SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 27 June 2021
Sermon Text: 2 Timothy 3:10-17
Sermon Series: “The Sovereignty of God”
I. God’s word decreed for all creatures
II. God’s word frees all who come to the Saviour
III. God’s word demonstrates His sovereign presence with us
Today’s message is the last one on this theme, God’s sovereignty, and I’d like to think about it in terms of God’s Word spoken and given to us in His holy Book. I guess some of you might wonder what God’s word recorded in the Bible has anything to do with God’s sovereignty, but the truth is that God’s word is the direct and immediate demonstration of the Lord’s power and authority over all His creation.
This is what we hear from the beginning of v. 16 of 2 Timothy 3 as it says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” It means that God breathed out – that is, issued or spoke – according to His sovereign will and plan, and the Bible is His words recorded for us.
A biblical example that explains how words convey someone’s sovereign authority is the case of Cyrus and his decree in the time of Ezra. In Ezra 5 and 6, we read about the Jews’ return from their exile in Babylonia and they were rebuilding the temple of God. But their surrounding enemies disliked their work, and sent a letter to Darius the king of Persia intending to stop the work of the Jews. So, Darius ordered to investigate the matter, and a scroll was found in the royal archive which recorded the decree Cyrus had given to this matter of rebuilding God’s temple in Jerusalem. Having read this decree of his predecessor, Darius the Persian king ordered his subjects around the land of Israel – who were actually the enemies of the Jews – to support the work of the Jews by providing all necessary materials including all kinds of sacrificial supplies like bulls, rams and sheep. The written decree by Cyrus, a deceased king of Persia, conveyed his royal authority even after his death.
An example of the same effect found in the secular world is various laws represented by the constitution. Many, if not all, modern nations like Australia have a constitution of their own. It’s a legal document agreed by all citizens of each nation, and each nation’s constitution displays the nation’s sovereignty in all areas. Simply put, the words in that special document express supreme authority and power of a sovereign nation.
That’s what 2 Tim. 3:16 means – ‘all Scripture is God-breathed’ – in other words, the Bible as the word of God conveys the sovereignty of God who spoke it all according to His will. So, my intention for today is to see how God’s sovereignty is displayed through His words, and what it means to us who read, meditate on, and live them out daily.
I. GOD’S WORD DECREED FOR ALL CREATURES
To consider God’s sovereignty revealed by His word, we need to go to the very first chapter of the Bible – Gen. 1:1 – which tells us that it was God who began all things through His work of creation. In v. 3 and following of the same chapter, we hear that He created the world by and through His word. So, v. 3 records, “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” and in v. 6, God said again, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” V. 7 tells us the effect of the Lord’s words, “And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse.”
Not only Genesis of the OT, but also John’s Gospel in the New says the same – listen to what Jn. 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through Him.” He spoke and it came to be. What God said became an eternal decree for all things He created. This means, His word has the supreme power and authority that has an eternal binding, eternal validity.
Simply put, God’s word was and is His sovereignty manifested.
II. GOD’S WORD FREES ALL WHO COME TO HIM
His power and authority are binding not only the things He created, but also all people. Some He chose for salvation and others for damnation. In both cases, God’s decree binds everyone for eternity. He spoke and what He said became the eternal decree.
For those God chose to save, they become the Lord’s for eternity. For example, in Ex. 6:9, God said, regarding Israel: “I will take you [Israel] to be My people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” What happened when God spoke this? Israel became the Lord’s people and nation. He spoke and it was a decree issued for them which bound them not temporarily but eternally. I say ‘eternally’ because Israel is not just the ethnic group of the Jews, but the faith-group of all believers of all generations. Or, in another word, the ‘spiritual’ Israel which is consisted of the born-again believers from both the Jews and the Gentiles. God spoke and decreed that this spiritual Israel would be His forever and He their LORD and God forever, and it came to be. His word which manifests His sovereignty is eternally valid to all children of God.
If this was not the case, then, the faith you and I have would be baseless. If God’s word did not convey the supreme authority and power of the King of kings and Lord of lords, then, our belief in the Saviour would not be anything better than crossing fingers. But that’s not the case. Our faith is real and true as our faith is built on the word of the Lord God Almighty!
When the Lord said in Mt. 11:28, for example, “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” the King of the universe means it and guarantees His offer of rest to all who come to Him in faith, trusting what He has said. Consider another example – that is, the words we read from Rev. 21:6 which say, “And He said to me [i.e., the Apostle John], ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spiring of the water of life without payment.’” If these words did not pass on the sovereign power of the world’s only Saviour and Lord, then, it would be an empty promise. What about the following verse – v. 7 of Rev. 21 – says? “The one who conquers will have this heritage [i.e., ‘receiving the spring of the water of life’], and I will be his God and he will be My son.” God’s word frees all who come to Him in faith because what He speaks becomes to all who come to Him an eternally binding decree!
This is the basis of our belief on the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures – in other words, there’s no error, no fault, no mistake, no random chance in God’s word recorded in the Scriptures, but 100 percent pure revelation of the heart of God and the will and plan of God. Thus, it stands alone, surpassing all earthly things. That is what the Lord Jesus means when He says in Mt. 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”
Then, what does this truth mean to you and me? Every word we read in the Bible displays and demonstrates to our eyes, heart and soul the sovereignty of God. This is proclaimed in Jn. 1:1 when it says, “the Word was with God, and the Word was God”! It points out to you and me that when we open and read the word of God, we face God Himself because ‘the word is with God’ – in other words, the word emanates the very nature and essence of God, that is, His sovereignty, He alone is God over all! Like heat radiates from a fire, like light emanates from the sun, the Scriptures display the power and dominion of the only God of the universe.
Many Christians over many generations have understood this nature of the Scriptures. So they revered not only the word, but also the Bible itself. Someone might comment and say, ‘that sounds legalistic.’ But I don’t think at all such is a legalistic notion because if someone truly understands what the word reveals and reflects and communicates, that Christian would surely show a great respect to it, thus, the Bible. In fact, this attitude of God-worshippers toward the Scriptures blessed numerous generations, including us, with the fullness of God’s word. I mean, they carefully copied the books of the Bible – verse by verse and chapter by chapter – by hand since Moses’ time up until the early 16th century AD.
In this way, God’s word displays His sovereignty and frees all people who come to Him in faith.
III. GOD’S WORD DEMONSTRATES HIS SOVEREIGN PRESENCE WITH US
In addition to this truth, the word of God carries out another great role or function, that is, it demonstrates God’s sovereign presence with His people like us. In other words, where the word is, there God is. This is why our Lord Jesus is ‘Immanuel’ – ‘God with us.’ Jesus is the Word and the Word is with us, thus, He is ‘Immanuel.’
Listen to the Lord Jesus in Jn. 14:20 where He explains His presence with us as the word, “you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Then, He continues in v. 21, elaborating His indwelling us, “Whoever has My commandments and keeps them,” – in other words, ‘whoever has My words and practises them, knowing its nature and message’ – “he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” How will He manifest Himself to him who loves Jesus? In a vision? Or in a dream? Or in a miracle? No, none of those forms, but in and through His Word! Isn’t Jesus the Son, after all, the very Word of God? He will manifest Himself to all who love Him in and through His Word spoken and given to us in the Scriptures!
So many Christians – even at this very moment – wish to ‘feel’ or ‘experience’ near presence of Jesus. Some rush to heated music-oriented churches to feel Him, while others long for extraordinary, miracle-like sensations. Some people devote their time to meditation, while some others blindly submit to the rules and guidelines set by their leaders or churches. Some even go extreme to a form of heresy. But what a waste of time! How foolish is their craving! What they wish is and has always been within the reach of their arms, right before their eyes always – that is, the Scriptures, the very word of God. Reading and meditating on it, you face the very face of God and Jesus; understanding it, you recognise the voice of the Lord and His love for you; and practising it, you are walking with the Lord, held by His hand. The word is your communion with the Lord; the word is the Lord’s presence in you and among His beloved! The Word who was with God is now with you who believe; the Word who was God is the God who loves you now and for eternity! Apart from the Word, therefore, no way is there for any man to have or experience the fellowship, communion with God in Jesus!
Only in His Word will Jesus be with us to the ends of the age; only through His word does God fight our battles and bless us and love us. This word we listen to and read and meditate on displays to our eyes and heart and soul God’s sovereign power, authority and lovingkindness.
A. W. Pink was a renowned Bible teacher of the last century and he said in his book, ‘The Sovereignty of God,’ that ‘the great realities of God and of our relation to Him – such as of Christ, the Spirit, salvation, grace and glory – are made known to us’ through the Word of God; and through this word, ‘the Holy Spirit nourishes and edifies Christians’; so, ‘where the word is neglected, growth in grace and effective witnessing for Christ will necessarily cease.’
Pink was one of the numerous Christians who realised the importance of the word God had spoken; as they saw God’s sovereign power and will revealed through His Word, they abode in it and were blessed richly! In fact, this is the apostle’s urge in our text passage, such as v. 14 and following, saying this to us: “as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” May the great King and Lord surround you and me with the words He spoke and enrich all His children deepening our understanding of His sovereignty! ***