Both Bibles

Bunkers and Humility (Psalm 19:12-14)

Sermon Recap

In telling of his conversion to Christianity, David Brooks writes that the “siege mentality” is one of the greatest obstacles that Christians put in the way of others on their spiritual journey.

This can slip quickly into a sense of collective victimhood. The “culture” is out to get us. We have to withdraw into the purity of our enclave. The odd thing is that the siege mentality feels kind of good to the people who grab on to it. It gives people a straightforward way to interpret the world—the noble us versus the powerful and sinful them. We have the innocence of victimhood.

Pretty soon Christianity isn’t a humble faith; it’s a fighting brigade in the culture war.… Pretty soon you get these wild generalizations about the supposed hostility of the outside world.… Pretty soon you wind up with what Rabbi Sacks calls “pathological dualism,” a mentality that divides the world between those who are unimpeachably good and those who are irredeemably bad.

Rather than hide in a bunker as if we are under siege, Christians are called to engage humbly with the world around us, with eyes open, hearts submitted and feet firm. 

public.jpeg

1. Eyes Open

Ps. 19:12 makes it clear that we don’t understand how deeply and pervasively our sin goes. We are all much greater sinners than we realize (Psalm 40:12). Bunker Christianity keeps our eyes closed to our own faults. But we can’t come to a deep understanding of God until we see how sinful we can be. John Calvin writes:

Thus, from the feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, and—what is more—depravity and corruption, we recognize that the true light of wisdom, sound virtue, full abundance of every good, and purity of righteousness rest in the Lord alone. To this extent we are prompted by our own ills to contemplate the good things of God; and we cannot seriously aspire to him before we begin to become displeased with ourselves. For what man in all the world would not gladly remain as he is—what man does not remain as he is—so long as he does not know himself, that is, while content with his own gifts, and either ignorant or unmindful of his own misery? Accordingly, the knowledge of ourselves not only arouses us to seek God, but also, as it were, leads us by the hand to find him.

Humility in Christ says we know we are worse than we think and desperately need God’s grace.

2. Hearts Submitted

When we recognize that we are worse than we realize, we become aware of how sin controls us (Psalm 19:13). Taking control of our lives means letting ourselves be controlled by sin. Submitting our hearts to God gives us confidence in his love for us in Christ (Romans 6:10-14).

3. Feet Firm

We fight a bunker mentality and the sin in our own heart by meditating on Christ and his Word, keeping our feet firmly rooted in him (Ps. 19:14). 

Reflection and Discussion Questions

Head

  • The doctrine of human depravity says we are thoroughly broken by sin. How does Psalm 19:12-14 support this idea?

  • Read 1 Corinthians 4:4. How does this relate to Psalm 19:12?

Heart

  • Reflect on David Brooks’s quote. Have you experienced this “siege mentality” in the church? Have you perpetuated it?

  • Read Matthew 7:21-23. Why should this humble us? How should this blow up our bunkers?

Hands

  • This week, try your best to avoid complaining, gossiping or blameshifting. What do the “words of your mouth” reveal about the “meditation of your heart?” Share with someone you’re close to. 

  • Our identity in Christ should lead us to walk with confident humility. Where do you lack confidence? Where do you lack humility? Pray this week for grace to walk in confident humility this week. 

Uncommon Kindness (Acts 28:1-10)

Sermon Recap

As we’ve reflected on the law of God written on the hearts of every human being, we recognize there are things Christians share with all mankind that should be recognized and celebrated. There are limits however to what people can actually know by common grace. How do we as God’s people best communicate God’s saving grace by means which every person can understand?

1. The Blessing of Kindness

Paul is shown uncommon kindness by the Maltese after the boat he’s prisoner on is shipwrecked. It’s a beautiful picture that kindness is not just for Christians. None of us would want to truly live in a world where only Christians are capable of showing kindness. It’s a blessing to know God allows non-believers and believers alike to be kind.

2. The Limit of Kindness

What our passage shows us though is that kindness is not enough to save. Being nice people doesn’t rescue the Maltese from their spiritual lost-ness. As Christians, we often forget that as well. We sometimes make the mistake of valuing and protecting kindness over gospel truth. The world needs more than kindness. It needs Jesus Christ.

3. The Language of Kindness

So how do we reconcile the blessing and limit of kindness? Gospel hospitality rooted in the kindness shown to us by Christ. We demonstrate an alien kindness in a culture that keeps its doors short, alienates people based on racial, social, and political lines. We welcome people with the welcome of Christ, counting nothing as sacrifice, turning strangers into neighbors and eventually family in God.

"Niceness"-wholesome, integrated personality-is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power, to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up "nice"; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world-and might even be more difficult to save. - C.S. Lewis

Gospel hospitality is welcoming people into your living space and treating strangers as family so God can turn some of them into friends. - Tim Keller

Reflection and Discussion Questions

Head

  • Why is it a good thing that God has allowed all mankind to demonstrate kindness? What kind of world would it be if this were not the case?

  • When have you seen kindness and hospitality make people friends who you would never expect to be?

Heart

  • Are there ways in which “niceness” and being kind to others is a form of self-justification for you? That kindness is more the root of holiness than Christ is?

  • Have you desired to keep “nice" and “kind” relationships with your co-workers, neighbors, and friends at the expense of sharing truth with them? Why?

Hands

  • Think of two or three people who you’ve desired to receive God’s welcome in Christ. Pray for them. Then contact them and spend time with them over the next couple of weeks. Invite them over, share a meal, and develop a relationship with them.

  • Hospitality, kindness, and welcome should not be individual endeavors. Find a way to join other believers in showing hospitality and kindness, knowing Jesus has always used the church to welcome the world.

Love the Law (Psalm 19:7-11)

Sermon Recap

The middle of Psalm 19 is a love song to the Word of God, specifically God’s law. C.S. Lewis said, “I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.” Most of us have never thought of composing a love song to the law of God. That’s exactly what David does. This passage is here to teach us to love God’s law.

public.jpeg

1. The Character of the Law

God’s law is a reflection of his character. This is why David says the law is 1) perfect, 2) sure, 3) right, 4) pure, 5) clean, 6) everlasting, and 7) true and righteous. When faced with the mirror of God’s law, we must admit that we are not good like God. The law shows us our need for grace. 

2. The Blessings of the Law

If you don’t know you’re sick, you don’t go to the doctor. If you don’t know you’re spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1), you won’t go God for forgiveness and life in Christ. The law: 1) revives the soul, 2) makes wise the simple, 3) rejoices the heart, and 4) enlightens the eyes. The law leads us to the gospel.

3. The Wonder of the Law

We think the law is there to ruin our fun. But is actually there to show us what the good life looks like. It isn’t like bricks and broccoli—useful nutritious. It’s like gold and honey. 

Cultural forces extol the alleged thrill of sexual escapades, the novelty of one-night stands and triumphs of unending libidinal conquests. What they can’t know is the unspeakable joy when a woman who’s slept beside you for 25 years rolls over in the morning and says, “I love you.” Imagine how mind-blowing that is: this woman who knows everything about you, whom you’ve disappointed a thousand times, is still here

Reflection and Discussion Questions

Head

  • What can the law do for us? What can’t it do for us? 

  • We often think the OT is about the law, and the NT is about the gospel. Read Psalm 103 and then read Matthew 5:17-48. Does this strict distinction (OT has law, NT has gospel) hold up? 

Heart

  • The law of God is like a mirror, showing us the ways we fail to measure up to his standard. Look again at Christ’s words in Matthew 5:17-48. Which of his commands have you broken in the last week or month? 

  • Read Isaiah 53:3-6. Jesus died to forgive the sins you’ve committed this month, this week, and this very day! Does that give you joy? Pray and ask him to make his grace come alive to you!

Hands

  • Choose one of Jesus’s commands in Matthew 5:17-48 that don’t make sense to you. Write it on a post-it and put it where you will see it. Ask God to show you the “honey” of it this week. 

  • Choose one of the 7 characteristics or 4 blessings of the law. Talk to God about it, and ask him to give you that characteristic or blessing this week. Then pay attention to see how he answers you!

Gravity & God’s Law (Psalm 19)

Sermon Recap

Listen to Week 1 and learn why we called this series Both Bibles.

The gospel makes very little sense in our culture. Saying “Jesus saves,” simply begs the question, “from what?” This is partly due to the fact that general revelation has been misunderstood in our day. Without an understanding of general revelation, special revelation won’t make any sense. We have to help people get the first in order to understand the second. 19th century theologian, B.B. Warfield wrote of how important each is to understanding the other:

[I]t is important that the two species or stages of revelation should not be set in opposition to one another…. They constitute together a unitary whole, and each is incomplete without the other.… Without special revelation, general revelation would be for sinful men incomplete and ineffective, and could issue… only in leaving them without excuse (Rom. 1:20). Without general revelation, special revelation would lack that basis in the fundamental knowledge of God as the mighty and wise, righteous and good, maker and ruler of all things, apart from which the further revelation of this great God’s interventions in the world for the salvation of sinners could not be either intelligible, credible or operative.

public.jpeg

1. Law of Nature

Psalm 19:1-6 is a celebration of the unbreakable natural law that God has put into creation. The sun is the most powerful force in our solar system, it is a “strong man” that “runs his course with joy” because God—through the law of gravity—has commanded it! Like gravity, God has placed a moral law into the heart of every person.

2. Law Breakers

Unlike the sun, we don’t obey the moral law, which is why David writes what he does in Psalm 19:12-14. C.S. Lewis put it this way:

[H]uman beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. [And] they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in. 

Our law breaking has caused a chain reaction in the universe that has spread brokenness all across it (Romans 8:19-22). The human race has gone off course, and the entire universe is following suit.

3. Law Keeper

David asks that God would “declare me innocent from hidden faults” (v.12). David is a law breaker; only a law keeper could be declared innocent. Jesus Christ is that Law Keeper who stood in our place, gave us his innocence and takes our guilt upon himself (2 Cor. 5:21).

Reflection and Discussion Questions

  1. What are some examples of the moral law that every person knows innately? Which of these would your neighbors agree on?

  2. Where else in the Bible is the idea of “natural law” taught?

  3. Why does death follow from breaking the moral law that God put into creation?

  4. Why does the rest of creation suffer from human beings breaking the moral law?

  5. Only Christ Jesus can declare us innocent (Ps. 19:12). Find a passage of Scripture that speaks to the way he makes us innocent before God. 

Bring It Home (tangible ways to live the truth daily)

  1. Listen for two people quarreling this week (children, neighbors, family members). What kinds of things do they say? Do you hear any appeals to the natural law?

  2. Take 5 minutes to listen to your conscience one day this week. What is it saying to you? Does it tell you to do things you don’t want to hear? Do you hear it convicting you of law breaking? 

God’s Forgotten Word (Psalm 19)

Why “Both Bibles?”

The short series we started this week in Psalm 19 derives from the way the passage transitions seamlessly from talking about God’s general revelation (the way he reveals himself in nature) in Ps. 19:1-6, to discussing God’s written Word in Ps. 19:7-11. The abruptness doesn’t disconnect these “Words,” but shows that they both reveal God (though in different ways). Theologians through the centuries have talked about the “two books” of God’s self-revelation, like the Belgic Confession does in Article 2:

We know Him [God] by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to see clearly the invisible things of God, even his everlasting power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20. All which things are sufficient to convince men and leave them without excuse. Second, He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us by His holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to His glory and our salvation.

We often forget natural or general revelation in the church, focusing solely on the Bible The Bible is authoritative and infallible, and we should not forget that! Yet, God’s general revelation in nature is helpful and has much to teach us. We should see him in “Both Bibles.”

Sermon Recap

Psalm 19 has an abrupt transition from verse 6 to verse 7. One moment it speaks of the heavens above, the next it’s proclaiming the beauty of God’s Law. While this transition seems out of the blue, it isn’t. Psalm 19 is about God’s Word, written in the Bible and imprinted on creation. God’s self-revelation in creation is God’s Forgotten Word.

public.jpeg

1. God’s Word, God’s Initiative

God is like Jason Bourne: if he doesn’t want to be found, he won’t be (Isaiah 55:8-9). But he does want to be! Because of that, God reveals himself in creation. 

2. God’s Word, Written and Spoken

People will often oppose faith and reason or science and Christianity. But we should not accept this, because all truth is God’s truth. Human interpreters get God’s Word wrong. But God’s self-revelation is not wrong, either in creation or Scripture. 

3. God’s Word in Creation Reveals His Character (and Ours)

In Psalm 19, God’s creation reveals his power and glory. And general revelation (God revealing himself in nature) reveals our character too, as people who fall short and are accountable to that God (Romans 1:18-20).

4. God’s Word in Creation Reveals Our Need, But Can’t Meet It

If we’re honest, Psalm 19:12-14 is the right response for us in the face of God’s self-revelation. The heavens declare God’s law; the Scriptures declare the gospel of Jesus and meets our need for divine forgiveness. 

Reflection and Discussion Questions

  1. Is general revelation (God’s self-revelation in creation) a new concept for you? What other places in the Bible point to this idea?

  2. Why is it an act of God’s grace to us that he would reveal himself? What does grace mean? 

  3. Why is it tempting for us to oppose faith and reason, or science and Christianity? What are some examples of this in your own life or in our culture? Why should Christians never fear truth?

  4. What does nature reveals about God’s character? What does it reveal about yours? 

  5. Why is general revelation insufficient to bring a person salvation? 

  6. Why does the psalmist end on Psalm 19:12-14? What should this tell us about how we should approach God and think about ourselves? 

Bring It Home (tangible ways to live the truth daily)

  1. Find a beautiful spot in nature this week. Spend some time taking it in, and prayerfully ask this question: What does this place show about God’s character? Write down what you learn.

  2. When your neighbors outside the church talk about God or spiritual things, what do they say? What aspects of what they say are correct? Write them down! This is common ground we share with them! How does this support the idea that God reveals himself in nature?