The following was taught in a LifeGroup class at Northeast Houston Baptist Church on August 6, 2017.
We are going to bring our study to an end, for the most part. We have one more lesson, but it is not so much about the nature of Scripture. Rather, it will be a lesson on how to get the most from your reading of the Scripture, practical ways to read and understand and obey God’s Word. Really, this series of lessons has been one long lesson. You see we were aiming to stir up our affections for God’s Word. We wanted to lift our attitudes toward the Scriptures and help each other set a high view of Scripture. And, my approach was this: the first step in having the proper attitude toward the Scripture is to have the proper perspective of the Scripture. In other words, how you see the Bible will determine how you feel about the Bible. I know this is not the only way to improve our attitude toward Scripture, but it is the best start, I think.
So that has been our approach, to reorient ourselves with the nature of Scripture, and our aim, to lift up our view and attitude toward Scripture, so that we can rightly understand it and obey it. Since this is our final lesson on the nature of Scripture, and what that implies, let’s review just a little bit to follow the progression.
In our first lesson, we looked at the inspiration of Scripture. We saw that the Bible is God-breathed. That is to say that He is the author and source of Scripture. It is the expiration of His mind. It contains His ideas, His laws, His commandments, His precepts, His observation, His perspectives, His testimonies. They are untouched and unaltered by men, though He used men as the instruments to produce it. We learned that He spoke by carrying men in a supernatural, mysterious way that assured His words would be written down. We said Scripture, because God is the author, is necessarily authoritative. Since no one is higher than God, no word is higher than God’s. His word is the highest. It is the first and final authority.
In our second lesson, we looked at the clarity of Scripture. We said, “If God Word is the authority, then what good is it if we cannot understand it?” This the idea of perspicuity. Do you remember that funny word? It means clarity. Scripture is near and mentally accessible. It is within reach. You can get a hold of it and meditate on it. It is plain. You can understand it. The basic truths of the Bible are made plain so that even children can understand it. It is also light. It opens up the way to God. It clarifies who you are, who God is, and how to get to Him. It enlightens and makes the unknown known. Scripture is clear.
In our third lesson, we looked at the necessity of Scripture. God’s Word is critical. First, general revelation points us to the idea of God. Second, special revelation tells us about God and reveals the hidden mysteries of life and salvation and godliness. General revelation creates demand. Special revelation supplies. It is the idea of desperation and dependence. We need the Bible. For without it, we are lost in our sins and utterly hopeless. Life is meaningless and pointless. It is an utter upset and disappointment. So life, all of life and creation, cries out to us, saying, “God exists and you need to know Him!” Special revelation is necessary because it is the only way we can know about God. We said that affliction compels. When we are in a rock and hard-place, we are compelled to get out. General revelation puts us in the place. It makes desperate for a way out. Scripture, or special revelation, is that way out. So we looked quickly at a few points. Scripture saves, matures, sanctifies, equips, guides, satisfies, and blesses. It does everything we need.
Today, we want to look more at the “everything-ness” of Scripture. We want to talk about the sufficiency of Scripture. Now, a bit of sidebar here, some have taken these four properties of Scripture and formed an acronym to help you keep it all in mind. It is the word SCAN. It stands for Sufficiency, Clarity, Authority, and Necessity. So, keep that somewhere in your head, maybe it help you recall all these things when you need some help. I like it because hints at the idea of what we need to do about it. The nature of Scripture ought to drive us to read the Bible. I know that “scan” doesn’t necessarily carry that idea, but you do what you can with acronyms. Just keep that in mind.
The Sufficiency of Scripture
General revelation tells us that we need special revelation. We need God’s Word for salvation, maturity, and so forth. These are ultimate needs. You might say, “Well, I need a pencil to take notes and I don’t need the Bible to find a pencil.” Well, those are more or less superficial needs. A pencil for notes does nothing to apply the notes to your thinking or your thinking to heart. Neither does it do anything for the content of your notes. Maybe your notes do nothing for you because they are of no inherent use. When we think of “need,” at least in this study, we are thinking of ultimate need. What is our basic, fundamental, essential, and supreme need? You might say that ultimate need can be discovered in ultimate purpose. So, what is your ultimate purpose in life? This is the place to start.
According to Scripture, your purpose in life is to glorify God. Paul says, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). The Lord said through Isaiah, “I created [man] for my glory” (Is. 43:7). So life, your life and my life, is meant to be lived in a way that brings God glory—that is the purpose and meaning of life. If you are not giving him glory, you are not living life as you were designed to live. You are wasting your life.
It follows then, that your ultimate need as a person is found in glorifying God. Thus, your first need is to find out what glorifies God. So you must turn to God’s special revelation—the Bible. The Bible tells you that you cannot glorify God “without faith” (Heb. 11:6). Then it tells you that faith is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). And so on. Scripture, as we saw last week, will lead you to salvation through faith in Christ. Then, it will mature you, sanctify you, equip you, and so on. Man’s ultimate need is spiritual. In fact, every need of man’s soul is ultimately spiritual. Everything is that meaningful to you is ultimately a spiritual need. So the final question is this: Does the Bible meet all of my spiritual needs? The answer is “yes.”
Paul says in Philippians 4:19 that “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Peter said something similar, God’s “divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3). In other words, through the Scripture, God gives us everything we need to glorify Him. So truthfully, there is no need for anything else. The Scripture is sufficient for life and godliness—that is the ultimate purpose for your existence. Let’s hang on to that one through this lesson. It’s a good one to return to.
Let me make mention of some other passages that speak to the sufficiency of God’s Word. Second Timothy 3:16-17, this is where we began this study, “All Scripture … is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness [that is, righteous living], that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” This is to say that the Bible can make you “complete” and whole. It will equip you for “every good work” and not just some. There is no good work that the Bible cannot equip you for. Do you see that? Jude said that the Bible was “once for all delivered to the you” and there is no other (Jude 3). You have it all. You have what you need for life and godliness.
God’s Word is air-tight. There is nothing else needed. Paul said to the Galatians, chapter 1 verse 8, “even if we or an angel from heaven [this is hyperbole] should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached, let him be accursed.” There is no other gospel. There is no additional gospel. This is the one-for-all-delivered gospel truth. God is very specific about this. He says in Deuteronomy 4:2, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it.” This is very important to Him. He repeated again in Deuteronomy 12:32, “You shall not add to it or take from it.” The Proverbs says it as well, but adds some additional warning, “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar” (Prov. 30:6). Nothing says this in Scripture like Revelation, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Rev. 22:19). That is a strong warning. Do not add or take away from God’s Word. It is sufficient. It needs nothing else. Nor does it need anything take from it. This is a very serious thing to do.
Six Descriptions of Sufficiency
So, the sufficiency of Scripture says that God’s Word is enough. It is thorough. It is plenty, adequate, satisfactory. It can equip you for every good work. And, there might be nothing in Scripture that speaks to the sufficiency of Scripture like Psalm 19. So, let’s focus our attention here for the rest of our time. Turn there with me to Psalm 19. In a way, we are finishing where we began. You might recall that our Scripture reading, during the morning we started this series off, was here. It was Psalm 19. Well, this is where we will finish.
This Psalm, in a unified way, depicts the Lord as author of both the world and the word and consequently speaking to mankind through them. He speaks first through the world in verses 1 through 6, then through His word in 7 through 11. In both cases, man is held accountable to God’s voice and would do good to obey it. Verses 12 through 14 relate this to us. Together, the entire psalm is about the sufficiency of God’s communication. His non-verbal communication through the world is complete and enough. Likewise, His verbal communication through the word is complete and enough.
This is a Psalm of David. He was well acquainted with the problems and hardships of life. He new the exhilaration of becoming a big king after being little shepherd. He wrote about military triumph and personal discouragement. He struggled with unbearable pain. He wanted to die. He wanted to live. He wanted salvation and safety. He had regrets. He had missed opportunities. His son tried to kill him. Then, his son was killed. He suffered betrayal and loss. He knew what it meant to do good and bad. He was a man acquainted with the realities of life. One of the many things that David did was write psalms in reflection to life. This is one of those songs. Let’s start reading at verse 1:
The heavens declare the glory of God, / and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. / Day to day pours out speech, / and night to night reveals knowledge. / There is no speech, nor are there words, / whose voice is not heard. / Their voice goes out through all the earth, / and their words to the end of the world. / In them he has set a tent for the sun, / which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, / and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. / Its rising is from the end of the heavens, / and its circuit to the end of them, / and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” (Ps. 19:1-6)
This ought to be familiar to you. This is about general revelation. It is about creation and how it points to the existence of God as an eternal being. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Everything you see cries out that God exists. “Day by day pours out speech,” that is the speech of creation that says “God exists!” It happens each day, but it also happens each night, “night to night reveals knowledge.” Knowledge of what? Knowledge of God. “No speech … no words …” goes unheard. “Their voice,” that is the voice of creation, “goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” Everything collectively tells us that God exists, minute after minute, hour after hour, and day after day. As the sun heats the earth, so the voice of God heats the heart, according to verses 5 and 6.
The Psalm takes a turn in verse 7 toward the way God communicates verbally through His word. Remember, general revelation leads us to special revelation. You can see that here. Creation compels us to Christ. So, let’s look more closely at verse 7 through 9 to see how the Scriptures are sufficient. These are some of the riches verses in all of Scripture. They contain six different titles of God’s Word, six different descriptions, and six different effects. Let’s read them:
The law of the LORD is perfect, / reviving the soul; / the testimony of the LORD is sure, / making wise the simple; / the precepts of the LORD are right, / rejoicing the heart; / the commandment of the LORD is pure, / enlightening the eyes; / the fear of the LORD is clean, / enduring forever; / the rules of the LORD are true, / and righteous altogether. (Ps. 19:7-9)
Do you see the pattern? Six wonderful statements, even parallel statements, about the sufficiency of Scripture. Take a look. There are two in verse 7, two in verse 8, and two verse 9. You can see the pattern, even in the English. In each case, there is a title for Scripture: law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and rules. Also in each case, there is a description for Scripture: perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. There are also six effects of Scripture: reviving the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, enduring forever, and righteous altogether.
There is one last thing, and this is really the big thing, each time we see a clause denoting the source of Scripture, just in case you might wonder: “of the Lord.” Six times. You know what you are dealing with here, right? It is “of the Lord” and not of man. Scripture comes from the Lord, He is the author. Now, we have said a lot about that already, so I want to hone in on the six titles, descriptions, and effects. In each case, we will see that the Scripture fully encompasses the needs of the soul. It affects the soul, mind, heart, eyes, and does so with unlimited power and precision.
Divine Instruction Produces Life
Let’s start with the first statement. “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” David uses the title “law” to refer to Scripture in this case. It is a form of the word “torah” in Hebrew, indicating the didactic nature of Scripture. It is the teaching, you might say. The torah, in this case, is the sum of what God has revealed for our instruction. It is the complete collection of divine revelation. It includes truth about creed (what we believe), character (what we are), and conduct (what we do). It is the standard and design for life. It is the teaching on life.
The word is used over 200 times in the Old Testament alone, most of which is translated as “law” or “teaching.” Interesting though is the word when it is used as verb. It means to shoot, to throw or cast. It is the action behind the archer who looses his arrow into the air. So you can picture the teaching of God being loosed from the heavens and landing on earth. This is the law.
Proverbs 13:14 says, “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” It can refer to the whole Scripture, “God established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel” (Ps. 78:5), or part of it, “This is the law that Moses set before the people of Israel” (Deut. 4:44). This is why James said what he did in chapter 2 verse 10, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” This is to say that all of Scripture is God’s Word and so is part of the Scripture. Each part is the Word of God. You sin against one, you have sinned against all, because all of it is Scripture.
So the law in this case is divine instruction—for life. And it is described as “perfect.” This is not the idea of being without blemish, although that is true. Rather, it is about the sufficiency of the instruction. It is whole and complete. It is “all-sided” as the Hebrew mind would say, comprehensive and sweeping. It contains all the aspects of an issue. It lacks nothing. The word “perfect” is translated as “whole” in Joshua 10:13 to give you some idea, “The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set four about a whole day.” The sun stopped until the completion of a day. Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This is a reference to the complete law of God—perfect in obedience in every way. So the word here in Psalms 19:7 is referring to completeness, fullness.
What does the complete divine instruction do? Well, it “revives the soul.” The soul is the word that describes the inner you, the self, the heart of a being, the eternal part of you that goes from this life to the next. It is the whole person, the real you. The word “revive” means to convert, transform, refresh, and restore. It carries the idea of bring back to the original place. Together, this phrase means to transform the entire person, to make the person complete and wholesome like he was intended to be in the beginning. Isn’t that something? Scripture is completely able, completely powerful. It is sufficient. It is enough to totally and completely transform you. Divine instruction produces life. Let’s revisit 2 Peter 1:3 in light of this, “God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him.” You see, through the knowledge of God, the divine instruction, we are granted everything we need for life and godliness. Complete. Sufficient.
Divine Witness Produces Skill
The next statement is this: “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” The title here is “testimony.” God’s word is a “testimony” or a divine witness. It bears witness to God. This is a legal term. I’m sure you can tell. A witness is someone who is put on a stand in order to give his or her side of the story. They are informants. Well, Scripture is God’s informant, God’s witness. It tells God’s side of the story. And really, it is His side that we are missing and are in need of, right? We need Him to give us the scoop on things.
Let’s think of it in another way. We say that when we speak to someone about our conversion or our experience surrendering our life to Christ, we say that we give our testimony. Well, what is that? It is our side of the story. “Here is what I was doing. Then Christ saved me. Now, here is what I am doing.” This is your testimony. We all have them in one form or another. Well, Scripture is God’s personal testimony. Of course, it looks different from our’s. He is not in need of a Savior. He is the Savior. So, He speaks about it from His side. Scripture is God’s self-disclosure. That is another way of putting it. He is giving us His story because we would not have it otherwise.
It says that God’s testimony is sure. It is reliable, unwavering, trustworthy. You don’t have wonder if God is going to bear false-witness. He can’t. He can’t lie. He always tells the truth. You can take God’s Word to the bank. His testimony is true and sure and trustworthy. Of course, the past two weeks, we saw that the God’s testimony is more reliable than our experiences. Remember, experiences can be counterfeited. Remember Moses and the Pharaoh’s magicians. Whenever Moses would perform a miracle, they would duplicate it in some way. Experience, in this case, might lead us to think that they were equally powerful or that God was not with Moses. Experience is not trustworthy, but the testimony of the Lord is.
Now, listen to the effect. God’s testimony is sure, “making wise the simple.” We’ve talked about the clarity of Scripture and how it is understandable to the simple minded, and that is true, but this is speaking to something more. The word simple here means open-minded, naive, foolish, stupid, uneducated, ignorant. A simple person is someone who lacks discernment. This person is young in their thinking, lacking maturity, unable to tell what is true and what is not. So, they take it all in—everything in and everything out is the idea.
In the Hebrew mind, “simple” referred to an open door. This is helpful. Listen. We have doors on our house for two reasons: we need to keep the bad out and keep the good in. Right? I mean, a door is in place so that a stranger doesn’t come in and threaten your home. The door is also there to protect the good property in side. A door is useful and good. The Hebrew would say to the simple person, “Shut the door!” Why? Because you need to keep the good in and the bad out. A simple minded person has no door. That is what simple means.
The passages says that it makes wise the simple. So, the one who has no door, no gate, no way to keep the good in and bad out can come to Scripture and be made wise. Wisdom, here, is being skilled at life. God’s Word will not just help you install a door, a mental gate, it will also help you be skilled at living. The psalmist understood this. Let me fire off some of verses from Psalm 119. We’ve been going there a lot. Listen. Verse 27, “Make me understand the way of your precepts.” Verse 34, “Give me understanding.” Verse 66, “Teach me good judgment and knowledge.” Verse 98, “Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies.” Verse 99, “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.” Verse 100, “I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.” Now, verse 104, “Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way,” that’s every unreliable testimony. Verse 169, “Give me understanding according to your word!” All these and more. He knew that the testimony of the Lord was reliable and would make him wise, so he chased it and cherished it.
You see, the divine witness makes you skillful in life. It provides skill, fullness and complete skill for living and godliness. Let’s go back 2 Peter 1:3 again, “God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him.” That is, through the testimony of God, the divine self-disclosure, we have all that we need for life and godliness. Complete. Sufficient.
Divine Path Produces Joy
Next, this is verse 8, “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” First, the title of Scripture is “precepts.” This refers to doctrines, principles, truths, guidelines. In a lesser way, it refers to ideas, programs, promises, and things like that. The psalmist has in mind divine proposals, not in the sense of suggests, but in the sense of principles to live by. It carries the idea of stepping stones. Pieces of pathway to be laid before you in order to walk on them and reach the destination. They are principles of motion, moving ahead, is the idea. I like to call them a Divine Path.
Is says that God’s divine path is “right.” This is not so much in the sense of being right, as opposed to wrong, but right in the sense of being straight. Scripture refers to the right hand of God. This is the word “right” in a figurative sense. For example, God’s right hand is where victories come, according to Psalm 17:1. The right hand of God sustains His children, according to Psalm 139:10. His right hand strengthens those who are with him, Isaiah 41:13. Blessings come from His right hand, Psalm 16:11. The idea of “right” is the idea of alignment with God. It is fitting for Him. It is on God’s side, following God’s path. Think of it as the divine path, the pathway set by stones of truth that are laid by God’s Word. When you walk on them, you step in God’s way, move in God’s direction, progress in God’s steps.
The effect is joy. The divine path is aligned with God and it “rejoices the heart,” that’s the effect, rejoicing the heart. This is a deep-seated peace and satisfaction. It is being so satisfied that you cannot be unhappy about anything. It is ultimate contentment. When you walk the divine path, you walk in joy. Listen to Colossians 3:16. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” When the Word of dwells in your richly, exuberant joy bursts out in praises. It’s just the natural overflow. If you want to be full of joy, you’ve got to be full of God’s Word. John said, “I’m writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (1 Jn. 1:4). This is sufficient joy, complete joy, enough joy. We talked about need yesterday. This is all the joy you need, here in Scripture.
You know something, you can have sufficient joy when times are bad. Did you know that? You know that Jeremiah was called to preach to a bunch stiff-necked people who would never listen to him. They eventually threw him in a pit to shut him up and this is what he said, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” Now isn’t that something? Jesus put it this way, “Joyful are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!” (Lk. 11:28). Of course, this is all over Psalm 119. Verse 54 says, “Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.” That is, when I’m away from home, your Word fills my heart with songs of praise. Verse 76, “Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.” The Word of God is a comfort. It comforts us in trying times and bring us joy. Verse 111, “Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” You see, the divine path, that is what God’s Word is, makes you glad in heart. It brings you satisfying, lasting, complete joy. It is sufficient for happiness. Did you get that? Now, let’s bring in 2 Peter 1:3 again, “God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him.” How does joy fit? Well, in life and in the struggles of godliness, God’s Word produces joy. The divine path leads you to God and produces joy along the way—a joy that is satisfying, complete, full, and lasting.
Divine Decree Produces Light
This next one should be pretty easy. It says, “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” Here, the title “commandment” means decrees. God’s Word is not suggestive. It does not give you options to live. It gives you commands, orders, requirements. It tells you how you must live. How you must obey. How you must think. How you must conduct yourself. His word is binding, authoritative, non-optional. And, it is described as “pure.”
The word “pure” here was the subject of our second lesson on clarity. Pure means clear, lucid. Things that are hard to understand God has made easy to understand. God’s Word makes the mysteries of life plain and clear. Have you ever thought about how strangely difficult it is to understand evolution and origin of life from their perspective? It is crazy difficult. I mean, it is so hard, that it takes large leaps of faith to believe it. I mean, every 5-10 years, our public school textbooks adds three zeros to the age of the earth. Why? Because they have to accommodate their crazy ideas. The more we discover, the more they realize how their answers fail. Evolution cannot be simplified because it doesn’t work with normal reason.
On the other hand, God made the origin of life easy. He said this, “In the beginning God made it all.” Listen, I understand the concept of cause and effect. I know that everything created had a creator. I understand that morals and scientific laws require an intelligence. So, God said, “Let me simplify this and make it abundantly clear: I made it all.” I don’t know about you, but that fits very nicely with my way of thinking. It is reasonable, rational, and scientific. It works. It’s clear. It’s lucid.
There is another way to look at it. Have you ever talk to someone who is so clear about things that you wonder if they live in heaven. Listen, when a relative dies, my mind starts wondering about the funeral. What do I say to people? How do I comfort? What are they expecting? What do I wear? You know, I was talking to Kevin Carlton, here at the church, when his mother passed away. Normally, people have the most foggiest minds at these times, but not him. He was mourning. He was sad, of course. But he said to me, “You know, funerals are not for the dead; they are for the living.” He intended on seizing the opportunity to proclaim the gospel. Why? Because a funeral is God’s gift to the living! What clarity. What lucidness. He was sharp. He was clear. He saw things purely and directly.
Turn to the effect. The divine decrees “enlighten the eyes.” This is very simple. Try walking around with your eyes closed. It’s difficult. Scripture is a tool that opens your third eye. It opens the eyes of the mind and the heart so that you can see clearly. It opens your eyes to the truth. How does the old song go, “I once was blind, but now I see.” It’s amazing grace. Listen, let me tell you about this guy who people said he should consider the call to the ministry—a pastor. He was a rather confused guy. He believed that God was calling him, but when he was asked, he would say, “I don’t want to presume on God to say that I should be a pastor.” You see, to him, this was presumption and pride. But he said this to a pastor. And, that pastor helped him see it correctly, he helped him open his eyes to the truth. He said, “Look, if God called you, you are not presuming upon him. You are not being humble right now. You are being prideful. It is prideful to say that God hasn’t called you when He has.” Now you see how easy it is for us to become prideful in the name of humility? God’s Word brings clarity and enlightens the eyes. The divine decrees produce this. That’s the idea. Again, 2 Peter 1:3, “God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through knowledge of him.” God’s commands are sufficient. They are complete. They are enough. They sufficient to enlighten your eyes. Do you need enlightenment? Of course you do. Well, God’s Word is all you need.
Divine Standard Produces Worship
Two more statements and we are done. Verse 9, “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.” The title “fear” is rather unexpected, isn’t it? Well, what does that mean? This is the idea of reverence and honor and respect. The Bible is the rule of worship. Remember, we talked about that last week. It is the manual on how to worship God, which is how to live. Our purpose in life is to glorify God and that is worship. Proverbs 9:10, this is a popular passage, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Honoring God is the first step in having a skillful life. Fear, in this case, is honoring God. The Scripture spells out how to honor, how to respect, how to revere God.
The fear of the Lord, the divine standard, is described as “clean.” This is another unexpected word. What does he mean by Scripture being clean? The Hebrew word refers to the absence of impurity. The Scripture is without blemish, without corruption, without error, without evil and imperfection. The Bible is flawless. It is flawless. Psalm 12:6 says, “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” Precious metals go through a refining process where they are melted down and all the impurities are extracted. This is the idea behind the cleanness of God’s Word. It is like a refined precious metal. Peter calls Scripture an “imperishable seed” in 1 Peter 1:23. It is unmixed and pure, free of impurities, free of error, free of human wisdom.
The effect is also unexpected. The divine standard produces clean worship and it is “enduring forever.” The effect here is not so much it does to you, but how long it does what it does to you. You see, in these prior statements, we saw that the Word of God produces life, produces skill, produces joy, produces light. But, get this: it produces forever. We are talking about the sufficiency of Scripture. It is not only sufficient for the moment, it is sufficient forever. And honestly, if something is only enough for now, but not later, than it is really not enough. You may have all that you need now, but what about later? You will need something else. But the Word of God is enough now and later. It is always enough. It will always be enough. It is sufficient for all times.
Jesus said this, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). Why? The heaven and earth are created. They have a beginning and an end. God, on the other hand, was not created. He has no beginning and no end. He is the author of Scripture. So Scripture is eternal as He is eternal. Scripture will not pass away. Psalm 119:144 reads, “Your testimonies are righteous forever.” In fact, all of Psalm 119 speaks of God’s Word being necessary and sufficient for now and the implication is this: It is always right now. God’s Word is good for now. And, in 5 minutes and in 5 days and in 5 months, it will be sufficient. The divine rule is clean and it produces worship forever. Again, 2 Peter 1:3, “God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through knowledge of him.” The Word of God lasts forever and will always be a standard of worship.
Divine Verdict Produces Righteousness
The final statement goes like this, “The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.” The title “rules” mean “judgments.” This is another judicial term. It refers to Scripture as the Divine Verdict. When a man sits before a judge and waits for the judge to say his final statement, his final decision, his conclusion, the man is waiting for the judges verdict. It is the judge’s final word on the matter. Scripture is God’s final decision on all things. Did you know that? God has a final word on all things that you should be concerned about.
The description of God’s final word is “true.” Now this important. You want the judge to speak truthfully, right? Psalm 119:128 says, “I consider all your precepts to be right.” Verse 137 says, “Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules.” His word is right and true. Verse 142, “Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.” Verse 151, “Your commandments are true.” Verse 160, “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.”
The effect, like the prior effect, refers to the sufficient exhaustiveness of God’s Word. You see, you can trust God’s Word at all times. You can also trust all of it. It is “righteous altogether.” All of it is sound. All of it is upright. All of it is truthful. The divine verdict produces righteousness. Finally, 2 Peter 1:3, “God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through knowledge of him.” All of the Word of God is righteous and produces righteousness in the one who dwells in it richly.
These are the six statements. God’s word is the divine instruction that produces life. It is the divine witness that produces skillful living. It is the divine path that produces joy. It is the divine decree that produces light. It is the divine standard that produces worship. It is the divine verdict that produces righteousness. Peter says it is everything you need for life and godliness. The Word of God is sufficient. It is enough.
Listen to how David ends this psalm:
God’s Word is “More to be desired are they than gold, / even much fine gold; / sweeter also than honey / and drippings of the honeycomb. / Moreover, by them is your servant warned; / in keeping them there is great reward. / Who can discern his errors? / Declare me innocent from hidden faults. / Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; / let them not have dominion over me! / Then I shall be blameless, / and innocent of great transgression. / Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart / be acceptable in your sight, / O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:10-14)
The chief end of man is to glorify God. Our ultimate need is ultimately spiritual and so we require a spiritual book to meet our need. God’s Word is that book. It is sufficient. It is enough. The only thing lacking here is our motivation. Scripture is all we need. It is our eternal power outlet. We only need to plug in. It is our eternal nourishment. We only need to eat it.
Hopefully, this series has given you a firmer, truer perspective on God’s Word, so that you will be eager to read and study it. As the Psalmist says in chapter 119 verse 148, “I anticipate the time when I can meditate on your word.” Is that your heart today? It should be.