Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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THE VERACITY OF SCRIPTURE
Open your Bible with me please, for our opening considerations to Romans, chapter one. Im speaking on the theme The Veracity of Scripture (The Truthfulness of Scripture). I believe we ought to realize the reality of the fact that God has spoken. God has spoken! And He has revealed Himself in a number of ways or were going to see that He has revealed Himself primarily in His Word.
I remember having taken a philosophy course in college, and we were told that the task of the philosopher is to seek to give meaning to all of reality. The philosopher should do that with one major premise. One statement that will give Him sufficient information whereby he may go on from there and give meaning to everything in the universe. I believe that statement would be something like this There is a God Who has revealed Himself essentially and explicitly in the pages of Holy Scripture. From that statement I believe you can build everything that we need to know about the entire universe. Frankly, Im committed to that major premise. Those of us who held a view as fundamentalists when I was a student in the graduate school at Boston University, they had a name for us. They called us their contemporary ancestors. In other words, we happen to live today, but were way-way-out of date. Now frankly, Id rather be associated with the Ancient of Days than with many of the modern cults and isms that are floating about today. The Ancient of Days is the Source of all wisdom, for He is our God! I believe that He has revealed Himself.
Im going to begin at verse 16 of Romans one in which Paul says, For I am not ashamed of the gospel [the Good News] of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. The Jew had the background basically to understand what was revealed through the Lord Jesus in the Word of God; the Greek had a philosophic background but did not have the Biblical background. For therein is [that is, in the gospel of Christ] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith; and we have to have faith, we have to have confidence in something that we can believe. Verse 18 goes on to say, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [or literally suppress] the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest [What are the next two words?] in them; for God hath showed it [And what are the next two words?] unto them. Now I believe that God has revealed Himself to man internally. Here in Romans 1:19 and going through this section, For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead... But notice beginning in 2:14, For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another. I believe that God has allowed man to have within him, possibly within the conscience, a consciousness or an awareness that there is a God. It is within man. Now it is not a fully developed understanding of God, but at least there is a God-awareness even in the unsaved man. Second, God has revealed Himself in nature, that is, in the things that are made [going back to chapter one], ...that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are [What?] made... Thats the material universe, even His eternal power and Godhead [Some have translated that deity or divinity]; so that they are without excuse. I was teaching a course on Apologetics, one time and the author said that there is no real evidence of the Trinity in the universe. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Actually, the Trinity is everywhere. In fact, having dealt with Jehovahs Witnesses, sometimes they point a finger and say, Jesus is not God; and the very finger they point, is a trinity. Its three in one. All the universe is space, time, and matter; and each of those break down in three in one. So, even the Trinity is evident in all of the universe. There is a book that Dr. Nathan Wood wrote many years ago entitled, The Secret of the Universe. Its come out under a new title, but it relates to that whole breakdown of three in one, three in one, three in one. All the way through the universe, the Triune God has revealed Himself. Now, this is sufficient to reveal the wrath of God, and the power of God; but there is only one way to be saved and thats by the Written Word of God, by the Bible which God has given to us.
In the last message, I said that the early Christians didnt have the New Testament, and that is true; but they did have the Bible. They had the Old Testament, and there was sufficient knowledge and revelation therein to indicate that there was coming One Who did come to bear our sins and to be our Savior. Turn to II Peter chapter one, beginning at verse 19, Having spoken of the witness, borne by the apostles Back in verse 16 where Peter said that we have not followed cunning devised fables [in the Greek that word is myths] when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. Then we have the witness of the Father, For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount. We have the word of the apostles, we have the word of the Father, but then in verse 19, We have also [and I like the way Wuest translates this and I think that it is more accurate to the original] the word of prophecy being made more sure than the spoken word of the apostles or the spoken Word of God, the Father from heaven? Its more substantially sure because...its Written. Something that has been spoken can be forgotten. [Now they didnt have tape recorders in those days to tape it.] But, in communication, it is important that something be written. When you write something, you have there; and God allowed His Word to be written down. ...whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. Now the Greek word for interpretation there, really means of no private or separate unloosing. The question that is raised by scholars, as they study this, Does this mean the original unloosing, when God unloosed to men the message that He wanted them to write down [and there are many that defend that]? Others say, No, its the unloosing thats yours when you study the scriptures. Now, I dont believe it is an either or proposition. Frankly, I think that its a both end situation. I think that it refers to the fact here that when it was originally given, it was unloosed by God to men to write it down so that they received it accurately. Verse 21 would certainly confirm that, For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [literally] as they were moved [along] by the Holy Spirit. And, the Holy Spirit bore these men along in writing exactly what God wanted them to write. Thats the original unloosing; but I believe there is an unloosing when it comes to us by the same Holy Spirit, that as we study the Word of God, it can be loosened to us by the same Holy Spirit Who unloosened it to the men who wrote it in the original writing. Thus, God has revealed Himself uniquely in the Bible the Written Word of God. And I believe that He has concluded His revelation in giving us these 66 books that we have. I believe as Jude said in Jude 3, there is a faith, a body of revealed truth, ...once for all delivered unto the saints; and it is this Book.
Now we talked about Revelation: internal, natural, special, unique. Now, inspiration. Thats the means of Gods communication, whereby He used men to communicate His Truth. I believe in extensive inspiration. By that, that all scripture is given by inspiration of God. II Timothy 3:16, All scripture is [God-breathed, literally is the sense of that] given by inspiration of God, and is profitable... I think probably the worst translation of that is in the text of the American Standard Version, in which they say, Every scripture is given by inspiration of God is profitable implying almost that there are some that are and some arent. In the footnote, they correct that, but in the actual narrative it is really tragic! All scripture is God-breathed! Thats the sense of this inspiration here, as its used in this text, ...and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. So, I believe that all the Bible is inspired!
Secondly, I believe in Intensive Inspiration. Now, some have tried to define that by saying that its verbal; and I believe thats true. I believe in verbal inspiration. But I sometimes think you almost have to go maybe a little bit beyond that, because even the very parts of a word have to be inspired. Turn back to Matthew 4:4 speaking to the adversary, the Lord Jesus said, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every [What?] Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. In Mark 13:31, Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my [Whats the next?] Words shall not pass away. So each and every word is inspired of God intensively. I also believe that each and every word is inerrant, in that it is accurately communicated originally as God intended. Thus, no errors in the original writing. Turn to Matthew 5:17 and 18. Jesus said, Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets [Thats the Old Testament.]: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily [or truly] I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle [Now a jot is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet and the tittle is just a marking to distinguish a difference of letters in the Hebrew] shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Now if I had a chalkboard here, I would write up here the word FUN. Can you visualize that? If I just put a little bit of a curve behind the two projections, what would I have? PUN - a pun. Then project a line down from the P (R) - RUN; and you curve that in a little (B) - BUN. So you have: FUN, PUN, RUN, BUN just by changing one of the letters a little bit. Now I believe that God so superintended both the writing and the preservation of scripture, not only the words, but the very letters. I believe in literal inspiration, using that to refer to the letters of scripture; because it makes a lot of difference if one letter is changed even a little bit. Its been a controversy on among some so-called conservatives who say, We believe in infallibility. By that they say that they mean the Bible cannot fail us when it comes to spiritual truth; and even though it may and in fact some of them say that it does have errors in it, in regard to history, in regard to science, in regard to geography, and they try to educe some of these. Still, when it comes to spiritual things it will not fail you. Thus, it is infallible, but it is not inerrant. Dont ever let them lead you astray! Either God knows what Hes talking about when it comes to history and science and geography, or He doesnt. I believe He does. I believe He knows that as well as He knows anything about theology or spiritual things; and thus I have confidence in a God Who has revealed Himself clearly and convincingly and without stuttering when He communicated His Written Word to us.
Now a third thing in regard to the reality of scripture is a term we sometimes call Illumination, and that relates to the personal understanding of the Word. I believe, as I Corinthians 2:14 says, The natural man cannot receive [understand] the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. I believe that God has clearly communicated His message. I believe that it has come to us as accurately as it need be in the translations that we have. However, I believe to get on Gods wave length, you have to have the receiving set of the Holy Spirit, as it were, within you. Until you do, the light does not dawn. To illuminate means to turn on the light. A person who is unsaved is spiritually dead and in spiritual darkness and cannot understand the things of God. Back to verse 9, But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. Right away, people try to transfer that to heaven, that heavens going to be a wonderful place: things we havent seem nor heard, or experienced that were going to experience them there. Well, Ill tell you something you can experience them now. The beginning of the very next verse says, But God hath revealed them unto us [How?] by His Spirit. Now there are some who take this to mean the original unloosing. Wuest in his studies takes it this way and says that its the original writing that it was loosed to them. Well, here again if you want to argue, thats all right, but I still think if it is that that at least both ends and not an either or proposition. God revealed it to His apostles. He also reveals it to us in the same way, ...for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? I believe here the reference spirit of man refers to the soul of man which is self and man consciousness. By the way, this is a good verse to use with Jehovahs Witnesses. They love to ask you, Are you a soul or do you have a soul? And then, they take you back to Genesis 2 where it says, God breathed into man the breathe of life; and man became a living soul. And so theyll say unto you, Are you a soul or do you have a soul? and reading Genesis 2:7 it says, ...and man became a living soul. Now, let me assure you folks, its simply a matter of perspective, and probably we ought to say that we are souls that have bodies, than that we are bodies that have souls; because the soul is really the inner person, the inner man. But, I point out to them that it is a matter of perspective. I say, I am a soul and I have a soul depends on your perspective. Now here in the perspective of I Corinthians 2, verse 11 [and I love to have them read this]. You know if they deal with you, they get you to read things, and I get them to read this, For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is [Now, I say, read these next two words] in him? They dont like that. In fact, they even have that in their New World Translation. They havent retranslated that they have a problem here. Its a matter of perspective, from the perspective of our material surroundings and our bodies, our souls are within us.
Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which mans wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. In I John 2, it indicates that we have an anointing and know all things.
When I spoke at Dallas Seminary some years again I spoke on the subject that several significant scriptures suggesting students should stop studying and they really enjoyed this, because I took them to some portions that indicated that, such as I have more knowledge than all my teachers, and I have an anointing from the Holy One and know all things. They really liked that and especially, Much study is a weariness to the flesh. Thus all those things being true, you should stop studying! Well, of course, I turned the thing around, by pointing out a number of things that are in the context; but it doesnt mean we actually know everything. It means that we have the potential to know all things... And, God gives us a unique divine potential by the Spirit of God Who illuminates the scriptures as we read and study them day by day.
Now there is one more thing that I must say a word about, and thats Interpretation; because there are all kinds of interpretation of scripture. [In fact, someone has said, By piecing together fragments of scriptures, you can prove almost anything, and you can get people to even commit suicide and you are all familiar with that, I think Judas went and hanged himself; go and do that likewise, and what thou doest, do quickly. So everybody ought to do quickly, commit suicide.] Well, thats not the way to interpret scripture. Some of you may be familiar with what they call The Golden Rule of Interpretation. Some of them call it, Coopers Law in regard to interpretation: When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary ordinary usual literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic [That means it has to do with the rules that relate.] and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise. by David L. Cooper. Now, in effect I think maybe rather than saying that we believe in the literal interpretation, maybe its better to say that we believe in the plain interpretation of scripture. We believe the Bible says what it means and means what it says, but you have to study it in the context of the scripture itself. In the book of Revelation, its rather interesting, and Ive sometimes pointed it out, that the use of the word star is used in a number of different ways. In Revelation 1:16 and comparing that with 1:20 you find that stars are messengers; in 2:28 and comparing that with Rev. 22:16, you find that the star is Christ. In Revelation 8:10-11, comparing that with 9:1-2, youll find that there you have a literal star; in 8 and 9, you have a star that is Satan; and by the time youre almost seeing stars from studying the book of Revelation. But, you do have to see it in the context, and the context will usually explain itself. By the way, the Bible is the best commentary on itself. In Matthew 22:29 the Lord Jesus speaks of studying the scriptures. To those who were supposed to be the great students of His day, they asked questions about this fellow that died and then seven of his brothers married one woman and all that, whose wife is she going to be in the resurrection, and somebody said, You shouldnt be concerned about another mans wife. Jesus answered and said unto them, You err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. You know, I think those two ought to go together. I think that you ought to have the power of God and the Holy Spirit within you to understand the scriptures. In Acts 8 [speaking of Philip appearing with the man down in Gaza], Philip comes near and he asks a very important question [in verse 30], Understandest thou what thou readest? Its important to understand what the Bible means and what it says. As he came up to him and found out that he was reading from the prophet, Isaiah, verse 35, Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. Jesus Christ is the Central Person of all the Word of God; and I believe you will see him therein. But, it requires what II Timothy 2:15 indicates a diligent study. Study [or give diligent] to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Thus and thereby, the reality of scripture will come through to you.
Now, there is the Authority of Scripture. Gods Word is final and complete. In Jude 3, ...the faith which was once delivered unto the saints the completion of the canon. When you deal with the Mormons and particular who claim they have additional revelation as do the other cults and you give to them Revelation 22:18, ...If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book, they say that that only refers to addition to the book of Revelation. They say that they didnt add anything to the book of Revelation. I look upon the book of Revelation as the keystone and the whole arch of scripture, and if you add to that you break the arch, you take away from it. Anywhere that you add or subtract to the Word of God, you break the arch. Thus, I tell them of the admonition in Proverbs 30:6, Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. [Joseph Smith was known as that before he became famous. He was found this at home as a liar. Now he has become famous as a prophet, but he sought to add to the Word of God.] The Completion of the Canon, the Eternality of the Word! I Peter 1:25, The Word of the Lord endureth [How long?] forever. Psalm 119:89, For ever O Lord is thy Word settled in heaven.
Then, our Accountability to the Word. John 12:48 is a statement concerning that which I believe is a challenge, a challenge to me, He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. Either youre going to allow the Word of God to judge you and be the critic of your life now, or it is going to be the critic hereafter for all those who reject the Word of God.
Now finally, the Practicality of scriptures. Gods Word works in actual living. The application of the Word to our lives. Going back to II Timothy chapter 3 having spoken to the fact that all scripture is God-breathed, then Paul goes on to admonish Timothy that the Word of God is profitable for doctrine [that is, for teaching], for reproof [and thats for correcting or straightening out], for correction [thats setting in order], for instruction [or discipline] in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [or complete], throughly [or completely] furnished unto all good works. I like what someone said about living in this Book and visiting the other books. This is something I used to stress when I was associated with a Bible college, and I sought to distinguish a Bible college from a Christian liberal arts college. In a Christian liberal arts college you live in the other books and just visit this Book. In the true Bible college, you live in this Book and visit the other books. And thats the way it ought to be done. [Now in one of the other alma maters that I attended was a so-called Christian college and they just visited this Book. What they did is that they cut down on the visiting hours. Now Im afraid, unfortunately, some of our Bible colleges are becoming fascinated more by the words of men than by the Word of God, and its a tragic dilution; and they end up spending more time in the words of men than in the Word of God, and it ends up with the distraction from the reality of Gods Truth.
Second, to the application to our lives the Demonstration of the Word of God in our lives. Colossians 3, beginning at verse 16, Let the Word of Christ [What?] dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and in spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.
My great-grandfather, when he was in mid-life, took his cigar making employees to an evangelistic service in my home town of Jacobus (over in York County). Two of the leading men in the church, seeing him come in with his employees, said in the hearing of my grandfather who was just a little boy, Here comes the Devil and his angels. My grandfather heard that. He told his dad. Neither of them ever darkened the door of a church after that. But my mother, when my great-grandfather was old and unable to take care of himself moved into the house where we lived in Jacobus (and I was born in that house and nine or ten of my brothers and sisters were too); but do you know how he got under conviction? My mother had a habit of singing around the house, and she sang hymns, and he got under conviction. As a result of that, he came to know Jesus Christ as his personal Savior two weeks before he died. Men of the church came and prayed with him and led him to Christ. Ill tell you this in my mom, the Word of Christ dwelled richly. She had a stroke that eventually took her home five days later, and her whole half of her side was paralyzed, but she insisted that she wanted to sing. She sang one hymn after another, not just one stanza, but sometimes three and four; and she just about whispered her way through them. The last one she ever sang was My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine, For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.: What was going on in her? The Word of Christ was dwelling richly in her, and it just had to bubble up and come out, even though the outer man was perishing. The inner man was renewed day by day. Thats the demonstration of the Word of God in our lives!
Then, there is the Dissemination, the giving out of the Word. (In the last message I talked about this from I Peter 3:15, ...be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear... Count it a joy to take in the Word of God and to give it out to others and realize that it is, in deed and in truth, the Word of God. Not just the word of men, but the Word of God. God has spoken. Thats the reality of scripture. Gods Word is final and complete. Thats the authority of scripture. Gods Word works in actual living. Thats the practicality of scripture. Its a tremendous thing to know that this Book is true for time and for eternity. Gods Word will never pass away!
FATHER In these days in which so many things are shifting and changing, were thankful for the unchangeable, inerrant Word of God that will never fail. Father We have staked our claim on it and have rested our hope therein; and we know You will not fail, and Your Word will not fail. And for this, we give You thanks; and for the privilege of sharing, we thank You in Jesus precious Name! Amen.