What do the scriptures principally teach?

What do the scriptures principally teach?
Covenant Words
What do the scriptures principally teach?

Jun 17 2024 | 00:30:00

Episode June 17, 2024 00:30:00

Show Notes

Micah 6:8

John 20:31

John 3:16

Pastor Christopher Chelpka

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Let's pray now and ask God to bless the reading preaching of his word. [00:00:06] Our heavenly Father, as we come now to consider the truths of your word, we ask that you would enlighten our minds, that you would strengthen our wills, that we might follow you and fulfill our duty toward you, that we might live according to the lives that you have given to us in Christ, that we might fulfill the callings to which we have been called. [00:00:31] Lord, we ask for your blessing. We ask for understanding. We ask for a transformation where we need change. [00:00:39] Lord, please be at work. By your Holy Spirit, we pray this in Jesus name. Amen. [00:00:48] On your bulletins, during the evening side of your bulletins, you'll see a catechism question. [00:00:58] Catechism is a teaching tool of questions and answers, and the Westminster shorter catechism is one of the standards of our church, which we commonly confess what it is we believe. [00:01:12] There are also a helpful set of questions and answers for your teaching, for memorization. And one of those, and the third one asks this what do the scriptures principally teach? That's a pretty good question, right? What is the basic message of the word of God? That's a good question to be able to ask and to answer. [00:01:37] The answer that the catechism gives that I believe the scriptures teach us, is the scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man. So, two things, and in an important order, I'll add, the scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man. [00:02:06] I'd like to think about this truth of the Bible, about the Bible from the perspective of attention. [00:02:16] Attention. [00:02:18] When we read the Bible, we attend to these two things, or at least we ought to, because this is what it's calling us to pay attention to what we are to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man. [00:02:34] And consider the verses that are listed there from the scriptures themselves. [00:02:38] Micah six eight. He hath showed thee, o man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God. [00:02:51] This instruction tells us what God has required of us, and it also adds at the beginning, this is what he has showed us. Right. What has God showed us? This. [00:03:05] This is a good verse to memorize, because this is what the Lord calls us to do. [00:03:12] John 2031. [00:03:15] But these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, ye may have life through his name. [00:03:24] What are the. These have been written. What does that refer to. Well, you might take a guess if you look at the numbers. So John 2031, it comes at the end of the book of John. You might guess that. And you, you would be right if you did. And basically John is talking about the things that he has written, particularly the various signs and acts and words and things that Jesus did right before this John. It says that there are actually lots of things that aren't recorded that are true. [00:03:57] This is a really amazing thought and worth meditating on from time to time. All of the amazing things that we have in the gospels, there's more of them, right? There are more miracles that Jesus did that we don't have recorded, more things that he said. [00:04:14] And of course, this always makes me really curious. Right? What did he do? What other things might we know? [00:04:21] But the key to remember is that the things that have been recorded for us are the ones that we need. [00:04:28] Perhaps there are really good reasons which you can maybe speculate about as a sort of fun spiritual exercise. What is it? What would be the disadvantages of having too much information? Perhaps whatever the case may be, we can trust in the wisdom of the Lord, right. We can trust that he has given us exactly what we need. And we don't need to be disappointed or feel short changed in any way. The Lord has provided us what we need. And these things John wrote by the power of the Holy Spirit for a reason, that we might read them and believe, and believe something in particular, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. And that by believing we would have life in his name. There's a goal, right, to John's writing and there's a goal to the scriptures as a whole. It's the same purpose. God has revealed his word so that we might believe in the Son, the son of God. [00:05:33] And we know this because as we trace the scriptures from the beginning in Genesis all the way to revelation, we find that there is a unified story, a unified story, a single truth about Jesus, about the promised seed, the one who was promised by God to. To solve the problems of sin and suffering, to bring man into the glory for which he was made, but fell short of by his sin. [00:06:07] John 316 tells us, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. [00:06:21] So these are the truths of the scripture, right. We hear what to believe concerning God, particularly through the son and spirit. We learn that believing we have life in his name and that this life is marked by good works that God has called us to, duties that he commands of us. [00:06:40] What I'd like to meditate on with you tonight is this question, is there anything more important than these two things? [00:06:49] What duty God requires of us and what we should believe concerning God. Is there anything more important than these? Which leads to a second question. Is there any more book that's more important than the Bible? [00:07:01] Is there anything that you could say, well, what you should believe concerning God and what duty he requires of you, that's important, but not as important as what? What could you possibly fill in the blank and say that that's more important than knowing who God is? The might believe in him and have eternal life in him? [00:07:21] It gets back to the first question, right, of the catechism, the one that we focused on a few weeks ago. What is the chief end of man? [00:07:30] The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. [00:07:35] This is what God made us for. And the scriptures show us the path. They reveal that, and for a very important reason. We have an attention problem, and we have it in a few different ways. [00:07:51] The demand for our attention is strong, very strong. [00:07:57] Have you ever heard of a field of study called attention economics? [00:08:01] Attention economics considers how attention is a commodity, a valuable, limited resource, and then asks questions about how that commodity, our attention, a valuable, limited, scarce resource, how can it be managed or mismanaged? How can we use it or fail to use it? [00:08:25] We face a particular challenge in our digital information age. Of course, Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wired magazine, points this out when he says that the cost of gaining attention is lower than ever. The ability to ping and beep and buzz someone to get their attention is so much easier than it once was. You can reach people across the world multiple times a day with a click of a button with hardly any cost at all. And yet, the scarcity of this resource has not changed, has it? We all have a certain number of hours in the day, and that's it. [00:09:10] That's not changing. [00:09:12] So this has always been a problem. But it has become an even greater problem as our attention, as the demand for our attention is so extreme. And unless you've set up some kind of internal and external protocols in your life, some on your phone and some in your heart, it's easy, too easy, to jump from meme to clothing sale to text message to Internet search, to email to spreadsheet, back to a meme, then over to a podcast and lose a third of your day without even knowing it. [00:09:48] This is one problem with our attention but being a bad steward of our time is definitely not the only problem. [00:09:56] The other problem is that these attention grabbing things have and are intended to have an influence on us. [00:10:06] One problem that we have is a loss of an ability to attend to things that do require focus. [00:10:13] Jumping around all the time gives us practice in jumping around all the time. Right? [00:10:21] This can cause us to lose our attention span, our capability to attend to things for extended periods of time. [00:10:32] This is true and has been proven in a number of studies and I've heard even people in professions that require, typically require a lot of deep focus and reading. Professions that tend to attract bookish types like political scientists, lawyers, authors and pastors talk about their decreasing spans of attention and how that's a challenge for them. And if it's a challenge for book nerds, can you imagine how much more difficult it is for the rest of us? [00:11:10] If these folks are not immune, others will not fare so well. [00:11:15] But as I mentioned, in addition to a bad stewardship of time loss attention span, there is this problem of mind transformation. These messages are intended to transform our minds, influence our emotions, and move us to action. [00:11:31] In fact, marketers have a term for this. They call it the CTA, the call to action. It needs to be at the end of every ad, every email, these kinds of things. [00:11:42] They want you to act. They want you to do something, think something, feel something, many. And the thing is, many of the people demanding your attention from you, they want something from you. Now, this is not new. [00:11:58] This is not a new digital information age. This is just classic rhetoric. This is human communication. I'm doing it in this sermon, and you will do it when you get home and try to convince the other members of your family to pack for family camp or get ready for the school week, right? This is how we communicate, right? We talk to one another and seek to influence one another and call each other to action all the time, whether it's click this ad or please load the dishwasher. [00:12:28] This is how we work. [00:12:30] The point isn't that communication is new or anything like that. The point is that communication is meant to transform. When we grab people's attention, we want it for a reason. It's a pretty simple point I'm trying to make, and that's important to remember, because all of this information that we have to contend with, it's important to remember that that information is trying to change you, to move you, to affect you, and on purpose. It's trying to get your attention for a reason. [00:13:04] And the important corollary point to this is that not everyone who's trying to get your attention has your best interest at heart. Heart, at least, not your eternal best interest. [00:13:16] The message of the world we have to remember competes with the message of the Lord in its sinfulness. It continually offers a false idol, a false identity, a false narrative about our world, about who we are. [00:13:34] The messages of this world correspond with our sin and our sinful biases and lies. [00:13:43] They tell us that we can imagine God however we want, and that if we do the right acts, this God that we have made up will be pleased and we will be happy. There are all kinds of versions of this, but that is the essential core of it. A pretend God that you can please by doing a bunch of stuff. [00:14:04] Now, some people talk about this quite openly. They'll tell you, money is my God. My car is my God. [00:14:13] I had a young lady tell me the other day that crocs were her identity. [00:14:21] Now, this may sound ludicrous, right? That a piece of rubber footwear could stand in for one's understanding of self and be a gateway of meaning, a door to community, and offer a worldview and a way of life. [00:14:36] But I'm not lying. That's what she was saying. [00:14:41] Maybe she was joking a little bit, but if I was using my pastoral spidey sense, I'd say she believed it about 80%. At least this is how she saw herself. She was a crocs girl, and everything about her life was kind of wrapped up in this. [00:15:02] Maybe crocs don't do it for you, but perhaps there's a certain artist or genre of music, a school of thought, a way to make money, whatever. [00:15:13] We all come up with these ideas about ultimate things and who God is, what is ultimate? And then once we figure that out, we come up with 710 or 10,000 steps that we need to take in order to gain and attain the promises of this thing. [00:15:37] The sad thing is, one of the sad things is that we even do this with the real God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. [00:15:45] Romans ten three speaks of Jews who have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. [00:15:53] What went wrong? Paul tells us in Romans 932, because they did not pursue righteousness by faith, but as if it were based on works. [00:16:05] So, brothers and sisters, to put a point on this, this is our problem. We have limited attention spans, and then we frequently attend to the wrong things. We pursue after eternities that are nothing but mirages, empty vanities. We twiddle away our times, and we chase after vain dreams that get us nowhere and just entrap us. As ecclesiastes puts it, a chasing after the wind. [00:16:34] This is our problem, and the Bible is the solution. [00:16:39] It's God's solution, and it is accomplished. The solution is accomplished not by our cleverness, but by his redemptive work, a free offer of grace, in which he reveals to us heavenly information, divine information, saving information, information that truly transforms our minds, our hearts, our lives, our walks. [00:17:12] He gives to us the word of God, to rid us of our false idols and tell us who he really is, to undermine our work's righteousness, that seeks to attain to the righteousness of God, attain these glorious things through our own works. He pulls out the rug from us throughout the scriptures and says, this is the duty I require of you, and you cannot do it over and over again. He points this out in all kinds of ways through the stories of scriptures, the stories of the scriptures, the most righteous saints falling and failing in great ways, the whole nation of Israel, the whole story of Israel, having been given the law so perfectly, so completely, and then failing so utterly after so many warnings from God. [00:18:10] Paul recounts this history and this theology all throughout the first few chapters of Romans. This point is made over and over and over again, and we know it in our own hearts, too. [00:18:21] We are not able to do the things that God requires. But when he changes our hearts, when he forgives us through the grace of Jesus Christ, he enables us and changes us in such a way that we begin to freely obey the law, and we begin to say things like David says about the law, being like sweet honey on his lips. Instead of this terror, instead of this frightful thing, it becomes sweet to us. [00:18:55] We become people who love the law of the Lord, delight in the law of the Lord. We see our own passions, our own desires, our own thoughts in light of it, and we seek to follow on the life that he is called to, not because we think we can earn something from God, but because he's already earned something for us. [00:19:19] And so, in the midst of this demand for our attention, the worldly calls that are trying to transform us as christians, we have a responsibility to learn to identify this and resist it. [00:19:35] One John 215 says this do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. [00:19:46] Romans twelve two says, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable, perfect. [00:20:02] Well, how you might ask, can I discern the will of God? How can I learn what is good and acceptable and perfect? How can I learn what duty he requires of me? [00:20:17] In the Bible, God doesn't leave us guessing. God doesn't make us just wonder and flounder around in the darkness. He tells us he shines a light and he shows us the way, and not just the way of good works, but the way of faith, so that by following him we might be led into good works as he has destined us to do. [00:20:44] The Bible is God's gift to us to help solve this problem in our hearts and in the world, instead of leaving us in a sea of information overload with a lot of leaky boats floating around offering to save us. The Bible comes like this giant cruise ship or battleship all rolled into one and does save us. God through his word, speaks into our lives, into our lives, and allows us to see the truth, the truth about our situation, the truth about who he is, and the truth of the promises that he makes to us in Christ, what we should believe concerning him and the duty he requires of us. [00:21:31] And as I've said at the beginning and hinted to throughout, this order matters, this order matters. [00:21:41] We believe and then do not do and then believe. [00:21:46] This is an essential part of what it means to believe in the one true God and to follow him. The elementary principles of this world will tell us that we have to do and then do some more, and that really believing is just doing, and that if we do enough, God might be pleased. But God says something else, doesn't he? Galatians 312 the law is not of faith, rather the one who does them shall live by them. Psalm 40 511 says, since he is your Lord, bow to him. [00:22:22] And John 15 four, abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. Jesus says, I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. [00:22:49] We must be attached to the vine. And in the Bible God reveals himself to us, and he works in our hearts through his spirit so that we can abide in him. [00:23:03] In the Bible, God reveals to us his plan for our happiness and gives us the key to alives with meaning, glorifying him and enjoying him through his son, which leads to obedience and rewards through his power working in us. [00:23:21] What the Bible does is condemn our pride instead of commending our best efforts as worthy of the glory of God. It condemns our best efforts and even the most righteous people before the glory God. [00:23:37] It tells us over and over again that Christ's works, and not ours, will accomplish our salvation. [00:23:43] And it tells us that when we walk by faith in him, we will also walk in his works. [00:23:51] One more passage of scripture. I hope these have been enriching to you and have been showing you what God teaches us about himself and about his duty, the duty he requires of us. The last passage is from romans 1625 through 27. [00:24:11] Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ago, but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all the nations, according to the command of the eternal God to bring about the obedience of faith to the only wise God. Be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ. Amen. [00:24:46] Isn't that amazing? [00:24:48] Paul tells us that we give glory to God. He calls out blessing and glory to God because he this is what we believe about him. He is able to strengthen us according to what the gospel. [00:25:06] According to the revelation of the mystery. [00:25:10] A revelation has happened. God has said something, revealed something, opened something that was kept secret for a long time, but now has been disclosed. The world has. It has been made known to the world, to all nations. Why? By accident? No. According to the command of the eternal God, in a couple weeks we're going to think about God's eternality and a number of his other characteristics. Come back for that when we'll consider the question, what is God? [00:25:46] What does the scripture reveal to us about his nature and about how we know him in Christ? [00:25:53] Here tonight, though, we simply remember this, that this one true God who has revealed himself to us in Christ, he reveals himself to us in such a way that, as Paul says, when we put our faith in him, he brings about the obedience of faith. [00:26:13] So this is why we ought to attend to the Bible daily, why we ought to give it our attention. [00:26:20] Instead of letting the world fill our ears and all of our time with empty promises about ultimate things and vain paths for self righteousness, we ought to test what we hear and conform it to what the Bible says. [00:26:39] Let's ask God to bless us in these things. [00:26:43] Our heavenly Father, we thank you for revealing through your son and spirit this revelation that was hidden and veiled in so many ways, but now has been revealed so clearly through the word of God, through the son of God who came and has announced to the world, the forgiveness of sins. [00:27:05] We thank you for the messages that came before him, the prophets who came before him, from John the Baptist to Elijah and Isaiah to Moses himself and others before him, people coming and giving the word of God to the world that we might hear and believe. [00:27:24] We thank you for our fathers and mothers in the faith who have come before us and who have passed this word down generation to generation. Of course, more evidence of your glorious providence, of your almighty power, and of your desire and will to save your people. [00:27:44] You've let your voice be heard in the world, and many have come to you, have heeded the call to believe the gospel and have changed and are now bringing about or bringing forth. You are bringing forth that obedience that comes from faith. [00:28:02] And so we pray to you, and we proclaim that you are the only wise God and to you alone be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ. [00:28:13] We ask, o Lord, that you would help us to not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and let it be through the word that you have given to us, this word that brings about faith, this word that brings about the obedience of faith. Let us learn to attend to your word and establish habits and practices in our lives that attend to these truths. [00:28:41] Lord, in the ways that we do not value the Bible, that we do not value your word, we ask that you would. [00:28:48] We ask that you would sanctify us in these ways, that you would forgive us for our hardness of heart and teach us to treasure it, to recognize its preciousness in the way that it saves us from our sins, in the way that your voice speaks into the darkness of our hearts and opens and brings us to life. [00:29:09] Lord, through your word, many have been saved and will be saved. Many have been transformed and have been made wise unto salvation. And through your word, many are bringing forth the fruits of that faith and that righteousness and are learning the will of God, that we might follow you all of the days of our lives. [00:29:33] We ask that you would help us to be a people of your word, to be a family of brothers and sisters that are committed to knowing, meditating, memorizing, seeing your word that we might know you whom we ought to put our trust in, and the duty that you require of us according to that very word. All praise and glory and honor to you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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