The substance of an address delivered at the 28th Anual
the GraceWay Bible Society, October 26, 1996.
We often speak of the Bible as the Word of God; and it is. But the Bible also speaks of itself as the words (plural) of God. As I go through Psalm twelve, I see a tremendous contrast, for in verse one I see these words: "Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men." Human degeneration: Here is a picture of the church today. It seems as though all about us men, whom we thought were faithful and godly, are falling by the wayside. We see a degeneration taking place. But, what an encouraging word it is to us to see that God has not failed for His Words are pure words.
They are as silver refined in the fires seven times. While men may fail me, the words of God shall never fail me. I can be in a most desperate situation, where it seems as though I have no one, on a human level, to talk to. No one who is godly and fears the Lord. Yet I have this precious Book ever before me, and it never fails.
But that is not the end of the contrast. For the psalm goes on in verses 2 4 to say that these men speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?"
It sounds like Pharaoh when he said, "Who is the LORD that I should serve Him?" The words of God are pure words, while the words of man are totally unreliable. They will fail us at every testing.
Divine condescension: Furthermore, as I consider this passage, I see the condescension of God. For God, whose mind far exceeds our ability to understand any communication from Him, does not need to speak human words. As I think of God in His revelation, I think more of the lightnings and thunderings and his riding on the storm clouds. He does not need to communicate to me in mere human language. And yet He condescended so to communicate to us in language that you and I can understand. We have that in this blessed Book. We have a marvellous treasure in the Word of God, and in His words.
Divine inspiration: Further, I am impressed that the words of verse six speak of the inspiration of God. For not only do we read that this Bible is the Word of God, it says these are His very WORDS! And I marvel at that. Think with me for just a moment. God has so marvellously worked, that He has used fallible man to communicate His infallible words. This speaks of the verbal inspiration of Scripture. The very words are inspired by God. He has inspired every one of them.
God did not violate the personalities of those whom He used to communicate His words to us. But, because He is the sovereign God, He has so worked that He took a herdsman, a dresser of sycamore trees like Amos and communicated the words of God to our hearts. He also took the scholarly Isaiah and did exactly the same thing. Yet he did not violate their individual personalities. The marvel of verbal inspiration! It says the "words" of God. What a marvellous thing we have when we hold these very words of God in our hands!
Divine preservation: Verse seven says, "Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." These words are not only the inspired words of God, but they are the preserved words of God. He has kept them. That is only reasonable, for as God is the eternal God, His words are likewise eternal. And that is why His words are ever fresh. Have you ever marvelled at opening up the Word of God and having it speak to your soul? I have! And as I did so, I thought, The newest part of this Bible is nearly two thousand years old and yet it speaks to me as though it were written this morning. Why? Because it is the eternal Word, the eternal words of the eternal God! No wonder we read in Proverbs 6:22, "When thou awakest, it shall talk with thee." It is the living Word; because, again, they are the living words of the living God! Divine character: I want to speak to you now about the quality of God's words. In verse six we read, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times."
The words of God are uniform in character. But not all of His words have the same purpose. Some of God's words are for teaching. Some are for comfort. Some are for rebuke. So in that sense, in their purpose, they are not all the same. But as far as their character goes, they are absolutely the same for they are all pure, every one of them. There is not an impure word in the whole Bible.
I believe it is a great error when some people prefer certain aspects of the words of God over other aspects. Some might say, "Oh, I just love to hear about the love of Christ, but don't tell me anything about the duties that I must perform." But The words of God are pure words and they are uniform in their character.
Therefore they are uniform in their value to me. For me to try to pick and choose what I want to hear and what I want to read is dead wrong. You cannot take the Bible as the farmer takes his wheat, goes to his threshing floor and beats it out, throws away some parts and keeps other parts. God's words are equally pure and we must not pick some of them and cast others away. All of the Word of God is equal. We must prize all of God's words and set none of them aside.
This is not the church for us: Some years ago, my wife and I moved to the city of Richmond, Virginia. We were looking for a church at that time, so we were advised to attend a certain Baptist church and we went there. I liked some of the things the pastor said in his sermons, but one night I was so greatly shocked that I told my wife later, "This is not the church for us."
That night the pastor was preaching from the Old Testament and he apologized for doing so and said that the Old Testament was not for us today. He also said that the Book of Matthew was not for believers, but for the Jews. My dear friends, he might as well have been Jehoiakim with his penknife, cutting up the Bible and tossing it in the fire.
Subtilty of red letter Bibles: I am going to say something now that might shock some of you, but I want you to hear me out. I have never owned a red letter Bible, and I shall never buy one. I believe that a red letter Bible subtly teaches that certain words of the Bible are more important than other words. And so I say to you, Consider this, for all of the words of God are inspired and they are all equally valuable to us. There are no words of the Bible that are more important than other words of the Bible.
Have you ever heard someone say, "I just love the writings of John, but I just don't care much for the writings of Paul"? In effect, they were saying that part of God's Word was not as good as some other part. We must be very careful. The words of the Lord on one occasion, came through a donkey. It is not the messenger that is important, but it is the message that comes from God that is important. In John 8:47 Jesus said, "He that is of God heareth God's words."
Divine purity: In verse six we read of the purity of God's words. I have in front of me what some would call a "gold watch." But it is not really a "gold watch" for it is only partly gold because it has a lot of base metal in it. But that is not true of this Book which is in front of me, for verse six says, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." I am looking at the pure words of God. They are absolutely without dross. They have been in the furnace of affliction and have been purified. Every worthless particle has been removed. Jesus said, "Thy Word is truth." Words without evil: Furthermore, because the words of God are pure words, they are without any mixture of evil whatsoever. There is no evil in the words of God. I'll grant to you that there are places where the language is not as "refined" as maybe our genteel characters would like them. But there is nothing in this Book that will lead anyone into evil. There is no evil in the words of God. None whatsoever! That cannot be said of the words of man. Pick up almost any book today and you will find words which will lead you into evil. This Book, these words, are absolutely and preeminently pure." They are holy. Words without error: They are also without any mixture of error. There are no mistakes in this Book. Whenever the Bible speaks on anything that could be considered scientific, it is absolutely, one hundred percent accurate. There is no error in it. The Bible is one hundred percent accurate as far as history is concerned.
Many today like to cast doubt on the Bible, but the Bible is absolutely without error. It has gone through the furnace of criticism and there has not been one jot or one tittle of it found to be in error. It is all the pure, inerrant Word of God. Many today are judging the Bible when in effect the Bible shall judge us.
Errors in the NIV: Just this week, I had at the Mission two men from the Philippines who said to me. "We are brothers in Christ. We want to fellowship with you." I invited them to sit down and enjoy some fellowship. At first all went well. One of the men wanted a Bible and so I brought up the issue of the text that underlies the New Testament. When I offered him a King James Bible he told me that he wanted a New International Version and not the King James Bible.
I took him to Revelation 22:18,19 where it is clearly stated that if any man will add to the Word of God, then the plagues of the Revelation will be added to him and that if any man takes from the Word of God he will have his part removed from the book of life. My dear friends, this is a clear passage and you don't need to be a Greek scholar to understand what God is saying in it.
Next, I took him to Revelation 1:8 and 11 and showed him what words are missing in verse eleven in the NIV. I told him that he now has a problem, because either someone has added to the Word of God or someone has taken away from the Word of God. In either case there is a serious problem, because God has promised judgment upon anyone who would add to His words or take away from His words. Do you know what the young man said to me? Are you sure, he asked, that is what God really means? You know what he was doing? He was placing himself as the judge of God's Word. There are many who do that very thing today. They are sitting in judgment of God's Word. My dear friends, there is no error in this Bible.
Words without failure: The words of God are pure because they are without mixture of failure. No prediction of the Scriptures has ever failed. EVER! The words of God are reliable, and yet Satan's first attack on man was to attack the very words of God when he asked Eve, "Yea, hath God said ...". I hold in my hand the New American Standard Version and if I were to open it to the Book of Mark, chapter sixteen, I would find those words of Satan written in the margin of this Book. Listen as I read the margin, "Many manuscripts do not contain this verse." "Yea, hath God said ...".
Let me again quote from another marginal note, "Some of the oldest manuscripts do not contain verses nine through twenty." "Yea, hath God said ...". My dear friends, the Word of God is without any mixture of failures.
Thirty years ago, June 12, 1966, God exhibiting His great mercy, reached down and saved a hell-deserving sinner named Jerry Matson. And for those thirty years, I have not found one of God's promises to fail me. The words of God are without mixture of failure. Can anyone here tonight say that they have found God to fail in any of His promises to you? Can anyone? None whatsoever. We rejoice in these pure words for they have absolutely no failure mixed in them. You may lean your whole weight upon the words of God and trust them fully, for they shall never fail you.
The bullion of heaven: Read again the sixth verse. "The words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." In the 19th Psalm we read that His words are like "fine gold." My dear friends, you have in your very hands the bullion of heaven. I am so glad that I have the Word of God which is so precious and so rich and is forever settled in heaven. These are precious words.
I don't care in what bank on earth you have your money. In the days of raging inflation, it seems like our money becomes absolutely worthless and useless. You may have a whole pocket full of bank notes, but they may not be able to buy you a loaf of bread. If you have the gold of heaven, however, that value will never change. Hallelujah! We have the precious words of God! Silver is precious because it has a thousand different uses. The Bible too has a thousand different uses. God's words are useful in so many ways. Silver is used as ornaments to adorn the body. These precious words too ought to be our ornaments. We ought to wear them as frontlets between our eyes. O the words of God! These are precious to our souls.
Words that are permanent: In verse 7 I see the permanence of God's words: "Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." The words of God are permanent and they are preserved. The hot fires of this earth have not destroyed His words. Every foe of God has attempted to destroy His words and the Bible still stands. God's words have withstood the fires for centuries.
Even the Devil cannot bring up the hotter coals of hell and expect to destroy the words of God. They are permanent. Man has tried to destroy them. The devil has tried to destroy them, but not one single word has been destroyed. Not even one jot or tittle has been destroyed.
Many men have sought to destroy the Bible in so many different ways, but all they have actually accomplished is to prove the permanence of God's Word. The fires have been heated seven times over and they have only proved that the words of God are pure silver.
All the fires of persecution have further proved that this blessed Book is indeed the very words of God. "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the words of our God shall stand forever." In times past, men and women were willing to burn at the stake for this precious Book. We do not have to face that kind of persecution today.
But I believe that the attacks today are even more subtle. God is omniscient. Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God? He has always known all that there is to know. But the Devil is not that way. The Devil is not omniscient. But over the centuries, he has learned and he has become more subtle in his attacks.
Reason for so many versions: And that is why today there are so many "versions", or, as I call them, "perversions" of the Bible. This is one of the greatest attacks of the wicked one today. We may not have to face the fires of Smithfield, but we are facing a wiser, more subtle foe than our brethren of centuries ago. What he could not stamp out by the fires of persecution, Satan is trying to destroy now with the proliferation of all of these perversions.
I am not a Greek scholar, nor am I a Hebrew scholar. I thank God that He gave me the opportunity to study those two languages, but I am far from being a scholar in either one of them. But I do know this, that which I hold here in my very hands is the pure Word of God. It is without error. It is without fault. There is no evil within it. It is purified seven times over.
Unchangeable words: I come to this conclusion, God's Words are unchanged and unchangeable. Silver without dross. And they continue from age to age. This I do believe and in this I do rejoice. I have before me the unchangeable Word of God. Remember what I said in the beginning? that these are God's words and because God is Who He is, we can liken these words to Him? For instance, our Lord is immutable. That is a big word. It simply means, He is unchangeable. Therefore, because God is immutable, His words are also immutable. They don't change. This tells us that when we translate the words of God we had better be careful. I do not have the right to take liberties with God's Word. When He says "snow" I have no right to change it to "rice" as some translators did in Africa. I have not that right, for His words are unchangeable as He also is immutable. Furthermore, He is omniscient. And if He is omniscient and I have before me His very words, then these words have no mistakes in them. The omniscient God cannot make a mistake. Therefore His words are absolutely free from any mistakes.
Words with power: God is the omnipotent One, which means He has all power. Because of that, I am holding in my hands the all-powerful Word of God. These words have power. You who have been converted, can you not testify to the power of God's words that completely changed your life when it was impossible for you to do it? I know, for I tried it myself for years. I could not change. And yet the dynamite power of God, working through His words, and by the grace of God and the Spirit of God, blasted my old life out and I became a new creature in Jesus Christ. The old was passing away and all was becoming new. That which I had no power to do, the power of God's Word did. It is the all powerful Word of God.
The Lord is infallible and therefore His words have to be infallible. If His words are not infallible, then He is not infallible. Do you understand that? We hold in our hands the very words of God, which are pure words as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. We hold the very Word of God.
"Hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" The words of the Lord are pure words. Treasure them. obey them and they will change your life. Defend them. Speak for them. This is what the GBS stands by, the pure words of God. God bless you.