Why Bother with the Bible? — Part Two
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Why Bother with the Bible? — Part Two

2 Timothy 3:14–17  (ID: 2350)

At some point in our lives, we’ve probably asked ourselves, “What is the Bible really for? What does it have to do with our lives?” In this message, Alistair Begg teaches us that the Bible is the place where we learn what it means to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ. If we seek to know God and to learn how to live as Christians, we need to open Scripture and read God’s Word.

Series Containing This Sermon

Why Bother with the Bible?

2 Timothy 3:14–17 Series ID: 24501

Sermon Transcript: Print

Two Timothy 3:14:

“But as for you, continue in what you[’ve] learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you[’ve] 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.”

Father, with our Bibles open before us, we pray desperately that the Holy Spirit will come now and be our teacher. Come to the darkness of our own clouded thinking with the light of your glorious gospel, and save us. Come to our ineptitude and our failure, and equip us with everything good for the doing of your will. Because we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, we set ourselves the task last time of addressing a very simple and yet straightforward question—namely, why bother with the Bible? Why bother with the Bible? And last time and this morning, and I think probably this evening too, we will round out our not comprehensive but selective attempt to respond to this question.

At the heart of all that we discovered last time, we tried to nail down one essential sentence, which was, quite straightforwardly, “In the Bible, God was and is speaking to us.” “In the Bible, God was and is speaking to us.” During the week, I came across a quote from J. C. Ryle, the one-time bishop of Liverpool’s, Practical Religion, in which he writes as follows:

When you read [the Bible], you are not reading the self-taught compositions of poor imperfect men like yourself, but the words of the eternal God. When you hear it, you are not listening to the erring opinions of short-lived mortals, but to the unchanging mind of the King of kings. The men who were employed to indite the Bible, spoke not of themselves. They “[spoke] as they were [carried along] by the Holy Spirit.” … All other books in the world, however good and useful in their way, are more or less defective. The more you look at them the more you see their defects and blemishes. The Bible alone is absolutely perfect. From beginning to end it is “the Word of God.”[1]

Now that, of course, is the emphasis of Paul to Timothy here, a young man pastoring in the face of confusion within the church and compromise outside of the church. And Paul writes to him to urge him on to where he had begun his spiritual journey. And in the course of that, in verse 16, he tells Timothy that “all Scripture is God-breathed.”

Now, the NIV translates theopneustos, “God-breathed,” it translates it quite literally: two Greek words put together to form a word, the word theos for “God” and pneuma, the word for “spirit” or for “breath.” And the picture, as we saw last time, is not of the existence of writings into which God breathed inspiration. Indeed, the word inspiration is not as good a word as perhaps expiration would be—the idea of the breathing out of God through human instrumentality providing us with the Scriptures themselves. The word “inspired” actually comes from the Latin Vulgate translation, divinitus inspirata, and from that we took “inspired” and put it in our English version. But the NIV helps us here with this notion of “God-breathed.”

And you will notice that the subject of inspiration is not the human author. We’re familiar with talking about a poet being inspired, or a musician being inspired, or somebody like van Gogh being inspired. That is not the picture here. The inspiration is not that of the author, but what is inspired is the Scripture itself: God breathed out the Scriptures. And it is because of this that the Scriptures, by means of their inspiration, are completely inspired independent of how we may feel about them. It is not that the Scripture becomes inspired when we start to feel properly about it—that somehow or another, when we encounter it in an existential way, it becomes something that prior to that it was not. Oh yes, there are those who teach that, and you may have come from a congregation in which, before the Scriptures were read, if you were paying particular attention, you would have become alert to one of the prepositions. And the individual might have stood and said, “Now I want you to listen for the word of God.” Here you will find people saying, “Now let us listen to the Word of God.” What is the distinction? The distinction is the belief that the Scriptures are the Word of God; they do not become the Word of God to us by some kind of existential response.

And furthermore, we noted, as Paul tells us here, that it is not just parts of the Scriptures that are God-breathed, but all Scripture is breathed out by God. It is all equally authoritative. That doesn’t mean that all parts are equally interesting. Not everybody finds every part as interesting as another. And some may say, “I find it quite fascinating to read the book of Ezekiel,” and somebody else says, “Well, I find it really tortuous reading the book of Ezekiel.” “I find such and such a passage stimulating. It’s elevating, it’s moving.” Well, I understand that. The Gospel of John may appear to us to be very stirring; the book of Esther may appear to us to be rather dull. John’s Gospel may actually be more stimulating than Esther, but it is not more inspired than Esther.

All Scripture is breathed out by God. And he has given for us these sixty-six books—a library, a compendium—twenty-seven of them after Jesus and thirty-nine of them before Jesus, giving us the sixty-six books that make up the library which is in between the leather covers of my Bible here.

Immediately, on Sunday, I was bombarded by a number of questions concerning what we considered, not least of all the issue of the Apocrypha: “Well, what about the fact that other Bibles—the Roman Catholic Bible, the Orthodox Church, Greek and Russian—have lots of other books in them that we do not have. What are you going to say about that?” I was asked. Well, “Very little,” is my answer, and this is the little that I’m going to say.

The short layman’s answer is very straightforward, and it is this—and you must, since you’re sensible people, check the evidence on your own. But there is actually no evidence—there is no evidence—that other books were ever regarded as being canonical; that these other books were ever regarded as being part of the canon, or the list, of the sixty-six books of the Bible.

Nowhere have I found a more helpful statement regarding this than in the Westminster Confession of Faith, which in its section on Scripture—I commend to you—it points out its observations regarding the Apocrypha. It says first of all, “The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.”[2] In other words, the books of the Apocrypha are no more helpful to us than Shakespeare or Cicero or the commentaries of Calvin. That’s not to say these things aren’t helpful, but they have no more sanction to them than that.

And then, extrapolating from that, I read this statement to you, which I hope you’ll find helpful: “The word Apocrypha,” which incidentally means “anything hidden,” “has been applied to certain ancient writings whose authorship is not manifest, and for which unfounded claims have been set up for a place in the canon”—arguing for their existence in the Bible. “Some of these have been associated with the Old and some with the New Testament. In this section of the Confession, however, the name is applied principally to those spurious scriptures for which a place is claimed in the Old Testament canon by the Roman Church.” And then it lists them: “Tobit, Wisdom, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, … the two books of Maccabees.” It also points out that they put a prefix to the book of Daniel, which is called the History of Susanna; they “insert in the third chapter the Song of the Three Children”; and they “add to the end of the book of [Daniel] the History of Bel and the Dragon.”[3] Now, these things are part and parcel of the Apocryphal writings.

The Confession goes on to say,

That these books have no right to a place in the canon is proved by the following facts: (1.) They never formed a part of the Hebrew Scriptures. They have always been rejected by the Jews, to whose guardianship the Old Testament Scriptures were committed. (2.) None of them were ever quoted by Christ or the apostles. (3.) They were never embraced in the list of canonical books by the early [church] Fathers; and even in the Roman Church their authority was not accepted by the most learned and candid men until after it was made an article of faith by the Council of Trent, [in the late] sixteenth century.

It’s very, very important. Because people will come to you, and they will say, “You know, these books were authoritatively in the Bible, and you folks at the Reformation, à la Martin Luther and the rest, you went in there and removed them.” The fact is, they were never regarded in that way until the Council of Trent baptized them into orthodoxy late in the sixteenth century. And fourthly, “The internal evidence presented by their contents disproves their claims. None of them make any claim to inspiration, while the best of them disclaim it. Some of them consist of childish fables, and inculcate bad morals.”[4]

Now, that’s all I want to say concerning the Apocrypha. I want to commend to you the Westminster Confession. You can pick up a copy, I think, in the bookstore, or at least order one. The Confession was put together by the divines in Westminster in the seventeenth century—in the middle of the seventeenth century. They actually presented it to Parliament on the third of December 1646.

It’s amazing to think about that historically, isn’t it? That you have these theologians, these biblical scholars, presenting to the Houses of Parliament, to the very seat of government, the theological framework for an understanding of the Bible. The Parliament sits in session, like Congress would do, and they sit and they discuss the nature of all of these theological principles. Parliament subsequent to that, in December of 1646, sent it back to the assembly of the divines, asking them, interestingly, to provide more scriptural proofs for their points. And so they reconvened, put more scriptural references in the document, and then it was fully reported and finished with full scriptural proof, and then endorsed by Parliament on the twenty-ninth of April 1647. And here, in 2003, you will benefit by reading it carefully.

Along with that, let me commend to you the Foundations of the Christian Faith by the late James Boice. The opening four or five chapters on the doctrine of Scripture will reward your careful attention, as will the section in Know the Truth by Dr. Bruce Milne, a book that I have come to commend warmly and to use with great frequency.

It’s a vast subject, and therefore, we must restrain ourselves and get to the matter at hand and return to the text from which we’ve read, 2 Timothy 3 and page 1179.

Our question has to do, now, with not “What is the Bible?” which we really spent time on last Sunday, but has to do with “What is the Bible for?” What is the Bible for? And here—and this will essentially cover the morning and evening study, as I found out in the opening service this morning—here we have essentially two answers that Paul chooses to give to Timothy at this point.

The Bible shows us how to be saved, and it shows us how to live when we have been saved.

Why should anybody bother with the Bible? Well, first of all, there at the end of verse 15, because it is through the holy Scriptures—the hierà grámmata, the holy writings—that a man or a woman is made “wise for salvation through faith in [Jesus] Christ.” And secondly, in verse 17, because it is by means of these same holy Scriptures that the man or woman of God can be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Taking it down a couple of notches, it shows us how to be saved, and it shows us how to live when we have been saved.

Incidentally, that’s what gives me and my colleagues complete freedom in teaching the Bible in the way that we do: verse by verse and chapter by chapter and book by book. Some are almost paralyzed in their approach to teaching the Bible, because they recognize that there is a great diversity of people listening: some of them have no idea about the Bible at all, some are unchurched and unlearned and disinterested, whereas others have been around for a while. What are we to do? And they have conferences and sit together and discuss, you know, telling people when they should come and how they should listen, and then “Come in the evening if you want to learn the Bible properly, come in the morning if you want just to hear about Jesus,” and so on.

I applaud their endeavor to be very, very purposeful, but I fear no such tyranny and feel no such need. Why? Because of what I learn here—that Paul says to Timothy, “If you just teach the Bible, two things will happen: people will be saved, and the people who are saved will learn what it means to be saved. And you really don’t need to bother much beyond that, provided you are faithfully, Timothy, speaking into a paganized culture and into a church that represents a diversity of perspectives.” So, we let the Scriptures speak, to save and to equip.

Now, by deduction, then, each of you should be sitting here, now, saying to yourself—that is, if you’re compos mentis at all—if you’re even listening, then by deduction it is very clear: “If what this character is saying is accurate, then I as an individual this morning, in listening to the Bible being taught, either need to learn what it means to be saved—therefore, I’m asking the question ‘Have I been saved?’—or I find myself asking the question ‘Am I learning what it means to live as a saved person?’” Those are the only two options! The Scriptures are given to us to make men and women “wise for salvation” and to equip them, then, with everything that goes along with what it means to be saved. Well then, listen carefully, won’t you?

What Paul is doing in this little section is simply reminding Timothy of the impact that the Word of God has had upon his life and upon his family. He’s had a wonderful heritage, hasn’t he? A godly grandmother and a godly mom: “the faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois, and in your mother Eunice,”[5] or the other way around; I can never remember. The grandmother Lois, mother Eunice—that’s right. I just checked. It’s in the first chapter. Anyway, the two of them had a wonderful impact on Timothy’s young life, the way that many of you are having today. I applaud all godly grannies, and I applaud all godly moms, and commend to you the work of the gospel, for at your knee and by your tutelage you are instilling in those who are under your care values, principles, discoveries about the Bible and about who Jesus is and why he came, which will cause them in time, under God, to arise and bless you,[6] and to bless and to revere your memory, even as I revere the memory of my own mother and my own grandmother as I speak to you.

How can I quantify what their prayers have meant? How can I understand what their nurturing in the gospel has meant? How can I ever repay the debt I owe to them who taught the Bible to me and under whose tutelage I became convinced? Yes, there were pastors, and yes, there was my father, and yes, there were multiple influences. But I have a sneaking suspicion that others along with me this morning enjoy this great and wonderful benefit. And never minimize it. And even when your children run away, and when they tell you that they have no interest in it, and they hate coming to the service, and they don’t like their teacher, and all those other things, know that at least one rapscallion goes out before them—namely, myself—having jumped out of the window in my Bible class and run off to play with my friends, having been thrown out the door by my Bible class teacher, having been sent home by my Sunday school teacher on frequent occasions. I know, by personal testimony, those from whom I learned the Scriptures and have become convinced of these things.

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
[And] creating faith in him.

But “I know whom I have believed,”[7]

and I’m committed to that which he has made available to me against the day.

And that was Timothy’s experience. The place of his mind in thinking. The key is inserted—the key of the mind inserted—in the lock of Scripture, opening the doorway to salvation.

The Bible is a Bible under which we come. Jim Packer, years ago, wrote a wonderful little book. I pulled it off my shelves again this week: Under God’s Word, published initially by Lakeland in the UK. But he makes the point: “The Bible is not primarily a book for the speculative thinker, the scientific investigator, or the literary critic, but it is rather for the [individual] who, having learned from the world around him and from his own heart something of God and of his own need, now seeks to know God and to find salvation.”[8]

Now, why would that be the case? Well, because the Scriptures have been given to make us “wise for salvation.” You’ll notice it’s not the Bible that saves us; it’s the Bible that makes us wise so that we might be saved.

Read the Acts of the Apostles. We considered a little of this last Sunday evening, and you discover that when the apostles begin to proclaim the good news on the Jerusalem streets and beyond, what they’re essentially doing is simply taking the Old Testament Scriptures and saying, “This is him”—that this Messiah who was to come has actually come in the person of Jesus. And in the great declarative statement of Peter following Pentecost and following the healing at the Gate Beautiful, he says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there[’s] no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”[9]

It’s not the Bible that saves us; it’s the Bible that makes us wise so that we might be saved.

Now, you understand this, don’t you? The Scripture has been given to educate us. To educate us. To tell us what we won’t get anywhere else.

Let me quote the Confession for the last time this morning:

Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet [they] are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, [in various ways and at different times],

quoting Hebrews 1,

to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and … the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which make[s] the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; [these] former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.[10]

Now, if that’s a bit of an earful, they then work it out in more bite-sized chunks. But actually, it occurred to me as Pastor Bickley was reading from Psalm 19 that Psalm 19 says this very thing, doesn’t it? Where does it begin?

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament
[shows] his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth

There is no speech [or] language, where [this] voice is not

What is that “speech” and “language”? It is the speech and language that is known in every language of every nation of humanity under God’s sun, where they stand out under the night sky and look up into the vastness of the heavens; where they bow down before Mount Eiger and say, “Look at the immensity of this”; where they consider the Continental Divide and say, “How could this possibly be?” And all of this speaks to them in a way that is confirmed by their conscience. For there is no place on the face of the earth in which men and women have not been born with an innate awareness of right and wrong. So, says the Confession, confirming the Scripture, God has made himself known in the morality of man by means of conscience and in the grandeur of his handiwork.

Every time I hear a newborn baby cry
[And] touch a leaf or see the sky
Then I know why I believe.[12]

Right? Whoever that was.

Well, believe what? You can believe in the existence of God, but you can’t believe enough to be saved. Because there isn’t enough there to be saved! That’s why Psalm 19 then goes forward—I think about verse 7 or into 8—and he then says that “the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart,” that “the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimon[ies] of the Lord [are] sure, making wise the simple”[13]—so that what does not happen by way of natural religion happens as a result of the Bible taking hold of the mind of a man or a woman, of a boy or a girl.

Now, if you think about this, I think it will make perfect sense to you. Some of you will have paid attention this week to what’s been going on in Cleveland. I was reading in the New York Times either yesterday or the day before and was excited to see the word “Cleveland” appear in the New York Times. I’m familiar with the Plain Dealer stealing from the New York Times some of their articles, but I don’t often see the word “Cleveland” in the New York Times. And it was referring to the fact that in Cleveland, in these past days, Case Western University has hosted this almost global conference on cosmology. And therefore, we ought to be proud that this was the location that was chosen for this event. And from around the world came some of the brightest physicists and mathematical minds dealing with the issues of cosmology.

I began to read the article. It was clear to me that I didn’t understand much of what was going on, except, I think, that the debate was largely between two groups, both of whom agree that the universe was expanding, but one group believed that it is expanding at a slowing rate, and another group believed that it is expanding at an increasing rate. And it had something to do with five million or billion years ago; I don’t recall. And it was fascinating, and I said, “My, my, I wish I could even understand a tenth of this material.”

I was also studying my Bible. I was thinking about today. And I said, “You know, all of this wisdom cannot address the issue of making a man or a woman wise unto salvation.” You need the Bible for that. And incidentally, those of you who regard yourselves as intellectual sophisticates, too smart to believe this stuff: you cannot by any other means be brought to faith in Jesus except through this stuff. You can know enough about God to be rendered without excuse. That’s why Paul begins Romans 1 as he does. He says, “And so all men are without excuse.”[14] Why are they without excuse? Because they know enough about God to know that he exists. Therefore, when they say he doesn’t exist, when they exercise their willful unbelief, they’re going against what is actually made plain to them. They have made a great exchange. But it is by the Scriptures that a man or woman is made wise for salvation.

Turn—and I’ll only turn you to one other passage—but turn to 1 Corinthians just for a moment, to familiar words. Isn’t this the great argument of Paul to the thinkers in Corinth? All these people coming and saying, “You know, Paul’s a bit of a dimwit. He’s here with some strange story about Jesus of Nazareth.” And so Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:18, he writes to them, and he says, “Well, let’s just acknowledge that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” Just pause there for a moment. If you are perishing—and that’s the word the Bible uses, not the word that I use—in other words, if you are on your way to an eternity without God, when you listen to me or anyone else teach the Bible concerning the nature of salvation, you think it’s daft, you think it’s foolish, you may think it’s trite and perhaps beneath your level of intellectual awareness.

I mention this simply to let you know that God is not taken by surprise by the reaction of man, and neither is the letter to Corinth: “To us who are being saved,” the message of the cross is actually the “power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’”[15] In fact, he says, “Why don’t you come up and stand up here beside me, wise man?” “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”[16] How do you mean, Paul? “[Well, what I mean is] since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did[n’t] know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those,” notice, “who believe.”[17] “Who believe.” No one is saved without believing.

So really, there is a fundamental question that is before us: If the Bible makes us wise, tells us stuff that we can’t learn anywhere else at all, are we prepared to listen to what the Bible is saying? What is it saying to us? Well, this is how the wisdom goes: the good, the bad, the new, the perfect. God made the world, and he made it in perfection. Man turns his back on God, sin enters into the world, and the world as we know it today and man as we know him today is not as God made him, in all of his pristine beauty and reality, but is man messed up by his rebellion. Into that sorry condition God comes, because he is a wonderfully loving God, and he comes to introduce man to the remedy for his predicament, providing in his own Son a Savior and a Guide and a Friend. And when men and women believe in that Son, then not only is their life now transformed, but they look forward to a day when that which has become new within them will become perfected in heaven.

For what the Bible says is, first of all, “Did you know you’re lost?” I was lost only briefly this past week in Detroit—just for a short time, but long enough to know I was wrong. And apparently, in a very way that is untypical of a man, I pull in almost immediately when I’m lost. There’s some caricature of men that will drive all the way to Chicago before they admit that they’re on the wrong road. I am not one of them. I am perfectly and quickly prepared to say, “Help me out.” And I pulled in, and a man who spoke like [imitates garbled speech]—he should have been lost, but I was lost—but he knew he knew enough to tell me I was going in the absolute wrong direction. And so I turned around and went the other way. And as a result of listening to someone who knew what I did not know, the lost boy was found and was set on the right track.

The Bible says that you and I are lost willfully, helplessly, and naturally, and that Jesus has come to find us; that salvation is the gift of God to us, and that God has given it to us in Jesus, because we cannot save ourselves. The Bible is able to make us wise for salvation.

No one is saved without believing.

I can never think of this without thinking of someone of whom I heard, to my encouragement, just a couple of months ago. I’ve told you of this man before, but I want to tell you about him again, because many of you weren’t listening the first time, and others of you weren’t here. English, bright, a scientist, a physicist, a confessed atheist. He was quite prepared to tolerate the fact that his wife Linda—an attractive, brunette lady—and his daughters, three of them, should go along to church. He thought it was somewhat beneath him, and without seeking to disparage his wife in any way, he was quite happy for her to attend.

When I visited their home in the course of my responsibilities in Scotland, it was an interesting encounter. And when I suggested that I might pray, he said something to the effect of “Go ahead and pray if you want. It won’t affect me.” He worked at the National Engineering Laboratory, he had a PhD in physics, and he was bright—far brighter than me, but, of course, I’m used to that.

I went home, got a copy of Basic Christianity—it was around nine thirty in the evening—got a copy of Basic Christianity, and drove back to his house, and put it through his letter box with a note that said, “Maybe you could read this, and we could talk about it.” He read it. We began to talk. He came intermittently to church. He sat in the balcony. He never looked at me; he always looked across the balcony. And a journey began in his life.

And one morning, preaching through the Twenty-Third Psalm, having come to the phrase “He lead[s] [us] in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake,”[18] a sermon that, frankly, I haven’t a clue what I said—I’m not sure even then I was very aware of what I was saying. I can’t imagine what that phrase means even now. But anyway, I tried my best: “He lead[s] [us] in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” It was one of those events where you said, “Well, okay, we did that phrase. Let’s move along.” And God saved him.

What, from the Twenty-Third Psalm? “He lead[s] [us] in the paths of righteousness”? This isn’t Romans 10:9, is it? You know, “If you confess with your mouth [that] ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God [has] raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” You can get saved from that verse, you see? But you’re not supposed to get saved from Psalm 23, you know: “He lead[s] [us] in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” How could that ever happen? Why? Because the Bible makes people wise for salvation. And the missing link for him was simply he could not understand how it would ever be possible to live a righteous life. And that was the final piece in the jigsaw for him. And in that morning, it dropped into line, and this great archetypical protagonist bows his knee to the lordship of Christ. And he was made “wise for salvation.”

Well, our time is gone. We’ll come back to it. But let me just give you a thought as you go: What do you think happens to a culture, to a church, to a family, to a life that neglects the Scriptures? What do you think has happened to the history of the United States of America in neglect of the Scriptures?

Father, thank you for giving us the Bible, not as a compendium of theological ideas, certainly not as a source book to allow us to argue with one another about superficial and tangential issues, but rather giving us a book that would allow us to insert the key of our minds into the lock of Scripture and would open the door to discover why we exist and how you have pursued us in Jesus and what it might mean to be found and forgiven and made new.

Some of us are here this morning, and we have never, ever believed. Help us, Lord, we pray. Speak into our lives. Show us in this book ourselves and our Savior. May the Bible shine into the darkness of our hearts. And if perhaps someone is saying, “Well, I would love to believe; I don’t know what I’m supposed to say,” then say something like this, just in your heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, I admit that I’m weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed. But through you, I’m more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you for paying my debt and bearing my punishment and offering me forgiveness, and I turn from my sin and receive you as my Savior.”

So then, Lord Jesus, speak into our lives this day, helping us to bother with the Bible, because it makes us wise for salvation and also equips us so that we might live properly on account of your grace to us.

May the hours of this day, and our gathering in the evening hour, and our walking into the week be touched by your grace and your mercy and your peace that comes from the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and forevermore. Amen.

[1] John Charles Ryle, Practical Religion, 3rd ed. (London, 1883), 98–99.

[2] The Westminster Confession of Faith 1.3.

[3] A. A. Hodge, A Commentary on the Confession of Faith, ed. W. H. Goold (London, 1870), 33.

[4] Hodge, 33.

[5] 2 Timothy 1:5 (paraphrased).

[6] See Proverbs 31:28.

[7] Daniel Webster Whittle, “I Know Not Why God’s Wondrous Grace” (1883).

[8] Jim Packer, Under God’s Word (London: Lakeland, 1980), 76.

[9] Acts 4:12 (NIV 1984).

[10] The Westminster Confession of Faith 1.1.

[11] Psalm 19:1–3 (KJV).

[12] Ervin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl, and Al Stillman, “I Believe” (1953).

[13] Psalm 19:7–8 (KJV).

[14] Romans 1:20 (paraphrased).

[15] 1 Corinthians 1:18–19 (NIV 1984).

[16] 1 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV 1984).

[17] 1 Corinthians 1:21 (NIV 1984).

[18] Psalm 23:3 (KJV).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.