“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.”
As we began to look at this set of lessons last week, I began by showing that this verse, Proverbs 29:18, is often misused as a way to ‘cast a vision,’ speaking of the future. A pastor looking to inspire his people at the first service in the new year may ‘cast a vision’ for the year, something that he wants the church to work at or accomplish. But this verse has specifically to do with the revelation of God’s Word, as the word revelation implies. Specifically, it has to do with the teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Last week we also looked at another verse, 2 Timothy 3:16-17,
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
This is a great verse as we explored, to show us the purpose and the power of the Word of God. Today, even in churches, we have too many who question the accuracy of the Bible; they question that it is complete and ALL we need to be equipped to serve the Lord. The Bible is sufficient to equip the Lord’s people and the Lord’s churches to do the work here on earth until Jesus returns. Further, there is a serious lack of knowledge of the Word of God. The idea of studying, reading, re-reading and then reading it some more is missing.
One will never get to the end of the Bible and conclude that you have it all. Never! There is always something else that you missed. Notice I did not say something new.
As you read in the Bible, you will discover things that you simply were not mature enough either as a person or as a Christian to receive. I know countless mature pastors, serious students of the Bible, that will point to something they had recently seen for the first time in a passage that they had read countless times and preached from many times. This is what we mean when we say that the Bible is a living entity, it is alive; and as we grow, the Holy Spirit shows us more and more. We have an example of this in John 16:12-13 with Jesus and the apostles,
“I still have much to tell you, but you cannot yet bear to hear it. However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come.”
There were things that Jesus longed to tell His closest friends and servants, but they could not understand them yet. They had to wait for the Holy Spirit to indwell them, and then they would understand. Even later in life, the apostle Peter wrote this about Paul’s writings, 2 Peter 3:15-16,
“Consider also that our Lord’s patience brings salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom God gave him. He writes this way in all his letters, speaking in them about such matters. Some parts of his letters are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Peter tells us that some parts of Paul’s writings were hard to understand, not impossible. They would take study and research to understand, and maybe a bit more spiritual maturity, or maybe time. We explore Paul’s writings and are able to get more than the early NT churches got, since we have the mirror of history to enlighten us. So, what we see is that there needs to be diligent ‘revelation’ of the Word of God by pastors and preachers, by Sunday School teachers and Seminary Professors, as we are charged in 2 Timothy 2:15,
“Make every effort to present yourself approved to God, an unashamed workman who accurately handles the word of truth.”
But the recipients need to be diligent listeners as well. Show up, listen, take notes, re-read the passages, and then obey the things you learn.
Notice that the verse we are considering at the top of this lesson has 2 parts: The need for the revelation of God’s word and that people keep the Law. One can find any amount of good, well-laid-out Biblical teaching in many churches, on YouTube if you are careful, in publications like the Daily Bread and others; but if you do not keep or obey what you learn, it is of no value to you.
Last week we looked the first part of the verse in 2 Timothy 3:16, the statement that the Bible, scripture, is profitable for doctrine. These are clearly stated Biblical laws that should govern us, things like the fact that God created us (Genesis 1-2), that Jesus is the ONLY way of Salvation (John 14:1-6), that we will answer to God as the saved (2 Corinthians 5:9-10) and to the Lord (Revelation 20:11-15). We can go on, but the gist is that these are eternal principles that cannot be altered. These are the foundation for us to be restrained. The proper teaching and explanation of these doctrines help us to make good decisions, help society at large, even the lost, to make good decisions about the choices put before them/us.
The verse goes on to say in 2 Timothy that the Bible, God’s inspired Word, is also profitable for ‘reproof and correction.’ Reproof is defined as ‘an expression of blame or disapproval.’ Correction is defined as ‘a change that rectifies an error or an inaccuracy.’ Thus, reproof is pointing out sin and wrong; correction is then doing it the right way. Here is an example Ephesians 4:28,
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
This verse is speaking to those who are thieves in the church at Ephesus or maybe were thieves in the church at Ephesus. He tells them to stop stealing as a means of supplying their daily needs, and go get a job. They are to work with their hands; and through good work, they will get their needs met. In 1 Corinthians 7:9, we see this admonishment with regard to sexual relationships and marriage,
“But if they cannot control themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Paul tells the church there that if some of them are able to be like him and be celibate for the ministry, then they should do so. But if their sexual desires and needs are strong, they should marry. Don’t just engage in a sexual relationship outside of marriage; get married. As well we can see in Matthew 5:23-24,
“Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Here is another reproof and then a correction: you come to offer a gift to God; you recall that you have an issue with a brother. Out of anger, maybe harsh words were said, and you left it that way. We are told to go to the brother and make the situation with him right, and then come and worship God. Reproof and correction. In Ezra 10:2-3, we see this account,
“Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, an Elamite, said to Ezra: ‘We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the people of the land, yet in spite of this, there is hope for Israel. So now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all the foreign wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the command of our God. Let it be done according to the Law.'”
The captive families who had returned from Babylon had begun to intermarry with the pagan and Gentile women in the cities around Israel. Ezra showed the people that this was wrong; this is reproof. Then they made a covenant to ‘send away all the foreign wives.’ Here we see reproof and correction. This is a part of what happens when the revelation of God, when the word of God, the Bible is clearly and skillfully taught to the people. It provides them with doctrine, this doctrine reproves wrong living, wrong ideas, wrong opinions, wrong actions and offers a remedy, called corrections.
We live in a time when no one wants to call out evil; no one wants to call out error. People, even God’s people, may get offended, and they will call us intolerant. I read this today, and it was a sobering idea; I am not sure who wrote it or said it, but read it for yourself and see:
“Many Christians believe that the highest calling God has placed on us is to be nice. These Christians are wrong. God has not called us to be nice. Rather, he has called us to be good. Here’s the difference: Nice people never confront evil; good people do. Nice people are weak; good people are strong. Jesus wasn’t nice. He was kind, he was compassionate, he was caring; but He was unbending and unflinching when it came to standing for the truth. And it cost him His life.”
Here we see that we must be ready, with the proper and skillful understanding of the Word of God, to be able to bring reproof and offer the path of correction: stop doing that; start doing this. Today, one of my dear friends is out in front of an abortion clinic offering hope to the women, both patients and nurses. He and a team are praying, loving and offering alternatives. They have seen hundreds of babies saved from abortion and many workers stop working in the industry; they have even seen the abortion clinics be closed down.
The lies of the Left are that everyone can just do what feels good to them, and live and let live. Well, in this case, what feels right to a pregnant woman is death to the baby in her and a curse on our society as we anger a Holy God.
The lies of the Left are that there is no right or wrong; we just need to tolerate each other. But there is right and wrong; our Holy Creator put that in all of us.
The lies of the Left are that sexuality is subjective and not confined to the restraints put in the Bible. So, sex before marriage, with others while married, homosexuality – and recently here in Canada, the Supreme Court ruled that sex with an animal was not illegal. Even more disturbing is the subtle yet steady push to lower the age of consent, making sex with minors as young as 10 years old. There are even women pushing this. On May 5, 2018, a woman named Mirjam Heine gave a speech at the University of Würzburg in Germany, where she stated that societies view of paedophilia had to change. She went on to say that paedophilia was an ‘unchangeable sexual orientation.’ Later, this would be compared to homosexuality as an unchangeable sexual orientation. But these are lies. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Notice in verse 10 that effeminate men were included and men who abused themselves with other men; these men were changed by the salvation that comes through the grace of God. Yes, we can all be changed in Jesus. Our sinful state does not have to be permanent because of what Jesus did for us on Calvary.
There is right and wrong; the Bible tells us so. There is a place for us as believers to stand rightly, on the properly and skillfully taught Word of God and say no, this or that is wrong, and then to offer Biblical correction to situations in our lives, the lives of our children, the lives of our church family, and ultimately the lives of our nations.