aspects, when I suddenly realized God had already put them all together for us in one place – right here in this Psalm. Here in the second half of Psalm 19 we have a succinct summary of the wonders of God’s word packed tightly into just a few verses.

And so for the next six weeks we will be looking at each of these important aspects of the Bible as revealed to us in God’s word. We will use Psalm 19 as our home base but then explore other Scriptures as well to learn more about this wonderful book that God has given to us – the magnificent word of God. (Read Psalm 19:7-14 and pray.)

You hold in your hand the most amazing book ever written. Did you know it’s a bestseller? It’s not only a bestseller; it is the bestseller in the history of the world. It is the most translated, printed, purchased and distributed book in all of history. Among all the books of the world it is absolutely unique. You cannot even compare it to other books, because it is a completely different kind of book. It is the magnificent, amazing, incomparable, unique and only word of God. And you are holding it right there in your hand! How amazing is that!

This morning we are beginning our series from Psalm 19 on the magnificent word of God. And so today I want us to look at three things together. 1) The Bible is a magnificent book. 2) Psalm 19 is a magnificent Psalm. And then finally, 3) the Bible is God’s inspired word.

I. The Bible is a magnificent book.

First of all, the Bible is a magnificent book. There is no other book like it in the history of the world. There are other religious books and other books that claim to be from God, but only the Bible is God’s inspired, infallible, authoritative word.

   A. The Bible is a unified book:
      – 66 books, 36 writers, 16 centuries > one message (Jesus!)

The Bible is a unified book, which is an amazing thing when you look at its history. The Bible is actually a compilation of 66 different books, written by 36 different writers, over a span of 16 centuries. The first part of the Bible, the Old Testament, was written mostly in Hebrew whereas the second part, the New Testament, was written in Greek. The Bible incorporates a wide variety of styles including historical narrative, law, prophecy and poetry. And yet despite the diversity of authors, styles, languages, historical periods and cultures, the Bible presents one unified message: God’s salvation of the world through Jesus Christ his Son. The Old Testament sets the stage for Christ’s coming; the gospels present Jesus’ life and teachings; and then the rest of the New Testament explains what it all means to us. The Bible is a unified book: 66 books, 36 writers, 16 centuries, and yet one message, which is Jesus!

   B. The Bible is a prophetic book:
      – fulfilled prophecies > individuals, Israel, nations, Christ

The Bible is not only a unified book; it is a prophetic book. The Bible contains hundreds of prophecies, many of which have already been fulfilled, some which will be fulfilled in the future. And these prophecies are not of the vague, fill-in-the-blank type that we get in the papers at the beginning of each New Year. You know the type: “Sometime, somewhere this year, there will be a major earthquake. Or perhaps it’s a hurricane. Or some other type of disaster.” And then when something, anything happens, people say, “Wow! They predicted the future!”

No, the Bible is very specific in its prophecies. For example, there are over three hundred prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament, all of which were specifically fulfilled by Jesus. These prophecies are extremely specific and detailed, including his virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), the place of his birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), his line of descent through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David (Genesis 12:3, 17:19, 49:10; Numbers 24:17; 2 Samuel 7:12-13), his betrayal by a friend (Psalm 41:9), the thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13 ), his crucifixion (Psalm 22:16), and his resurrection (Psalm 16:10). And that’s only a few of the prophecies; there are over three hundred more!

And that’s just the prophecies about Jesus! The Bible also presents prophecies about specific individuals, about the nation of Israel, and about many other nations as well. And in keeping with its unified message, all these prophecies come together culminating in one person – Jesus Christ: the Messiah of Israel, the light unto the Gentiles, the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

   C. The Bible is a life-changing book:

So the Bible is a unified book. The Bible is a prophetic book. And then, thirdly, the Bible is a life-changing book. Countless individuals and families have been changed by reading this book. The Bible has brought hope and salvation to those who were in distress and despair. The Bible has had a major influence on laws and society wherever it has spread. It has had a major influence on the arts and culture wherever it is read. It is a fact that you cannot accurately tell the history of the world apart from the Bible and its influence.

This is not some dusty history book to remain on your bookshelf. This book has power like no other. It’s a game-changer, a society-changer, a life-changer. The Bible is a unified book; it is a prophetic book; it is a life-changing book. So that’s our first point this morning – the Bible is a magnificent book.

II. Psalm 19 is a magnificent Psalm.

Secondly, Psalm 19 is a magnificent psalm. Not only that, it is a magnificent psalm about God’s magnificent book! It is a psalm about the Bible.

Psalm 19 is a psalm of David, and generally considered one of the wisdom psalms. C. S. Lewis wrote about it: “I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.” C. S. Lewis was not only a writer; he was also an Oxford professor, a respected literary critic and an accomplished poet himself, so this is pretty high praise.

Psalm 19 is a psalm about God’s revelation and how God reveals himself to us. It divides into two parts.

   A. Verses 1-6 > God’s glory as revealed in creation
      – see also: Romans 1:20

The first part, found in verses 1-6, speaks of God’s glory as revealed in creation. We read in verse one: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1)

This is a general revelation of God’s glory as found in creation. This is a revelation that is open to all, for we all witness God’s amazing creation everyday of our lives. God has created all things, and his creation testifies to his power, wisdom, intelligence, his love for beauty and many other things as well. We read about this in Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

   B. Verses 7-14 > God’s will as revealed in Scripture
      – law, statutes, precepts, commands, ordinances (fear)

General revelation is sufficient to teach us that there is a God and even some things about his nature. However, general revelation is not enough to teach us about God’s will and the means God has provided for our salvation. For that we need special revelation, and so the second part of the psalm, verses 7-14, speaks of God’s will as revealed in Scripture, that is God’s written word.

And in speaking of God’s written word, David uses a variety of terms: law, statutes, precepts, commands, and ordinances. He also uses the word “fear” in verse 9, and we’ll talk more about that when we get to that section. But what I want you to see right now is the variety of terms David uses for Scripture, and then the qualities he attaches to them. If we take all these verses together, we learn that God’s word is inspired (7-14), it is infallible (7), it is authoritative (8), it is everlasting (9), it is priceless (10-11) and it is sanctifying (12-14). And so these six qualities make up the six parts of our series on God’s word.

   1) Psalm 19:7-14 The Word of the Lord (Inspired)
   2) Psalm 19:7 Trustworthy and True (Infallible)
   3) Psalm 19:8 Radiant and Right (Authoritative)
   4) Psalm 19:9 Sure and Pure (Everlasting)
   5) Psalm 19:10-11 More Precious than Gold (Priceless)
   6) Psalm 19:12-14 A Prayer to be Pleasing to God (Sanctifying)

III. The Bible is God’s inspired word
   – Note the repeated phrase: “of the Lord” (Psalm 19:7-9)

Today I want us to focus on the first of these terms, the fact that the Bible is God’s inspired word. Did you notice that repeated phrase “of the Lord” in verses 7-9? The Bible is not simply any old law, statutes, precepts, commands and ordinances. It is the law of the Lord, the statutes of the Lord, the precepts of the Lord, the commands of the Lord, the ordinances of the Lord. In other words, it comes from God. It is God’s inspired word.

So what do we mean when we say that the Bible is God’s inspired word? Let me share with you three things that will help you to understand this better.

   A. “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16)
      – see also: Exodus 24:4; Job 23:12; Matthew 4:4

First of all, we mean that all scripture is God-breathed. Look at 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) or as other translations have it, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” (NASB)

Notice that it is the words of Scripture themselves that are inspired, not simply the authors. When we talk about the Bible as God’s inspired word, we do not mean that God inspired some people a long time ago to write some great things. No, it is not the authors who are inspired; it is the very words of Scripture that are inspired.

Paul says they are “God-breathed.” The word “breathed” brings up images of the mouth and lips and speaking. So when we say that Scripture is God-breathed, we mean that it literally comes from the mouth of God. When we read the Bible, we are not reading the words of men but the very word of God.

Of course we see this testified to all throughout the Bible. We read in Exodus 24: “Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.” (Exodus 24:4) We read in Job 23: “I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12) Or we can look at what Jesus said about Scripture in Matthew 4:4: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

All Scripture is God-breathed. The whole Bible is God’s word. I like the way the Puritan Thomas Watson put it. He wrote: “The two Testaments are the two lips by which God has spoken to us.” Another person has said: “The Bible is the only book whose author is always present when one reads it!” Have you ever thought about that? The Bible is God’s word, and he is there with you when you read it.

   B. “Men spoke from God by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
      – see also: Zechariah 7:12; Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16; 1 Peter 1:10-12

Someone might object: “But wasn’t the Bible written down by men? How then could it be God’s word?” Which leads us to our second point about the inspiration of Scripture: Men spoke from God by the Holy Spirit. God didn’t just drop the Bible fully written from heaven, but he used people to bring it about.

The apostle Peter writes in 2 Peter 1: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) And so, yes, human authors were involved in the writing of Scripture, but no Scripture ever came about by the person’s own interpretation. Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The word translated “carried along” is a word that was used of ships being carried along by the wind, and it makes for a very apt illustration of how God inspired his word. Picture a number of different boats at different starting points but all carried along by the same wind to one island. In the same way the Scripture was written by different men with different personalities from different cultures living in different centuries, but they were all carried along by the same Spirit to one island, the solid rock of God’s truth.

Once again, we see the Spirit’s role in the inspiration of Scripture all the way through the Bible. We read in Zechariah 7: “They … would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets.” (Zechariah 7:12) We read in Acts 1:16: “The Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David.” (Acts 1:16) Or again in 1 Peter 1: “Concerning this salvation, the prophets … searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” (1 Peter 1:10-11) Jesus also testified to the work of the Holy Spirit in Scripture. In Mark 12 he spoke about David and the Scripture this way: “David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit . . .” (Mark 12:36)

The Bible was inspired by God but written by men. How? Through the power of the Holy Spirit. Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

   C. What Scripture says, God says:
      – see Matthew 1:22-23, 19:4-5; Acts 4:25; Hebrews 1:1

What do we mean when we say the Bible is God’s inspired word? 1) All Scripture is God-breathed. 2) Men spoke from God by the Holy Spirit. And then finally, 3) What Scripture says, God says.

When you read the New Testament, if you look closely you find a fascinating pattern. Again and again we find passages in the New Testament in which God is said to speak words which in the Old Testament are attributed to Scripture. What Scriptures says, God says.

For example, we read in Matthew 1: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child . . .” (Matthew 1:22-23) Matthew tells us that it is God who said that, but when you go back to the Old Testament you find he is quoting Isaiah from Isaiah 7:14. What Scripture says, God says.

Or in Matthew 19 Jesus says this: “The Creator… said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother.’” (Matthew 19:4-5) Jesus tells us that it is God who spoke these words, yet when you go back to the Old Testament you find he is simply quoting from Genesis 2:24. Once again, what Scripture says, God says.

Or you could turn to Acts 4 where Peter prays to God: “You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage?’” (Acts 4:25) These are David’s words from Psalm 2:1, and yet Peter attributes them to God. The book of Hebrews especially views God as speaking in and through Scripture. In fact Hebrews 1:1 refers to the entire Old Testament revelation simply as “God spoke.” And so we find this same principle in the Bible over and over again: what Scripture says, God says.

The Bible is God’s inspired word. All Scripture is God-breathed. Men spoke from God by the Holy Spirit. What Scripture says, God says.

CONCLUSION: There is no book like the Bible. God has given us this amazing resource for our lives, and yet sadly we often neglect it to our own detriment. Chuck Colson once commented: “The family Bible is more often used to adorn coffee tables or press flowers than it is to feed souls and discipline lives.”

The Bible is a unified book with a single message about Jesus Christ. The Bible is a prophetic book which authenticates itself through fulfilled prophecy. The Bible is a life-changing book that has changed countless lives and families and has the power to change yours as well. The Bible is God’s inspired word that reveals to us his will and his ways. Most importantly it teaches us the way of salvation through faith in Jesus who died on the cross for our sins.

I can think of no better way to end this message than with these words from Thomas Watson, whom we quoted earlier today. Watson writes these words of encouragement:

“Oh, then, search the Scriptures! …There is no danger in plucking from this tree of Holy Scripture; if we do not eat of this tree of knowledge, we shall surely die … Read the Bible with reverence. Think in every line you read that God is speaking to you … Read with seriousness … affection … not only as a history, but as a love letter sent you from God, which may affect your hearts. Pray that the same Spirit that wrote the Word may assist you in reading it; that God’s Spirit would show you the wonderful things of his law.” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity)

The Bible is God’s magnificent book to us. It is inspired, infallible, authoritative, everlasting, priceless and sanctifying. Let us read it, believe it, study it, treasure it and obey.

© Ray Fowler

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