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Mike Warren: So in brief, as we open in pray, I just want to mention... we might have more words on this later on... but our brother Dave Kercher, who we normally would see at the conference, is currently... I believe he is still in the hospital and is really struggling. Without going into many specifics, it's a very severe and serious situation so we just want to be praying for our brother Dave Kercher, his wife Cindy, his son Malachi, and their whole family during this time.
Heavenly Father we thank You for this opportunity you've given us to gather together in person, and to be able to enjoy each other's fellowship and to hear this teaching and just to enjoy being part of Your church and part of Your body. Lord we thank You so much for those who have worked to organize this event, those who work here... who have prepared the venue here at Calvary Chapel Bend, for those who have helped organize the logistics, the technical side of the conference. We just thank You for each one of them and for their part. Lord I pray that You would bless their efforts and that You would make this a truly wonderful time this weekend, and that we would be encouraged and that we would be exorted and that we would be edified and that we would edify each other through our conversations, through our actions, our activities together. And Lord we do want to pray for our brother Dave Kercher, and his family Lord. We know that humanly speaking this seems like a.... he may not be with us much longer Lord, and that saddens and burdens us Lord. We know that Your way is perfect, Your plan is perfect. Lord we pray that you would encourage and lift up our brother. Lord we do ask if there is any possibility that You would even raise him up, that You would give him more time with us and with his family, but Lord we know that his hope and his future is secure in You. We thank You for that and pray for his family, for Cindy, for Malachi especially and for all the rest of his children... just the whole Kercher family right now Lord. We just lift them up and ask that you would encourage and strengthen them, give them wisdom. And now Lord we pray for our brother Mike Warren and the message we'll be hearing from him, I pray we would be attentive to Your Word and to Your spirit and that You would build us up as Your Word has proclaimed. And that You would gift our brother with Your words and Your insight and that we would all be encouraged and we would put into practice the things that we learn this evening. Pray all of these things in Jesus name, Amen.
And then to introduce Mike Warren. Mike and I actually first met fortuitously through the former football coach of Anaheim High School. He became a pastor in Anaheim and a wonderful brother, you know he ministered to the homeless primarily in Anaheim. He'd invite them into his fellowship and he wasn't looking to make money, just a very selfless wonderful guy and he asked me if I'd share at a retreat he was having and I said "sure, I'd be honored" and then once he got the "yes" he said "it's in Mammoth Mountain" and so it was a 7 hour drive away. So I said "who else is sharing?" And he said "Mike Warren" and he said "do you know Mike Warren?" and I said "no, I'd never met Mike"... and I'm not sure, had he ever met you at that time? Mike: "no." Somehow everyone knew about this Mike Warren guy. So we went up there and we both shared... I remember his talk was excellent. I said "I remember it was excellent, do you remember what you talked about?" And he said "no, but I enjoyed your talk." I said "do you remember what I talked about?" And he said "no" so we don't remember but you know that's part of... he's a lot younger than I am so he doesn't have the excuses I do but in any case. His topic tonight is The All Sufficient Word of God and I think we'll all be very very blessed so please welcome Mike Warren.
Mike Warren: Well, I’m glad we sang one more hymn—not that I couldn’t have used the time, because I would have, but that was one of my favorite hymns. I was all teared up, so I’m glad we sang another one, get the waterworks cleaned up before I had to speak.
And, Zach, you owe me an opportunity—I haven’t forgiven you yet! Where is he? I haven’t forgiven Zach yet. He knows. He came to our church—just showed up, unannounced! Because if he would have let me know he was on his way with his wife, his lovely wife and some of his family, he would have done worship that morning! I almost called you up anyway and waved off our worship team. So you still owe me one, amen? Okay, I’m looking, because I know you have relatives in our area. So, don’t let me ever find out that you came through our area and didn’t call me, okay?
Hey, let’s pray.
Father, we thank you this evening. You know, I’m convinced, personally as a pastor, that we are living in the final moments of the church. I believe we’re in the generation—I could be wrong, but I don’t think so—that’s going to turn out the lights and lock the doors, as far as the church is concerned, and then you’re going to focus again on Israel. Wonderful message we heard this afternoon from Ezekiel 38 and 39.
But, Lord, as we’re approaching that time, there are some warnings, and there are some things that I have seen as a pastor over the years that I’ve pastored that are alarming to me, and one of them is this, as we’re going to talk about—help me to do it—is this lack of understanding of the all-sufficiency of the Word of God.
So speak to our hearts, give us ears to hear, give us hearts that are open, and then, Lord, give permanency to the things that we’re going to share this evening. And I ask it in Jesus’ name, and all God’s kids will say?
Mike: Amen. Get your pad and a pen out, we’re going to have some note taking.
You know, I’ve lived long enough and I’ve been a senior pastor now for 37 years. I’ve been in the ministry for 42-43.
And so, what I want to share with you tonight (the topic is the “All Sufficient Word of God”) is that I’ve seen some changes in the church that are disturbing to me. You know? And again, this is not my way of accusation; this is my way of observation. Because the early church had a foundational belief system that moored them, as it were, to their faith in Jesus Christ and our hope of eternal life. And we’re going to take a look at those five things here in a few moments.
But as I have interacted with the church and pastored churches and planted churches for Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel—this is the third—I’ve been here for 28 years in Gold Country Calvary Chapel, Grass Valley. I’ve had the displeasure of watching some of my pastor friends lose their zeal and their confidence in the all-sufficient Word of God. And as it were, they bought into this concept that you have to entertain, you have to make it relative.
Listen, I’m just not that guy! And so, when T. A. McMahon, we’re talking about the conference, and we were having a discussion on the phone about this subject, you know, I just… “Yes, I want that one! Let me speak on that one. That’s dear and near to my heart!”
And so in Acts:2:42-43, we find there five of these foundational principles that simply moored (and I think the moorings are coming loose) the early church, as it were, to their belief system. And we read there, “And they continued steadfastly.”
We’re going to see this evening they continued steadfastly, they were devoted and consecrated to five things.
—Number one: doctrine, the apostles’ doctrine.
You know, if I hear it again one more time, I’m going to lose my mind…where I hear pastors—even pastor friends of mine, even guys I graduated from Bible college with—would say to me, “Doctrine is divisive, so we don’t teach doctrine anymore.” I would agree, it is divisive! It separates sheep from goats, wheat from tares!
The early church had a systematic belief system, and it was founded on the absolute principle of the all-sufficiency of the Word of God. You don’t mess with it. You don’t need to dress it up or dress it down. You don’t add to it, you don’t take from it. You simply teach it.
We’ve been entrusted with this, God’s Word, and we’re going to look at the four aspects of it. But they continued steadfastly, as it were, in the apostles’ doctrine and in fellowship.
This whole Covid shutdown thing was an attack on one of the primary principles that the early church was based on and flourished because of, and that’s the fellowship they had with one another, that iron sharpening iron, that accountability.
And so, when the law came out from our governor in California—I know you guys are probably from different states—you know, I immediately went to the state constitution and I looked and saw, well, he had the power under the Emergency Powers Act to shut down everything for two weeks. On the third week it had to reach a certain criteria, and if it didn’t, then he had to go to the state congress and make it law. Well, he didn’t! So we opened up on the third week.
We posted the First Amendment of the Constitution on our door. The sheriff’s parked in our parking lot. We let them use our Wi-Fi when they’re doing their reports. And so I walked out to the sheriff and I said, “Now, listen, we’re opening up again. And if you need to arrest me, then that’s fine. I understand you have to do your job. But I have a first amendment right that protects my freedom of gathering together, and so we’re going to do that.”
And he looked at me and he said, “You’re absolutely right. We’re not going to bother you.”
Because the Bible says, “Do not neglect.” The greater danger is not that somebody will get Covid in our church. We’ve got a hundred-year-old lady who comes to our church that got Covid and survived it! Flourished through it, actually! It was amazing to all of us. We expected to have a memorial service, but she’s still kicking and ticking! Fellowship! “Not neglecting of the assembling of themselves together, as the manner some have, but all the more till we see the day of the Lord approaching.”
Thirdly, breaking bread. Remembering and being reminded that we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, by His sacrifice, by His broken body. Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but because He is merciful. He washed us. He regenerated us. We’re going to see that later on in one of my studies—He regenerated us through that work of the Spirit. We’re born again. We’re blood-bought, we’re Spirit-filled! Listen, our names are on a very special roll in heaven, and it all comes to us because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. So we’re always reminded of that breaking bread, coming to the communion table, the table of the Lord, and reminding ourselves of His love for us, His sacrifice for us, His commitment to us, and then our commitment back to Him.
And then, fourthly, prayer. You know, I would like to talk about prayer, but I think the all-sufficiency of the Word of God is probably first on my list. But you know, I have people sometimes that will come up to me and say, “I’m praying for you.” And I’ll say, “When, how much, and what for?”
“Well, you know…”
“No, I don’t. Are you praying for me?” Because I think that’s another thing lost to the church. Every Tuesday morning at 7:30 I pray with my elders for a couple hours. Every Thursday we have an intercessory group that meets in a church. Before every service we pray, and then I pray with the worship team before we go up on the stage that God would wash us, that He would fill us, that He would cleanse us, and that He would give us clarity, that He’d give us an audience, that He’d give us—people have ears to ear.
Prayer. “The effectual fervent prayer.” You see, I’m a pastor who believes that you can do nothing but pray, and I learned that from Pastor Chuck: “Until you have prayed….” But you can do more than pray after you pray. Prayer.
And the fifth thing we see here: “and the fear…” the awe of God. See, that’s another thing I think that’s being lost in the church—the awe, the fear of the Lord. And because these five things were in place in the early church, they were foundational; they moored them, as it were, to their faith. They moored them, as it were, to their confidence and of eternal life and the hope that was to come. We’re seeing some of those things that bound us being dismissed today, and I don’t think any greater than the understanding of the all-sufficiency of the Word of God.
In fact, it’s been mentioned, and I’ll mention it again, in fact, one of the times I got to speak (and it’s a wonderful honor to be here), I spoke on the whole chapter of Jude, I think, a number of years ago. But you read in Jude, it’s just a short little epistle by one of the uterine brothers of Jesus, and in verse 3 and 4 he says this: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation….”
You know, Jude just wanted to talk about our hope in Christ, how we’re washed in the blood, how we’re filled with the Spirit, how we’re just journeying through this life! This is not our home. We’re making our way home. We’re just pilgrims and sojourners. When he sought to write about and encourage us in this common salvation, he said, “I found it necessary [needful is the word he uses in the old King James] for me to write unto you and exhort you to earnestly contend.”
Isn’t this interesting? We go from the foundation of the early church continuing steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine to now Jude having to write, “It’s needful for me to exhort you, to earnestly contend for the faith that was once and for all delivered unto the saints.” Earnestly contend. Epagónizomai. That should ring a few bells out of the English. It is an agony. It is difficult. It will cost you. It will cost you friends. Man, it’ll bring all kinds of spiritual warfare out against you when you stand up and you teach God’s Word uncompromisingly so. It will be amazing. It is amazing.
Now, I’ve had a number of pastor friends I call all of the time, at least once a week, and just encourage them: contend for the faith. “But it’s tough!” Contend for the faith. “But it’s easier if we would…” No, contend for the faith. Agónizomai.
“Earnestly contend for this faith that was once and forever delivered to the saints. For certain men…” and we’re seeing it over time! They’re creeping in, they’re creeps, “they creep in unaware who were foreordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In fact, you know, […] had dinner with Rob Yardley last night, and, you know, there’s a verse, and I want to quote it, that I’ve struggled over for years, because I want the proper interpretation of it, and I’ve settled on one that T. A. McMahon agrees with, so I think I’m okay. I know that Dave Hunt agreed with it. Rob, he’s still on the outside looking in, but we’ll get him over to our side! But in 2 Thessalonians:2:3, it says, “Listen, let no man deceive you.” That’s why Berean Call exists! It is a specialized tool to help us pastors make sure that the stuff that’s coming in and out of the church, they have the time to investigate it, to make sure that the body of Christ isn’t deceived. We’re all called to be Bereans.
And so it says, “Listen, let no man deceive you by any means, for the day of the Lord shall not come except there come a falling away first.” I interpret that as an apostasy—not a falling away from church attendance, as we’re going to see this evening, but a falling away from the biblical faith.
And again, I’m not here to make any accusations, but I’ve had some observations over 37 years, and I have watched as pastors, for the sake of filling up their pews, have compromised God’s Word to the degree where it doesn’t even look like it. You know, we have, as it were, clowns entertaining goats instead of shepherds feeding sheep. And again, that’s not an accusation, it’s an observation.
But in my opinion, and this is what I want to address—this is what’s dear to my heart—in my opinion, there is no greater biblical truth than what we believe and hold dear about the character and the nature of God’s Word. We can’t even know who Jesus is. We can’t even know that we’re saved. We can’t know where we came from or where we’re going without a clear understanding of God’s Word. Would you say amen to that?
Now, there’s four aspects I want to look at—three I want to go through quickly, because I want to settle in on the fourth this evening. But in my opinion, there are four aspects that I hold absolutely, uncompromisingly so in my understanding of God’s Word, and you might add a few to that. But I believe, number one—and you might want to write this down—that it is inspired. And we’ll look at that in a few moments.
But secondly, I believe it’s inerrant in its original autographs, and we’ll look at that in a few moments. I believe it’s inerrant.
Thirdly, I believe that it is authoritative.
And lastly, as we’re going to look at—spend most of our time, I hope—on the fourth principle: that it is sufficient in and of itself.
I believe God’s Word is inspired, because 2 Timothy tells me it is! Second Timothy 3:13-17 say this: “But evil men….” And I find that interesting, because the word used there for “evil” is not kakós. Kakós just means something is inherently evil. But this particular word that Paul uses, as he’s encouraging young Timothy, and he’s encouraging young Timothy because he’s fading from the scene. As it were, 2 Timothy is Paul’s last will and testament. He understands that he’s being poured out like a drink offering. The things that are most important to him he’s now transferring, as it were, to his young left lieutenant Timothy. He’s taking, as it were, the mantle from off of him, and he’s placing it on Timothy, because he knows that this time, through the Spirit, he will not escape the wrath of Caesar. He will be taken out on the Appian Way, his head will be removed, and he’ll step into heaven where he longed to be anyway.
So, he’s making that transition, and any time somebody’s making that transition, the things that are most important to them, they’re going to communicate. This will be his, as it were, his last communique to young Timothy. And he says, “Timothy, listen: evil men, not kakós, but [ponēroi].” Men who are not only evil in their nature, but are not content with just being evil themselves, they want to suck you into their pernicious ways. They want to—in fact, the next word he uses: “seducers,” which kind of adds emphasis to this word. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
So as we move to church histories, we come to the final moments, which I believe earnestly we’re in. We can expect that evil men, seducers, are going to wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. And then Paul’s going to tell Timothy, “This is what your defense against that is.” He says, “But, in contrast to that, continue, remain steadfast, as it were, standing on this firm foundation of God’s Word. Continue thou in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, of knowing where you have learned them and from a child,” listen carefully, “you have known the holy Scripture. That will be your defense.” That is always our defense.
Talking to one of the pastors—I’m on his board, I’m an oversight pastor—called me up and was having a conversation with one of the pastors in his area that believes that you could sin away your salvation. Complex subject, to say the least, but I said, “Did you ask him to show you in the Word? My Bible says, ‘He who began a good work in you will complete it. Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and one day he will present you faultless before the Father of glory with exceeding joy (italics added).”
We have to be so careful. Justification is an instant act that we receive as a gift by faith. Sanctification is a whole other issue. Oh, and by the way, if you were born again, you will put off the old man, you will put on the new man, and you will put away sinful practices. That will be evident in your life. That’s why James almost didn’t make it into the canonization of Scripture, because they thought that he was teaching salvation by works, and he was just addressing a false teaching that was coming into the church: Antinomianism, where the Gnostics were saying that it doesn’t matter how you live or how you act; as long as you believe, because the spirit world is good and the physical world is evil…no, no, no! We’re called to a different life, are we not? “Saved by grace through faith, not of yourself, a gift from God. Not of works, lest you could boast, but you are his workmanship [his poema, his work of art], created in Christ Jesus unto good works which he foreordained that you should be walking in them.” Amen?
So we look at this, and he says, “But you should continue in the holy Scriptures, knowing from where you have learned them, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith, which is in Christ.” All scripture….” Not “some,” or “most”! You don’t get to pick and choose. It’s not a smorgas. You don’t get to pass the plate by and say, “I’ll have some of that but I don’t want any of the other.”
“All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and it is profitable. It’s profitable for doctrine, it’s profitable for reproof, it’s profitable for correction, it’s profitable for instruction, and it’s profitable for righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, mature, coming to the very image of Christ as the idea thoroughly furnished unto every good work.”
So, the first aspect of the Word of God that I hold dear is that it is inspired. And that Greek word “inspired” is theopneustos. It means, “God-breathed;” -ography, “all writing.” Because I’ve had people say, “Well, you know, it has different flavors, different authors….” Well, yeah, but God didn’t say that all of the people who wrote the Bible were inspired. God says when they got done writing, what was written, “-ography,” was inspired of God. You see, I believe that. I believe it comes from the heart of God as He put His hand on those men that He chose, and when they wrote, as they wrote, God made sure what they wrote—“ography”, God breathed.
And so when I sit alone with my Bible open—I do it often. I have a practice. If you’ve been a senior pastor as long as I have, there’s enough warfare that goes on that you know that you need to get to the mountains. I go twice a month. I have a little camper that I built to fast and pray. And as I sit alone, there’s things I remind myself of: “Lord, speak to me. Speak to me from your Word. These are your words to me. They are inspired. You breathed them. Men wrote them.” But “-ography. Everything I read in this book is from your heart in my ears to my heart. It’s inspired!
Secondly, it’s inerrant. Now, there’s some people, and there’s some groups of people today that are telling you that you can’t trust all of the Bible. I trust it all. I believe that it’s not only inspired. I believe it’s inerrant! In fact Numbers 23 verse 19 says, “God is not a man that He could lie.” Amen? “Neither is the Son of Man that He should repent. Hath He said it and shall He not do it? Hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?”
You see, I’m convinced when I read God’s Word it is Him speaking. And the clearest understanding is always the correct. If you’re reading through the scriptures and you’re born again, filled with the Spirit, and the Spirit is your guide when you read the scripture, listen—God will speak to you! And He’s not a man that He should lie. The Son of Man does not need to repent. “Hath He said it?” Every promise? Over three-thousand promises! Every one of them is true! “And will He not do it?” Will He not perform it? Now, I say that because if there’s a problem as you’re studying the Word, it will be a language problem. It will be an interpretation problem from the original autographs. It will not be inherently a problem of error.
Oh, for example, I was on Buvuma Island; we were training pastors there. We planted a work in Uganda, and we were out on Buvuma Island, and we had gathered a number of pastors together that we were training and getting ready to plant some churches in the villages on Buvuma, and that morning, we were doing some devotions with the pastors before we started the training, and I was teaching on the parable of the pearl of great price. And so, as I’m reading that, the interpreter looks at me and says, “Umm, we have no word in Acholi for ‘pearl.’”
I said, “What are you talking about? This is Uganda! This is the pearl of Africa!”
He said, “Ahh, but the British named it that. We don’t have a word for ‘pearl.’ The closest we have for that word is “a hole in the ground.’”
So, me and the interpreter were having a conversation, and these guys were watching, and I said, “Well, do you have a word for ‘diamond.’”
“Oh, yeah, we Africans understand diamonds.”
“Okay, ‘The diamond of great price.’”
See, there can be language problems, but the Word of God itself is inerrant. And I believe it, and I trust it to be so.
The third thing is that it is authoritative. Someone mentioned that earlier today. “It is authoritative.” I’ll tell you my experience about it being authoritative, but listen: the Bible contains 1,050 imperatives. Well, you would know them as commandments. In fact, with every one of these imperatives that it lays out, it endorses it. In fact, 415 times the Bible says, “Thus saith the Lord.” In fact, 854 times, it says “saith the Lord.” Two-hundred and fifty-seven times (you don’t have a lot of time on your hands [like I do] that I can look up these kind of numbers) but 257 times it says, “Saith the Lord God.” Two-hundred and fifty-eight times it says “The Word of the Lord;” thirty times it says, “The Lord hath spoken,” and thirty times it says, “It is written.”
Now, before I got saved, I realized that my life was messed up—and I needed something. And I didn’t know what I needed, but I needed something. And my older sister had started dating a Mormon, and the Mormon missionaries, you know, came out to the house and all of a sudden I found myself in a Boy Scout group in the Mormon Church, and I knew these people were whacked! You know, I’m, like, young, and new they were whacked. And then as I grew up and I started chasing the skirt—I was dating a gal that was a Jehovah’s Witness. And I went to their indoctrination courses. And finally…because I would say, “No, no, that’s not what it’s saying. Read ahead. Read below. You know, I understand literature. I understand context. That’s not what it’s saying.”
Well, they asked me to leave. “Don’t come back! We won’t call you. Don’t call us.”
So, you know, I’m kicked out of the church! I’m messed up! And so I thought, “Well, I’ll just read the Bible for myself.” And I started reading. I’d taken Comparative Religions in college. I studied Greek Mythology. I studied Philosophy. And I started reading this particular book, and I know what good literature reads like. I know what bad literature reads like. I started reading the Bible, and it made me mad. It angered me! There was an agitation that came as I read it, and I would throw it across my room, and it would lay up against the wall for days at a time, and then, you know, it would speak to me. And I’d pick it up again, and I’d open it up and I’d read it, and it made me mad again. And I’d throw it against the wall.
Then after I was saved and born again, I realized why it made me mad. Because it spoke as though it had the right to tell me how to live. It is authoritative! The Word of God is inspired. It is inerrant. And, boy, is it authoritative!
But the thing I really want to talk about this evening is that it is sufficient, because I believe this is a concept that is lost to the church today. I don’t think we trust the sufficiency of the Word of God.
You know, Spurgeon was interviewed by a newspaper reporter one day, and the newspaper reporter asked him, “Spurgeon! Charles Haddon Spurgeon! Do ever feel the need to defend the Word of God?”
Now, I’m not a Calvinist. Don’t send me email because I’m quoting a Calvinist. But even a blind chicken can find a worm once in awhile, and I think this is a great quote! No, he said, “Listen, do you feel the need to defend a lion? No, you just let it out of its cage. It can defend itself!”
You see, that’s what I believe! I believe that. It is a conviction of my heart that all I have to do is stand before people and let it out! I don’t have to add to, take it away; I don’t have to water it down or hype it up. It is sufficient!
Now, when I say “sufficient,” let me give you three things that I think about it. First of all, I think it’s adequate. Not just adequate; it is adequate in the fact that it needs nothing to be added to it. It is sufficient in itself. It is adequate, so it needs nothing to be added to it.
It is capable, number two. What do I mean by capable? It has the power in and of itself to accomplish what it purposes to accomplish.
Thirdly, it is competent. What do I mean by competent? It is efficient. It is effective. It is skilled, as it were, like a scalpel, to do it’s work. You see, I don’t think any pastor has the right to stand in the pulpit in any church before a group of people and not believe and have this conviction: that the Word of God is sufficient. That it is adequate, capable, and competent to do what God purposes it to do.
Well, we read Hebrews. We quoted it, chapter 4, you all know it: Verse 12-13 says, “For the Word of God is quick and powerful.” The idea is that it is living and that it is actively effective. “And it is sharper than any two-edged sword.”
You know, I have a really high-quality buck knife—skinny knife. Old, handed down from my grandfather to my dad to me, and it’s good steel. And there’s a guy in our church that is just very efficient at sharpening blades. And I had him sharpen my blade, and I said, “Be careful not to touch it.”
He told me, “Be careful not to…” What do you think I did? I pulled it out of the scabbard; I turned it over, I put my thumb on it. I pulled my thumb back, and I’m bleeding. I just touched it, and it opened me up.
Here, God says of His own Word, “It is much sharper than that. It’s sharper than any two-edged sword; it pierces even asunder to the dividing of the soul and the spirit and the joint and the marrow.
Let me make this statement about the Word of God, and then I’m going to give you an example that happened recently in our church: The natural man, the carnal mind, has no defense against the Word of God. See, because it bypasses the carnal mind. It down into the soul, the spirit, and it arrives quickly at the heart. And it deals with the issues of the heart, because it’s just that powerful. It’s just that effective. It’s just that sufficient.
And so, the Word is telling us of itself that it has this capacity. It has this capability to go right down into the heart. And it will discern the thoughts and the intents of a man’s heart. Neither is there any creature—there’s nothing created that is not manifested inside, but all things are naked and open in the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. I believe this about the Word of God.
In fact, the night that I got saved, I had come to the end of myself. I’m sitting in my car on a rainy October night in a parking lot. And my life became so painful by bad decisions, that I thought the best thing to do would be to end it.
I’m not an atheist at this point. I might have been an agnostic—I’m not really sure. But I remember just saying, “If there’s a God in heaven, if You’re real, if You exist…I mean, I want to check the boxes before I check the last box.” You know, I was…listen, like when we read or heard this afternoon, I was one heartbeat away from eternity. I was as close as you could ever get to stepping out of this life not knowing Jesus. And I’m going to tell you, I was undone! I was broken. I was in pain. I had no hope I had no hope! Satan had lied to me, and he had entrapped me, and he had ensnared me, and I was as low as any human being could ever get.
And so, when I cried out, “Is there a God in heaven?” Nothing. Nobody knocking on the window or the door saying, “Don’t do it.” No angel writing anything in the sky. I may have seen too many movies, but I thought that might happen. Nothing. And so I started my car and headed home, determined to end my life in the most painless way that I could, and on my way home I passed by a coffee shop. And there was a friend of mine sitting in there—you could see him through the glass talking to somebody, and I thought, “Well, I’ll just stop in and say goodbye.
So, I walk in the coffee shop, and across the way in a booth from him is a man talking to him about Jesus, and how God is the only hope, and He can fix the pain in your heart. Oh, man, I’m toughening up, because I’ve never cried in my life before. I was a tough kid. My dad would spank me—I’d never cry! But what that guy was saying was—I mean, I’m trying to defend against it and I can’t. Next thing I know, I’m in a Bible study with thirty other kids my age. Some I knew, some I didn’t.
And a man stood up there in this living room, opened the Bible, and began to give a very simple message, reading from God’s Word, about how we must be born again and how if we would open our heart, that Jesus would come in, and begin the process of taking away all the pain. And I heard God’s voice as clear as I’ve heard it say, “What that man is saying is the absolute truth.”
I went to that place inebriated, yet was sobered up! And I will tell you, my experience—my first experience—is that God, through His Word, ripped open my heart, started poking around in things so deep and so painful, but in a way, with the tears just starting to flow, and they weren’t tears of sorrow. They were tears, warm tears of repentance, and saying, “Lord, if that is true—if what that man is saying is right—I’m a throwaway! I’m a nothing! I’m less than a nothing if what that man is saying is right, and You can redeem me, I want that! And I’ll give you all of it!”
And so, he had just finished the study—I don’t know why I did [what I did] to this day! I jumped up and ran to the front of this large living room—it’s probably as big as this! I can remember the look in the man’s eyes to this day. They were just—I think he thought I was going to tackle him! And I fell in a heap of tears, and I remember some people coming around me and saying, “Well, just ask Jesus. He stands ready. He’s knocking. That’s what you’re sensing. Ask Him into your heart!” And I did!
And I stood up, and for the first time, I felt like a weight was lifted off of me. I mean, I really had to consciously say to myself, “This feels like, for the first time, you’ve stood straight up! There’s something that’s been lifted off of you.”
Later they told me “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” And instantly, the first experience I had was hope. There was joy. There was peace. I felt an overwhelming love that just surrounded me! And I went there as an agnostic at the least. Maybe an atheist at the best! And when the Word of God was presented to me, it by-passed every defense I had, and it went right into my heart. And it accomplished at that moment—that nanosecond—what it purposed to do: to bring salvation to a sinner.
So I don’t know doctrinally, or theologically, the sufficiency of God’s Word. I know it experientially. I know what it’s capable of doing.
Two Sundays ago, we always have the elders after the service come down to the front, and we make an announcement: “If you need prayer, the elders will be here to pray for you; they’ll lay hands on you, they’ll anoint you with oil.” And so, this lady comes down. Never seen her before—we have a lot of new people—and I said, “How can we pray for you?” And she goes, “Well, I want what you were talking about.”
We were in Philippians, and that section where it talks about Paul saying that “I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, that I might know Him, have relationship with Him—the One who made us, who brings joy and hope and peace.
And she came and said, “I want that!” She’d never been in church before, we found out. One of our worship leaders, the lady that plays the piano is a hairdresser, and she just said, after she got done dressing here hair, “How can I pray for you?”
A widow, struggling to make ends meet, and so she prayed with her and said, “Oh, by the way, let me give you a card. We have these little cards that have maps on the back that we hand out, how to get to the church.” She said, “We’d love to see you sometime!”
She showed up! The Word of God went right past her brain and into her heart. She comes forward that morning. No altar call. No manipulation. No sweet program. Just the Word of God, and she gives her life to Jesus Christ.
The Word of God is sufficient to do what God desires it to do. I know that. I’m convinced of it! But let me say this: Jeremiah—I’m going to get to a few verses that are dear to me about this subject. Jeremiah says this in chapter 23:28-29 (and, you know, I have a group of pastors I meet with, and I’m always reminding them of this. They’ll know, when I say, “Jeremiah,” they’ll say, “oh, yeah, 23!) You know, but I believe this! “Let the prophet that hath a dream tell his dream.” And there are a lot of filthy dreamers out there! Can I get an Amen? Not an accusation. Observation! They are speaking out of their own mind, out of their own heart.
You know, you hear things like, “Well, I feel…” I don’t care what you feel! What does God’s Word say? “Well, I think…” I really don’t care what you think! What does God’s Word say?
Here, Jeremiah the prophet, warning Israel of their idolatry, said, (because there were false prophets in the land speaking what God hadn’t spoken, in fact it was so prevalent that God finally had to say to Jeremiah, “If you ever say ‘the oracle of the Lord,’ or ‘thus saith the Lord,’ I’m not going to listen to you, either, because [my paraphrase] every kook in the land is running around saying ‘thus saith the Lord’ and I haven’t spoken! I haven’t said those things! They are prophesying out of their own heart, out of their own mind.”
And so, Jeremiah said, “Let the dreamer that has a dream tell his dream.” But in contrast to that—listen carefully—in contrast to that, “He that hath my Word, let him speak My Word faithfully!”
Have we not been entrusted with this? Paul said, “Seeing we have this ministry, this thing that has been entrusted to us….” And I’m not the pastor of our church. I’m the under-shepherd, because when the chief shepherd comes, I’ve got to give an account of how I fed His sheep.”
Oh, and by the way, He gave me the food and He gave me instructions on how to present the food. That’s what Paul said to Timothy, chapter 4, 2 Timothy: “I charge you, before God, who will judge the living and the dead (oh, and by the way, He’s coming back at His appearing, and He is going to set up His kingdom! You, preach the Word. You do it when it’s acceptable, and you do it when it’s unacceptable. You do it when people want to hear it and you do it when they don’t want to hear it.”
We’re living in a time when they don’t want to hear it. That’s okay. Not my responsibility for how many people are in the pews. My responsibility is to faithfully dispense God’s Word. “Preach the Word, in season and out of season; with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when men will not adhere to sound biblical teaching, and will heap to themselves teachers….” I think we’re there. I think that’s the falling away. “…with itching ears, and they will listen to myths, to storytelling, instead of just sound biblical doctrine.”
But the challenge to Timothy is “But you (in contrast) but you, man of God…you made foolproof your ministry. You do the work of an evangelist. You be faithful to the end.”
And all I know—and my wife and I, we’ve been talking about this a lot. I don’t care! The finish line is just there. We want to be faithful to the end. We’re going to run like we mean it.
And so, Jeremiah would say to those prophets, “Listen, if you’ve got a dream, tell it. But you and I who have God’s Word, we should faithfully speak it. For what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Is not my Word like a fire?”
That was my experience! Forty-six years ago when I got saved. It burned in me! Man, it was cooking in me, as that man was saying it! Is it not a fire that purifies? Is it not a hammer? Jeremiah goes on to say, “That crushes into pieces the heart of man”?
I experienced that! It hammered me! It convicted me! On the same night I got saved, I got the grace of God and the fear of the Lord. On the way down, He said, “If you go back, you ain’t making it out!” So all of the things that—I don’t want to list what they were, but they went out the window! I’m lucky I didn’t get arrested, because God’s Word brought His grace. The first time I heard “Amazing Grace,” I went to the pastor. I said, “Who in your church wrote that song? I just experienced that!”
“Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear and all my fears relieved.”
He said, “Nobody in this congregation wrote it. It was written a long time ago.”
“Is not My Word like a fire? Is it not like a hammer?”
In fact, in Isaiah:56:1-3, one of my favorite passages, “The Lord says to His people, ‘heaven and earth is my throne. The earth is my footstool. What is a house that you’re going to build unto Me? And where is the place of My rest.”
And I know what God is saying: “What can you do that would impress Me? The heavens can’t contain Me! The earth is My footstool! What are you going to do for Me? What are you going to build for Me that would impress Me?” And He says, “For all those things My hand hath made, and those things have been,” saith the Lord.
But listen to what He says, “But to this man….” You know, when I get alone with the Lord, I want His attention. How many want His attention? How many want God to focus on you? How any want to draw His attention toward you? Here’s a promise: “He said, But to this man will I look [it’s generic, women too, mankind] even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and that trembles at my Word. One who holds it in such high regard, one who believes that it is inspired, that it is inerrant, that it is authoritative, and that is sufficient to deal with the issues of your heart. To that man, that woman, will I look.”
Oh, we’ve got one more verse. And this absolutely is my favorite. You know, Mark Cahill—did you notice, he said, “I’ve got two more stories.” He told two more. “I’ve got two more!” I’m going to steal that! That was so good, man, and that was so great. Man, I like that guy!”
But Isaiah, chapter 55, listen carefully as we wind up our study on the sufficiency of God’s Word, and we tie a knot in our study this evening, in Isaiah:55:11 (again, one of my favorites), our congregation will ask us, they’ll say, “This is one of my favorite scriptures.” They start laughing, because they say, “You say that about every scripture, Pastor!”
You know, we’re starting the Book of Colossians when I go home, and when I start, I say, “This is my favorite book!” He said, “Well you said that about Philippians!”
“Well, it was when I was teaching it, but now this is my favorite book!”
You see, one of the things God put on my heart when I got saved was a love for His Word. A love for His Word. To study. To dig out the nuggets and the truths that are contained in it.
And listen, I’ve taught through the New Testament multiple, multiple times and the Old Testament several times. I’m still learning. God’s Word is still burning. It’s still hammering. It’s still cutting. It’s still doing that refining work that only the Word of God can do.
But in Isaiah:55:11 it says, “So shall my Word be that goeth forth from out of My mouth (this is God speaking), it shall not return unto me void.” Do you believe it?
You know, the other day we were at a restaurant, and we do this kind of thing. We had a waitress come up to us—we hardly go to restaurants anymore; my wife is such a fantastic cook, but it was her birthday…or anniversary, and then shortly after we have her birthday. I think it was one of the two. Maybe it was an anniversary. But when the waitress or waiters come, we always ask them as they’re taking our order, when they’re done, “How can we pray for you?”
I never had anybody turn me down! And she starts tearing up. “You know, I’m going through a tough time…” so we just stopped right there in the restaurant, and we prayed for her. And then afterwards, she said, “Well, what church do you go to?”
And we just told her, and I said, “We didn’t pray for you because you need to come to our church. We prayed for you because Jesus loves you. And what you need, what you’re looking for, is in Him.”
Before I went to that Bible study weeks earlier, there was a friend of mine from high school, Duane Berger. I’m at the gas station. I’m filling up my car to go to a party. He looked right at me, and he said, “Mike, Jesus loves you. And what you’re looking for can only be found in Him.”
That messed with me. A couple of weeks later somebody handed me a tract, The Four Spiritual Laws.” That messed with me. I wish I could tell you I got saved then, but it started that process of burning, of cooking. It was a hammer. It was a scalpel.
And so, I know—and I tell our congregation—the Holy Spirit’s already working on those people. Speak His Word faithfully, because it won’t return void, but “it will accomplish that which I please it to.” And He goes on to say, And it shall prosper in the things wherein I send it to do.”
You see, I believe that! I believe my job as a pastor is to study, prepare my heart first and then my mind and just simply deliver the Word of God, let the lion out of the cage—let Him do His work! And it is amazing! I don’t ever feel like I need to defend. I don’t ever feel like I need to compromise it, water it down, or spice it up. I just simply teach it because I know experientially that it is a fire, it is a hammer, it is a scalpel. It will go right…it will bypass every defense you have, and it’ll go into your heart, and it’ll change you from the inside out. Or at least it will present to you an opportunity to make a decision. And if you choose not to accept it, you are on your own.
So, what do we believe about the Word of God? Why do I believe it’s sufficient? Well, let me say this: I believe that it is inspired. I believe that all writing, all “graphy,” is God-breathed.
Secondly, I believe it’s inerrant. I believe that God is not a man that He can lie, and if He said it, He’ll do it.
I believe that it’s authoritative.
I believe it says what it means and I believe it means exactly what it says.
But I believe it’s sufficient.
I believe it needs nothing to be added to it.
I believe that it has the power within itself to accomplish what it purposes.
I believe it is effective, it is skilled, it is efficient to do the work it was meant to do.
I believe that my only job is to present it, and to do it faithfully.
You see, I don’t believe, and I think we’re warned, because we’ve been entrusted with God’s Word, there’s an onus put on at the very end: “Don’t add anything to it. Don’t take anything from it.”
You see, I believe every pastor (and the guys that I run with, they know this about me.) I believe that every pastor ought to have to stand at some time before his congregation and make a vow. In my mind, when I stepped from rice hut on Sunday morning before I walk into the pulpit, I make this commitment to the Lord: It says I would raise my left hand and put my right hand on my heart and say, “I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me, God.” Because the power is not in the messenger. Never has been. Never will be. The power is in the message. It’s in the Word of God. And it is inspired and it is inerrant and it is authoritative. And most of all, it is sufficient. Amen?
May we moor our ship to that dock. May we chain it up there, and may we never drift from that understanding of the power of the Word of God. Amen?
God bless you, let’s pray.
Father, we thank you this evening that we could gather with likeminded people. You know, it’s fairly easy to teach this here because everybody here believes that! But, Lord, for those out there that will be listening, if there’s any that doubt that, Father, I just pray that You speak to their hearts.
Lord, we stand on a firm foundation. The apostles and prophets, Old Testament, New Testament, Jesus Christ Himself, the Gospels, His instruction, the chief cornerstone. And we do well to take heed to the Word. So, help us do that in these final moments when it seems like everthing is coming untied, as it were, and drifting away, Lord, we want to stay firmly moored to that understanding of the sufficiency of the Word of God, and we pray these things in Jesus’s name. —Amen