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Jesus uses two phrases which are an encouragement to all of us. Quoting from the book of Psalms He says:
“If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken)...”
So in that one verse, John 10:35, Jesus chose to use the two titles for the Bible which most of His people have used ever since: the word of God and the scripture. Now, those don’t mean exactly the same. When Jesus calls the Bible the word of God He means that it came from God, it’s a message direct from God. It came through many different channels, written by many different writers, but the source of everything in the Bible, the ultimate source, is God. It’s God’s word. It’s God’s message. It’s what He wants us to know.
But the word scripture means literally that which is written. And that’s a limitation. God has spoken many, many words which are not in the Bible. But in the Bible are the words which God chose to have recorded in writing for our benefit. And we need always to remember that everything in the Bible is for the benefit of man. It contains everything we really need to know to find the best way in life and to make a safe journey through this world to eternity with God.
So I’m going to briefly unfold to you this evening various different aspects of what God’s word will do. I don’t want to dwell on any of them because it would take too long. I just want to try to open your minds to comprehend all that God has made available to us through this word.
This is very real to me personally because of my own background. It was announced that I had held a fellowship at King’s College, Cambridge in ancient and modern philosophy. And so, I was by profession a philosopher. I was a philosopher because I was looking for the answer to life’s problems. I really wanted to find the meaning and the purpose of life. I don’t exactly know why but I think I was born with this question inside me, “What is the meaning of life?” Before I was a teenager I was already looking for the answer. Well, I attended church in Britain for ten years regularly because the schools I attended demanded that we attend chapel. And I was impressed by things that I heard from the Bible but I didn’t feel that Christianity as I had seen it had the answer. So, when I went to Cambridge University and I no longer had to go to chapel everyday I decided that I’d done all my churchgoing in my early years and I was glad that it was all over with. I was going to look for the meaning of life somewhere else. And the natural place for me to look seemed to be philosophy. I became a research student and eventually a professor of philosophy.
I was very successful in my academic career but I hadn’t found the answer. And then World War II broke out and I realized I was going to be called up into the British Army and who knows where I would end up. In the army you can’t carry a lot of baggage with you, you have to carry everything in one long, round, black bag which is called a kit bag. So my big problem, which was not the problem of most soldiers, but my problem was what will I take with me to read? And I eventually decided there’s one book in the world that’s more widely read, more influential in human history than any other book. And it’s a sort of book of philosophy and I said to myself I don’t know much about what’s in that book. Do you know the book I had in mind? The Bible. And my estimate was absolutely correct. Without any question it is the most influential book in all human history. I question whether anybody can claim to be called educated who really doesn’t know anything about the Bible.
So, I bought myself a nice new black Bible. I couldn’t believe a Bible would be any other color but black. My picture of religion was basically black. I said how do you read the Bible? I said you start at the beginning and read it through to the end. So my first night in the army I started at Genesis 1:1 and began to read. Well, I created quite a stir in the barrack room. There were twenty-four other new soldiers there and when they saw me reading the Bible they all began to whisper. I mean, they were kind of embarrassed.
The problem was that when I was not reading the Bible I didn’t live the least bit like people who regularly read the Bible! Quite the opposite, I don’t need to go into all my many sins but they were very conspicuous.
So there I was, reading the Bible, living a real ungodly life, and the Bible was the first book I came across I couldn’t make head or tail of. I read all sorts of authors—Greek, Latin, Russian, French—and I’d always had an idea this is what he says, this is where he’s right and this is were he’s wrong. But the Bible, I didn’t know what it was all about. I didn’t know how to classify it. Was it poetry, was it history, was it mythology, was it philosophy? It didn’t seem to fit any one category.
Well, after about nine months the author of the Bible wonderfully revealed Himself to me one night in an army barrack room about midnight. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed Himself to me in such a way that from that night to this there are two things I have never doubted. One, that Jesus Christ is alive and two, that the Bible is a true, relevant, up to date book. The moment I met Jesus the Bible made total sense instantly. There wasn’t a long period of struggle; it was from one day to the next.
So that’s my personal experience and background. That’s why I esteem the Bible so highly. And in the years that have followed, nearly fifty years since that day, I’ve had the privilege of studying the Bible and sharing the Bible and teaching the Bible with thousands of people from many different racial and religious backgrounds, different cultures. And I’ve found that the Bible is the only book I know that speaks to everybody in every nation, every culture. So, I’m not ashamed of the Bible. I never apologize for believing in the Bible. I believe Christians should not apologize for their faith in the Bible. They do not need to feel intellectually inferior. After all, I was a professional philosopher. And I’d studied all sorts of theories about the origin of man and the origin of the universe, all sorts of things. But I’d have to say in my judgment the Bible is the most logical book I’ve ever studied. Its logic is perfect.
If you want an example of perfect logic you should read the epistle to the Romans. In my opinion it’s a masterpiece. No human pen has ever written anything that equals the logic and the perfection of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. So if you are students or whatever you are, don’t feel inferior for saying you believe the Bible. It’s not a mark of inferiority, it’s a mark of good sense.
Now let me begin with this theme of what the Bible will do for you. First of all, I’d like to give you some general statements about the scripture. Psalm 33:6 says this:
“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”
Where we have the word breath the Hebrew word actually is spirit, because the picture is God’s Spirit coming with His word. As He spoke His word His Spirit came with it just as when I speak a word my breath goes with the word. And that tells us how the whole created universe came into being. It’s not complicated, it came about by the word of the Lord and the Spirit of His mouth. These are the two agents of God in all creation. If you read the record of creation in Genesis you’ll see how exactly that agrees. So this is a staggering thought that I want to impress upon you. When you are reading your Bible and absorbing it and letting it do its work in you, all the creative power of Almighty God is at work in you. Because, God used nothing but His word and His Spirit to create the universe. And the same word, the same Spirit, are available to us when we read the Bible. So never set limits to what the Bible can do in your life. Go out, look at the stars, look at the sun, look at the oceans, look at the mountains—the tremendous creative power of God demonstrated—and then say to yourself the same agents that created all those things are working in me when I read my Bible.
And then in the New Testament in 1 Thessalonians 1:13, Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica which was a young church that had recently been formed. And he’s remembering how powerful the impact of his ministry had been there and he thanks God for those Christians. This is what he says to them:
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because 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 effectively works in you who believe.”
So Paul emphasizes this is not the product of human wisdom; this is the word of God, this is God speaking to us.
But, it won’t fully do its work in us until we receive it with faith. It effectively works in those who believe. Unbelief can shut out the effect of God’s word. But if we open our hearts in faith, if we believe it, it works effectively. And what I’m going to be doing this evening is describing to you some of the effects that God’s word will produce in you if you receive it with faith.
And then in the epistle to the Hebrews the writer of Hebrews has certain things to say also. First of all, he speaks about God’s people Israel in the Old Testament, how they were brought out of Egypt supernaturally by mighty signs and wonders. But, through unbelief they never entered the land that God had promised to them. And the writer of Hebrews comments on this in Hebrews 4:2, and he says of Israel:
“For indeed the gospel [or the good news] was preached to us as well as well as to them, but the word which they heard did not profit them; not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”
So, they heard the word of God but it didn’t do in them what God intended it should do. It didn’t bring the results of the blessings because it was not mixed with faith. It’s only when we mix it with faith that it does in us what God intends. But I’ll be telling you briefly in a little while if you don’t have faith you can get it. So don’t despair. If you are here this evening and you say I’d love to be able to receive God’s word with faith but I don’t know if I really have faith, one of the marvelous things about God’s word is it creates faith. I’ll come to that in a little while.
One more thing in general about the word of God in Hebrews 4:12:
“For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
A tremendous list of facts about the word of God. It’s living, it’s not dead. It’s powerful. It’s sharper than any two-edged sword. Or, in modern language, it’s sharper than any doctor’s scalpel. It can penetrate where no scalpel can penetrate. It can separate the joints from the marrow. It’s sharper than any psychiatrist’s probing. It can separate the things that are closest inside us, the spirit and the soul.
And then the writer says it’s a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. I remember hearing somebody say this, “Remember, that while you’re reading your Bible your Bible is also reading you.” And in a certain sense we need to approach the Bible with awe because it’s going to lay bare things in us that we didn’t even know were there. Always God does it in His mercy. We may have problems that are preventing us from really succeeding in life. We may not even be aware of the problem. But if you go to the Bible and let it probe you, that scalpel will reach right down where no human scalpel can reach and it will point out to you problems that you didn’t know you had.
For instance, to say something frankly, most of us have a problem with pride but many of us are not aware of our own pride. But you take time with the Bible and sooner or later you’ll begin to discover that hidden root of pride in your life which has to be dealt with before God can really do for you what He wants to do.
Now I want to speak about a number of specific results which the Bible produces. I’m speaking out of the scripture but in many cases I’m also speaking out of personal experience. Very rarely do I preach theories. Nearly everything I preach arises out of things that I’ve experienced. And when God wants me to come into a new area of truth I find that usually He gives me some experience, He leads me into some situation that confronts me with the truth. So as I say, this is not theory that I’m passing on to you this evening.
The first thing that I want to say about the Bible I’ve already indirectly referred to is if you don’t have faith you can get it. This is a key scripture in my own life. Romans 10:17:
“So then, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
How does faith come? By hearing. Hearing what? The word of God. Now, I’ve studied that verse. Let me tell you why it’s so real to me. After I had met the Lord and was baptized in the Holy Spirit, still in the British Army, I was sent to the Middle East. I spent three years in the deserts of North Africa. During that period I became sick with a condition that the doctors were not able to heal. So I actually spent one full hear on end in hospital. And as I lay there in that hospital bed I knew God, I had been baptized in the Spirit, I was reading my Bible, but I kept saying to myself I know if I had faith God would heal me. But the next thing I always said was but I don’t have faith. And when I said that I was in what John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress calls the “slough of despond,” the long, deep, dark valley of despair. And I had no way to get out of the valley so I was there weeks and weeks in this attitude of depression and despair.
Then a brilliant ray of light shone into the darkness and it came from Romans 10:17:
“So then, faith comes...”
And when I read the word come I said that’s it. If I don’t have faith I can get it because it comes. So nobody has to go on living without faith if they will meet the conditions. What are the conditions? Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Now I see two stages in that and I’m speaking really from experience. When you open up to the word of God, when you read it, you meditate in it, it takes first place in your life, then hearing comes. Hearing is a kind of attitude where you are shut in with God. Other things are excluded. And if you continue in hearing then faith comes. So, it’s a process. It doesn’t happen instantly. First there is the word of God, you hear it, you give it your attention, you open your heart and mind to it, you expose yourself to it. And out of the hearing develops faith.
You see, if you’re just one of those people that read the Bible for five minutes a day, very probably very little faith will develop in your life because it takes time. But it’s worth it. I tell Christians in the west, and I don’t know about this particular part of the world although I think it might not be too much different, I say if you really want to become a spiritual giant there are just two things you need to exchange in your life. Change them over. Of course, this is not true of everybody. But the two things you need to change over are the amount of time you spend with your Bible and the amount of time you spend in front of the television. Just change that and you’ll be surprised at the change that will come in your life. Now that may not apply to all of you but it does take time, it takes attention.
I will relate a little later on how I received healing out of the faith that came by hearing. Because when I describe how I received healing it’s a perfect example of what hearing really is.
But the next result of God’s word that develops out of faith is what I call the new man. Last night I taught about these two persons, the new man and the old man. The new man is what’s produced in our lives when we receive the word of God with faith and it brings forth the life of Jesus Christ within us. The old man is what we are apart from God. So, the new man is a product of the word of God, it develops out of the seed of God’s word. Let’s look at just a few scriptures out this in James 1:18. James says this about believers in Jesus Christ. James 1:18, it’s speaking about God:
“Of His own will He brought us forth [or He gave us birth] by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”
You know the new birth doesn’t start with you, it starts with God. Of His will He brought us forth, He gave us birth, by the word of truth which we receive in our hearts.
In John 1:13 John says about people who are born again:
“They were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God.”
The new birth starts with the will of God, not with our will. We need to see that clearly. We are believers because God willed it. Then we have to respond to God’s will but the initial motive is from God. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth.
And then in 1 Peter 1:23 Peter develops this theme and says that:
“We have been born again not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”
So the seed that brought forth this new life, this new person, this new man, is the seed of God’s word. And, it’s an incorruptible seed. It doesn’t decay, it never changes, it’s not subject to the kind of changes and deterioration of the seeds that we know in the natural world. And as I said last night again I say tonight, the nature of the seed determines the nature of what it produces. You sow an apple pit, you get an apple and not an orange. And so, the nature of the seed of God’s word determines the life that comes out of it. It’s an incorruptible seed so what kind of life does it produce? Incorruptible life,. life that doesn’t decay. It’s divine life because it’s divine seed.
And then a little further on in the New Testament in 1 John 3:9, speaking also about the new birth from the seed of God’s word John says:
“Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for his seed remains in him [God’s seed remains in him], and he cannot sin because he has been born of God.”
Now I pointed out last night, and I can’t go into it in great detail, that’s not talking about a born again Christian. Let’s take me as an example, then I offend nobody else. I was born again in l941. It was very real, very powerful, and it’s continued to this day. But that doesn’t mean I’ve never sinned since 1941. I wish it were true but it isn’t. It doesn’t mean that I can’t sin. In fact, I’m very conscious that only if I watch and pray will I be kept from sinning. But in me there was born a nature, a person, the new man who cannot sin. Because he’s born of incorruptible seed he’s an incorruptible person.
There is another nature that I have to deal with which is called the old man, what I was before Christ came in. The old man cannot help sinning, that’s his very nature. He’s a rebel by nature. So once we are born again Christians, the kind of life we lead will be determined by which nature controls us. As long as the new man is in control we will lead a life that does not sin. But whenever the old man comes back and begins to move in and take control, the inevitable result will be sin. But, we need to know that there has been born in us from the seed of the word of God an incorruptible nature, a nature that does not sin, a nature that is pure and holy. It’s the very nature of God Himself imparted through the seed of God’s word. It’s that nature that makes us children of God. So that comes from the word of God.
Let’s take it in the human level. Once a little baby has been born into the human race the first thing that it needs really is suitable nourishment. It may be a very healthy little baby but if it doesn’t get suitable nourishment it will soon begin to pine and eventually will die. That is equally true of the born again Christian. Once you are born again you have a new nature in you, a new person in you that’s crying out for nourishment. You know, when babies don’t get food you know what they do? They cry. And there is something inside the born again Christian that starts to cry if it doesn’t get fed.
The wonderful thing about the word of God is not only is it the seed that brings forth the new life but it’s the food that nourishes the new life. And this is very completely stated in the scripture. Going back to 1 Peter. In the first chapter he talks about being born again of incorruptible seed. Then in chapter 2 he goes on like this, and chapter 2 begins with a therefore. You may have heard me say—and if not, you’re hearing me say it now—when you find a therefore in the Bible you need to find out what it’s there for. And this therefore is because of the new birth. See? Once you are born again:
“Therefore laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babies desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”
So what’s the nourishment for a newborn baby child of God? It’s the pure milk of the word of God. And if we don’t provide born again Christians with that nourishment in all probability they’ll lose the new life that they receive. There is nothing more urgent once you have been born again than learning to feed regularly on the word of God. And when you start out it’s milk. You couldn’t give a baby bread, much less meat. It needs something easily digestible. And so, when Christians are born again, basically you shouldn’t turn them to the prophet Ezekiel or the book of Ecclesiastes. Now, some Christians maybe could flourish on that but I tell Christians or if I’m counseling somebody that I led to the Lord, I say the first thing you need is nourishment, suitable nourishment. And generally speaking I’ll suggest that they read three books of the New Testament in order. This would depend on the type of culture and background. But generally I would say you need to read the gospel of John, the book of Acts, and then the epistle to the Romans. That may be too much for some people to digest but generally speaking I think the gospel of John is a very good part of the New Testament to start with. And then sooner or later you need to get into Acts because Acts is a picture of how the church was intended to function. We have to admit that in many cases the church is far away from God’s pattern. But God hasn’t changed His pattern. And then Romans, maybe that’s particularly because of my philosophic background. But I think there comes a time when Christians need to understand the practical truths of Romans. Most commentators on the Bible would agree that if you want to understand the gospel, the book to read is Romans. I’m not saying it’s easy but it’s worth making a start.
I’ve taught extensively on Romans and I never feel I’ve exhausted it. Every time I finish teaching on it I think I wished I said it better or I left out a lot or I suddenly discover things I didn’t know I knew. So, at any rate, the newborn baby Christian needs the milk of God’s word. I tell people if somebody is born again and I’m counseling I say the first thing you need is the Bible. Read it regularly. Don’t read it only on Sundays, read it, I would say, every day morning and evening. Then you’ll grow.
Secondly, with your Bible reading begin to learn to pray. I tell people when you read the Bible that’s God speaking to you. When you pray, that’s you speaking to God. So if you join Bible reading and prayer you have communion with God, two way communion.
Then I tell people the third thing is to confess your faith. Let people know you believe in Jesus. You don’t have to stand on the street corner and preach but in one way or another God will always see to it that you’re confronted with an opportunity to tell people I believe in Jesus. If you don’t confess your faith it will wither. Faith has to be confessed.
And the fourth thing is fellowship with other Christians. Christians don’t do well on their own, they need one another, they need to be in a place where the word of God is regularly proclaimed. They need to have opportunities to worship with other Christians.
So, if I can just recapitulate that because I’m sure many of you have had the privilege of leading someone to Christ or if you haven’t you will have. I will suggest those are the four things that you need to implant in them. Read the Bible, pray—that’s talk to God not in religious language but in a simple way, confess your faith and seek out Christian fellowship. But I always put reading the Bible first because if you read the Bible intelligently it will direct you to the other things.
Then the next kind of food that people need, or the general food of humanity at least in the Middle East, is bread. And the Bible also provides bread. Now I say at least in the Middle East because in some cultures it might not be bread but it’s whatever equivalent to bread. And you remember that when Jesus began His ministry, Satan tempted Him to perform a miracle and to turn stones into bread. And Jesus wouldn’t do it. And this is the answer that He gave in Matthew 4:4, He said:
“It is written [and it’s written in the book of Deuteronomy] man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
So what He’s implying is what bread is in the natural the word of God is in the spiritual. It corresponds to bread, it’s the great basic item of people’s diet. In many parts of the world people can’t afford very much other things but normally where bread is the staple diet that will be the first item that they will seek. Jesus says every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. It’s a kind of living relationship. You see, it’s not just reading a book but it’s hearing God speak to you through that book. And many of us could testify that God knows what we need to hear. My wife Ruth and I, we normally read the Bible every morning before we get involved in anything else. We like to hear from God before we get busy with people. And we usually close the day by reading the Bible together. We could not count the number of times when the particular portion that we read in one day happens to tell us what we need to know for that day. It’s like fresh bread. You know, if you keep bread too long it gets dry and stale. So don’t let the word of God get dry and stale. Live on fresh bread, bread that proceeds every day out of the mouth of God.
And then there’s one further stage of spiritual nourishment which is what the Bible calls solid food. In the epistle to the Hebrews the writer speaks about that. Hebrews 5:12–14. Now, you need to understand that the Hebrews were Jewish believers in Jesus. They had an advantage at that time over all other people because they had known the scriptures of the Old Testament for many, many generations. They had a knowledge of God at that time no other nation had. And the writer of Hebrews is rebuking these Jewish believers because he’s saying to them you have this priceless advantage of having learned the scriptures from childhood. You should be in a position to teach other nations and other people. But the truth of the matter is you’ve been so lazy with the word of God that you can’t do that. You’re just like newborn babies, you need milk yourself. You’ve never come to the stage even where you can eat bread.
Let me read these words and then comment on them a little further. Hebrews 5:12:
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the word of God, and you’ve come to need milk and not solid food.”
I’m afraid that’s a description of millions of Christians, at least in the western world, in countries like Britain or the United States or Scandinavia where we’ve had the Bible for centuries. We are in the position today of the Jewish believers in the first century. Now, this is not necessarily true of everybody here this evening but we have this responsibility not just to go on living on milk or even on bread but to grow up and mature to the point where we can take full nourishment. So the writer goes on to say in Hebrews 5:13:
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled [or inexperienced] in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby.”
So, your level of spiritual development is not determined by how many years you’ve been a Christian, it’s determined by the kind of food you can take. You may have been a Christian ten years but if all you can take is still milk, spiritually you’re a baby. Your problem is arrested development, you’ve never grown up.
And then the writer of Hebrews explains how we can grow up. He says in the 14th verse:
“But solid food belongs to those who are full age [or mature or fully grown up]; that is, those who by reason of use or practice have their senses exercised to discern between good and evil.”
So how do you grow up, how do you mature? It’s a matter of practice, of regular reading of the Bible and, applying it to the situations that confront you day by day. Because, the Bible casts light on every situation. So if you are really living in the Bible, when a new situation or a new problem develops, you’ve got understanding, you understand what it is, you know how to deal with it. And the more you know how to deal with it the more experienced you become.
Again, I have to say—and I’m talking about Christians in what we call the west—I could weep many times when I see how easily they are fooled. We’ve seen some very well publicized examples of ministries that have exploited God’s people, deceived God’s people. God’s people should not be able to be deceived like that but the problem is they haven’t had their senses exercised to discern between good and evil. They just swallow everything. If the preacher shouts loud enough and makes enough noise they think that must be God. And I’m not against shouting. The Bible says to shout in many cases. I’ve discovered the Holy Spirit doesn’t beat people. If you are being pressured, stop and check. It probably isn’t the Holy Spirit. I don’t know what your attitude toward rock music is but to me it’s painful. I just don’t want my senses impounded like that continually. I don’t believe the Holy Spirit deals with us like that. You see what I’m saying? You have to be sensitive. Cultivate sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. The more you move and live in the word of God the more discerning you will be. And then people will not be able to fool you and exploit you. It’s absolutely essential for Christians to grow up. And the way to grow up is to develop to the point where you can take solid food.
We must go on. The next effect of the word of God I want to mention is what I call mental illumination. We could take many passages but I’ll just take one verse from Psalm 119. You know, that’s the longest psalm. And every verse of that psalm contains some phrase that describes the word of God. There are about eight different phrases but there’s not one verse in Psalm 119 that doesn’t contain. Psalm 119:130 says this and it’s addressed to God:
“The entrance of your words gives light, it gives understanding to the simple.”
This is talking about what the word of God does in the area of our minds. It gives light and understanding. Now, I was for five years principal of a college for training teachers for African schools in Kenya. And I was confronted with this whole issue of how to educate people. I continually pointed out to my students you can have education but be a fool. Education is not wisdom. I’m not against education, it’s important, it’s necessary. My comment to my students is most of the trouble in the world is caused by educated fools. I think the more you ponder on that the more you’ll see how true it is. If they weren’t educated they wouldn’t be able to cause so much trouble.
There was an American president at the beginning of this century who was talking about people who steal things. He said if a man is not educated he’ll steal a railroad car, one car from a railway. But if you educate the same man he’ll steal the whole railroad.
So, education is not light. I know this because I was highly educated myself and in total darkness. I didn’t know where I was coming from, I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know how to find the right way in life. But when it came to taking exams and writing theses I could succeed. I was educated but in darkness. And that’s the condition of multitudes of people. Educated but fools. Educated but they don’t know how to make the right way through life. You’ll find there are as many educated people that end up in moral and mental and physical problems as there are uneducated people. A French writer once said you’ll find more old drunkards than you’ll find old doctors. So, the fact that a person has education in itself doesn’t guarantee a good life or real success. The word of God comes in as light. It shows us where we are. It shows us our real problems and it shows us the answers.
You see, in the natural world there’s no substitute for light. Nothing else in this world will do what light does. Again, I think of dealing with my students in Africa. I would try to impress this on them. So, when we were in the lecture hall I’d say if this hall were in total darkness, how would we get rid of the darkness? And then I’d wait a little and say maybe we should open all the doors and windows and let the wind blow the darkness out. They’d say no. So maybe I should send you to get some brooms and sweep the darkness out. And they’d say of course not. So then I’d say well what do we do to get the darkness out. And some student would say we switch on the light. That’s right. Where light comes darkness can no longer exist. Opening your heart and mind to the word of God is switching on the light in your mind. It’s getting to see who you are, the real nature of your problems.
See, I had been looking for fifteen years at least for the real meaning of life. But education as I had it hadn’t shown me. When the light of the Bible came in I began to understand what really I needed, what would make life meaningful, successful. And it says in that verse that it gives understanding to the simple. The word simple is rather despised today. I tell you, there’s a lot to be said for being simple. Don’t be too complicated. If you’re very complicated you never really know whether you’ve found the solution or not, you see. But if you’re simple, if you’re basic you say I want happiness, I want love. I want to know the best way to live. Don’t get too profound. I think of the philosophers I studied. I absolutely shudder when I think the philosopher Emmanuel Kant, a German philosopher, wrote sentences which took more than two pages before he came to a full stop. The Bible is totally different, have you noticed that? It says the most tremendous things in the shortest words.
When I was in Africa I was invited to speak to an African congregation every morning for a week. I had to drive in the car way out. So one morning I decided to speak on 1 Peter 2:24. In the Old King James version which I was reading it says:
“Who his own self [speaking about Jesus] bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins should live to righteousness.”
Well, to me that’s a most profound thought. It’s the very center of the gospel. So as I was driving along I began to say most of the people I’m going to be speaking to are illiterate, they can’t read or write. Maybe this message is too profound for them. And the Lord spoke to me by the Holy Spirit and He said take that verse and count the number of words of one syllable in that verse. So I did, there are twenty-three words in the verse, nineteen words of one syllable, three words of two syllables and one word of three syllables. And that is the most profound truth you can ever achieve. You see? But it’s stated in simple language. If you become too complicated you really don’t know whether you’re speaking the truth or not, you can fool. Yourself but when you come down to simplicity that’s where you know what you’re really dealing with.
I recommend you to be simple when you come to God. Be honest. Lay your heart bare, tell Him your real problems. Cover nothing up and then let the word of God give you the understanding that you need.
We’re going to continue, the next result is one that I would probably spend a good deal of time on but we’ll turn to it, it’s Proverbs. But we’ll turn to Psalm 107 first. This is what God does in your physical body through His word. Psalm 107, beginning in verse 17 and reading through verse 20. I always tell people when I read this verse it speaks about the people in the other church because it says fools. So, of course, that doesn’t apply to anybody here but you know, the people in other meetings. It says:
“Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted. Their soul abhorred all manner of food; so that they drew near to the gates of death.”
In other words, they were, as we say, at death’s door. They had come to the end of all medical help, nothing more could be done for them. Then verse 19 says:
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; and He saved them out of their distresses.”
My comment on that is some people leave it very late to pray. They’ve come to the end of the road, they’re at death’s door, nothing can help them and then they cry out to the Lord. But God is so merciful He still hears people like that. So we find God’s response in verse 20:
“God sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”
How did God answer their cry for healing, what did He send? His word. You understand, through His word He provided healing for their physical bodies. If you look at verses 19 and 20 it says in those two verses God saved them, He healed them, He delivered them. Those are the three great acts of God’s mercy. He saves from sin, He heals from sickness and He delivers from the power of Satan. What does He use to do it? What does He send? He sends His word, saves, heals and delivers.
There are some of you here this evening, you have some physical problem. You may be saying I wish Brother Prince would stop and pray for me. I want to tell you that God is visiting you right now. He’s sending His word. If you can appropriate it you can walk out of this meeting tonight healed because the word of God has come to you.
Now let me turn to the other great passage on physical healing which is in Proverbs 4:20–22.
“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart.”
God is talking about His words and His sayings. And then He says in verse 22:
“For they [His words and His sayings] are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.”
What does all their flesh mean? It means our whole physical body. So God says His words and His sayings, if we can find them, will bring life to us and health to our whole physical body.
And the alternative reading in many Bibles for the word health is medicine. So God has provided medicine or health for our whole physical body, all our flesh. How has He provided it? Through His words and through His sayings.
This is the passage that got me out of hospital after one year on end. When doctors had proved unable to provide a cure, studying the Bible for myself and reasoning—because I was a philosopher I had special problems. You see, every time I read about healing I said yes, but that only means for healing of my soul. God really isn’t interested in my body. But when I got to Proverbs 4:22 and it said health to all their flesh, I said to myself not even a philosopher can make flesh mean soul or spirit. So I said I’m going to take it that way. And then I decided I’d take it as my medicine. I was a medical orderly so I knew about giving people medicine. I said to myself I’m going to take God’s word as my medicine. Then I said how do people take their medicine? The usual answer is three times daily after meals.
Now, this is an example of being simple, you understand? I could have been clever and stayed sick. But I was simple and I got healed. So, I said I’m going to take God’s word as my medicine three times daily after meals. So after each main meal I went away, got away by myself, opened my Bible, bowed my head and said, “God, you said that these words of yours will be health to me, or medicine, to all my flesh. I’m taking them as my medicine now in the name of Jesus.” I didn’t receive a miracle. It was the most unhealthy climate I could have been in, the Sudan. And in that unhealthy climate God’s word brought me perfect permanent health.