If you are a car owner, it’s a good idea, every once in a while, to take a look under the hood and examine the engine. The same applies when you are a church goer. What’s going on in the engine room of your church? Why do we do what we do – is it just some fad or passing style?
Keeping Church Leaders Accountable
Why do we do what we do – is it just some fad or passing style?
In this sermon Ken Mbugua is addressing his church as they prepare to adopt a new Statement of Faith. It’s not enough to just go with the flow – as a member of the church you need to understand what a church is supposed to be, and keep your leaders accountable as they steward God’s people.
The Engine Of Your Church
Doctrine can be an uncomfortable word. But it is, in fact, the engine of your church.
We need to understand the doctrine that underpins what we do.
“Think of a glass and the water that is in it. The doctrine is the water inside it, that gives to us life. And yet the church, which is the container, serves an extremely important role, in guarding and displaying that content.”
So to understand the health of our church, we need to understand the doctrine that underpins what we do.
To this end Ken Mbugua divides his talk into three segments: the doctrine of God’s word, the doctrine in God’s word, and then lastly the doctrine that dictates all things.
It’s All In The Bible
Where do we find doctrine? In the Bible. What is the Bible? It is the very word of God. It does not merely contain the word of God, all of the Bible is the word of God, imparted to us via the human writers who penned it.
The Bible you are holding in your hands does not contain the word of God. It is the word of God.
“You say you want to hear God speak. Listen! This is his word, and he speaks. All the other doctrine of infallibility, inerrancy, that will be taught, flow out of this basic premise that this is the very word of God.”
Does this ring true for your church?
Text: 2 Peter 1:16-21
Preached: 6 January 2019
Location: Emmanuel Baptist Church, Nairobi, Kenya
2 Peter 1:16-21
“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honour and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
This is the word of the Lord. You may be seated.
Looking Under The Hood
Every now and then, as a congregation, we pause – even in these morning sessions – we pause, to kind of lift the hood – right? The bonnet as we call it (British and American English kinda have messed us up out here in the frontiers.) You pop the bonnet, and you look at the engine itself.
It’s useful for us as a congregation every now and then, to pause, and look at the engine of what a church really is.
You don’t do this often. Some of you hardly ever do this at all. But every now and then it’s actually useful, to look at the – if you so please – the machinery; the engine, that actually drives this thing.
My little Eden understands the word car now, right? So she’ll say “car, car, car, car.” I doubt she really understands much about what a car is. Waves at all of them saying “Bye bye.”
Some of us might know a little bit more, but we certainly do not know as much as a rally driver, actually in Kenya, who I once heard had his car stolen, and he called the cops and reported that he had spotted it. Actually he had heard it. And they actually came and they caught the guy. He knew his car that well.
Hears the engine, it’s like a signature sound, “that’s my car. I definitely know that that’s mine.” And they go and get it.
Checking Out The Engine of Your Church
We do not have that level of understanding. But none the less, it is useful, it’s useful for us as a congregation every now and then, to pause, and look at the engine of what a church really is.
It’s exceedingly important that we keep reminding ourselves of why we do what we do.
What are we really founded upon? This is not the stuff that we do on a week-to-week bases. But none the less, it is exceedingly important that we keep reminding ourselves of why we do what we do. As opposed to just continuing to do what we do. So that as we do what we do, we can hold onto it more tightly; with more conviction; with greater understanding and hopefully even to our own benefit – if we really understand the engine of this assembly.
Reviewing Our Statement Of Faith
The purpose of doing this this week, and also next week, is that we have as a church started off looking at the New Hampshire Statement of Faith. Which is a confession statement that we as elders would love to put before you, as a congregation and as members, in a couple of months. To ask you to consider voting it in as our formal statement of faith – or confession statement. Replacing the one that we have.
So for these next two Sundays, we’ll just be taking a little pause, and looking at some super basic things that define who we are, and serve as a engine of the life of this community.
The Doctrine And The Church
So this week we’re looking at doctrine matters in the local church. So, focusing on the doctrine of the scriptures, the doctrine in the scriptures, and the doctrine that dictates absolutely everything.
Next week, if the Lord allows, we shall be looking at the local church matters to doctrine. The Lord has designed the local church as the thing that holds onto this doctrine, and as the thing that displays this doctrine.
We read a key book called the Bible, and we started doing it. And it is all important.
And it is all important again, even in that second sermon, to keep reminding ourselves, that the stuff that we do – that sometimes might be taken as just a fad; a style, like they read a book and they started doing it. No, we read a key book called the Bible, and we started doing it. And it is all important.
Water And A Glass
Very much like a glass and the water that is in it. The doctrine is the water inside it, that gives to us life. And yet the church which is the container, serves an extremely important role, in guarding and displaying that content.
So as a congregation, I hope and trust that we shall profit from this.
To the first point. Three points this morning again: the doctrine of God’s word, the doctrine in God’s word, and then lastly the doctrine that dictates all things.
I’ll say many things in this sermon in brevity. My purpose is more to summarise them in these three classes, and especially get to the last, third, point. The stuff I touch on in brevity please – as our brother Esau has reminded us – please, I urge you, exhort you, seek to make time to gather with us in the morning at 9am, and you will hear all of these – in some cases mentioned in brevity – articulated with more density. As the different elders walk us through the different articles.
But for our purposes this morning, let us begin with the first point: the doctrine of God’s word.
The Doctrine Of God’s Word
Turn your bibles to 2 Timothy:3. I’ll work as hard as possible to not have you turn to all the passages. But if you can keep up, even better if you can jot down just the little verse, and we shall move forward from there. 2 Timothy 3.
So this is one basic, primary passage of scripture, when it comes to understanding what the Bible is. What are you holding in your hands right now? 2 Timothy 3:15:
“and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
What Is The Bible?
What’s the Bible? What is this you are holding in your hands? Brothers and sisters, you are holding in your hands the very word of God. What you are holding in your hands does not contain the word of God. What you are holding in your hands is the word of God.
The Bible you are holding in your hands does not contain the word of God. It is the word of God.
It might be written by Paul, by Peter, by John Mark, Jeremiah, by Moses. But as we read, in 1 Peter 1, the human agents that God used were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Not suppressing or overpowering their personality or intention in writing, but ensuring that the words they penned were the very words of God.
It’s a pretty remarkable thing that, in many ways, we can at times take casually, isn’t it?
Our Ideas and God’s Word Are Not Equal
And assume, yes “the word of God says this.” And in some cases I’ve actually had conversations where I say “the Bible says…” and then I hear an answer saying “yes, the Bible says…” And then I hear that dreaded word afterwards. It is what? But. And then they add their own words after that but.
See what you’ve just done? Taken God’s word and – let me tell it how this person says it – the sacred writing – the divine speech – and we equate it at times with our own ideas and opinions, and preferences. They are not equal.
Super basic stuff, isn’t it church?
The Actual Word Of God
What are we holding in our hands? The word of God. Oh such a feeble little attempt as a church for us to say “let’s all rise”, isn’t it? We all rise when we read the scriptures. That’s fine. But it’s a feeble attempt to just say “hey, hey – it’s different! It’s different.” This over here, is God’s word.
When we read God’s word – this morning, in this congregation – God speaks.
Listen, here’s what we’re saying: when we read God’s word – this morning, in this congregation – God speaks.
You say you want to hear God speak. Listen! This is his word, and he speaks. All the other doctrine of infallibility, inerrancy, that will be taught, flow out of this basic premise that this is the very word of God.
Some basic implications that flow out of this: it is all sufficient.
1. God’s Word Is All Sufficient
We’ll stick here in 2 Timothy a little bit. Let me read a description here from the Westminster Confession of Faith 1.6. It speaks about sufficiency. It says:
“The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men”
That’s how the Westminster Confession describes the sufficiency of scripture.
Everything that we need to know God; to be saved, become believers, to live lives that are pleasing in his sight, to fulfil the work that he has called us to – walking in obedience, it has been provided for us in the scriptures.
All We Need To Know Is God In Scripture
Look at the verses we read again: 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
All that I require to know God, has been provided for me in his word.
Every good work. You want to serve the Lord? You want to know the Lord? Listen to what you are being told. All that you need to be able to know God, and do his will, has been granted to you in his word. Everything you need to be able to know God, and do his will, has been granted to you in his word. It is sufficient.
You want to know God? Listen, you do not need someone to come and speak to you a ‘word of prophesy’, a ‘word from the Lord’ specially given to him, for you, so that you can know the Lord and do his will. Sufficiency of scriptures says all that I need, all that I require, has been provided for me in his word.
2. God’s Word Has Authority
Not only is the word inspired – God breathed – it is also sufficient. Preceding here the word of God is authoritative. Let’s lean on the same articulation [Westminster Confession 1.4] of the authority of scripture:
“The authority of Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.”
Notice again, how authoritative scripture is derived not from “the Bible says nice things.” Are you seeing this? It’s not… the authority of scripture is not dependent upon the content of scripture. You hear me?
“Well, you know the Bible tells us about marriage, tells about Church, tells us about mission and evangelism, and these are all good things and we can take them and sue them as an authority to do what God is asking us to do.”
The Source of The Word Gives It Authority
It’s based on something deeper still. Namely, the source of the word. If the source of what we are holding in our hands is God, then it means that we who receive it, receive it as a word spoken with authority.
Obedience is expected, and the only appropriate response to the word of God
Authority is a very interesting word, isn’t it? Authority is “it can make claims upon us. It can make demands upon us.” It’s spoken, not on the same level as when I speak. Right? As when I speak. When I speak I can have an opinion, I can have my own thoughts, I can have my own preferences. When this speaks, it fully expects obedience. Obedience is expected, and the only appropriate response to it.
What are we holding in our hands? The very word of God that is sufficient for all that we need to know God and do his will. And when it is spoken, it is spoken with authority.
We Don’t Like This Word: Authority
Folks, it’s a hated word, in our world today, isn’t it? A totally despised word. Authority is pride. Amen?
Good, you all know I’m coming up with a way of tricking you to make sure you are still awake. Maybe just have this set default of “just never say Amen.” Right?
Authority is not pride.
This God, he is our maker. He is our sustainer. All that is, is, because he made it. All that continues to exist because he sustains it.
The scriptures are powerful. They are alive, and they make alive.
Do you not hear trees are supposed to be clapping to him? All things not only exist but also consist because he holds it together. And he, our maker, our sustainer – oh, it goes beyond that – our Lord and saviour has spoken. This is not a casual word. This is not the 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, this is not Desiring God, this is not 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this is the holy, the sacred, scriptures. That are entirely sufficient for knowing God, and that speak authoritatively.
3. God’s Word Is Powerful
The scriptures are powerful. They are alive, and they make alive. That’s the scriptures; they are living.
Any words we ever write are not living. These are. They are animate. You know, living things move: poke them, they move a little bit. Right? This is alive; that’s how it’s described. Not only in Hebrews, but its power is articulated in multiple places, but we don’t have time here, so look in John 17:17.
The Word Of God Accomplishes Things
Christ is praying and he says what? “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” It’s able to produce that sanctification that we long for. It can purge this congregation. That’s the potency of God’s word. It accomplishes stuff.
We can’t accomplish that stuff. I can’t do it. Back flips: I can amuse you – I can do back flips! I can amuse you, I can entertain you, I can impress you, I can get you to say “wow!” But I can’t sanctify you. I can’t make you more holy using my own words – I can’t do any of that! I am totally impotent when it comes to true – notice that – true ability in helping you take but the slightest step forward in looking more like Jesus.
Do you know what can? The scriptures can; the scriptures can do that.
The Power To Save Us
The book of Romans, just flip there, it speaks about the gospel, in the opening, as the power of God unto salvation – same language used in 1 Corinthians 1:18. But I want you to look at Romans 10 – our beloved Romans. We are eating it up, slowly by slowly. Chop off a piece, you enjoy it, then put it back in the fridge, lest it runs out! It’s there for you again tomorrow. Don’t just eat all of it, snack on it slowly by slowly until it’s finished.
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved
Look at chapter 10. So we are all familiar with verse 13, isn’t it? And I am sure there are other verses as well. But verse 13 is way more familiar than the verses that follow.
“For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Glorious verses. Are you hearing that, church, this morning? Look at the blessing here. Everyone. Everyone. In this room there is not a single person who is outside of the possibility of being saved. If you are here this morning, any one of you – anyone of you – if you do what? “Call upon the name of the Lord”. That’s cry for help! From Jesus. If you turn your gaze, your sight, to Jesus and you say, “Help me! Save me!” If your heart looks to him like that, you will be saved.
That’s the law of salvation. The thief on the cross, looks to Jesus, he calls to him for help. (Luke 23:42-43) You know: “when you are in heaven, do not forget me, when you enter your kingdom, do not forget me.” And he said to him, “Today, verily, verily I say unto you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
To Hear The Word, It Must Be Preached
Let’s proceed on and see how this actually works out, verse 14:
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone” doing what? preaching. Very trusting. Right?
God’s word is proclaimed, and people call upon him for salvation. One is a necessity for the other.
15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
God’s word is proclaimed, and people call upon him for salvation. One is a necessity for the other, to actually take place.
Giving Life To Dry Bones
I love the imagery of Ezekiel 37. As Ezekiel stands over a valley of dry bones. Not just dry bones, but exceedingly dry bones – or very dry bones. And he is told to prophesy to them, prophesy to them. And he does what the Lord asks him to do. And that valley of very dry bones, it rises up to an exceedingly great army.
The potency of the scriptures, the things God is telling Ezekiel, the things that I have spoken to my people Israel, even though they right now appear to be as a valley of very dry bones, hear you me, my words will produce this very effect.
Think about creation. God speaks things into existence – that’s God’s word.
Speaking Things Into Being
Even creation itself. Think about creation. God speaks things into existence. That’s God’s word. Ever tried that some time? Speak and see if anything obeys you. Inanimate things become animate because God spoke to them. Creatures, sea lions, winds and waves: they obey him because he has spoken.
It’s not only the authoritative word that should be obeyed. Listen to this, it is the animate, the powerful, the potent word that can in many cases create the very thing that they command in the lives of the saints.
That’s God’s word. It’s inspired – it’s the very word of God. It is sufficient. It is authoritative. It is powerful. It’s also permanent.
4. God’s Word is Permanent
And we will read only one verse for this. The grass where there is the flower fades, but the word of God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8, the word of God will stand forever.
The flower fades, but the word of God will stand forever.
You have tales, like in 2 Kings 22:8, where Hilkiah discovers the word of God covered in dust, and he dusts it off and he brings it to King Josiah. And that word, full of dust, written a long time ago, is what causes reformation and revival – present.
It’s not like some old, dated, now irrelevant articulation of truth. No. That truth is permanent. It’s effective then, it’s effective now – listen – it will continue to stand true for eternity to come.
That’s a summary of the doctrine of God’s word. A rushed – if you so please – articulation of some attributes of this, that we have with us this morning.
The Place of The Bible in our Church
What should be the place of this? Let me ask you that. What should be the place of this then in this congregation? How should we treat this? Where should we place it? how should this inform us, and instruct us?
My hope, really, my hope in many ways would be, with all our ministry – with the decisions we make, with what we choose to do, with what we choose to not do – that we as a church build your confidence in the scriptures; in the word of God.
That we aid you to align your thinking, your feelings, your actions, to the scriptures.
What Does Our Church Really Have?
This right here, good people, is the most glorious thing about Emmanuel Baptist Church. What else do we have? You tell me what else do we have?
Do we have super clever people? Is that our boasting? Well, we might have had one or two but one of them got on a plane to DC, so I’m not sure we have too many of them left. That was not planned, right?
What do we have, as a church, like, we’ve read a book, and we have some ideas about how to do this thing…? What would give us the confidence to keep gathering here on Sunday – do this monologue thing for like an hour – to people that are way smarter, way smarter. Most of them way older. Others way, way older, than I am. What would give us the confidence to do that, on a Sunday to Sunday basis?
What Gives Us Confidence?
What would give us confidence to walk into a hospital room, and speak to someone with stage 4 cancer? What would give, even better, confidence to that person with stage 4 cancer? As they look at the fact that their time is running out?
At that time what do you grab hold of? “I had an idea… I read a book by some guy, it was a best seller…” No. “Thus says the Lord”. That’s what you have.
That’s what we have as a church when we gather. We articulate it, we proclaim it, we hold onto it. That’s what you have when you are in your last minutes in this world. You hold onto it with everything. “What’s my hope, even as I face this death?” “He says”. Not Ken says, not our church says, not Baptist churches say, but God has articulated it clearly from scriptures. That’s what we hold.
Fools, who have been made wise only by the scriptures. That’s our posture
Our Kind Of Wisdom
Here’s my hope. As a congregation, that we would be fools, who have been made wise only by the scriptures. That’s our posture: to approach the Bible like fools who say “I don’t know…” Actually fools would not say they don’t know, they’d say “we know.” Right?
We don’t want to be known for cleverness… We want to be known for faithfulness.
But we are wise fools in that sense then. To say “Lord, we don’t know, we don’t know. Tell us.” So that the wisdom with which we as a community move forward – do you know what kind of wisdom we want it to be? We want it to be wisdom, derived from the scriptures.
We don’t want to be known for cleverness. That’s not what we want to be known for. You want to be known for faithfulness. Like people who say, “we don’t know! Please guide us.”
It’s The Only Way To Reach Everyone
We want as a church to approach the scriptures as those who are weak. Who will look at this congregation and say you know the diversity in this room? The kind of diversity in this room, it’s epic. Right? Grand. Wide. Why would we assume that we could speak to all of you?
We want to be able to say, “Lord, I don’t know how she’s doing, or he’s doing, or what he’s thinking, or what she’s thinking, or what they’re struggling with, or where they came from, or their cultural background. Or how they grew up, or how educated so-and-so is.” We can’t know any of those things. But to say “you know what Lord though? This has power to sort them all out.”
This is the only thing that we will trust in and say “I might not quite know how to do this; have the ability, the giftedness, to serve this group. But this has.”
Don’t Put Me Up As High As Possible
Therefore what will we commit ourselves to doing? We will put this thing as high up as possible. Because when you put this guy as high up as possible, there’s trouble. I mean a couple of you might kinda like me, right, a little bit. A few of you might think my jokes are super weird, others might think I’m funny, others might… that’s the problem when you put this guy up there. Isn’t it?
I can’t quite connect with each of you. And you know what, in many ways, I’m not quite sure I want you to. I would rather, really, you connect with what? The scriptures! Because they speak to you. They will address you. Oh, they know you, more than you know them.
The Bible Reads You Right Back
Someone said – is it Tyndale? Who said that the scriptures are the only book that when you read it, it does what? It reads you. That’s what you want.
So you want to come over, on a Sunday like this, gather people and say: “the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible.” It will serve you and sort you out in ways that I never could have imagined I could.
That’s how we want to relate to this. That’s the stuff underneath the hood.
So, that’s the last point. I don’t want to get to it too quickly.
Notice secondly, there’s doctrine in God’s word. We were looking at the doctrine of God’s word – that’s super broad – but there’s also doctrine in God’s word. Teachings if you so please.
The Doctrine In God’s Word
What do I mean by that? Where do we go to when we want to learn about the godhead? About how things began? About how things will end? About who man is? What sin is? About how one can become saved?
The Bible, God’s word: inspired, sufficient, authoritative, powerful, permanent. The Bible contains teachings on all these things; doctrines that we need to embrace.
The Bible and The World Say Different Things
So, when the Bible says certain things about you – not this – the Bible is saying that oftentimes in total contradiction to the world. You know that? Like the world would say something very different about you.
Psychiatrists, or psychologists if you so please, would say something very different, about who you are. Who, what, is man? Where will we build our doctrine of man from? We will look to the scriptures. We will come to them and we will seek to understand the things that we do not understand.
Fully Knowing vs. Truly Knowing
Now, it’s important to say this here, right? Now this is not my statement, it’s a statement by others: that it might not be possible to fully know, but it is possible to truly know. Another way of saying it: it’s a simple fact that I cannot fully know, I don’t fully know everything about that one subject, does not mean that I cannot truly know the things that I claim to know.
And those two things are really different. You know? Because it can become a push-back, when you say this about Adam when you say did he have an umbilical cord? And who did so and so really marry? And we can enter into all manner of conversations about this, and about that, and you just again want to have – in many cases – a simplicity of someone who truly know. And they won’t be budged from what they truly know. Because it has been clearly stated in the scriptures.
It was true on day one, it will remain true on day one billion.
They don’t need to feel embarrassed because they haven’t read all the books out there, about apologetics, and say “well you never really want to share the gospel with anyone until you really understand everything, and you’ve watched all those videos…” No! It doesn’t work like that.
When the Bible says it, and it teaches a truth, let’s say, about who man is: a sinner, who Jesus is: a saviour, how we can come to know him: repentance and faith. You can truly know those things.
And listen, you might not grow in truly knowing those things any further. You might know more about those things, but it was true on day one, it will remain true on day one billion. And that’s the doctrines that are taught in the scriptures.
General Truths & Specific Truths
There are a couple of implications to do with these doctrine. Turn to 2 Timothy 1.
So there are general truths about the scriptures as we’ve described them. And then there are also specific truths about the scriptures that are to be known, understood, guarded, preached, communicated and handed over to other people.
Let’s just look at these verses quickly here. 2 Timothy 1:13-14 Paul is speaking to Timothy he talks about a pattern of sound words:
“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
Paul Teaches Timothy Specific Doctrines
It’s very interesting how Paul is speaking to Timothy. There are doctrines, you’ve heard me speak these things, you’ve heard me teach. OK, he is not teaching him general, big picture stuff. Look, he is teaching him certain things about justification. He is teaching him certain things about the local church.
Keep that line, Timothy. Don’t deviate from it. Don’t start saying funny things about the gospel.
You look at 1 Timothy 3:14. Here is how you ought to conduct yourselves together. These are doctrines found in the scripture. And he says “Timothy, you’ve heard me teach these things, here’s what I’m asking you to do. Keep that line. Keep that line, Timothy. Don’t deviate from it. Don’t start saying funny things about the gospel. Don’t start saying funny things about who Jesus is. Don’t start saying funny things about eternity, Jesus already came back, or stuff like that. I have taught you clearly these doctrines. What’s your responsibility now? Hold onto them.”
In Love: The Way To Live Out The Truths
I really wish we had time to look at “with love.” “In the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” Because there’s some super good stuff that we’ve got inside there, isn’t it.
Because we are keeping it up – it’s the hood, right, it’s the bonnet we are looking under; we are just looking at the mechanics of it. And yet, you will notice that the way in which you do it, the way we live out the holding fast to these truths, is clearly informed and instructed by this faith and love word that he speaks about there.
Scriptures Contain Doctrine
The scriptures contain doctrine.
When we look at church history, you will see that doctrine matters. That’s what we’re talking about this week, isn’t it. There’s saints in times past, brothers and sisters in times present, who have come to the scriptures, and have understood these truths taught to them, and are holding onto those truths to the extent of being willing to lay down their lives – if they’re told to un-hold-on to those truths; deny those truths.
Truths To Really, Firmly, Hold On To
You claim that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. Is that a truth taught in the scriptures? “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes unto the father but by me.” (John 14:6) The exclusivity of Jesus, clearly taught in the scriptures.
It is not sufficient to merely have an ambiguous, general, holding on to the Bible.
At the threat of death, saints are asked to deny that truth. And because it is true, because it is articulated clearly from the scriptures, and they have been called to hold onto it, they refuse to deny Christ, and deny the teachings that are in that word.
So church, what are we saying? We are saying it is not sufficient to merely have an ambiguous, general, holding on to the Bible. Hear what we are saying? The Bible contains specific teachings about certain issues: The way of salvation, the godhead, tells us all these things. And it is important for us to understand what it is saying.
Explaining The Law of Non-Contradiction
As the Lord works the law of gravity, as an undeniable law that is keeping you all seated right now as I preach to you, there are basic laws like the law of non-contradiction. That is the bonnet we’ve popped, right? The law of non-contradiction, that hold true when you are talking about the doctrine contained in the scriptures. What you are saying is, this cannot be both a pulpit, and a non-pulpit, at the same time.
I am saying that it’s possible for people to be wrong.
I cannot be both human, and a non-human, at the same time. Christ cannot be the saviour, and not the saviour, at the same time. The things said here cannot be both true and untrue at the same time.
What am I saying? I am saying that it’s possible for people to be wrong.
That’s a bad word in Kenya. Wrong. “You’re wrong”. You never say that. Like, not ever, allowed to say that. Especially when it comes to matters regarding what? The scriptures.
We Must Stand By The Doctrines In Scripture
So you see, it is not only sufficient for us to have a general understanding of the doctrine of scripture, but to also be able to say, that that scripture contains doctrines that can be understood, believed, helped on to, defended, proclaimed.
As a church, we do a great disservice to the word of God, if we claim to have a doctrine of scripture that is biblical, but they shy away from actually articulating the doctrines found in the scripture, because it means to say something, and not another.
Why did Jesus Christ die on the cross? What was the purpose? To make full atonement for our sins; to accomplish our reconciliation to God; to purchase for us salvation; to take away from us condemnation; to give to us that assurance, when we stand on that day, of our salvation. It is fully anchored in him.
What Do We Do When Lies Are Told About Jesus?
Listen, it is a lie when someone says that Jesus Christ died so that anything you wish for, cars or homes, monies overflowing in the bank, can be accomplished for you. God to 1 John, we are already at the end of the Bible over here, so 1 John is not too far away.
Look at 1 John 2:22. Listen to these words, and you tell me whether we are comfortable in speaking like this. Here’s what John says:
“Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?”
Are you seeing that? Are you seeing what the Bible gives you opportunity to do? It is inspired, it is the very word of Go: one, two: it contains the doctrine of Christ. Who is Christ? He is the son of God. Somebody who says Jesus is not the son of God – is a lier. The Bible says it. John has articulated it to this congregation.
The Bible contains clear doctrine, that allows us to judge sound teaching and false teaching.
Listen, as a church, if we do not hold on to the doctrines taught in the scriptures, with clarity like that, anybody walks in and says “Jesus is not quite the son of God.” And we say “well… to me, you know, he is. It’s OK, to you, you know. Everybody just reads and sees their own. The Holy Spirit applies things differently.” Amen? Right? No!
It contains clear doctrine, that allows us to judge sound teaching and false teaching. It’s all important for us to embrace it generally, but also embrace it specifically.
The Doctrine That Dictates All Things
Let’s move on to the last point here. This doctrine dictates.
What’s God’s word? It’s the very word of God. It speaks; He speaks. That should be something that should floor us. You go in Psalm 119 and Psalm 19 – pray to God give me increased appreciation for this. So that I might not be a fool, who thinks he is wiser than the scriptures. Keep me from leading my life in accordance to my own understanding.
What’s God’s word? It’s the very word of God. It speaks; He speaks.
Or as elders? We should dread this: to lead God’s sheep in accordance to our preferences, as opposed to Lord, You said, we sought to do, before we stand before him to give an account, isn’t it?
This! We elevate it, we look to it, we seek to do our best job possible to apply it, proclaim it, lead in accordance to it. And He who spoke, who owns you – who purchased you with his own blood – on that last day I pray to God that he will find us faithful. That we did not make a little experiment of this whole thing over here called church, and kinda try out a few cool things.
The Philosophy of Ministry
Doctrine dictates what we believe, how we worship, how we live together, how we preach, dictates missions, dictates ultimately the philosophy of ministry.
Let me touch on these things briefly. This list could be an endless one. But you will notice, as we start talking about the New Hampshire Statement of Faith, the elders were discussing this issue. The version that we ended up wanting to propose to you, is the version that includes the verses and has broken down all the two different statements into: this is where you find this doctrine in the scriptures.
Beyond Personal Opinions
Which means, we don’t even get the option of saying, “hey, you know what? There’s a certain set of doctrines that’s very popular nowadays. It’s all over Twitter. All the famous people – right?” All the famous people, you know, Piper, and John MacArthur, and you know, Mark Dever’s a little famous, not quite as famous as the rest of them. R. C. Sproul. These guys are famous. If you don’t know these guys, we don’t know where you live. Right? These people are well known. They are like the LeBron James’s of reformed evangelicalism now.
And we say “you know what, what does he say? OK, let’s put that inside.” No! It’s this! [indicating the Bible]
So if we, who are going to steer the church, we believe that, what had we better do? We had better be able to say: “and the scriptures say, and they teach this clearly.”
Scripture Dictates How We Worship
It should define, dictate is really the word, what we believe as a church. It should dictate how we worship.
The scriptures are very clear about how we gather before the Lord. How do we draw nigh to God? How do we engage with God? How do we commune with God?
If we are saying, in this gathering over here, “He rules; this rules. It’s authoritative.” What we are saying is, “listen, I might really enjoy a certain kind of music,” Right? And so maybe you’re a Lecrae person. Maybe you’re a Shai Linne person, these young people are laughing. Old people, let me talk to them for a little bit.
You’re a Shai Linne person, like he really just touches you – you know. Or you’re a Kari Jobe person right? Like when she sings that worship music, you really feel it. You feel like you’re in the presence of God. Or you are really like an old school person – we celebrated that person this morning. Right? Just good, sound, old hymns.
As we are saying all those things, there should be a higher, superior rule, to which every single thing we ever going to do are going to adhere to, other than merely what we like. What we like.
How Do We Choose Songs?
And say, “OK, what is a scriptural song?” Those are the most critical and most important things. When we enter into, “I prefer this style, I prefer this style, or this style”, that’s a different conversation.
But what we should never do, can never do, as a congregation, is sing songs that are in contradiction to what? To the scriptures.
The most beautiful thing about a song should be that it articulates the message clearly… It kneads it deeply into our hearts
In fact, forget about saying – in contradiction – the most beautiful thing about the song, should be that it articulates this message clearly. It helps us understand it more – it kneads it deeply into our hearts – to help us enjoy it more, trust it more. That really should be the qualities that we look for, as instructed in Colossians 3:16. “Does the word of Christ dwell in you richly” and then what? Singing.
If they are being penned not first and foremost in hearts that are “Oh man, king of love my shepherd is” come on church, just sing it every week. Right?
That’s a heart filled with precious thoughts about Christ informed by the scriptures. If you got Swahili ones like that, man, we’d populate that song list a lot. I hope we are gonna get more help with that.
It informs how we pray. It informs how we read. It informs how we preach.
Scripture Dictates How We Preach
Why do we preach the way we do as a church? Why do we do this thing? Why do we take the book of Romans and try and find out what is inside it, and then preach it to you? It is because of the doctrine of scripture.
You know what God’s people need the most? They need God’s word. This is food for their souls.
We are fully convinced as a congregation, that this is the very word of God. And you know what God’s people need the most? They need God’s word. This is food for their souls.
Expository Preaching Explained
If this [Bible] is what potency is, and power, our task then in preaching – what we call expository preaching – is to explain the meaning of the passage, and then apply it to the best of our abilities, to the hearts of the people. It starts off with the scriptures. It says certain things that even the preacher might not have said.
Often, the scriptures says things that the preacher might not have said.
So the preacher’s task, even during the week, is not quite like what my task was this week. What I am doing this week is what we call topical preaching. Now topical preaching is still appropriate, right? And everything you say, you cannot explain something wrongly from what is being said in scripture. If I quote a verse, I’d better be making a point out of it, that that particular passage was actually trying to make.
That’s the point isn’t it.
Why Do We Do Expository Preaching?
But expository preaching is really seeking to understand what that entire book was saying; what that entire passage was saying. And oftentimes church, it’s saying things that preachers would not have thought of themselves.
Expository preaching elevates the scriptures even above the preferences of the pastor.
Why do we then do expository preaching? Because it elevates the scriptures even above the preferences of the pastor, or of the preacher. It says, “they need to hear from God. They don’t just need to hear about my pet peeves, or my two preferences, or the two things that really, really, bug me and I keep saying them every single week in a different way.”
The Only Way To Grow
It will inform our mission of the church to make disciples. It will inform our philosophy of ministry. We are convinced as a church – then isn’t it – we are convinced as a church, that the ultimate thing that will produce life here, is God’s word.
The ultimate thing that will produce life here, is God’s word.
I love that verse in Colossians which is rebuking others. And saying that they do not hold fast to Christ, from whom, basically we grow with a growth that comes from God. The only way to grow as a community of saints is when you and I – is when we together – hold fast to Jesus. What happens then? We grow with a growth that is from God.
Growth That Comes From God
That informs why we do everything we do. Why should we not have a youth church? Why should we have a youth church? How should we organise ourselves? How should we order this particular service? Why do we not have plays with cute kids acting like sheep, and the three wise kings? Right? And we all say – “wow, how sweet that was.”
I want those plays – just to be clear. I hope we will be having many of them on Saturdays and invite the community around!
Why Do We Do What We Do?
But why, when we gather, don’t we do stuff like that? Why don’t we do miming to the glory of God? Because you are wholly convinced, that it is only in holding fast to the gospel. That these saints will grow with a growth that can only come from God.
Dim the lights! So that the thing that will shine the brightest is the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Why do we not have super flashy presentations? That will impress you with their crispness, or whatever else it is. Even the plainness with which we will seek to do this service, even our plainness… it’s Lord, help us dim the light to everything. Dim the lights. So that the thing that we pray will shine the brightest, in this congregation, is the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Not personality, not giftedness, not cleverness, not relevance. No. Jesus. Who has been revealed clearly in the scriptures. It’s why we do what we do. There is something that will inform the limited choices that we will make. And we pray that that something is going to be informed primarily by what we believe the scriptures are.
As a church then, I dismiss you with this application.
Help Us Elevate Scripture In Our Lives
Be fools, in your own personal lives – it’s what we will seek to do as a congregation. The thing we will most hold onto with tightness, with conviction is this. And say, Lord, we don’t have cleverness in how to run this gig called local church, or plant others, all we have is this. [Scripture]
Lord help us elevate it. And when our opinions and preferences come, relegate those to the right place and discuss those and decide what to do. But let it always be clear, that this is what we hold onto.
Can you do that with your own personal life? Could you allow it to have that authority? Oh church, hear this, if you let God rule through his word, you will flourish. You will flourish in ways that the things your heart is turning to, will not allow you to flourish.
Unless you die, you cannot have life. Let the word of God rule.
Go back to Eden, let the word of God rule. It will lead you to hard places. It will call you to death itself. It will call you to self denial. It will lead you to bringing your idols to the alter and crushing them. It might not feel good, but listen, those who have life, are those ones who die.
Isn’t that how Christ speaks? Unless you die, you cannot have life. Let it rule. Let it be your strength as well. Let it be your strength. Look to it and say “Lord, I will anchor my hope, my confidence, in your word. I will seek to do your work, through the power that rests in your word.”
And I trust that as saints, and as our congregation together, the Lord would take pleasure in allowing this church, and these saints, to so flourish in such a way, that in days to come it would all be credited to what the mighty word of God accomplished in his church.