Thursday, April 16, 2009

Does God Protect His Word (part 4)?

Psalm 119:89, 100 "Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven . . . I understand more than the ancients because I have kept Your precepts."

A Brahmin once said to a missionary: "We are finding you out. You are not as good as your Book. If you were as good as your Book, you could conquer India for Christ in five years." Scripture reveals the truth and sheds light on our shortcomings. If scripture excuses sin, how can it be God's word? God's word is timeless and does not change. God protects His word, and even pagans know this to be true.

Picture a column, a permanent station, something put into place, rock solid. This is the sense of the meaning of God's "settled" word. This is the Hebrew word used to describe the built altar in Genesis 33:20, Rachel's grave marker in Genesis 35:20, a monument in 1 Samuel 15:12. American theologian Albert Barnes (1798–1870) explains, "The meaning here is, that the word - the law - the promise - of God was made firm, established, stable, in heaven; and would be so forever and ever. What God had ordained as law would always remain law; what he had affirmed would always remain true; what he had promised would be sure forever."

Psalm 119:152, "Of old I have known from Your testimonies that You have founded them forever."

Psalm 119:160, "The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting."

Commonly heard today is the phrase, "what it means to me." We use this often in our Bible studies, "what this means to me is . . ." then get upset when someone else offers their "what it means to me . . ." because what they say may not sound like what we say. What's the difference between "what it means to me" and "what it means to you"? We should instead be asking, "what does scripture say?" before we can ask "what did God mean when He said that?" God's word is settled in heaven.

Muslims teach that the angel Gabriel dictated The Holy Book ("Qur'an" literally means, "lecture" or "recited") from an eternal book in heaven (this book is one of five) against Muhammad's wishes and it was not until nearly 300 years after Muhammad's death that other teaching arose attempting to explain some eternal quality of Qur'an. Mormonism teaches that an angel (or was it two, or three?) brought Joseph Smith the word of God that was more the word of God than the word that God delivered before. Jehovah's Witnesses claim that nobody outside the organization can understand scripture unless one joins the organization and becomes a slave. Which angellic message is right? Which receiver is right?

The words of this Psalm should stand as a warning to anything new that comes along. God's heavenly-settled word brought more-than-ancient understanding to the writer of Psalm 119. God's words were there in eternity past and will still be there in eternity to come. Anyone coming along to claim a superior rendering has the eternal nature of God's word to deal with. Charles Spurgeon commented on this verse:

"David found of old that God had founded them of old, and that they would stand firm throughout all ages. It is a very blessed thing to be so early taught of God that we know substantial doctrines even from our youth. Those who think that David was a young man when he wrote this Psalm will find it rather difficult to reconcile this verse with the theory; it is much more probable that he was now grown grey, and was looking back upon what he had known long before. He knew at the very first that the doctrines of God's word were settled before the world began, that they had never altered, and never could by any possibility be altered. He had begun by building on a rock, by seeing that God's testimonies were "founded," that is, grounded, laid as foundations, settled and established; and that with a view to all the ages that should come, during all the changes that should intervene. It was because David knew this that he had such confidence in prayer, and was so importunate in It. It is sweet to plead immutable promises with an immutable God. It was because of this that David learned to hope: a man cannot have much expectation from a changing friend, but he may well have confidence in a God who cannot change. It was because of this that he delighted in being near the Lord, for it is a most blessed thing to keep up close intercourse with a Friend who never varies. Let those who choose follow at the heels of the modern school and look for fresh light to break forth which will put the old light out of countenance; we are satisfied with the truth which is old as the hills and as fixed as the great mountains. Let "cultured intellects" invent another god, more gentle and effeminate than the God of Abraham; we are well content to worship Jehovah, who is eternally the same. Things everlastingly established are the joy of established saints. Bubbles please boys, but men prize those things which are solid and substantial, with a foundation and a bottom to them which will bear the test of ages."

[go to Part 3 or Part 5]

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