02222015HowElseWouldGodHaveSaidItDonRuhl

How Else Would God Have Said It? 

If God wanted us to believe something, how would He have said it, other than the way He said it?

Habakkuk 2.2–3

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • February 22, In the year of our Lord, 2015

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Larry Amberg – No Suggestions

Prelude

  1. The Lord said to Habakkuk the prophet,

    2 Then the Lord answered me and said:

    “Write the vision
    And make it plain on tablets,
    That he may run who reads it.
    3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
    But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
    Though it tarries, wait for it;
    Because it will surely come,
    It will not tarry.”
    (Hab 2.2–3)

  2. On most matters, the Lord has made Himself plain in Scripture. 
    1. There are passages hard to understand, but
    2. those are in the minority.
      1. However, we like to complicate the simple.
      2. If it is not complex,
        1. we figure something must be wrong.
        2. We think the complex and complicated mean
          1. it is greater, or
          2. it is better.
    3. Then we employ someone to tell us what it means.
  3. Subsequently, there are endless debates over plain teachings of Scripture. 
    1. Scripture speaks plainly, and
    2. that bothers us, as Mark Twain once said,

      “It is not the few obscure passages of the Bible that bother me, it is the very many passages that speak all too clearly that have me worried.”

      1. We think to ourselves
      2. that those passages cannot possibly mean what they say they mean.
        1. Sure enough, we can find someone who will tell us
        2. that those passages truly do not mean what they clearly say.
          1. That leads to endless debates.
          2. I have never participated in a public debate, but
            1. I have had correspondence, Bible studies, and so on,
            2. where someone has said there must be some other meaning.
  4. Here are four teachings that illustrate my point. 

Persuasion

  1. Creation 
    1. The issue is not whether God could have used evolution.
      1. The issue is how did He say He did it.
      2. However, many people want to combine the teaching of evolution
        1. with the plain teachings of the Bible that God created everything.
        2. Therefore, they tell us that such passages really do not mean
          1. what they appear to say.
          2. They believe we have to use modern science,
            1. which is changing all the time,
            2. to tell us what the Lord meant to say.
    2. The Bible speaks plainly on the matter of creation,

      1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day (Gen 1.1–5).

      1. The pattern continues for the next five days of creation.
      2. The rest of Scripture affirms this truth, as in the Ten Commandments,

        8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exo 20.8–11).

        1. The children of Israel were to base their work week
        2. on the Lord’s creation week.
          1. Did the Jews work for six billion years and then
          2. rest for one billion years?
            1. No, they did what the Lord did.
            2. What does that tell you about the days of creation?
      3. The psalmist reveals how the Lord did it,

        6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
        And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
        7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
        He lays up the deep in storehouses.
        8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
        Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
        9 For He spoke, and it was done;
        He commanded, and it stood fast.

        (Psa 33.6–9)
      4. Jesus indicated that man has been here from the beginning,

        6 “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female’” (Mark 10.6).

        1. Evolution says man is a late comer.
        2. Creation says man has been here from the beginning.
    3. You know that I could produce many more passages
      1. from both the Old and the New Testaments,
      2. that affirm these very truths.
    4. If the Lord wanted us to give us the impression
      1. that He created the world in six days as we know and experience them,
      2. how else would He have said it, other than the way that He said it?
        1. If He wanted us to get the idea
        2. that He took billions of years,
          1. could He not have said it?
          2. Notice:
            1. People try to take the six-day creation and
            2. turn it into a six-billion year creation.
              1. No one, including me, is taking His plain writing, saying
              2. He took six billion years, but He actually meant days.
  2. Indwelling of the Holy Spirit 
    1. The issue is not whether the Spirit dwells in us.
      1. The issue is whether He actually dwells in us or
      2. only representatively through the word.
        1. In other words, some argue that although Scripture says
        2. the Holy Spirit dwells in us,
          1. they offer all kinds of arguments as to why
          2. it can only be representatively.
            1. As you have the word in you, they say,
            2. you have the Spirit in you.
    2. However, listen to the Holy Spirit in Scripture speak of dwelling in us,

      26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Eze 36.26–27).

      32 “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5.32).

      11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Rom 8.11).

      6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4.6).

    3. How am I to understand those passages?
      1. In Ezekiel, the Lord prophesied that He would put His Spirit within us.
      2. The apostles said that God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.
      3. Paul spoke of the Spirit dwelling in our mortal bodies.
      4. Paul also revealed that God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts.
        1. Someone says, Oh, you have to read so and so’s book, to understand
        2. that those passages do not mean what they appear to say.
          1. To which I say, Oh, really?
          2. Reading the Bible is not enough apparently for some people.
    4. If the Lord wanted us to give us the impression
      1. that the Holy Spirit literally and personally dwells in us,
      2. how else would He have said it, other than the way that He said it?
        1. If He wanted us to get the idea
        2. that the Spirit dwells us in representatively,
          1. could He not have said it?
          2. Notice:
            1. People try to take the plain statements of the indwelling and
            2. turn them into something He did not say.
              1. No one, including me, is taking His plain writing, saying
              2. the Spirit dwells representatively, but He meant literally.
  3. Falling Away 
    1. The issue is not whether the Bible says anything about falling away, because
      1. it clearly does.
      2. The issue is whether
        1. the Lord meant what He said and
        2. said what He meant.
    2. I am of the opinion that
      1. He meant what He said and
      2. said what He meant.
        1. Why would anyone say otherwise?
        2. They would say He did not mean what He said, because
          1. they do not like what He said and
          2. they disagree with Him and His literal statement offends them.
    3. Scripture speaks plainly on the possibility of a Christian falling away,

      17 “…for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”
      25 “…to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place” (Acts 1.17, 25).

      4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace (Gal 5.4).

      4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if [Greek ”and”] they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame (Heb 6.4–6).

      17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked (2Pe 3.17).

      1. If those passages do not mean
      2. that we can fall away,
        1. what do they mean?
        2. Why did the Lord make it sound as though
          1. we can fall away
          2. when in fact we cannot fall away?
    4. If the Lord wanted us to give us the impression
      1. that the Christian can fall away,
      2. how else would He have said it, other than the way that He said it?
        1. If He wanted us to get the idea
        2. that there is no way we can fall away,
          1. could He not have said it?
          2. Notice:
            1. People try to take the plain statements of falling away and
            2. turn them into something He did not say.
              1. No one, including me, is taking His plain writing, saying
              2. that it is impossible to fall away, but
                1. these passages actually mean you can.
  4. Baptism 
    1. The issue is not
      1. whether baptism is something Jesus wants us to do,
      2. nor is it whether we are saved by baptism alone.
    2. The issue is how is baptism connected with our salvation.
      1. Some people say it comes after salvation and shows you are saved.
      2. Others say it is before or simultaneously to salvation.
    3. What do the plain teachings of Scripture say?

      16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16.16).

      38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38).

      16 “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22.16).

      21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1Pe 3.21).

      1. How am I to understand these plain declarations of Scripture?
        1. Jesus said if you believe and are baptized, you are saved.
        2. Peter said if you repent and are baptized, you are forgiven.
        3. Ananias said that in baptism you wash away your sins.
        4. Peter said that baptism now saves you.
      2. If baptism has nothing to do with the obtaining of salvation,
        1. why did the Holy Spirit have these preachers
        2. say what they said, because
          1. they all give the impression
          2. that baptism, along with other things, brings on our salvation?
    4. If the Lord wanted us to give us the impression
      1. that we must be baptized to be saved,
      2. how else would He have said it, other than the way that He said it?
        1. If He wanted us to get the idea
        2. that baptism shows we are already saved, or something else,
          1. could He not have said it?
          2. Notice:
            1. People try to take the plain statements on baptism and
            2. turn them into something He did not say.
              1. No one, including me, is taking His plain writing, saying
              2. that baptism has nothing to do with salvation but it does.
                1. No, people take the connection of baptism to salvation and
                2. saying there is no connection.

Exhortation

  1. If we cannot accept the plain announcements of Scripture, 
    1. we are in trouble, because
    2. that makes us subject to some man’s interpretation.
  2. If we cannot accept the plain announcements of Scripture, 
    1. we imply the Lord does not know how to communicate properly.
    2. Do you want to go to the Judgment having implied such a thing?
  3. The Lord 
    1. meant what He said,
    2. said what He meant, and
      1. knows how to express Himself, and
      2. He wants us to understand the truth
        1. that we might be saved.
        2. If we change His word we have jeopardized our salvation.
  4. Do you believe Jesus is the Lord? 
    1. If so,
      1. you accept His teachings,
      2. you obey His commands, and
      3. you repeat His teachings and commands as He delivered them.
    2. If Jesus is Lord,
      1. He does not need our help
      2. to get across His word in a better way.
    3. If Jesus is Lord,
      1. why debate the plain statements of Scripture?
      2. Accept them and do them.