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Sermon #2324 — Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: What do the Scriptures say?
Text: Isaiah 8:20
Subject: Gospel Doctrine
Date: Saturday Morning — April 8, 2017
Hurricane Road Grace Church,
We go back a long, long way together. The first time I preached to this congregation was 41 years ago, 1976. I was 26 years old. I have watched you, many of you, grow up, raise your children, see your grandchildren born. I have watched over, prayed for, and preached the gospel to you, rejoiced with you, and wept with you. You have been faithful, loving friends to me and my family for 41 years. We go back a long, long way together. That makes this church family very special to me. I’ve said that to you because I want you to know that I’ve asked God to give me a message for you, especially and particularly for you. And I believe he has done so.
I want you to open your Bibles to the 8th chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy. In this chapter (vv. 11-16) Isaiah gives every prophet and preacher the instructions God gave him as his prophet. — Standing in this pulpit to speak to you in the name of God, as God’s ambassador, it is my responsibility to faithfully deliver to you the Word of God without addition, without subtraction, without adornment. With simplicity and plainness of speech, I am responsible under God to give you his Word. In verse 16 we read God’s command to every preacher.
(Isaiah 8:16) “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.”
That is my responsibility. I am here to “bind up the testimony” of God, the Triune Jehovah, to his people given in this Book. The Testimony” is the Word of God. It is the Word he had given to his prophet, particularly the Word he had just given Isaiah concerning the Person and work of his dear Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (7:14; 8:14-15).
(Isaiah 7:14) “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
(Isaiah 8:14-15) “And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (15) And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.”
The Testimony of God is the gospel of Christ (2 Timothy 1:8-12).
(2 Timothy 1:8-12) “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; (9) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. (12) For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
The preacher is responsible to “bind up the testimony” as something indescribably valuable, taking great care that no part of it be neglected or lost. By diligent study, prayer, and preparation, he is to bind it up in his own heart and mind like a priceless treasure.
Then he must, by his preaching “seal the law among my disciples.” —— “The law” here does not refer to the Ten Commandments, or to the ceremonial Law of Moses, but to the whole Word of God. It is the whole doctrine of Christ. It is the responsibility of every gospel preacher to establish God’s saints in the doctrine of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-14; 2 Timothy 4:1-4).
(Ephesians 4:11-14) “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
(2 Timothy 4:1-4) “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; (2) Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (4) And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Standing before eternity bound sinners, speaking in the name of God, as I now do, it is my responsibility to deliver to you the Word of God. When I do, I claim for myself the right to be heard. I do not preach without preparation. I do not give out leftover, rehashed sermons. And I do not simply repeat that which I have heard someone else say, or something I have copied out of a book.
When I come to the pulpit to preach the gospel, what I preach to you in forty-five minutes is the result of many hours of labor in study and prayer, labor spent for your soul. That gives me the right to be heard. But that does not give me the right to be believed, obeyed, and followed. I do not claim for myself a right to blind loyalty and allegiance. No man, no matter how sincere he may appear to be, myself included, is to be given unqualified allegiance (Read 1 John 4:1). It is your responsibility to try what I say by the Word of God (Isaiah 8:20). — “To the Law and to the Testimony” (to the Doctrine of Christ revealed in the Testimony of God given in the Book of Holy Scripture) “if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is not light in them!” — Let’s read Isaiah 8:11-20.
(Isaiah 8:11-20) “For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people (The Babylonians and Those who Follow Them), saying, (12) Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. (13) Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. (14) And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (15) And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. (16) Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. (17) And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. (18) Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. (19) And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead? (20) To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
Compare Galatians 1:6-8.
(Galatians 1:6-8) “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: (7) Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
I have come here this hour “to bind up the testimony” and “seal the law,” to bind a precious treasure the, Testimony of God, so that nothing be lost, and to seal the Law, the Doctrine of Christ to you. And I believe God the Holy Spirit has given me the message to do it, if he will speak by me this hour to your hearts.
The Word of God alone is our only rule of faith and practice. We believe what God has caused to be written in the Book of Inspiration, nothing more and nothing less. So, with regard to every matter of controversy by which Satan seeks to divide the church of God, if the Word of God addresses the issue in question, it is not a matter of controversy at all. What do the Scriptures say about the matter? That settles the controversy. — “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
Here are some common matters of controversy, about which religious zealots draw swords and go to war with faithful men, “speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). But they are not matters of controversy at all. In fact, every matter of vital importance, every point of gospel truth is plainly stated in Holy Scripture exactly as we assert in the preaching of the gospel.
I want to raise some questions. As I do, I will give you the answer to each question in the very words of Holy Scripture. These are things so plainly revealed in Holy Scripture that I have been preaching them since I was 17 years old. And I preach them today just as I did 50 years ago.
1. Is God really God, in absolute control of all things all the time, always doing his will, or does he just want to be God? What do the Scriptures say? — “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).
(Isaiah 45:1-25) “Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; (2) I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: (3) And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. (4) For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. (5) I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: (6) That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. (7) I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (8) Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. (9) Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? (10) Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth? (11) Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. (12) I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. (13) I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts. (14) Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God. (15) Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. (16) They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols. (17) But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end. (18) For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. (19) I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. (20) Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. (21) Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. (22) Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (23) I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (24) Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. (25) In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.”
2. Is the God of the Bible one Triune God with three distinct persons? What do the Scriptures say?
(1 John 5:7) “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
3. Does God rule and dispose of all things according to his absolute decree of predestination, or are all things without order? What do the Scriptures say? — (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:33-36)
(Ephesians 1:3-11) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (8) Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; (9) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”
(Ephesians 1:12-14) “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
(Romans 11:33-36) “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (34) For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (35) Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? (36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
4. Does God love all people? What do the Scriptures say? — “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13).
5. Did God choose some to salvation before the world began? What do the Scriptures say? — “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
`Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be.
This heart would still refuse Thee,
Hadst Thou not chosen me.
My heart owns none before Thee,
For Thy rich grace I thirst,
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Hou must have loved me first!
6. Is the man, Jesus of Nazareth, really, truly, and fully God, or was he merely a representative of God and like God? What do the Scriptures say? — (John 1:14; Colossians 2:9-10).
(John 1:1-3) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
(John 1:14) “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
(Acts 20:28) “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
(Colossians 2:9-10 ) “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”
7. Did the Lord Jesus Christ die for all men, or for his elect alone? What do the Scriptures say? — “For the transgression of my people was he stricken” (Isaiah 53:8). — “I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep!” — “I am the Good Shepherd…I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:11, 14-15).
8. Was Christ really made sin for his chosen when he died at Calvary, or did God just treat him as though he had been made sin? What do the Scriptures say? — “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
(2 Corinthians 5:17-21) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
9. Did Christ actually accomplish redemption for his elect by the shedding of his blood, or did he merely make redemption possible? What do the Scriptures say? — “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13).
Justice cannot be set aside; but, blessed be our God forever, it has been satisfied by Jesus Christ crucified!
10. Is salvation determined by the will of man or by the will of God? What do the Scriptures say? — “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Romans 9:16).
11. Are God’s elect actually made the righteousness of God in Christ, or does God just pretend that we are righteous? What do the Scriptures say? — (Romans 5:19)
(Romans 5:12-21) “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (13) (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (15) But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (16) And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. (17) For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) (18) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (19) For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (20) Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 1:30) “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
(2 Corinthians 5:21) “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
12. Are sinners really made partakers of the divine nature by the new birth? What do the Scriptures say? — “His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
The new birth is nothing less than the life of God in the soul of man.
13. Does the heaven born soul have in him two warring natures, the old nature of fallen Adam and the new nature of Christ, the old nature of flesh and the new nature of the Spirit? What do the Scriptures say? — “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:17). You have in you the old man; and, if you are born of God, you have in you “the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 1:27; 1 John 3:1-10).
14. Are God’s people sanctified (made holy) by their works, or are we sanctified (made holy) by God? What do the Scriptures say? — “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ…For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:10-14).
15. Are God’s people free from the law in Christ, or is there some sense in which we are yet under the law? What do the Scriptures say? — (Romans 6:14-15).
(Romans 6:11-15) “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. (13) Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (15) What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
16. Is eternal life unconditional or is it conditional? What do the Scriptures say? — “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:26-30).
17. Is it really true that God saves sinners by faith alone? What do the Scriptures say? — “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Faith in Christ is God’s gift and God’s operation. You must believe on the Son of God. You must trust the Lord Jesus Christ, or you cannot be saved. But you can’t trust him. — But if you do trust the Chrst of God, salvation is yours.
What shall we say to these things? — “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).
 “Doctrine” (singular), not doctrines (plural) — The Doctrine of the Gospel, the Doctrine of Christ, the Doctrine of God is one.