Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Outlasting the Critics

Leslie Basham: Author Carolyn McCulley has observed something among women. When they learn to study the Bible effectively, they begin to love the Bible.

Carolyn McCulley: Several years ago when I had attended a very large church, we had developed a women's discipleship program. Part of that was just to help women who were relatively new converts learn the basics about womanhood.

But I found that a lot of these women didn't know how to study their Bibles. They would read them, but they didn't know how to study them. So almost every one of these twelve week courses that we did, I would devote one of the weeks to, "This is how you study your Bible. Here are some other resources to help you understand the original languages, to help you understand to cultural background, to help you understand what other theologians have said about this."

There was always one woman who would light up and say, "This makes so much more sense." So it's exciting to me to see other women want to apply themselves to the study of Scriptures, and to see how easy it is.

When one of the kings of Judah received the Word of God on a scroll, he cut it up and threw it into the fire. We would never do that. Right? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss to remind us how we sometimes respond when confronted with the Word of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, February 14.

Earlier this year, Nancy challenged every listener to read the Bible every day in 2012. We're encouraging you to keep up with that challenge, or to begin if you haven't already. Get all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com. To encourage you to study the Bible in fresh ways in 2012, Nancy's bringing you a series called, The Wonder of the Word.

Nancy: Many of you will recognize the name Voltaire. He was an 18th century French philosopher and a vehement critic of the Bible. The story is told that one day Voltaire was sitting with a group of friends in his home in Paris talking about the Bible. Voltaire dismissed the whole idea—just wrote off the Word of God by saying, “A hundred years from now you will never hear of it. Oh, you might possibly see a copy in a museum,” he said, “but otherwise, the Bible will be gone. It is a thoroughly discredited book.”

Well, a hundred years later the same house in which Voltaire had said those words, his old home in Paris, was the property of—would you believe it?—the British and Foreign Bible Society. It was one of their distribution houses and it was packed full of Bibles waiting for distribution to the four corners of the earth.1

For thousands of years, unbelievers have been refuting the Bible, they’ve been debating it, they’ve been trying to overthrow it, and yet today it stands as solid as a rock. So that’s why we read in the Scripture, Matthew chapter 24, verse 35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but [Jesus said], my words will by no means pass away.” First Peter chapter 1, verse 25: “The word of the LORD endures forever.” In Psalm chapter 119, verse 89, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” (all ESV)

The Bible is going to outlast all its critics, all its opponents, and all its scoffers. Not only does it outlast them, but it’s not outdated. It’s still relevant. It’s still sufficient to meet our needs as 21st century women. It’s still effective in changing and transforming lives.

As we think about the fact that the Bible is permanent, there’s an Old Testament passage that comes to mind of a king of Judah who tried to get rid of the Word of God. If you have your Bible, let me ask you to turn to Jeremiah chapter 36.

Let me give you a little background here. This was a period of time that was coming to the very end of the nation of Judah. They had sinned against God. They had rejected Him as their King and God had said, “You’re going to be captured. You’re going to be sent into captivity.” King Jehoiakim, who we read about in Jeremiah chapter 36, was the second to last king before the nation was sent into exile by God as a punishment for their sins.

Now, you want to keep in mind that King Jehoiakim was the son of a man named King Josiah. Now, Josiah was a godly man. He became king as a young man, and he had feared the Lord and honored the Lord. The one thing that you may remember about King Josiah (the story is told in the book of 2 Chronicles) is that he set about to repair the temple that had fallen into disrepair, and when his men were repairing the temple, they discovered a precious treasure in the temple.

What was it? It was the Word of God that for a generation or more the people of God had not read. They had ignored it. They had forgotten about it. They lost it. Josiah, King Jehoiakim’s father, under his reign, the Word of God had been discovered and the people had read it and repented of their sin. There had been a real reformation that had taken place in the reign of Jehoiakim’s father.

Now, I did a little calculation last night, putting some of these passages together, and discovered that King Jehoiakim, the son, was probably about seven years of age when that reformation of the Word had taken place, so he was old enough to know what had happened. He had seen his dad’s response to the Word of God, which was to honor the Word and to reverence it and to be repentant when they saw all the laws of God that they had violated. He had seen his dad respond that way to the Word of God.

But now the son comes along. We read about this in Jeremiah chapter 36, and he does not have the heart of his dad. Isn’t it tragic to see how many young people today are growing up in Christian homes where they’re hearing the Word of God and they’re seeing the power of the Word God, but they’re growing up in many cases to reject the Word of God for themselves.

We pick up in Jeremiah chapter 36, beginning at verse 1:

In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD. [Jeremiah was God’s prophet of the day. God said] Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah until now.

Perhaps [this is God speaking] when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, each of them will turn from his wicked way; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin. (vv. 1-3 NIV)

So God is saying to Jeremiah, “All the things I have shown you about the judgment that’s coming, I want you to write them all down on a scroll.” We have those words in the book of Jeremiah.

God says, “Write them down because My heart," God says, "is that the people will read the Word; they’ll hear the Word; they’ll realize the judgment that’s coming on their disobedience; they will repent, and I’ll be able to relent from sending judgment.”

You see the heart of God here? He wants to show mercy. That’s why He gives us His Word so we can see what will happen if we don’t obey Him, and seeing that, we will repent and God will be able to withhold His judgment. So, verse 4, Jeremiah called his secretary, Baruch, and while Jeremiah dictated all the words the Lord had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them on the scroll.

As the passage develops, Jeremiah, once the scrolls are written, tells Baruch . . . Jeremiah was under house arrest at the moment, so he tells his secretary, “Go into the temple of the Lord and read these words so that all the people can hear what God has said” (v. 6 paraphrased). Baruch read to the people, verse 10, “at the LORD’s temple the words of Jeremiah from the scroll.”

In the audience that day was a man named Micaiah. He heard what Jeremiah had written on that scroll. He heard the word of the Lord, and his heart was stirred. He went back . . . Apparently, he was an official. He went to the palace and he gathered the government officials together.

He said, “You need to hear this.” He recalled from memory what he could that he had heard from that scroll. He said, “This is what he Lord says. There’s going to be judgment. We’ve disobeyed God. You need to hear about this.”

Well, the officials got together and they said, “The king needs to know about this.” So they dispatched a messenger to Baruch and said, “Bring those scrolls. Come to the temple and read this message to us. We want to hear about it so we can tell the king.” Baruch came to the palace and they said, verse 15,

Sit down, please, and read it to us. So Baruch read it to them. When they heard all these words, they looked at each other in fear and said to Baruch, "We must report all these words to the king."

So they responded by believing what they heard. Now these men take the scroll and they go in to the king and they say, “You need to hear what we’ve just heard. This is what God says.”

Now turn to verse 22. They’re meeting with the king.

It was the ninth month and the king was sitting in the winter apartment, with a fire burning in the firepot in front of him. Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes [as a symbol of humility or repentence]. (vv. 22-24)

Now think about this contrast. What did King Jehoiakim’s father do when he found the Law of the Lord? He saw the laws that they had violated. He repented in sackcloth and ashes, tore his clothes as a sign of humility, and said, “We must repent.” He lead the people in repentance.

His son who had been seven (approximately) at the time now is a man about thirty years of age, less than twenty-five years later. He hears the Word of the Lord; he refuses to repent; he has no fear, no consciousness of the presence of the Lord. He tears those pieces one after the other and throws them into the fire and says, “I don’t believe it. I’m not interested.” He attempts to destroy the Word of God.

Now as you go on in the passage, you learn that God’s Word can’t be destroyed because it comes from God. The scroll can be destroyed. You can burn this copy of the Bible, but you can’t burn the Word of God. God told Jeremiah, “Write it down again.” So another scroll was written and that scroll was copied, and it was copied, and it was copied, and today we have the book of Jeremiah with those warnings.

As I read that story of how King Jehoakim responded to the Word of God, I can’t help but think that there’s a sense in which that’s exactly what we have done today with portions of the Scripture that we don’t like—the evangelical world.

It’s not just the secular world out there that’s done this, but we read today about portions of the Scripture that talk about the judgment of God. We read the standards of God as it relates to marriage and divorce. We read about the requirements of God in the matters of forgiveness and putting away bitterness and loving your enemies.

And what do we do? If it’s not comfortable for us, if we don’t like it, we ignore it. So I have to ask myself and I ask you:

  • What part or parts of the Word of the Lord are you ignoring? 
  • What parts are you disregarding? 
  • What parts have you discarded? 

“Oh, that didn’t apply to me.” “Oh, yes, I know I’m supposed to forgive, but you don’t know what my husband did to me.”

We might as well just cut the Word of God and throw it in the fireplace. You say, “I don’t want to do that.” Well, there’s an option. You can be like Jehoiakim’s father. You can hear the Word of the Lord, fall on your face, and say, “Oh God, I’m so sorry. I repent.” Humble yourself, and say, “Lord, I want to live in obedience to Your Word. Have mercy on me.” And He will.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will pick up the second half of today's teaching in a minute. Today’s program is part of a series called The Wonder of the Word.

We want you to discover that wonder for yourself. Would you commit to reading the Bible every day for the rest of the year? We'll help you keep the commitment by sending a couple of reminders each month by email. To sign up for this important challenge, and to get all the deatils, visit RevieourHearts.com.

Now, let’s get back to the series, The Wonder of the Word.

Nancy: I read a report several months ago about the Scholastic Book Club. Do you remember Scholastic Book Club when you were growing up? They put out these catalogs with books for school-aged kids. They’ve now got a new catalog called “Inspiring Words.” This is an effort to market to Christian schools and to Christian home schoolers, so these are religious books.

One of the books they were offering on the cover of this particular catalog is a book called Conversations with God for Teens. The book is published under Scholastic’s publishing house, and it includes several hundred questions that they think a teenager might want to pose to God. Then the author gives his version of what he thinks God would say in response to the teenager’s question.

For example, one teenager asks, “Some of the kids are cheating in class and on tests. They want me to join them, but I know that cheating is wrong.” Well, the “god” (lower case “g”) that Scholastic puts out in this book says in response, “There’s no such thing as right and wrong as we discussed earlier. There’s only what works and what doesn’t work given what you are trying to do.”

Here’s some other questions and answers in the book. A teenager asks, “How can we change our schools?” “God” suggests abolishing tests and scores and marks and measurers and let the joy of each child be the measure. That’s supposedly “god’s” response to that question. Then Jenny, a sixteen-year-old from Miami asks, “Why am I a lesbian?” Scholastic’s “god” (and I put that word in quotes) replies to this teenager, “Go now out into the world and celebrate who you are.”

So here’s an attempt to say, “This is what God has said.” Now aren’t you glad that we know what God has said? We don’t have to look to Scholastic Book Club and the books they promote to tell us what God has said. How could you read this and know whether they’re right or not? The only way you can know is if you go to the Word of God and check it out.

If what is being said in this or any other book that’s being promoted in the catalog contradicts what’s found in the Word of God, the Scripture, the Bible, then you know that the other book you’re reading is not the Word of God. It must be according to this Book—the Bible—if it’s going to be true.

The Scripture is inspired by God. It’s the Word of God. It’s what He has spoken to us, and I’m so glad that God’s Word can be trusted. It’s perfect. It’s pure. “Every word of God is pure,” Proverbs 30:5 (NKJV) tells us. Psalm 119:128: “I consider all your precepts concerning all things to be right” (paraphrased). Then again in Psalm 119:140: “Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it” (NKJV).

When we talk about the Word of God being inspired, that means that every word you find in this Book comes from God—every word in this Book. It means “God-breathed”—that God breathed these words. Peter, in the New Testament, describes this arrangement of inspiration by saying that men who were moved or carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:21 paraphrased).

We said earlier this week that there were over 40 human authors who penned the pages of Scripture, but they were carried along by the Spirit of God. When these men wrote, they were speaking from God. The selection of each word was directed by God while, amazingly, preserving the individual styles and the personalities of the writers.

So this Book is inspired; it is God-breathed. Because it is, we can trust that it is also inerrant. That means there are no errors in it. It is without mistakes, containing no mistakes, no errors in the original writings, which have, of course, been translated and passed on to us in the form that we have today. It means that we have a Bible that is completely trustworthy. You can believe this Bible.

You say, “Well, maybe the Bible we have today isn’t the same as the original one.” The earliest known manuscripts—and there are more extant manuscripts (early manuscripts) of the Bible than any other book of a comparable era . . . As those manuscripts have been compared with the English Bible that we have today, the differences are just miniscule. The care that was taken in the transmission of the Word of God from generation to generation is remarkable. God has preserved this Book. So we know that in the original manuscripts it is inerrant—without error, no mistakes.

Every word of God is pure. “The words of the LORD are pure words,” Psalm 12:6 tells us, “like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” So what does it mean for us that the Word of God is inspired, that it is inerrant? It means, “When the Bible speaks,” as Augustine said, “God speaks.” When I pick up this Book and I read what it says, this is God speaking. Now, what does that mean? It means that this is a powerful Book. It means that it’s more important than any other book in my library. Even books about this Book are not as important or valuable as this Book itself.

But when I think about this being the inspired, perfect, pure, inerrant Word of God, it means I ought to take it seriously every time I hear it read. It means I should approach the Word of God with an attitude of reverence. Our heart attitude with this Book—the Word of God—needs to be that we surrender to it, that we do what it says.

The apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 that one of the things he appreciated about the Thessalonians was that, verse 13, “When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (NKJV). Paul said, “When we came and brought the gospel to you, you listened to that Word, and you didn’t take it as just, ‘Oh, Paul’s saying this.’ You said, ‘Oh, God is saying this.’ You received it with an attitude of reverence and submission.”

That should be our heart attitude toward the Word of God. If we really thought of this Book as God speaking, would we not have a sense of awe and reverence and submission about what we’re hearing?

For me to affirm doctrinally that I believe this is the Bible, I believe this is the Word of God, I believe this is inspired and inerrant and infallible, do you know what I’m really saying? When I read this Book, I’m going to trust it. I’m going to believe it. I’m going to act on it whether I like it or not, whether it makes sense or not. I’m going to let this Book act on me. 

Father, we affirm with our hearts that every word You have spoken in this Book is pure and true and we love You for giving it to us. I pray that You would increase in us that heart and that hunger for the Word of God, that we might be like newborn babes desiring that milk of the Word, that we would be hungry for it and then when we hear Your Word, may we esteem it and reverence it. May we be quick to respond to it, to stand in honor and at attention at the reading of the Word of God and then to bow our hearts in submission and say, “Yes, Lord, I hear what You’ve said, and by Your grace, I intend to do it.” I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss in a series called, The Wonder of the Word. If today’s program has motivated you to want to get into the Bible more effectively, I hope you’ll take the next step in learning to study for yourself. Nancy’s here to tell you one way you can do that.

Nancy: I so grateful for the many wonderful Bible teaching ministries that are available today. Many of those have been a great blessing to my own life. I will tell you this, there is no substitute for getting into God's Word for yourself.

I want to remind you that you don't have to depend on others to study the bible for you? You can learn to study the Bible yourself and get great insights out of it.

My good friend, Kay Arthur, has spent decades helping people learn how to study the Bible. She has written a terrific book that will help you get more out of your Bible study.  It’s called Discover the Bible for Yourself. 

This book will help you learn to accurately understand what you’re reading. It will help you grasp the contexts in which passages were written. It will show you how to study the meanings of biblical words. You’ll also learn how to practically apply God’s Word to your life. The things that Kay shares are basic principles that are helpful to me in my own personal Bible study.

I want you to be able to get out of the Bible the same kinds of insights you hear on Revive Our Hearts. You can do it. This book by Kay Arthur will show you how. We’d like to send you Discover the Bible for Yourself when you  make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. We’ll also include a resource the Revive Our Hearts team developed called My Personal Bible Reading Journal.

Ask for both, Kay's book and the journal when you donation to Revive Our Hearts. You can do that by giving us a call at 1-800-569-5959, or make your contribution at Revive Our Hearts.com. Remember that when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts, you're helping thousands of women all across this country and around the world learn how they can get into God's Word for themselves. And when they do, their lives will be changed, and you will have been a part of that through your support of this ministry.

Leslie:  Thanks, Nancy. 

This week on the Revive Our Hearts podcast, you can hear a special series on using new technologies to study God’s Word more effectively. [You can also read the transcript or hear the audio here.]  For details on subscribing to our free podcast, just visit Revive Our Hearts.com

Have you ever stopped to consider how much the Bible is worth? Throughout history some people have valued it more highly than their own lives. We’ll talk about some of them tomorrow.  Please be back, for Revive Our Hearts!

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

1F. Crossley Morgan."The Importance of the Study of the English Bible."  The Word of the Lord: Bible Lectures from Westminster Chapel. Marshal Pickering Holdings Group (subsidiary of Zondervan Corporation). 1988. p. 48.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

Join the Discussion