By Pastor Roy Thompson (1933-2010)
(Founder and Longtime Faithful Pastor of Cleveland Baptist Church in Ohio)
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“For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” —Psalm 119:89
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” —Matthew 5:18
“But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” —1st Peter 1:25
Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., who was one of a vanishing breed of preachers, had a well-known phrase, “What the Bible says is so.” It’s a plain saying, but it packs a lot of power. It seems today that attacks on the Word of God are coming from every direction. Even within our own ranks (fundamentalism), there are tremendous debates on the Word of God. I have never been ashamed to be called a fundamentalist, but the term has been misused and attributed to some groups to which I wish it were not attributed. The term has a great meaning historically, though, so I don’t shy away from it.
Within the fundamentalist community today, however, there is great misunderstanding on exactly what is our viewpoint of the Bible. Thirty years ago it was enough to say, “I believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures in the original language.” Nobody had a problem with that. Today, though, that’s not enough to say. I believe that a sound, sensible position is that we have had a Bible in the English language for well over three hundred years. God gave us this Bible. I have complete confidence that the King James Version is the Word of God in our mother tongue, so I don’t need any other translations. We do not need to argue and debate this issue constantly. Too many Bible college students today are spending all their time learning about the Bible. It’s fine to know some facts about the Bible, but it’s much more important to know the Bible. We need to get back to studying, memorizing and preaching the Word of God.
I want to take that short clause, “What the Bible says is so” and use it as the theme of this message.
1. What the Bible says is so, in spite of the fact that it is denied by infidels.
Dr. B. R. Lakin tabbed them “in-fer-hells.”). Many infidels are brilliant as far as intelligence and accumulation of facts are concerned. But these people do not believe that God gave us a Bible in any respect—not in the original languages, not in the English language, not at all. These infidels are constantly attacking the Word of God. (They launched a crusade recently to remove from all public school textbooks any reference to God or the Bible or Christianity.) Their denial of the Word of God, though, does not dilute its power. Imagine a man is facing you with a loaded 38-caliber revolver. As he cocks the hammer, you mock him and say, “That gun doesn’t have any power. That gun can’t hurt me.” You’d be a fool to talk like that. You’d be no more of a fool, though, than the man who denies the power of the Word of God.
What the Bible says is so—in spite of the denial of the infidels.
2. What the Bible says is so, in spite of the fact that it is doubted by skeptics.
Skeptics are a bit different than infidels. The skeptic says, “I just don’t know.” He puts a question mark on everything. The question mark of the skeptic is often more successful than the outright denial of the infidel in getting people away from God. The approach is more subtle. When the Devil first approached Eve, he didn’t outright deny what God had said but put a question mark on it: “Hath God said…?” He wanted Eve to ask herself the question, “Is that what God meant?” When the Bible is clear on something, don’t search for a “deep” meaning. I know there are some difficult passages in the Bible (prophetic statements, for instance); but when something is clearly understandable, take it at face value. Don’t put a question mark on it. If you question everything you read in the Bible, it will have no effect on your life. It will hold no persuasive power over your decisions.
Today’s skeptics say, “The Bible was written in an unscientific age. It certainly has some good moral teachings, but as far as having any value as a book of science or psychology, it’s very outdated.” They want you to ask yourself, “Is it really for today? Is it really for me?” But what the Bible says is so—in spite of the doubts of the skeptics.
3. What the Bible says is so, in spite of the fact that it is perverted by false teachers. This is another area where the Devil creeps in.
Home Bible studies enjoy great popularity today, and I’m not one of those preachers who get upset about them. I’d rather somebody have a Bible study than a poker game. But please be careful not to allow anybody to teach something false at your Bible study. If you’re going to get into something “deep,” first consult with the pastor or a mature Christian. In other words, don’t try to do calculus if you haven’t had simple algebra. If you’re going to have a Bible study, don’t use twenty-five reference books and concordances. Open your Bible and pray, “Holy Spirit, teach us. Don’t let us misunderstand something.” Don’t make your Bible study a book study or a study of someone’s cassette tape ministry.
If you’re saved, you ought to know false teaching when you hear it. An unsaved man can easily be duped and deceived, but a Christian should have more discernment. If you believe that your church is a Bible-believing church, be leery of anyone who teaches something contrary to what your church teaches. I’m certainly not claiming that our church is infallible, but I believe that this is a sensible guideline. All kinds of people are quoting the Bible today. Cults are on the rise as never before. There are as many new cults as there are Bibles. (It’s interesting to note that they have risen together.) The Jehovah’s Witnesses used the King James Version for years, but they tired of being “ torn apart” with their own Bible. So now they have their own version, the New World translation. And their scholars were very careful to change that passage in John 1 that was so devastating to them. Instead of “and the Word was God,” their version reads, “…and the Word was a god.” They now have their own religion, their own Bible, their own Christ. Their Christ is almost God, but not quite. He is a god, he is even a mighty god, but he is not Almighty God.
Let me stress, however, that you can also pervert the Word of God while quoting the King James Version. The Christian Scientists are a most perverted sect, but their reading rooms always have a KJV Bible. When Satan came to Jesus and quoted the Bible, he quoted the right translation. And how did Jesus answer him? He quoted the Word of God right back to him. The only authoritative way to answer a perversion of the Scriptures is with the Scriptures. We are to handle the Word properly. So many folks say, “I like this verse—because it suits my case.” They have a convenient theology. Some of the most effective, most dangerous false teaching is that which contains a margin of truth but enough error to water it down and deceive.
Take a doctrine called Calvinism, for instance. The term comes from a man’s name, John Calvin, an outstanding Reformer and Bible teacher. Though I believe he has been sorely misrepresented, from his teachings comes a doctrine referred to as hyper-Calvinism. Some of the truths he taught have been taken to the extreme. A hyper-Calvinist will come to a particular portion of the Scripture and say, “I know that says ‘all’ there, but it really doesn’t mean ‘all.’ ” If God said it, He meant it, because what the Bible says is so—in spite of the perversions by false teachers.
4. What the Bible says is so, in spite of the fact that it is defiled by modernists.
If we go back a number of years, we will find that the main Protestant denominations and the Baptists basically believe d the same thing about the Word of God. Though there were differences on baptism and church polity, these denominations could work together to conduct citywide revival meetings because they believed that man was sinful, that salvation came by grace and that the Bible was God’s inspired Word. When one twerp would dare voice any kind of a modernistic viewpoint, he was cast out. But he gradually wormed his way in— through the seminary. It all begins in the seminary. Young people go there to get their training, and they sit under the teaching of “book professors,” men who have never had any contact with the real world. They have confined themselves within these monasteries of the Protestant and Baptist faiths. They don’t go soul winning; they don’t know what it is to build a church; they don’t know how to weep over the dying; they have never counseled a broken heart. All they know is what they have read in a book. When one of these respected, personable, popular professors comes up with a new idea and starts teaching something way out in “left field,” nobody challenges him because he’s such a nice guy. Then a new teacher joins the staff, and this nice guy gets hold of him and influences his thinking. Now two of them are teaching this offbeat material.
It takes only a generation or two for the entire seminary to go bad. Then every graduate of that school comes into the church with those perverted ideas. Soon the whole church is destroyed. We’ve seen great churches fall that way. And we’re not so strong that it couldn’t happen to us someday if we don’t stay straight in line with the Word of God. I know what the Cleveland Baptist Church was built upon. I’ve been here since Day One. It was built by the prayers, tears, hard work and sacrificial giving of God’s people. Nobody on the outside ever gave us a break. It makes my blood boil to think that fifty years from now some heretic might stand up here and deny the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. If that ever happens, I pray that God will resurrect me long enough to come back and kick that guy off the platform out into the sixth row—because what the Bible says is so, no matter how many modernists defile it.
Yes, what the Bible says is so.
What the Bible says about Heaven is so. At fifty years of age, I’m right at the point where I’m beginning to think about Heaven quite a bit. I’ve already tired of burying my church members and friends in the ministry. I get excited thinking about Heaven! I pity people who think that Heaven will be boring. We’re going to be active there! We’re going to reign with Jesus for a thousand years. There will be a kingdom on this earth like there’s never been before. Redeemed saints of God will rule over this earth. As I understand it, the heavenly Jerusalem will hover over the earth, and the redeemed will have access to both places. Look at what man has built in this country in two hundred years. Then think of God Almighty working on His heavenly city for two thousand years. As far as I know, He’s still putting on the finishing touches. Paul, who was privileged with a “sneak peek” into Heaven, said its beauty is indescribable.
Yes, what the Bible says about Heaven is so. It’s supreme beauty and bliss. And it’s the place where God’s people go when they die.
On the other hand, what the Bible says about Hell is so. If Heaven is real, then Hell is real. If Heaven is literal, then Hell is literal. If Heaven’s streets are paved with pure gold, then Hell’s streets are paved with coals of fire. Hell is just as awful as Heaven is wonderful. What the Bible says about Hell is so.
What the Bible says about man is so. All men are sinners and need to be saved. Your precious family, your dearest friends, the greatest humanitarian who ever lived—all are sinners.
What the Bible says about salvation is so. God’s salvation is free and for everybody. Here I want to examine two parables which Jesus told.
Jesus told a story about a king who instructed his servants to go out and invite some particular people to a feast he was hosting. The three men who were invited each offered an excuse. One said that he had bought some oxen and had to prove them. That’s about as smart as buying a car without knowing whether there’s an engine under the hood. Another said that he had to look at some land he had bought. That was certainly foolish. Another said that he had a wife and therefore couldn’t come. (I once heard a sermon on this parable appropriately entitled “Two Idiots and a Henpecked Husband.”) When the servants returned and told their master what had happened, he was angry and instructed them to go out into the highways and hedges and to talk to the lame, halt, poor and blind. They were to extend an invitation to every person they met. The servants did as they were commanded. When they came back, they said, “Lord, we have done as you have bidden, and yet there is room.” That parable has to mean this: From the day that Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, God provided salvation through a sacrifice. To this day, “though millions have come, there’s still room for one; yes, there’s room at the cross for you.” Calvary is never crowded.
Jesus told another parable about ten virgins. Five were wise; five were foolish. They were waiting for the bridegroom to come. Five went out to buy oil. While they were gone, the bridegroom came, the door was closed, and they were left outside. They knocked and begged to be admitted, but the answer came, “Sorry, it’s too late. You should have been prepared.” I’ve heard many interpretations of that parable, but it teaches one thing for sure: You don’t have all the time in the world. You don’t know when you’re going to die or when the Lord is coming back. You can lose two ways. God only gives you today. What the Bible says is so. Without Christ, one is lost and on the road to Hell. There’s plenty of room at the cross, but only a limited amount of time to approach it.
What the Bible Says is So!
Christian Maturity (awesome MP3 sermon by Dr. Roy Thompson, 1933-2010)
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