Since there's "just us" (our regulars) here tonight, I have changed my mind about which sermon to preach! I had in mind a different sermon and was hoping Mr. T----- (name of lost man we were working with) would be here. But since he's not, let's turn over to I Peter chapter 1, and I'll change my sermon at the last minute to another one I had also prepared for future use.
Turn with me to First Peter chapter 1, reading verses 23-25, which says: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth away, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
Now this, in case you don't recognize it, and I'm sure that most of you wouldn't unless you had some special reason to study this particular spot in detail, you would not realize that this is an almost exact repetition of Isaiah chapter 40, verses 6 through 8. And there are other similar statements, of course, along this same general line in the Scriptures as well, in addition to this one here in I Peter and the one from which this is quoted in Isaiah chapter 40. But the thing I want us to think about for awhile together is this: the foundation for our faith.
You know, we run into people constantly on (house to house) visitation who seem to feel as if our faith is just a sort of airy, fairy, pie-in-the-sky, dream, some day, maybe type of thing. And that is not what it is at all, is it? It is absolutely NOT that at all! It is solidly based on a firm and sound foundation, isn't it? So let's think for a little while about the foundation for our faith.
Right here is the foundation for it! (holds up Bible) --- The Word of God, that is the foundation of our faith. In fact, we could even say the only foundation for our faith is this Book! Because everything we know about Christ and about God comes from this book, doesn't it? Everything that we know comes from this book. So the Word of God is the foundation of our faith.
As we read here in I Peter 1:23-25, we see he is being very clear that we are born not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible seed, that is, the Word of God. That is what he's talking about. That is the thing by which we are born. That is what leads us to this new birth in Christ, isn't it? The Word of God. Nothing else is going to lead us there. We could read all of Jack London's famous adventure stories. It would never lead us to Christ!
We could read all of John Bunyan's good allegories and parables, most of them are quite good, and are very good religious background, and yet they would not lead us to Christ. They might encourage us as Christians if we were already saved, or if we'd already heard the gospel many times and we read certain of John Bunyan's books, it might even help point us toward Christ. But his books alone would never do it. We could get all of the books of some of these women's writers like some of the good old-fashioned ones like Louisa Alcott and various others that wrote very nice stories. We could just read all of them from now until the end of time and it would never lead us to God or to Christ. It would never bring forth the new birth in our hearts.
But he says here that all flesh is like grass or as grass and the glory of man like the flower of grass. And he emphasizes the fact that this fades away quickly. But what does he emphasize most of all in the last verse of the chapter there? "The word of the Lord endureth for ever." "And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
The gospel wherein we are born again by the Word of God --- That's what he's talking about, isn't it? He is teaching that this gospel or this Word of God is that which leads us to this new birth in Christ! The preaching of the gospel is what God uses. Paul said, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." That is in Romans 1:16. But the very foundation for the faith (and there's only one) there are not many faiths; there's only one true faith, and the very foundation for the faith is the abiding, enduring, incorruptible, eternal Word of God. That is very foundation, the very basis, and only basis for our faith, isn't it?
There are all kinds of people in the world who try to wiggle around the idea that the Word, this Word that we have here, is God's Word! I read a story one time about an infidel who was having a debate with a minister of the gospel about the question of God's Word, and about several other subjects as well. This infidel started right off in the beginning of the debate by saying that we're not going to turn to the Bible for proof because you cannot prove a thing by the thing itself. Now he said quite a bit of truth there though he mixed a lot of lie with what he said as well. He did recognize the fact that the very foundation of our faith is the Bible, this old infidel did.
But then the minister got up and replied with an example of a man who brought his sugar bowl. And he thought his sugar bowl was poisoned with cyanide. (And by the way, you know there's been some cyanide put in some medicine recently over in the USA by some lunatic). And several people were killed in that way. But this minister replied with an example. He told about a man who had thought his sugar bowl was poisoned with cyanide. And he said, "Now, how is this man going to find out if this sugar bowl is poisoned with cyanide or not?" He's going to test it by itself, isn't he? Take a sample of the sugar bowl from the sugar bowl and have it tested or analyzed. Then he will know. And the minister wanted the infidel to take the Word of God and take a sample of it and analyze it and be sure about it.
Going on, let's think now for a while about three background statements we want to make and then one in conclusion. So now you know --- we have four main points in our message this evening. But these first three things that we want to particularly mention are as follows.
In the first place, the Bible is all we know of God and true religion. You've heard me say that before in other sermons. And you'll hear me say it again if you hear me preach again. Because right here (holds up Bible) is all we can know of God and of true religion.
Anything we get from somewhere else is not necessarily truth. And unless it comes from this and agrees with this, THEN IT CERTAINLY IS NOT TRUE! When it is talking about God or true religion, unless it comes from this and agrees with this, it is NOT true! because all we know of God and of true religion is to be found between the covers of our Bible. You could make a life study of the natural world, you could philosophize endlessly about it! You could go through all kinds of philosophical studies just as many of the pagans and many of the heathens have done! You could, if you did that over a period of many years and did it sincerely and earnestly, you could learn about as much about the Creator as you would about the architect of a palace by looking at it. And that would be very little, wouldn't it?
You would not learn very much about the architect of a palace by looking at the palace. And yet that is what many of these people who philosophize all the time and try to do it some other way than to accept this as God's Word, are doing. But you could learn a few things. You would decide that the world was created by someone of vast resources. You would have to come to that conclusion just by studying the natural world. You would see the Creator had limitless resources, in fact.
Further, you would perhaps look at one of our beautiful African sunsets or our beautiful rainbows and you would decide that whoever created them must have loved things beautiful. But that is about all you would learn by looking at the natural world about the Creator!
You might think of other things about the Creator. You might imagine a few other things if you spent years in studying them. But you'd never know His name. You'd never know His character. and you would never know His personality except for His revealing Himself to us in the Bible!
Now I want you to imagine for just a minute, just for a few seconds, try to imagine what life would be if you had no knowledge whatsoever of God, no information at all about Him, no Bible on which to base any of your beliefs or your faith. In other words, you just had no faith. That's a terrible thing to even think about for a few seconds, isn't it? Because life would be completely turned around! Completely useless! As we said, all that we know of a personal God is revealed in His Word, the Bible. And all that we know of Jesus is revealed here as well. Not only all we know of the Father but all we know of Jesus of any real consequence is revealed in this book. Oh, I know we have a few sentences by Tacitus, (c. AD 56 AD 117) the Roman historian and Sutonius, (c. 69 died after 122) another Roman historian, we have just a few sentences by these men which mention or refer to Christ, but they don't really tell much about Him.
And then, of course, we've got a few words from Josephus about Jesus, a renegade Jew (37 c. A.D. 100), who became, palsy-"palsy-walsy", as we would call it, with the Roman conquerors and became a great historian. We have a few words in his writings about Jesus as well. But other than that, we don't have much! There are two or three sentences in one of Pliny's (born c. 61 AD, died c. 112 AD) letters that refer to Jesus. But there's very little information about Jesus outside the Bible. Nearly all of what we know or can know is found right here in this book.
Therefore if we're really going to come to know Jesus, that knowledge has to come from the Bible. It can't come from any other source because there's just not enough information about Jesus from any other source that one could really come to know Him without the information from the Scriptures.
All we know about salvation is what we read in this book. There's no other information about true eternal salvation that we know. Oh, I know we have this nut case Sun Yung Moon, who says he is the messiah and has come on earth to set up a great and glorious, everlasting kingdom and all kinds of rubbish that he spouts all the time. And he was just convicted for tax evasion in the United States courts recently. And about to be deported. In fact, he may have been deported by now from the United States back to Korea where he belongs. They can have him. We don't need him in the U.S. or in the Republic, do we? But all we know about salvation we read in this book.
If one asked the question, "What must I do to be saved?" That's a very important question for man. There is an inner voice, we might call it, in all men at one time or another which shows them or reveals to them that they need some help from outside themselves. I don't believe a man has ever lived who did not at some time or other, (and most men at many times during their life), have this realization that they need something from outside themselves. Whatever they may call it. But we would say, "What must I do to be saved?" That is the way we understand that feeling or that question.
But the heathen philosopher, if we let him reply to that question, or let a Hindu religionist reply, or a pseudo-scientist reply, or any of the other pagan theorists reply, you could listen to them until you're black and blue, until your ears fall off from the noise they make, and you would never, ever come to know salvation. You could listen to them forever and when you finished listening to them, you're still just as lost as ever with no hope and no light of salvation at all from them.
But Paul, of course, gave the answer in just a few simple words when the Philippian jailer asked him that question! He said: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." It didn't take him weeks and weeks, months and months, and years and years of philosophizing and still give no answer! He gave the answer in just a few words.
All we know of the future is also revealed in this book. Men do NOT know the future. And this is one of the things that men have always wanted to know --- the future. Yet men do not know the future except what we can learn from studying the prophecies of this book. Men have no other source of prophecy which is accurate and true and correct at all times, because men do not know the future themselves. However, God knows it! And He reveals it, proving the inspiration of the Scriptures!
Satan's most vicious attacks for quite some years now have been aimed at the inspiration of the Scriptures. And I believe the reason for this is because of the statement that's made in Psalms 11:3. This verse explains why Satan's most vicious attacks on the faith have been centered on the inspiration of the Scriptures, trying to deny the Scriptures or trying to water down Bible truths by all these modern translations WHICH DON'T REALLY TRANSLATE --- THEY REVISE! That is where the Devils' most serious point of attack has been --- aimed at the Scriptures. And the reason for it is because, as it says in Psalms 11:3: "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Without this we have nothing! Without this Bible we would have never known Christ! Without this we would know nothing true about God or about salvation or about God's will for us. It all comes from the book, doesn't it? So Satan is constantly trying to destroy or attack or discredit or weaken the book as much as he can.
Now let us go on a little step further. The theme of this book is amazing. You say, "Oh, I didn't know it had 'a' theme." Yes, it does! It has one main theme all the way through from Genesis to Revelation. The theme is the redemption of mankind from the fall. That is the Bible theme! Written by forty-odd men, separated by some thousands of years in the times in which they wrote the books. And yet, every word in every book agrees with every word in every other book. It was even written in different languages and in different cultures. Yet every word in every book, when rightly interpreted, agrees with every word in every other book!
But we see an amazing and astonishing unity even in the midst of all the diversity that there is in the Scripture. There is a unity in the theme, isn't there? The unity in the theme is what? That Jesus, the Savior is coming. Jesus, the Savior, is coming. And you'll find that all the way from Genesis chapter 3 to the very last chapter of Revelation, won't you? In every book you can find it if you look for it. The theme is all the way through the Bible! One tremendous theme and it goes like this, in the ancient days they would have said it like this, "There is someone who is coming." You find that in Genesis 3:15. There is someone who is coming.
Then at His incarnation the word was changed slightly but still the message was the same where it said, "Someone is come or someone has come." And then now our message is still the same the message though in slightly different words. Our message now is, "Someone is coming again." So the message is the same from Genesis 3:15 all the way to Revelation! The message is, "There is Someone who is coming, Someone has come, Someone is coming again." That is the message all the way through the Scriptures.
We call this the scarlet thread through the Bible, the redemption of mankind. That's the scarlet thread! The story of the redemption of mankind, God's plan and God's purpose for man through the ages. There is a Savior who is coming, there is a Savior who has come, there is a Lord, omnipotent who is coming again. That's the scarlet thread all the way through the Bible!
At least forty different writers, as we said already, lived over a period longer than 1,500 years. They wrote about events from eternity to eternity. Many of them did not know each other. They were separated by culture, by background and by way of life. And yet, for more than 1,500 years, forty odd writers spoke the same things, introduced the same revelation, repeated the same incomparable words, the Savior is coming, the Redeemer is coming, the Redeemer has come, the Redeemer is coming again. The same message all the way through.
In the Bible we find all kinds of interesting things. We find romance. You can't find a greater romance anywhere in literature than to read the book of Ruth. Or if you don't like that one, read the book of Esther. Two of the greatest romances ever written, the book of Ruth and the book of Esther. So in the Bible we find romance, and we find law. You get a lot of that in the book of Deuteronomy and Leviticus. We find all kinds of law. We find history and poetry. We find the only true history of the creation of the world in this book right here, in the book of Genesis.
We find all kinds of poetry in Proverbs.
And as for prophecy, about a third of the Bible is prophecy! Did you know that? About one-third of it is prophecy. And yet, some people today say, "Well, I don't like for them to talk about prophecy, I don't think anybody can understand it?" Well, what do you think God wasted one-third of the whole book on prophecy if he didn't think, if he didn't plan for us to understand at least considerable portions of it. That is silly, isn't it, to think that God would waste a third of the only book that tells us about Himself and about Jesus and about the true faith --- to think He'd waste a third of it on things we cannot understand. And yet, through all of this, even in the romance, the law, the history, the poetry, the proverbs, the prophecy; through it all we find one constant theme. And that theme is Maranatha, our Lord cometh, our Lord comes. That's the theme all the way through! Even in the books of romance, still the theme is Maranatha, the Lord is coming!
The Bible is indivisible. A lot of people like to throw away the Old Testament and say, "Well, that doesn't apply to us, let's just take the New Testament." And then you run across other people who want to say, "Well, let's just take the Old Testament, this New Testament, that's not really meant for us." But it's indivisible. It is inseparable. It is all part of the same story, the Old and the New Testament together!
When we try to divide them then we just cause problems because it's impossible to understand either fully without the other. The two of them together become comprehensible to the sincere student who is saved. But either of them alone is incomprehensible even to the sincere, saved student.
The Bible is the only book in the world that's written by true prophets. You know, we have a lot of people --- have had and still have a lot of people in the world who pretend to be prophets. But the Bible is the only place in the world where we find true prophecy and true prophets. All these other prophets are false. Like Joseph Smith, where we find perhaps the most ridiculous hodge-podge of lies that man has ever dreamed up. And he's still referred to as the prophet, Joseph Smith, or the prophet of God, Joseph Smith, by the Mormons or the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the main branches of the Mormons. And then the several other little splinters of the Mormons all recognize him as a great prophet as well.
And yet, the whole story is ridiculous. It appears that Joseph Smith took a book manuscript by a man named Solomon Spalding and mixed portions of the King James Version of the Bible with it and pretended that this was messages that were written on golden plates and that he had been given a special pair of eyeglasses to enable him to translate it from "reformed Egyptian." There is no such language, and never has been. But is said he took this manuscript of a book of fiction written by a man named Solomon Spalding back in the early 1800s (which was stolen from Solomon Spalding, by the way). Non Mormons believe Smith "acquired the manuscript in some fashion, and then he mixed in big chunks of the King James Version of the Bible. Then he pretended that it was written by people in the year 420. And yet it has huge quotations, word by word, from the King James Bible which wasn't translated until 1611. And yet, we have, as I was reading the other day, several millions of people in the world today who are following after this Joseph Smith and another man they call a prophet, Brigham Young.
And the whole thing is based on a lie from start to finish. And the most blasphemous statements that you ever read or heard may be read in their so-called holy book, the Book of Mormon, written by copying from this (lost or stolen) novel of Solomon Spalding and mixing in large sections of the King James Bible and then saying that it was written by people in the year 420. But remember, the King James Bible from which they quote in this book was only translated in 1611. But millions are still deceived by Mormonism!
The Bible is the only place in the world to find real prophets and true prophecy. No one can know the future but God. And He reveals parts of the future to us through His Word. We can study the prophecy of the Scriptures and we can learn something about the general things that are going to happen in the future, the general trend of things. We can't always find out every little detail. But we can find the general trend of things in the last days, from Daniel and Revelation, for example.
There cannot be any mistake in the things God inspired writers to prophecy because God controls the future. And since He controls the future and He inspires them what to prophecy, then there's no way it could be wrong. Because He can cause it to come to pass, just as He had them to prophesy. He brings what He said to pass, in other words!
There are a great many good Biblical examples that we could give quickly! Let us look at two or three of them. King Josiah of Judah was mentioned by name --- Now notice this! King Josiah of Judah was mentioned by name about three hundred years before his birth! Now that's real prophecy for you, isn't it? That's not one of these things like, "Well, I saw various things happening and
," it's not that kind of thing. That's recorded in I Kings 13:2 about three hundred years before he was born, yet he was called by name there.
There is another interesting example in Isaiah 45:1, where it says: "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus." What an amazing thing here. Isaiah, speaking about 750 years BC and Cyrus wasn't even born until about 550 BC and yet, he called him by name! And Isaiah told many details about what he (Cyrus) was going to do about two hundred years before the man even became king or was even born. God called Cyrus by name about two hundred years before he ever came on the scene of history and told what he was going to do. And yet, they try to tell us that this is just a hodge-podge of stuff gathered together by men, nothing to do with God, just a book that's been used to make a big organization. And, of course, the very idea the "anti-Bible, anti-God" people promote is ludicrous.
There are many other examples, but one interesting story in connection with biblical prophecy I will repeat. I mentioned this one to you once before, in another sermon. One time Alexander the Great, in one of his campaigns was drawing near to Jerusalem. He was met by the high priest and a retinue of the priests of the Jews and they showed him the prophecy of his coming over in the book of Daniel, which was written long before Alexander ever came on the scene. They showed him this prophecy over there so clearly, (prophecy of his coming), that even Alexander, an unsaved infidel, could see that it was clearly referring to him. And he spared Jerusalem. And, in fact, spared most all of the Jewish territory from his ravishing to which he subjected most of the rest of the world. Alexander spared the whole area because of this prophecy in the book of Daniel about himself. He even spared the temple. That's what they were worried about, of course. They were afraid he would destroy the temple, which was what he'd been doing just about everywhere he went. He'd go in and just wipe out everything and then build up again under his own domination, as he and his followers often did.
There are many other examples of Bible prophecy fulfilled that one could give. Micaiah's prophecy of the death of Ahab, (I preached on that a while back, a specific sermon on that particular Scripture) in I Kings chapter 22, where the story ends and says, "according to the word of the Lord." So he prophesied the death of Ahab in detail well before it ever occurred.
Again, another example, Nahum's prophecy of the destruction of Nineveh. He prophesied about it years before it occurred. And yet, it came to pass just exactly as he had prophesied. Jeremiah prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem. And long after he prophesied about it, it came exactly to pass just as he had prophesied.
Now in conclusion, let's think along these lines for a few minutes --- our present times in light of prophecy and in the light of the first and second coming of Christ. The whole life of Israel all down through the ages has been one of prophecy and its fulfillment. Their whole national life has been intimately connected with prophecy in the Bible. Various prophets such as Jeremiah and Isaiah said that God would destroy the nation. And He did. They said it long before it happened. And God did it.
Ezekiel said in 12:15 that God would scatter them among the nations and disperse them in the countries. And He certainly did that, didn't He? The prophets also said that Israel would be regathered into their land and eventually see glory as God's chosen people. And God is already now started on this project. And He will fully accomplish it. But it's obvious even now that it's beginning to come to pass --- the regathering of Israel.
When He spoke of the dispersal of the Jews, Jesus said this generation, that is, the Jews will still be here when He comes again. Now that's an interesting thing. You say, "Why would Jesus say that the Jews will still be here when He comes again?" Well, let me ask you this question, did you ever see an Ammonite? You wouldn't know one if you saw one, would you? You never saw an Ammonite! Did you ever see a Canaanite? No, you never did! You wouldn't know one if you saw one, would you? Did you ever see a Moabite, or any of these other "ites" that are talked about so much in the Scripture? You never saw any of them, did you? All you know about them is what you read in Scripture. But you've seen plenty of Jews, haven't you? In fact, we have so many Jewish people in the Johannesburg area, it's often called "Jewburg." (I don't call it that, but many do). As you know, it is very often called that. The Jews are still here just like Jesus said they will be when He comes back.
Zechariah 12:10 says this, (and I read this one to you a while back in another sermon): "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." Someday Israel will accept their Messiah! They will accept Him, they will see THE ONE, they will look upon THE ONE whom they pierced and see in Him the blessed Son of God, the Messiah whom they rejected and crucified!
Bible prophecy tells us that in the later days, there will be a move toward one great worldwide political confederation. Look around --- you can see it coming now! (This sermon was preached in 1982). You can see it coming! You may say, "Oh, well, I don't see it." Well, if you don't see it, it means you are not looking at the news, you're not reading the news, you don't know what's going on in the world, because this movement toward the one world federation or world government is certainly coming on fast! And a lot of it is done behind the scenes by financiers.
I was reading in the paper a short time ago, here in the local paper, The Star, and it said that eighty percent of all economic activity in the Republic of South Africa was controlled by eleven companies. Now this is just one of the ways they are moving toward this one-world government. They get total control of the economy, ten or fifteen big companies, in each country. And then it doesn't make much difference what the rest of us want, what the rest of us do, or anything about it, they still control it. And we have no control over anything, very little control even over our own lives, for that matter, at least from the economic and political standpoint.
Bible prophecy warns us there will be a movement in the last times toward one great ecclesiastical federation. And this has been going forward for some years! We see it today! The SACC and the WCC and the Roman Catholics all together working toward that goal, right now! They are working for a big ecclesiastical conglomeration to dominate the religious picture worldwide.
The prophets speak of the great apostasy, when men turn away from the Word of God to atheism! And we see this all around us now, don't we? As I told you before, but I'll probably tell you again, even in the land of Israel now, it has been said by people who live there that well over ninety percent of all the people there are atheists. Even in the place where Jesus walked, many are reportedly atheists!
God's prophesies are not like the prophesies of man. God's prophesies are specific. These men who try to prophesy, they always try to word it in such general or obscure wording that it can mean nearly anything. Then if anything happens, they say: "See there, I prophesied that, and it happened just like I said it would." But God's prophesies are not that way. God's prophesies are specific. There are over three hundred details given describing the coming of the Lord. Over three hundred large and small, fine-pointed details given.
In Psalms 22, there are about thirty exact descriptions of the cross of Jesus. You say, "Well, what's so amazing about that?" Well, this was written in the day when the only execution that Israel knew anything about was stoning. And yet, we have about thirty detailed points describing Roman type crucifixion of Jesus there in a time when the only execution that Israel knew was stoning. This was written about a thousand years before the time of the crucifixion, and yet the psalmist in that chapter sounds as if he's standing at the foot of the cross when he wrote it, observing and writing it down as it happens. And he had never seen such a thing in his life, he had never even heard of such a thing in his life. Such a thing had never occurred in the experience of the Jews. And yet, David sounds as if he's standing there looking on at the crucifixion of Christ as he describes this in fine detail, a thousand years before it happened.
People who refuse to receive these things, refuse to believe this is God's Word and are willingly blinded. Yes, willingly blinded! Look at the prophet in Isaiah 53:2-6. There again we have an example from many years before the crucifixion --- (750 years or more before the crucifixion). We have another fairly detailed description of the crucifixion where he says, "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."
Our Saviour suffered and died on the cross, was buried and resurrected, that ALL who come to Him in repentance and faith, believing in Him as their only means of salvation, "shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
DO YOU KNOW HIM AS YOUR SAVIOUR AND LORD!