Thursday, March 05, 2009

FROM THE HYMNBOOK OF HEAVEN
...prove all things by the Word of God

an encore presentation


What a powerful reminder below, from the pen of John Wycliffe, to "prove all things according to the Word of God." All matters of life and godliness ordered according to His truth (2 Peter 1:3-4); not according to our feelings, desires or whims. No genuine Christian would dispute that claim, would they? But yet in the current spiritual climate in evangelicalism we find well-meaning believers abandoning this simple axiomatic truth of the sufficiency and authority of God’s Word (cp, Psalm 19:7-10; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Whether it be an issue in the culture, politics, family, one of church polity, worship, missions, music, personal relationships, etc., may our hearts, minds and consciences be bound to the eternal Word of our Lord. May they not be bound to what some call "the flavor of Scripture"; or bound not to what I want it to mean to suit my own fancy or desires; but bound to what in reality it is actually saying. There is no spiritual authority afforded any pastor, eldership, congregation or individual believer in the Lord outside of the authority of the Word of God.

May we be like Jeremiah, beloved, finding the joy and rejoicing of our hearts in the immutable truths of God's Word (cf, Jer. 15:16).

Grace and peace to you,
Steve
Psalm 119:1-9


"Prove All Things 
by the Word of God"
by John Wycliffe

"I will run in the way of Your commandments..."
-Psalm 119:32


The true Christian was intended by Christ to prove all things by the Word of God, all churches, all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices. These are His marching orders. Prove all by the Word of God; measure all by the measure of the Bible; compare all with the standard of the Bible; weigh all in the balances of the Bible; examine all by the light of the Bible; test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which can abide the fire of the Bible, receive hold, believe, and obey. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away. This is the flag which He nailed to the mast. May it never be lowered!

A church which does not honor the Bible is as useless as a body without life, or a steam engine without fire. A minister who does not honor the Bible is as useless as a soldier without arms, a builder without tools, a pilot without compass, or a messenger without tidings. Stand fast on old principles. Do not forsake the old paths. Let nothing tempt you to believe that multiplication of forms and ceremonies, constant reading of liturgical services, or frequent communions, will ever do so much good to souls as the powerful, fiery, fervent preaching of God's Word. If men want to do good to the multitude, if they want to reach their hearts and consciences, they must attack them through their ears; they must blow the trumpet of the everlasting Gospel loud and long; they must preach the Word.

18 comments:

Mike Ratliff said...

What a vital message for the post-Modern church! Without this at the center of our preaching, teaching and writing it's a free-for-all. And, of course, that is what we are seeing from the Emergent Church and the like. Thanks for posting this Steve!

Terry Rayburn said...

Good stuff from good ol' Wycliffe. The Roman Catholic Church actually dug up his bones and burned them, they were so ticked at him.

It wasn't so much that he *advocated* and preached the Word of God per se. It was that he *applied* it to their lives and dogma.

The RCC had allowed or tolerated the Bible in small Priest-taught doses. They even tolerated Wycliffe, though he advocated preaching the Word. But when Wycliffe showed that the Scripture taught against Transubstantiation and the amassing [no pun intended] of wealth by the Church, his bones were in trouble.

Even today, there are many who will honor the Bible as "the Good Book", but when it's actually applied to their lives or dogma or view of Jesus Christ...watch out!

But thankfully the gospel is still the "power of God for salvation to those who believe."

Blessings,
Terry

Michele Rayburn said...

Let nothing tempt you to believe that...ceremonies, constant reading of liturgical services, or frequent communions, will ever do so much good to souls as the powerful, fiery, fervent preaching of God's Word. If men want to do good to the multitude, if they want to reach their hearts and consciences, they must attack them through their ears; they must blow the trumpet of the everlasting Gospel loud and long; they must preach the Word. --John Wycliffe

I very much appreciate those who are gifted to preach the Word of God to us. But, truly, no sermon has done nearly so much good for my soul or has been nearly as powerful as my very own personal time of Bible reading, meditating and communing with the Lord. Rarely has a sermon ever come close.

Though preaching definitely has it's own special purpose, nothing can take the place of our own personal relationship with the Lord, and nothing else should. And I might add, no other book should so consume our time and devotion as much as or more than the Word of God.

Nothing can take the place of those quiet times we spend with the Lord when He speaks to our hearts directly. Those are the times when we are really transformed.

Though the Preacher preaches, it is God Who will "reach our hearts and consciences" in His own perfect time and according to His own perfect will.

If a Pastor with a true Shepherd's heart lovingly directs my thoughts continually back to Jesus Christ so that it just makes me want to get back with the Lord for some more quiet times with Him, then the Pastor has done his job.

Maybe it's a matter of taste, but a sermon does not need to be "fiery and fervent", it doesn't need to "attack" me through my ears, or "blow the trumpet...loud and long" (I'm getting a headache thinking about it!). But, yes, preach the Word, in such a way that I can hear God's "still small voice" whispering to me "I love you, I totally accept you, you're my child...come, follow Me".

In His Love,
Michele

donsands said...

I always thought it was John Huss, whose bones they burned. I'll have to check that out.
Thanks Steve for the exhortation, and the great quote.
Our pulpits do need preaching that's for sure. That's where it has to start, in order to turn the hearts back.

"Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." 2 Tim.4:2

Terry Rayburn said...

Don,

Huss was burned at the stake, so his bones didn't need to be burned later.

Terry

donsands said...

terry,
Thanks.

WendyWest said...

Steve:
I don't think I have ever commented here. I wanted to thank you for you stance in regard to the Word of God. I think the lack of biblical teaching, preaching and belief is the core problem in Christianity today. We desperately need to return to believing in the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.

Everyday Mommy said...

Thank you, Steve. Much needed.

The Blainemonster said...

Thank you. Just, thank you. :) The best stuff is the simple stuff. Sola scriptura.

SJ Camp said...

Thanks Blaine.

We are all sinners in need of grace; and how sweet is His grace that drops from His Word. No wonder Job said that it was more important to him than his daily food.

parsonsipe said...

Michelle,

I don’t post here often, but I read and am challenged by much of what is written here almost every day.

If I may, I find myself not to be in full accord with your statements regarding preaching. While I have to agree that the value of personal study, devotions, and prayer is very high and these are absolutely necessary for each of us as we grow in Christ, I feel it is errant to place personal study as more important than the preaching of the Word of God. In the Reformed tradition of which I am a part, there has always been considered an “ordinary means of grace”. According to the Shorter Catechism, (which most Calvinists would subscribe to some degree), …answer 88: “The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.” And to quote brother Bruce Buchanan of the Puritan Board, note the following: 1) by “grace” we intend the benefits of redemption; 2) only the elect are beneficiaries; 3) the benefits are communicated to the elect, by which we mean that they are appreciably received, for true communication cannot occur in ignorance; 4) the means are instituted by Christ, they are his ordinances; 5) there are three principal means: the Word, Sacraments, and Prayer; 6) by “salvation” we mean not merely the cross of Christ or our individual justification, but the whole work that begins in election and concludes in glorification. The means are of use subjectively, and not all at once, and most extensively in sanctification.

The “glue” that holds the Church together is what occurs corporately, not what we do individually. In Acts 2:42, Luke tells us that ‘they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’ In 1st Timothy 4:13, Paul encourages Timothy not to build up his personal devotional times with God, but “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” If nothing else, this assures us the high value God places on the ministry of the Word, and on how he gives of himself to us corporately.

Many have turned away from God’s means of grace because the preaching in their fellowship is weak, or simply not biblical. Unfortunately, I do not believe that if the preaching in one particular church is ineffective that means that the various believers should attempt to remedy that by placing a higher emphasis on personal devotions. That is not biblical any more than saying that if the husband is not a proper leader and head in a family that God automatically will transfer that responsibility to the wife. The lack of biblical preaching in the American church is practically pandemic. However, that does not change God’s designed and intended means.

This issue deserves a much deeper exposition, and certainly I am a little biased because I am a preacher. However, I hope my concerns were fairly expressed and will be received in the spirit of love they were intended.

SAS

pdm said...

"the law of the Lord is perfect,
converting the soul." Ps.19:7
Where would we be without the Word of God as our authority and comfort in life and death? thank you, Steve, for this entry- I really appreciate people who believe God's Word and seek to walk in His ways, caring more what God thinks than what man thinks. Excellent article and I thank you for it.

Jim Horvath said...

20th Century scholar, Richard Hanson is credited with saying:

"It is a universal tendency in the Christian religion, as in many other religions, to give a theological interpretation to institutions which have developed gradually through a period of time for the sake of practical usefulness, and then read that interpretation back into the earliest periods and infancy of these institutions, attaching them to an age when in fact nobody imagined that they had such a meaning."

Nothing in scripture is for our private interpretation. It's for the Church as a whole and means exactly what it says. We must be able to discern what the Word is saying. It's time we force ourselves to set aside our personal biases and cultural paradigms and find the mind of God. Here's a thought... instead of searching scripture to prove what we believe, how 'bout we search scripture to find out what we SHOULD believe?

Amy said...

"Prove all things: hold fast that which is good."--1 Thessalonians 5:21

"There is a tendency to decay in the very best of human institutions. The best visible Church of Christ is not free from this liability to degenerate. It is made up of fallible men. There is always in it a tendency to decay. We see the leaven of evil creeping into many a Church, even in the Apostle's time. There were evils in the Corinthian Church, evils in the Ephesian Church, evils in the Galatian Church. All these things are meant to be our warnings and beacons in these latter times. All show the great necessity laid upon the Church to remember the Apostle's words: "Hold fast that which is good." -J.C.Ryle

a voice crying out........

Michele Rayburn said...

Parsonsipe,

It would be good if you used Scriptures instead of quoting the Shorter Catechism. Here you are talking about the importance of preaching the Word and yet, ironically, you are using the Catechism to support your point.

As I said before, I very much appreciate those who are gifted to preach the Word of God to us.

But I disagree with you when you say:

I feel it is errant to place personal study as more important than the preaching of the Word of God.

I also disagree with this statement that you made:

The “glue” that holds the Church together is what occurs corporately, not what we do individually.

I believe just the opposite. I believe that the "glue" that holds the Church together begins with what we do individually, *before* we meet corporately.

I believe that one reason for the weakness of the Church lies in the fact that too many Christians are not really communing with the Lord during the week.

You took 1 Tim. 4:13 out of context, and added to it, thereby distorting its meaning, when you said:

In 1st Timothy 4:13, Paul encourages Timothy not to build up his personal devotional times with God, but “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.”

Paul *did* in fact encourage Timothy to "build up his personal devotional times with God".

In fact, the verses before and after that verse say:

"Let no one despise your youth, but be an *example* to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity...(vs.12)

"Do not neglect the gift that is *in* you, which was given to *you*...(vs.14)

"*Meditate* on these things; give *yourself* entirely to them, that *your* progress may be evident to all.(vs.15)

"Take heed to *yourself* and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this *you* will save both yourself and those who hear you."(vs.16)

You then say:

"If nothing else, this assures us the high value God places on the ministry of the Word, and on how he gives of himself to us corporately."

As you should be able to see in context, God places a high value on the ministry of the Word, first personally, and *then* corporately.

It's important not to "put the cart before the horse" because it's important that the sheep know their Scriptures *before* they listen to their pastors and teachers, so that they will be more discerning as to whether their pastors and teachers are in error.

I'm afraid that most Christians unquestioningly *trust* their pastors and teachers, when the Scriptures say to trust no man. Jeremiah 17:5 says "Cursed is the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his strength."

I don't think that we should expect perfection from our pastors or teachers. But I disagree with you when you say that because the preaching at church is either weak or unbiblical, or ineffective that, as you said,

"I don't believe...that means that the various believers should attempt to remedy that by placing a higher emphasis on personal devotions. That is not biblical..."

Of course they should! What else would you do if the Pastor is either incompetent or maybe is just not "connecting" with you for some reason?

Of course we need to supplement his preaching with our own time with the Lord, no matter how he preaches. Even if he is a great preacher, all the more reason to spend as much time as we can in our own personal devotions every day of our lives!

Lastly, what you have said here even happens to conflict with what John Wycliffe said in the first paragraph of this post.

Thanks for your thoughts here. It is a bigger issue than it might appear to be since the Church is in such a weakened spiritual state.

Joshua said...

Couldn't agree more.

One of the major teachings that I believe is fully against the Lord in our times is the idea that the Law of God has been abolished in Christ. It stands forever (Psalms 111). Many point to Colossians 2 as proof that the Law of God has been abolished and nailed to the cross- but further study proves that this is incorrect (the Bible cannot contradict itself). Looking at the wording present there (Ordinances/Handwriting of Moses/Against us), it becomes clear that this was referring to the ceremonial law (Look at Deut 31:26 and 2 Chr 33:8)

I grew up listening to your music, and although I am not at all fond of what Contempary 'Christian' music has become now, I do feel that your message was pure heartfelt and genuine. Unforutnately, the same cannot be said for all artists.

I belive Satan is far more clever than we give him credit for. He knows you can put one 9 letter word before anything and believers will accept it, that word is 'Christian'.

May God help us all, and may we strive after Him more and more as the hours of this world become shorter and shorter.

paulspassingthoughts said...

Steve,
A breath of fresh air. God's word is to be taken for it's clear, literal meaning. Since it is the mind of Christ and God breathed, there is no authority above it. Those who accuse others of "Biblicism", can find me guilty. You cannot seperate God's majesty from his word.Psalm 138:2
paul

Paul said...

Steve,
A breath of fresh air. God's word is to be taken for it's clear, literal meaning. Since it is the mind of Christ and God breathed, there is no authority above it. Those who accuse others of "Biblicism", can find me guilty. You cannot seperate God's majesty from his word.Psalm 138:2
paul