We are less than a month away from the Shepherds conference and the anticipation is building as we are looking forward to another incredible week. I get that I am biased, but I do believe it is the best conference to go to. Grace Community Church does an incredible job serving the pastors who come, it is great to see so many old friends and make some new ones, and, most of all, it always seems like the various speakers preach their best sermons during this conference.
This year’s theme is going to be “We Preach Christ” and it will be honoring the 500th year of the protestant reformation you can watch the conference at the conference website. To whet our appetite a little I’d like to highlight a sermon preached by Steve Lawson two years ago. The focus of the conference that year was on the inerrancy of Scripture.
He began his sermon by quoting Spurgeon who said, “O Friends, if I did not believe in the infallibility of Scripture—the absolute infallibility of it from cover to cover—I would never enter this pulpit again.
Then, Steve Lawson declared, “Because the Word of God is inerrant, it is, therefore, by necessity, invincible. And because it is absolutely pure, it is absolutely powerful.”
He also added, “The Bible is like a beautiful diamond that has many different cuts, and, when you hold it up to the light, each beauty is refracting the light of each different side and no one symbol of the Bible can communicate the whole. So, it requires many different metaphors, many different analogies, to even begin to try to put its arm around the totality of the invincible power of the inerrant Word.”
All in all, this sermon was very quotable, so I’d like to share with you his outline, as well as some of my favorite quotes, that I hope will give you a gist of what he said. Of course, it would be best to listen to the sermon itself as it would be encouraging to any heart that treasures the Word of God.
Here are Steve Lawson’s seven metaphors that the Bible uses to describe Itself.
1) A Sword that Pierces
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4:12-13
- It’s not a Q-tip that tickles. The Word is Divine. It has come down from above. It has not originated from us but from God Himself. It is a Book that is alive. Lawson goes on to note that as the writer of Hebrews quotes the Psalms, he says that the psalmist “says…” therefore, although written many years prior, it is continually speaking.
- Martin Luther said, “The Word of God is alive, it speaks to me. It has feet, it runs after me. It has hands, it lays hold of me!”
- It has been said that the Bible is more up to date than tomorrow’s newspaper. We may get tired and need to sleep, but the Bible never needs to sleep. The Bible doesn’t rest but continues working while we are in bed, or even long after we are dead. There is not a dull side in the Bible. There is not a blunt verse. Every verse in the entire Bible is razor sharp and can cut deep.
- The Bible cuts through excuses and facades, and cuts to the core of the inner person, getting to the bottom of one’s life. Other books may inflict flesh wounds, but this Book gets to the organs, all the way to the heart and soul.
- The Bible judges perfectly and renders the divine verdict. It can judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The Bible can judge what only the reader knows about themselves and even things that we don’t know about ourselves.
- The Word of God strips us down and makes us naked before God. It allows us to see ourselves for the very first time as God sees us. The Bible renders the death blow to pride, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency and self-flattery.
- No one will ever be saved apart from such heart-rending conviction and exposure of the soul before God, to leave one in a sense of conviction of sin and a desperate dire need of a Savior and His grace, to perform open heart surgery and to give a new heart.
2) A Mirror that Reveals
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror – James 1:23
- Once the heart is opened up by the sword of the Spirit, now the mirror of the Word is held up.
- The mirror enables you to see yourself as you truly are. A mirror tells it like it is. It gives a true reflection and revelation of what is in the inside. We never truly know ourselves until we read the Word of God.
- As I read this Book, it felt like someone was reading my heart, and it wasn’t cheering me and applauding me in order to flatter me, this Book was giving me the accurate picture within my soul of who I truly am and my dire need of grace.
- There has been many a time after I have preached, I’ll be out in the lobby, I can see with my peripheral vision over in the corner a shy man whose wife made him come to church. And he’s waiting for everyone to leave so he can approach me privately. And he will come up to me and say after he has heard the preaching of the Word of God, “have you been talking to my wife?” Because it seems that I know more about him that he knows about himself. I will say, “No, I’m not, it is the Word of God that is a mirror that reveals yourself to yourself.”
3) A Seed that Reproduces
for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. – 1 Peter 1:23
- A perishable seed can only reproduce a life after its own kind. Apple seeds do not produce bowling allies. They can only produce apple trees. There is a fundamental principle in life–like produces like. A supernatural life only comes from a seed that is living and enduring. It would be easier to produce oak trees from planting marbles than it would for someone to be saved without the planting of this imperishable seed (the word of God) into their hearts.
- In ministry, you reap what you sow, and if you sow a worldly message, you will reap a worldly church. If you sow secular humanism, pop-psychology and worldly trends, religious tradition, corporate leadership, cultural ideologies, philosophical thoughts, personal experiences, and political commentary, you will reap an unconverted church. But if you sow the living and enduring Word of God under the truth of the Sovereignty of God, who alone can cause those seeds to germinate, you will have a regenerate church.
- Spurgeon said, “I would rather speak five words out of this book than 50,000 of the philosophers’. If we want revivals, we must revive our reverence for the Word of God, and if we want conversions, we must put more of God’s Word into our sermons.” Lawson added, “Less of you and more of God.”
4) Milk that Nourishes
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation. – 1 Peter 2:2
- You are to be always craving the Word of God like a baby craves milk. You are to have a singular dominant thirst for the Word.
- No one’s spiritual development will advance beyond their intake of the Word of God. None of us will live up to all of the Word of God that comes into us, but none of us will advance beyond the measure of the Word of God that is flowing into us like milk.
- The way you and I remain faithful in our pursuit of holiness is by the grace of God through the Word of God.
5) A Lamp that Shines
Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105
- We live in a very dark world, and it is becoming darker by the moment. There are many dangers that threaten the safety of all who travel that narrow path that leads to life, and many travelers have suffered disaster on their way to glory. We need light to shine the way so we can see the dangers in our way.
- The Word of God is like a lamp giving necessary light to all the travelers. This lamp is not an option for a few of us, it is a necessity for every one of us. And the light shines brightest in the darkest hours of the night. And this light has never shined brighter than it is shining at this very hour in which you and I live, as we live in this sinful and adulterous generation.
- Dr. Macarthur has shared with me the number one thing people say to him after he preaches, “Oh I see it now!” This light is shining as we open the Word and people see with a Christian worldview and with a Christian lens. They see now with light shining in a dark age.
- The emphasis here is not on the head or the heart but on the feet. It presupposed that it has affected head and heart, but it isn’t real until it affects the feet and we put it into practice. The inerrant Word gives infallible guidance.
6) A Fire that Consumes
“Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord – Jeremiah 23:29a
- This fire consumes and burns up all that it comes into contact with, that is resistant to the Word of God.
- The context of Jeremiah 23 is clear: Whether it is prophets who prophesy falsely (V.25), prophets who speak out of the deception of their own heart (v.26), prophets who make God’s people forget God’s name (v.27), prophets who relate their dreams that have nothing to do with God’s Word (v.28), God is against these prophets (v.30, 31, 32). God will consume these prophets and those who follow them (v.24). God promises judgment and punishment for all that is not built on God’s Word.
- The message that we preach will cause people to either be blessed or to be burned. It will cause them to either be on fire or in the fire. They will either be on fire for God, or they will be in the fire of God, and there is no mediating position in between.
7) A Hammer that Shatters
…and like a hammer which shatters a rock? – Jeremiah 23:29b
- There is no force in the world that compares with the shattering force of the Word of God to overcome all resistance in the day of His power.
- Little weak men stand in the pulpit with a sledgehammer and they bring the force of the Word of God to bear upon the heart that is resistant, and it shatters pride and it crushes and smashes self-righteousness.
- People are like a rock, they are hard-headed, hard-hearted, and their foreheads are like flint. They are uncircumcised of heart; they have a heart of stone that is resistant to the truth of God. Their lives and hearts are unresponsive to the things of God; they are spiritually dead. How will they ever be brought to humility before the Throne of Grace? It is by this invincible weapon, the Word of God.
I call you this day to wield the sword, to hold forth the mirror, to scatter the seed, to serve the milk, to hold up the lamp, to spread the flame, to swing the hammer, to stop with the secular wisdom in the pulpit, cancel the entertainment in the church, and fire the drama team. Get rid of the shtick, unplug the colored lights, put the pulpit back in the center of the building, stand up like a man, open the Bible, lift it up, let it out, and let it fly. It is the invincible power of the inerrant Word.