Archives for January 2017

Just HOW do you know?

Slide3Have you ever heard God’s voice speaking to you?

The Blaze commissioned a poll to ask about any intriguing interactions people have with a higher power. “At least one in 10 people will say God has spoken to them, if you ask them bluntly.” Additionally, the Pew Foundation found that nearly a quarter of Americans say they have been given a direct revelation from God.[i]

And I often hear Christians toss around phrases like “God told me,” or “The Lord spoke to me,” or “God led me.” And I must admit, there are abundant cases where people claim to have heard God speak to them, some from people who are reputable Christians.

For example, there are the widely reported stories of Muslims who claim to have had visions of Jesus. In these visions Jesus speaks to them. After these visions, these Muslims, even fanatical terrorists, even Iman’s, men women and children have been converting to Christ and dedicating their lives to Jesus despite persecution, discrimination and threats of death.[ii] How can you argue with that?

On the other hand, we find that even in Scripture the occurrence of God audibly speaking to individuals is extremely rare. So what are we to think about the voices in our head? Is it God speaking? Is it the devil? Are they just my own thoughts? Or am I crazy?

If you are talking about divine revelation, let’s just settle the issue right now, there is no more Scripture being written. The age of the Apostles and prophets on which the church was founded is past (Ephesians 2:20). In Paul’s day, the Apostle said in 1 Corinthians 13 that soon “prophecies would end,” and they did. The last words of the book of Revelation warn us not to add to Scriptures.

Let me be clear; nothing that you hear today from any living man or woman is equal to the Divine Revelation of Scripture. No new revelation is being given. No new Scriptures are being written. If you hear of a prophecy, discount it. If you hear of a new word from God, avoid it. If you feel God is speaking to you, check that message against God’s Word. God will not show anything to you that contradicts what the Bible says. Divine Revelation is complete. It is finished.

However, and this is an important however, Christianity is built on the concept that the Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God. He not only witnesses with our spirit, but he leads us and guides us. At regular intervals, the New Testament tells us that God calls us and that if you hear His voice, you should respond to Him. A person who claims to be a Christian and has not experienced the reality of Jesus dealing with his heart, is a Christian in name only. Our faith is based on the direct interaction of God with the believer.

The difference between divine revelation and the guiding of the Holy Spirit however is significant. None of the guidance that you receive can be called revelation. And every time you think you hear the Spirit speaking, the Bible calls us to test those spirits to see whether or not they are from God. How do you test them? It’s not that difficult, (Isaiah 8:20) “To the law and to the testimony. If they do not speak according to this word it is because there is no light in them.”

Our primary topic today is, “how can you have unshakable confidence in God?” The answer is relatively simple: Trust God’s Word. The Objective Basis of our faith is The Word of God. The Bible tells me so. But our secondary topic is, “what about my personal or private revelations?” Our answer to topic #2 is this: see topic #1. If you think you hear his voice it must line up with the Word of God.

An important Reminder 12-15Slide4 - Copy

Be established in the truth

12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.

After reading this, it sounds like Peter had a drum that he kept on beating. If you were in Peter’s church, you might have heard this question, “What’s Peter preaching on today?” The same thing he preached yesterday! “And what is he going to preach on tomorrow?” The same thing he preached yesterday. He just kept coming back to the same old topic.

In verse 12

He promised to remind us of it always

He noted that we presently were established in it

In verse 13

He promised to remind us of it as long as he lived

Verse 15

Even after he died, he wanted to leave a reminder of it!

new-1So what was this important reminder? It is fairly simple: That they would be established in The Truth! He didn’t want them chasing some new teaching or new revelation or new fangled seminar, the drum Peter beat over and over and over again was this: Be established in the truth. Hold up the truth and the truth will hold you up! God’s Word is Truth! Trust it!

How do you find unshakable, rock solid faith? The Truth? But we might ask Peter, “How to you know that it is the truth? On what do you base it? Peter’s answer: I’ve seen it for myself.

An eyewitness account 16-18Slide6 - Copy

Not a fable or a myth

16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

Just HOW can we trust that the Bible is true? How can we trust that what the Gospels said about Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are really accurate? There have been many people over the centuries who raised these same questions.

Mark Twain once said, “The Bible has noble poetry in it… and some good morals… and upwards of a thousand lies.”

More recently Richard Dawkins, in his book, The God Delusion stated, “much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird, as you would expect of a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and ‘improved’ by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries”

Peter recognized that attacks would come. So he affirmed in verse 16, “we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Myths are fables or fairy stories dreamed up by people to illustrate life or spiritual ideals. Peter was surrounded by the ancient religions of the Romans, Greeks, Persians and Egyptians who concocted all sorts of myths about the exploits of their gods.

new-2Peter makes it perfectly clear that the records the Apostles kept about Jesus birth, life and death were not myth. How could he make that claim? Because Peter himself, and the other Apostles were eyewitnesses of His majesty. Peter was there when Jesus healed the blind man, walked on water, calmed the sea and raised the dead. And Peter was there when Jesus was transfigured before him, and Peter saw a man who was more than a mere man, He was God in all his glory! And Peter heard the Father’s audible voice from the mountain say, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased!”

Peter’s point is this: Moses received the commandments from God the Father, face to face on Mount Sinai. And the Apostles also received divine revelation from God the Father on the Mount of Transfiguration! If indeed the New Testament records of Jesus are what they say they are, the inspirited word of God, what does that mean for us?

A Divine confirmation 19-21Slide8

19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

How do you know for sure that you can trust God’s word? We have a powerful, divine, prophetic confirmation of the truth. The word “confirmed” comes from a Greek word root “βάσις basis,” from which we get our word basis, meaning “the underling foundation or support for an idea or truth, the justification or reasoning behind something.”

Just what is the basis of our faith? There are two parts to it. #1 The Old Testament Prophetic Word was recorded. #2 the New Testament fulfillment was observed by eyewitnesses. It is a simple matter to research the many prophecies about Jesus; there are over three hundred of them, each written a thousand years or more in advance. It is also a simple matter to check out the historical documents of the New Testament to see how Jesus fulfilled these prophecies.

So powerful is the idea of fulfilled prophecy to the security of our faith that Peter tells us; once you discover the truth, you would do well to heed it. It is like a bright lamp post driven into the shifting sands of the Middle east that is still shining brightly today. One thing about Christianity; we want you to check out the claims of Christ. We want you to see for yourself that they are true!

This is not a private truth

In our day of relativism, where people all over the world are claiming that their truth is a private matter, where they say things like; “what’s true for you may not be true for me.” Listen, truth is not a private matter. If it is true, it is true for all. It is impossible that two opposite ideas could both be true! If there is truth, it is universal.

20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. This means that the Word of God can never mean what it has never meant. If you have a private pet interpretation of a passage, and you are the only one to hold it, chances are, you are wrong. The Word of God has an objective, and universal meaning. That is what we should seek.

new-3The rest of this verse tells us that this also means that no prophet has ever shared his own private prophecy. All true prophecy comes from the Holy Spirit. The Prophets were godly men, expressly chosen for a peculiar work, to write the inspirited, inerrant Word of God! That is why we believe that the Bible is without error in the original manuscripts, and has complete authority about every subject recorded in it. God’s Word is Truth!

Just how do you know for sure? Simple, the truth of God’s word came from holy men, moved by the Holy Spirit, confirmed by fulfilled prophecy and that is how we know.

Now I want to close this message by warning you about the “jumping Scripture method” of interpretation. Some people read the Bible, waiting for a verse to Jump out at them and give them guidance. Let me give you an example. A married, church attending woman was also dating another man who also attended her church, and she was in a quandary. She was trying to figure out who to go with. So she prayed about it and, like a faithful Christian began to search the Scriptures. But she didn’t go any place as mundane as Exodus 20, which contains the 10 commandments, (Do not commit adultery) no she read somewhere else hoping for a scripture to jump out at her and give her guidance. Then she ran across Ephesians 4:24 which did just that; it reads, “Put on the NEW man!” And she did. Is that what the verse means? No.

Another man was caught in the same quandary. He had to choose between his wife and his lover. He was reading 1 Corinthians 1:3 which read “Grace to you!” Guess what his girlfriends name was? You guessed it.

Remember, a verse can never mean what it has never meant. If you want to know how to avoid the jumping Scripture method, in order to understand the meaning of a verse, never just read a verse; read an entire paragraph, chapter or book. For no Scripture is of any private interpretation. God will never lead you in a way that is contrary to the plain and simple truth revealed in His Word. If He’s speaking to you, His Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.