Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Romans 15:4


Romans 15:4



"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope"


What does God expect Christians to do with the Old Testament today? We know that we are no longer under the Law given at Sinai and that we are under the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6-13; 9:15-17; 10:9-10; Romans 7:4-7; Colossians 2:14-17). The above verse says that whatever was written in earlier times was written not only for those who lived under the Law, but also for Christians. God had the Old Testament Scriptures preserved for Christians, because there are so many valuable lessons to be learned. Lessons that can offer the motivation and incentive to remain patient and hopeful.


God and Percentages


What do we do when we encounter people who argue that what the church of Christ teaches can’t be right, because look at the small percentage of people who embrace it. First of all, percentages can change. For example, the growth rate for the church of Christ from 1906 to 1956 was 96.48 percent. From 1941 to 1961, the yearbook of American churches noted that the growth rate for the church of Christ was 580%. At the same time, the Old Testament reveals that numbers are irrelevant as far as the truth is concerned. What was the percentage of people saved during the flood? (2 Peter 2:5 "Noah, with seven others"). What was the percentage of Israelites who actually entered the Promise Land? (1 Corinthians 10:5 "Nevertheless with most of them God was not well pleased"). How many saved people lived in the city of Sodom? (2 Peter 2:7).


How Does God Speak To Us?


"But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying" (Matthew 22:31).

Jesus quotes Exodus 3:6, a conversation that had taken place over 1400 years previously, and yet He says that God had spoken to His generation in that verse. What God did in the Old Testament was select certain prophets and then spoke through them. These communications were then written down. God didn’t speak to everyone directly, but rather, the communication through the prophets(Hebrews 1:1) was preserved in book form, the Scriptures, and this is how God spoke to every succeeding generation. Jesus says that when we pick up the New Testament, God is speaking directly to us, to our generation and our time. No wonder, Peter called the Word of God, living and abiding (1 Peter 1:23).


Do We Still Have The Word of God?


People do wonder and fret about whether or not the Bible that we possess today is truly an accurate rendering of what was originally written. Have books been omitted or added? Since we don’t possess any of the original autographed manuscripts, how can we be sure that our modern translation is the Word of God? Remember, when Jesus was upon this earth, none of the original autographed manuscripts of Old Testament books existed, yet, He viewed the current translation as the Word of God right down to the smallest letter and mark of punctuation (Matthew 5:17-18). The New Testament repeatedly endorses all the major events in the Old Testament, like the Creation, Adam and Eve, the Fall, Cain and Abel, Noah and the ark, Abraham, the Exodus, and so on (Hebrews 11:1ff). When Jesus was on this earth, the earliest section of the Old Testament had been copied by hand and passed down from generation to generation for 1400 years. Yet, Jesus still believed that the Jews possessed exactly what God had spoken through Moses (John 5:39,45-47). See also Matthew 22:43; 8:4; 19:8; Mark 7:10; Luke 16:31; John 7:19. Since God preserved the Old Testament Scriptures, how much more confidence can we have that God preserved the New Testament Scriptures which contain a superior covenant?

Will God Change His Mind?


One question that many people ponder is, "I know what the Bible says, and that Jesus is the only way to eternal way and that you must obey Him (Hebrews 5:9), but at the last day will God loosen this standard and save people who either have not believed or obeyed".

"And the Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35): The above statement has so many applications and far-reaching implications: 1. The Scriptures cannot be set aside by man, for they possess an authority so great that they cannot be broken, annulled or disregarded without consequence. 2. This verse contradicts those who claim that Scriptures can be set aside if the situation demands it. "If the Scripture speaks, the issue is settled once and for all…the contemporary existential and subjective validation of the Word (i.e. various passages become or do not become the Word of God in the mind of the reader) is crushed by this statement" (Butler p. 127). 3. Regardless of what man discovers, man will never discover a historical or scientific truth that will contradict what is found in Scripture. Scripture never becomes irrelevant or out-dated. 4. Time and culture do not deprive Scripture of its authority. 5. Only God has the right to declare when Scripture has been fulfilled (Matthew 5:19), or when one covenant has been replaced by another. 5. "Every statement of the Scripture stands immutably, indestructible in its verity, unaffected by denial, human ignorance or criticism, charges of errancy or other subjective attack" (Lenski p. 767). 6. Morris hits the nail on the head when he observes, "Notice that he says this, not in connection with some declaration which might be regarded as among the key declarations of the Old Testament, but of what we might perhaps call without disrespect a rather run-of-the-mill passage" (p. 526). No Scripture, not even the most "ordinary" can be broken. Every passage stands equally authoritative and equally inspired. We cannot pick and choose which Scriptures or doctrines we think are more important than others. 7. Be impressed that Jesus is making a rather technical argument. He could have cited other Scriptures from the Old Testament, which proved that the Messiah would be God (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2), but He didn’t. God isn’t against fine tuned arguments. The following verse makes it clear that God kept every promise in the Old Testament and every threat.

"For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard" (Hebrews 2:1-3).


How Does God Feel About Sin?


From the above passage we learn that God hates every sin and not just some sins or the sins that others are committing. In light of 2 Peter 2:4-9 and 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 we learn that God will punish His own people if they stray from the truth. Clearly, the Old Testament argues against the concept of once-saved-always-saved. The very fact that all the failures among the Israelites are constantly placed before the eyes of Christians, stands as proof that we can make all the mistakes that they made (Hebrews 3:12-4:2). In all these examples God is reminding us: 1. While He may not strike people dead today, He still feels the same way about the same sins. 2. Don’t become overconfident that you could never stray, believe false doctrine or that somehow God is going to save you without 100% of your cooperation. 3. As Israel faced false prophets, the church will battle false teachers (2 Peter 2:1ff). We must never accept the modern concept that the days of apostasy are past, and that we are immune from being lead astray. Remember, the desire to hear nothing but smooth and positive statements is a sign that one is drifting (Isaiah 30:10; Jeremiah 8:11; Romans 16:18).

How Close Must We Obey?


To even ask the question, "How much of God’s Word must I follow?", just sounds selfish and ungrateful. Paul and other faithful Christians had the exact opposite attitude (Galatians 2:20). From the Old Testament we learn that: 1. Good intentions and sincerity do not make up for a lack of obedience (2 Samuel 6:1-7). 2. Violating a command, even when "your heart is right", is viewed as "irreverence". 3. Almost complying with a command is viewed as "rebellion" (1 Samuel 15:22-23). 4. Doing something in the name of God that we don’t have a command for, is viewed as a terrible crime and treating God with disrespect (Leviticus 10:1-3).


How Are We To Study?


Some people today would say that as long as you just get the overall gist of the Bible that believing this or that doctrine really isn’t that important. We should note how Jesus and the apostles interpreted Scripture. They would base arguments upon the tense of a word in the Old Testament (Matthew 22:29-32), or whether a word was singular or plural (Galatians 3:16). Jesus expected the Jews to understand and believe the doctrines or teachings found in the Scriptures. When they didn’t, He accused them of not understanding the Scriptures and lacking faith in the power of God (Matthew 22:29). May I suggest to you that the majority of false doctrines today, are guilty of the same thing. When someone tries to convince you that: 1. We can’t understand the Bible alike. 2. Doctrinal unity is impossible. 3. The earth could not have been created in six days. 4. Simply preaching the gospel will not convert people, we need something else, and so on, their problem is a lack of faith in God. Such assertions are just as unbelieving as when the Israelites refused to believe God’s promise that they could take the land of Canaan (Numbers 13-14).

What Does God Expect Of Me?


Hebrews chapter 11 is a description of the level of faith that is necessary to inherit eternal life (Hebrews 10:36-39). 1. God expects us to believe in things that the Bible talks about, but we can’t see (11:1). 2. God expects us to accept what Genesis says about the creation (11:3). 3. God expects us to offer the worship that He had commanded (11:4). 4. God expects us to promptly obey His commands (11:7,8). 5. God expects us to give or offer the supreme sacrifice, if needed (11:17). 6. God expects us to choose heavenly treasure and eternal pleasure over sinful and worldly pleasure (11:25). 7. God expects us to keep commands that we don’t fully comprehend (11:30). 8. God expect us to do things that are uncomfortable, frightening, and overwhelming, (11:29). 9. God expects us to believe the truth when we are confronted with it (11:31). 10. God expects us to remain faithful even in the face of persecution and death (11:33,35-38).

Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017