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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Flawless
Text:Proverbs 30:5-6; Psalm 119:89-96 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Law is Good
 
Preached:07/12/2015
Added:2015-07-17
Updated:2015-07-17
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Pastor Ted Gray
07/12/2015 – a.m. 
Flawless”
Proverbs 30:5-6; Psalm 119:89-96

Everything that we have of material value in this life is flawed. I had a van once that ran very well, but it had a little miss when it would shift into overdrive. It didn’t do it all the time, but before taking it on a long trip I figured I better bring it to the mechanic to see if it would be a serious problem. I left it with him for the day, and when I returned in the evening to pick it up I asked how it had run. He replied with one word: “Flawless.” It had run perfectly for him, but I knew full well that it had a flaw.

The same is true for everything else in life. My wife and I bought a little wooden dresser from an antique store in Holland, Michigan. We had it stored in an out-of-the-way place in the parsonage until Karen made room for it in one of the spare bedrooms. But when we moved it into the bedroom where there was more light, there was a flaw, a scratch right on the top of the dresser.

All that we have in life, including ourselves, is flawed. Consequently, this exclamation of a writer by the name of Agur in Proverbs 30:5, is truly amazing. He exclaims, “Every word of God is flawless.” In all the imperfections of life God has given us His word and it is without flaw, or as the ESV translates it, it is proven true.

After all God Himself speaks to us in His Word. The late Dr. Cornelius Van Til, a longtime professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, wrote, “I have never seen my Lord Jesus Christ, but He has written me a letter.”

Imagine receiving a letter from the Lord! Somewhere among the boxes of stuff that are in a parsonage closet are all the letters that my wife wrote to me, and I wrote to her, before our marriage when I was in Philadelphia and she was in Chicago. I have to admit that I have not read those letters in a long time, even though they are precious to me. But if letters from dear loved ones are precious, how much more precious should the flawless Word of God be to you and to me?

Psalm 119:89-96 serves as a commentary on the exclamation of Agur. In this stanza from Psalm 119 the author of the Psalm, who had previously written about his affliction and sorrow, looks to God’s Word and describes how he was brought out of his sorrow by three specific truths: God’s Word is eternal (89), God’s faithfulness never ends (90), and God’s law is perfect (96).

I don’t know all the burdens and afflictions in your life, but no matter what burdens we carry, we find comfort and strength when we remember the same truths about our Lord and His Word as the Psalmist remembered.

God’s Eternal Word

Verse 89 states the first truth of great comfort: God’s Word is eternal. Verse 89: Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

Before the Earth was formed, before Adam was formed from the dust of the ground and Eve from his rib, before Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, and long before John was inspired to write the last book on the Revelation of Jesus Christ, – before all these historical events – the Word of God existed. We know that from the familiar words of John 1:1-2, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. And verse 14, The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Over the span of many centuries, in 66 different books, God inspired His Word to be written. God revealed Himself to us, not only in nature, leaving us without excuse, but also in His Word, which by His grace and Spirit’s power makes us wise unto salvation. It reveals our sin to us, but also our Savior. And this Word of God will endure eternally. Jesus Himself said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

In between eternity past – before the world was created, and the eternity yet to be revealed – the Word of God has come under attack time and again. Yet God’s Word is always preserved by God Himself and used for His own purposes, so that it will never return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). The Word of God always accomplishes its purpose, even when people despise the Word, the very Word they despised will come back to judge them on the last day. You remember those words of Jesus in John 12:48, “There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not accept My words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.”

A classic example of God’s Word enduring forever, even with all the attacks of skeptics, is seen in the dying statement of the well known French atheist, Voltaire. On his death bed, in 1778,  Voltaire declared that the Christian faith would no longer be believed within 100 years. Yet 100 years after Voltaire’s statement the Geneva Bible Society purchased Voltaire’s old house and office, including his printing press, and began printing the Word of God, preserving it and distributing it, from the former headquarters of the renowned French atheist.

Voltaire would be delighted at the many attacks against the Word of God by skeptics today. But  just as Voltaire’s efforts to eradicate the Word of God failed, so will all the other efforts to end God’s eternal Word from accomplishing the purpose that He has for it.

God’s Enduring Faithfulness

One reason why God’s Word is flawless and proven true is because it is breathed out – inspired –  by God Himself. And God’s faithfulness, just like His Word, never ends. The Psalmist writes, Your faithfulness continues through all generations (90).

That is the essence of the ESV’s rendition of Proverbs 30:5 as it translates the text, Every word of God proves true. Why is God’s Word flawless? Why does every Word of God prove itself to be true? Because God is faithful, and His faithfulness continues through all generations.

God’s faithfulness, generation after generation, should also be a great comfort to us in our afflictions, just as it was to the Psalmist in his. Frequently we hear people lament what type of world our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will receive.

The world is without doubt a hostile, fallen, sinful place. But God is faithful, and He promises that His faithfulness continues through all generations. In fact, Jesus taught in Matthew 24 how the time will come when false teaching is so effective that even the elect would lose their faith, if such a thing were possible. Yet, for the sake of the elect He promises that those days will be shortened. You see, God will faithfully watch over and preserve His people no matter what happens in the world.

God’s people in every era of time have taken great comfort in the knowledge that God is faithful throughout all generations. As we see the depravity and decay of our society and world, we too, are to take comfort that through whatever may come, God promises in His Word to faithfully watch over and provide for us.

God’s Perfect Word

A third principle taught in Proverbs 30, Psalm 119, and indeed in the entire Bible, is that God’s law (Word) is perfect. It is sufficient in and of itself, and it gives us all we need for salvation.

One reason why Proverbs 30:6 tells us not to add to the Word of God is because God’s Word is totally sufficient in and of itself to bring us to salvation. The apostle Paul’s instruction to young Timothy makes that same point so very clearly. He wrote, But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

In that passage we read of two great purposes for all of Scripture: One purpose is to make us wise unto salvation as faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). And then, having that gift of saving faith, the Word teaches us how to live a life that reflects our faith, by being thoroughly equipped for every good work..

There is no greater blessing in the entire world than to have salvation. Jesus put everything into perspective in your life and mine, when he said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? (Matthew 16:26).

You and I could strive to gain the most money, or the most possessions, or the most status. But what value would it be? Nobody takes anything beyond the grave, except for their soul which is immortal and will live eternally either in the glory of heaven or the suffering of hell.

The only book that gives eternal life is the book of God’s Word. It is flawless, as Proverbs points out. It is proven true.  It is perfect, as the Psalmist also acknowledges. The law brings conviction of sin, and without that conviction of sin we would never see our need for the only Savior Jesus Christ.

God’s Word gives life, by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit through the Word, but it also preserves life.  Without the Word of God we would perish. The author of the Psalm writes, If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have preserved my life (Psalm 119:92-93).

Those of you who are familiar with this magnificent Psalm may recall that in the previous three stanzas of the Psalm, from verse 65-88, the Psalmist stressed in no uncertain  terms the great affliction that he faced. Yet time and again he was delivered from his affliction by focusing on God’s law. By law he means  not just the ten commandments, but the Word of God in its entirety. “Law” is used in that sense in this Psalm because all God’s Word, not just the ten commandments which we think of as “law”,  but all of God’s Word is to be obeyed; all of His Word leads and guides us.

It was in his affliction of the previous stanzas that the Psalmist realized his great need for God’s Word, for God’s law:            

      Verse 81 - I have put my hope in Your Word.
      Verse 83 - I do not forget Your decrees.
      Verse 87 - I have not forsaken Your precepts.
      Verse 88 - I will obey Your statutes.

It’s no different in your life and mine. If we turn from God’s Word we will perish. It is in His Word that we find the guidance we need, the strength that we lack, the encouragement to go on in our lives, as well as the joy that comes from knowing that our salvation is sure and secure through faith in Jesus Christ.

That is also why Proverbs 30:6 gives that stern warning: Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar. That warning is echoed in the last book of the Bible where the Apostle John writes, I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book (Revelation 22:18-19).

God’s Word is sufficient just as we have received it from Him. There is nothing we can add to it or take away from it.

God’s Word Inwardly Digested

However, to have the blessing of God’s Word in our lives, to take refuge in the promises of God’s Word (Proverbs 30:5b) we must read it, mediate on it, and live it out in our lives.

Perhaps no other book in history has collected more dust than the collective Bibles of the world.  Almost every household, at least until very recent times, has a Bible. Almost everyone has access to the Bible. Although there are still dialects and languages which need the translation of God’s Word, the Bible is available in a staggering amount of languages. Yet how often is the Bible read? How often is the Bible mediated on? Memorized? Studied intently?

Even those of us who profess to be followers of Christ fall into times of neglect. Is it possible in your life and mine, that even now, the Bible is not open and read in our home the way it should be?

It is imperative for us to remember, and meditate on, God’s Word. After all, it is by the Spirit’s work in the Word that we are saved and persevered. As the Psalmist says, I will never forget Your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.  Save me, for I am Yours; I have sought out Your precepts. The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes (Psalm 119:93-95).

These verses emphasize the Psalmist’s view of the Word as a very precious thing. It is so precious he is not about to forget it; instead, he seeks out the precepts so that he can live in obedience to them, and, in verse 95 he tells how he ponders God’s Word, mulling it over in his mind and meditating on it in his heart.

It was Martin Luther who wrote: “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” Luther could write that because he mediated on God’s Word until it became a part of the fabric of his life. We are to do the same, knowing that there is nothing in the world as precious as the Word of God as reveals our triune God to us.

Back in the day when the Anglican Church – Episcopalians – truly recognized the value of God’s Word, Archbishop Cranmer wrote this prayer for the Book of Common Prayer:

“Blessed Lord, who hast caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience, and comfort of Thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which Thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ.”

May you and I, as we place value on things in our lives, place the greatest value of all on God’s eternal Word. It is there that we come face to face with our Savior, and it is there that we are reminded time and again of His faithfulness to us. It is there in the Scripture that we see how good God’s law is – in its entirety, guiding and leading us throughout this life to our eternal home. Amen.  

 

- bulletin outline -

 

Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.  Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar. – Proverbs 30:5-6
 
“Flawless”
Proverbs 30:5-6; Psalm 119:89-96
 
I.  Proverbs 30:5 teaches that every word of God is flawless (proven true – ESV). Psalm 119 serves as a commentary, teaching that: 
     1) God’s Word is eternal (89)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     2) The faithfulness of God, who gave us His Word, never ends (90)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     3) God’s law (Word) is perfect (91-92, 96), sufficient (Proverbs 30:6), giving us all we need for salvation (2 Timothy 3:14-16)
      
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
II. Application: To take refuge in the promises of God’s Word (Proverbs 30:5b) we must read it, mediate on it, and live it out in our lives.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
07/12/2015 – a.m.

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 07/1, Rev. Ted Gray

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