But that’s not what they get most of the time. Serious study of the Word of God, diligent hard labor in the text of Scripture in the original languages and racing throughout the analogia scriptura, the analogy of Scripture as it explains itself across the sixty-six books, the diligence required for that to bring up the rich treasure is not the interest of most pop Christian personalities.
This he wrote in the preface to a reprint of Richard Baxter’s Christian Directory. This is what Packer said in characterizing evangelicalism. He said, “It is ego-centric, zany, simplistic, degenerate, half-magic spell casting which is all the world sees when it watches religious television or looks directly at the professed evangelical community.”
Pretty strong language from an Anglican.
He further said this, “Our how-tos, how to have a wonderful family, great sex, financial success in a Christian way, how to cope with grief, life passages, crises, fears, frustrating relationships and what not else give us formula to be followed by a series of supposedly simple actions on our part in the manner of painting by numbers.”
And I actually see this trend as a judgment from God…
Romans 1, “God gave them over…gave them over…gave them over,” repeated three times. They didn’t want His Word. They didn’t want His truth.
There’s a great illustration of this. Turn back to the Old Testament in Amos chapter 8…Amos chapter 8.
Verse 11, Amos 8, “For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord. And people will stagger from sea to sea, from the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, to the Mediterranean, east to west, and from the north even to the east, and they will go to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord but they will not find it.” Boy, that is so relevant. A famine of the Word of the Lord. They will seek it and they will not find it. This is a divine judgment on people who refuse to hear it when they had it. Eight centuries before Christ. The northern kingdom, Israel, is confident, actually smug, feeling good. They shouldn’t have. Morals had crashed. Read the whole prophecy of Amos, it’s all there.
That happened and it’s happening again. I fear that just like in Amos’ day when people would not listen, there will come a time when they cannot find the truth. This country, look at its history, had a great era of great preaching in its inception, and in the Great Awakening and even into the modern era when there was consistency in the pulpits and the gospel was preached, but it was not accepted, it was not believed by the people outside the Kingdom and even by those who are in the Kingdom who assaulted and attacked it in ways that I described last week. Those who would not listen are going to find that there is no longer a word coming from the Lord readily available to them. God’s Word has been available but when God judges, it becomes unavailable. And what you have today even in our country, and I can’t speak for God and just exactly when He’s judging, but I will tell you this, that there are so many people claiming to speak for God that it is well nigh impossible for an unbeliever to know who in the world is really God’s spokesman.
Superior to reason
Let me give you some comments from some past guys who left an impression. Martin Luther, “The Bible cannot be understood simply by study or talent. You must count on the influence of the Holy Spirit.” How about Zwingli, another Reformer, “Even if you received the gospel of Jesus Christ directly from an Apostle, you cannot act according to it unless your heavenly Father teaches you.”
And John Calvin held the same view that the Word of God is believed when God regenerates the heart. Listen to what Calvin wrote. “The testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason.” Very important statement. “The testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason, for these words will not obtain full credit…the words of Scripture…in the hearts of men until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. Scripture carrying its own evidence along with it deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Holy Spirit.” Profound statement, absolutely accurate.
Our gospel came not unto you in word only
In 1 Thessalonians 1:4 and 5, Paul said regarding his own preaching in the revelation that came from God through him, “Knowing your election how that our gospel came not unto you in word only but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance.” Why is it that some people hear the preaching of the gospel and it comes in power and it comes in the Holy Spirit and it comes in assurance, Paul says, knowing your election? Because God chose you to understand this. First Corinthians 2:4 and 5, “My speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom.” You don’t need that. “But in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” Now there is a preacher.
An invitation to prove the bible is true
I remember one time years ago when I was speaking at a college, and it was Whittier College. They asked me to come out on a three-nights and prove the Bible was true. Well I was fairly young and thought this was great and I believe it’s true and I think I can lay down some evidences. And so I crafted a whole long list of evidences…the Bible is true because of its unity, it never contradicts itself, the Bible is true because of its scientific accuracy, says He hangs the world on nothing. That’s pretty significant. It says the earth is turned like clay to the seal, rotated on an axis, that’s what they do with clay when they would embed a signature into soft clay. It talks about the course of the sun that runs from one end of space to the other, the whole hydrological cycle is unfolded in the book of Isaiah. You can talk about a lot of scientific things. The scientific accuracy in a rather primitive scientific world when these things were written, that’s testimony to the veracity of Scripture. And then I talked about its historical accuracy, archeological discoveries and all those kinds of things. And I went through all the details. I talked about miracles, how else can you explain the miracles that were seen by hundreds and thousands of people? Miracles that had no other explanation, the miraculous events, the miraculous nature, the miraculous attestation in the life of our Lord and the life of the Apostles and their associates who wrote the Scriptures. I went through all of that. I even made a point out of the person of Jesus Christ who was so transcendent, no one ever could have invented Him. And I laid down all the evidences carefully and I frankly thought the proof was overwhelming. Yet to my knowledge not one single person was convinced in the whole student body.
Natural man can’t get there by himself
And I went away thinking that there’s something else going on here, more than reason. And I began to realize what it says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 and if you will, turn there. That was just the introduction, now we’re going to get to the text. First Corinthians 2:14, here is the summation of the problem. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually examined, appraised, discerned.” Well that’s the answer. It’s impossible. Evidences aren’t going to cut it on their own. Human reason can’t get you there. The natural man does not because he cannot. He does not believe because he cannot believe. And there is a certain profound reality to this cannot. He is unable because he’s natural and not spiritual. He doesn’t have any spiritual apparatus.
Our gospel is veiled
Furthermore, he is unable…look at 2 Corinthians chapter 4, this is compounding his inability. Paul says in verse 3, “If our gospel is veiled…” Look, we preached the gospel and people don’t all believe. We know that. “If it is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. It is veiled to those who are perishing…it is veiled to those who are headed for hell.” In whose case? Verse 4, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.” They don’t because they can’t, they can’t because they’re natural, not spiritual. They can’t because they’re dead not alive, they can’t because they are blinded by the god of this world who is…as you well know…Satan.
The barriers to belief
But there’s even more. Go back to Matthew chapter 11…to show you how profound their condition is, how it is to say how deep is their darkness, in Matthew chapter 11 Jesus speaks in verse 25, “He answered and said this, ‘I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes.” O boy. Now you have not only the natural condition, making it impossible for somebody to believe, you not only have the Satanic condition, making it impossible for somebody to believe, but you have the divine judgment in which God has hidden these things from the wise and intelligent. Why? The answer is in verse 26, and here’s the answer Jesus gave in His prayer to the Father. “Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight.” That is the only answer. Are you ready for that? There’s no other answer, because He wanted it that way…because He wanted it that way. It pleased God to hide these things from the wise and the prudent. You can’t get there through reason, even reason at its peak, reason at its pinnacle.
Why do we believe the Bible?
Why do we believe the Bible? Cause it was given to us to believe it. A man who had a great influence on me years ago and still does occasionally when I read his writings, is a man named Cornelius Van Til a great apologist for the Christian faith, but a pre-suppositional apologist and the presupposition was that the Bible is true. Van Til said this in his introduction to Systematic Theology, volume 5, page 130, “Man often speak as though the only thing that the sinner needs is true information. This is not the case. Man needs true interpretation but he also needs to be made a new creature.
Sin is not only misinformation, it is also a power of perversion in the soul.” You can’t just give him the information, you can’t just give him the interpretation. He has to be made a new creation. Van Til said, “The Christian knows that he would interpret nature wrongly due to the sin that is within him, unless he be enlightened by Scripture and guided by the Holy Spirit.” We know that. “Apologetics…he said…involves a conflict over ultimate authorities, that is a conflict over our presuppositions or a final standard.”