We had great services this weekend! On Sunday morning we had several visitors who we enjoyed meeting. Both services were well attended with 21 in the morning and 18 in the evening.
Sunday mornings I am going through a series on the resurrections in the Bible. Each resurrection has some specific lessons, but they all, so far, seem to revolve around hope. Death, for many, is the ultimate trial, the greatest separator, but for the Christian it can be a cause for hope and at worst a temporary parting.
Yesterday we looked in II Kings 4 and 8 at Elisha’s friendship with the Shunamite woman.
In the evenings we began a fresh series, a basic one really, of walking with God. We are beginning by looking at how to know God through the Bible. Over the next few weeks we are asking and answering several questions, What is the Bible, How do I read the Bible and How can I understand the Bible?
Here are condensed versions of my notes:
In the introductionary message to this series, Death – the End of the beginning, I taught the certainty of Christ’s resurrection and the certainty of everyone’s resurrection either to judgment or life. The second week we went to I Kings 17 and studied the son of the woman of Zarephath, who was raised by Elijah. The sermon was titled "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" and I challenged our preconceptions about self and our relationship with God.
This week we come to the son of the Shunamite woman, who was raised by Elisha in 2 Kings 4:35. The title is "Having Done All, to Stand". The Shunamite woman sets an example and encouragement to keep going through adversity, to not let our past hinder us from living now and planning for the future.
Last week we studied the occasion of a dead man touching Elisha’s bones and the dead man came back to life (2 Ki 13:21). This message was very much focused on knowning God’s vision for your life and living for God’s glory.
Winston Churchill said "Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm."
John Wesley set an example of determination for us when he writes in his diary the following:
Sunday morning, May 5, preached in St. Ann’s, was asked not to come back anymore. Sunday p.m., May 5, preached at St. John’s, deacons said, "Get out and stay out." Sunday a.m., May 12, preached at St. Jude’s, can’t go back there either. Sunday p.m., May 12, preached at St. George’s, kicked out again. Sunday a.m., May 19, preached at St. somebody else’s, deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return. Sunday p.m., May 19, preached on the street, kicked off the street. Sunday a.m., May 26, preached in meadow, chased out of meadow as a bull was turned loose during the services. Sunday a.m., June 2, preached out at the edge of town, kicked off the highway. Sunday p.m., June 2, afternoon service, preached in a pasture, 10,000 people came to hear me.
Before looking at the resurrection specifically we need to know this Shunamite woman. The Bible introduces her as a great woman and I believe she was great for several reasons.
1. (8-10) Great in Her Worship – Welcomed the Prophet and in Essence God into Her Home
Every individual must make room for Christ, to know Him, serve Him and worship Him. The Shunamite woman invited and accepted Elijah into her home. She went out of her way to show hospitality. Accepting the prophet was in essence accepting and worshipping the God the prophet served.
We need to be people of worship – to worship in music, yes, but also to worship in our giving, in our fellowship and in every aspect of our life.
Too many, Christians and non-believers make excuses as to why they do not accept Christ into their hearts and lives and worship Him.
• No Room – A well known hymn
No beautiful chamber, no soft cradle bed,
No place but a manger, nowhere for His head;
No praises of gladness, no thought of their sin,
No glory but sadness, no room in the inn.
No sweet consecration, no seeking His part,
No humiliation, no place in the heart;
No thought of the Savior, no sorrow for sin,
No prayer for His favor, no room in the inn.
No one to receive Him, no welcome while here,
No balm to relieve Him, no staff but a spear;
No seeking His treasure, no weeping for sin,
No doing His pleasure, no room in the inn.
No room, no room, for Jesus,
O give Him welcome free,
Lest you should hear at Heaven’s gate,
“There is no room for thee.”
But why do people have no room for Jesus?
- No Time
- Work too many hours to keep a certain level of living
- Too many social events trying to fill the void that only God can fill
- Too many social events because we think amusement is all that matters
- Too many expectations to be something
- There is time for everything, except Jesus
- No Belief
- They make no room for the one they do not believe exists
- Most atheists and agnostics take the easy road
- They rarely give a solid, researched and well though out reason not to believe
- Yet you are expected to have a solid, researched and well thought out reason TO believe
- Many people would believe if the took the time to look at the facts
- No Need
- Most believers and non-believers simply think they have no need.
- I do not carry a parachute in my car because I do not believe I need one.
- Someone once said going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion.
- Too many people, Christians included, make no room for Jesus, they take no time for Jesus because they believe they have no need for Jesus
- I am sure you need Jesus now, I am even more sure you will need Him later
- I will not say Jesus will make life a bed of roses here and now
- Though I do believe life is better lived with Him than without Him
- I will say for certain that when you die you will need the Saviour
- One example compares salvation to a parachute.
- Living the Christian life may not necessarily make everything easy in life
- But you will need Christ when you come to the end of this journey
- Sitting with a parachute may not make the plane ride easier, but you will want it when the plane goes down.
24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
- The Shunamite Woman set the Example
- She provided meals for Elijah
- She perceived Elijah was a prophet
- She took the initiative to provide a room in which he could stay
- She provided a bed, table, stool and candlestic
We need to make room in our lives for God. We need to take the time and pay the cost to accept Him into lives for salvation but then to walk with Him daily.
The Shunamite woman was great in her worship of God.
2. (11-17) Great in Her Contentment – She Was Content With What She Had
After a period of time of being the regular guest in the home Elijah looks for a way to thank the couple.
Elijah commands his servant to call the woman
- Elijah offers to repay her kindness
- He offers to speak to the King
- He offers to speak to the Captain of the army
- The Woman was great in her contentment
- “I dwell among mine own people”
- I do not need anything, I have my friends and family.
- Proverbs 20:7-8
- Philippians 4:11
- I Timothy 6:6-8
- Hebrews 13:5
- We live in a market driven culture
- Companies create a need, they make a want appear as a need and then sell us the product
- Marketing keeps us striving for bigger, better, more
- God records the woman as one who was content
- As a special blessing to the husband and wife God promises them a son.
3. (18-28) Great in Her Parenting – When Her Son Had a Need Nothing Would Deter Her
The Day of the Death
- The son was out working with the father
- The son falls ill, perhaps with sunstroke
- The son is taken to the mother where he later dies
- The Determined Parent
- She asks her husband to send one of the servants and transport so she can go to the man of God
- The husband asks why, she replies, “It shall be well”. i.e. It will be okay
- Other people’s questions and uncertainty would not deter her
- She saddles the donkey and requires speed
- She has to saddle her own donkey, probably not normal
- She commands the young man to drive the donkey quickly
- Elijah and Gehazi see them coming and Elijah sends out Gehazi
- Gehazi goes, as Elijah commands, to ask if all is well
- The Shunamite answers that all is well. She has not come to see Gehazi, she was here for the man of God
- She would not be slowed down or deterred by others
- She throws herself at Elijah’s feet for help
- Nothing would deter the Shunamite woman
- Godly parents should do all in their power to raise Godly children
- We do not raise children with the world’s advice but with Scriptural commands
- We do not worry about raising socially acceptable children but children that will accept Christ and in turn be accepted by God
- We do everything in our power to be good parents
- We study to do most things, but do many people spend more time learning to drive than learning to parent?
- The Shunamite woman was great because she was a great mother.
She did everything in her power to raise her child and nothing and no one would deter her.
4. (18-30) Great in Her Action – When Adversity Came She Took Action
- A quick and simple point
- We know the needs of the world
- We know the needs of those around us
- We know, we know, we know.
- Now we should do.
The Shunamite woman took action when everyone else had giving up.
I once read that we should not let obstacles stop us. Realise that 80% of other people give up at obstacles.
Many people become rich and famous and successful in their goals because they keep going when the majority give up. It is not always about being at the right place and the right time etc. It is very much about diligence, keeping on keeping on.
5. (31-37) Great in Her Faith – When the child was healed she respectfully and gratefully bowed before the prophet recognising the miracle had come from God.
Once again a wonderful miracle takes place in somewhat understated circumstances.
Elijah, by God, Raising the Dead (33-35)
- Elijah tries to raise the child and nothing happens
- Elijah goes away and prays, walking to and fro in the house
- Elijah goes back again and tries again
- The child sneezes seven times and then revives!
- The Faith of the mother
- She knew it was of God and thanked the prophet
- She did not put it down to coincidence
- She did not blame God for letting it happen in the first place
- She simply thanks God for the child, she hurts when the trial came as the son died but then returns to thanking God when the child is restored
6. (8:1-6) Great in Her Perseverance – Her Past and Her Loss Did Not Define Her
The story continues in chapter 8. A famine was coming to the land and so Elijah warned the woman. The woman goes away for seven years. One day Gehazi is recounting for the king all the miracles of Elijah. The woman has since returned to the land and found her home overrun by others. She enters just as Gehazi is telling her story to the king. Once again the woman found herself in difficulty, once again she takes action. Her home and lands are returned.
She had lost her son, but she remained faithful and he was restored. She had to leave home, but she remained faithful and one day returned. She lost her home, but she remained faithful and her land was restored.
What is this resurrection miracle all about? What is the main focus?
- Seemingly bad things happen to “good” people
- This point does not negate the previous message that dealt with understanding what we really deserve.
- Maybe that message emphasised too much the judgment but not the solution which we find by the grace of God.
- God wants to give us good, but not because we deserve it but because He is good.
- Judgement for sin is what we deserve
- Death is the wages of sin, not sinners attacking sinners
God is working for the good of those that trust Him
- Genesis 50:20
- Romans 5:3-4; 8:28
- I Peter 1:7-8
- Faith in God Will Enable Us to Endure the Trials of Life
- Job 13:15
- Psalm 22
- II Timothy 4:5-7
- The Past Does Not Have to Define Us
- Things lost can be restored – Joel 2:25
- Hurts can be healed – II Timothy 4:11
- Purpose can be regained – Ecclesiastes 12:13
Ephesians 6:13 – Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Philippians 3:7-14 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
This short series will ask and answer three basic questions about the Bible and then look at the basics about prayer.
Beginning with the Bible:
1. What is the Bible?
2. How Should We Read the Bible?
3. How Can We Understand the Bible?
The basis for this series is that God wants fellowship with us. He created us for fellowship. He saved us so that could have fellowship restored. He keeps us so that fellowship can continue. He is not some far off unknowable entity
How close can we walk with God? Genesis 5:24
- Basics about relationships
- They take time
- They develop over time
- They need the investment of time
- They happen deliberately
- That may be the difference between a colleague and a friend. A colleague is someone your spend time with as you work together. A friend is one you spend time with because you choose to.
- A relationship takes a definite desire on both parts
- They encounter difficulties
- Any relationship worth anything is worth fighting for
- They involve responsibilities
- They require investment
- Investing time
- Investing emotion
- They demand communication
- A relationship with God is unique, but involves the basics
The Bible is the basis for our relationship with God
- It tells us who we are
- It tells us who God is
- It tells us what interrupts that relationship
- It tells us how that relationship can be restored
- It tells us how that relationship can be maintained
- It tells us what our relationship with God requires of us
As the Bible is basis for all we believe we need to consider what the Bible is and why more people do not follow the Word of God:
- Access to the Bible is not the problem
- For many years the Bible was the most published and most bought Book
- Almost every home would have a Bible or a portion of the Bible
- Many people who read the Bible or parts of it do not or will not understand it
- Many people attack the Bible for a variety of reasons
- If we understand what the Bible is then many problems are resolved
- Those who attack it may not do so if they have a proper understanding of what it is
- Those who ignore may pick it up if they realise its worth
- How important is the Bible?
- Psalm 138:2
- Romans 3:20
- Romans 10:17
In other messages I introduced why I believe we can believe the Bible.
- I believe the Bible because of its internal consistency.
- I believe the Bible because of its prophetical accuracy.
- I believe the Bible because of its archaeological accuracy.
- I believe the Bible because of its anthropological accuracy
- I believe the Bible because of personal experience.
- I believe the Bible because of its preservation.
- I believe the Bible because of its scientific accuracy.
- I believe the Bible because it is 110% better than any of the alternatives.
Having looked at why I believe the Bible is important and briefly why I believe it is reliable I think the natural question is this:
What is the Bible?
Our constitution says:
We believe that the Holy Bible as originally written was verbally (word for word) and plenary (complete) inspired and the product of Spirit controlled men, and therefore is truth without any admixture of error for its matter. We believe the Bible to be the centre of true Christian unity and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and opinions shall be tried.
It is 66 books, written over 1600 years by more than 40 kings, prophets, leaders and followers of Jesus; in three languages over three continents.
Those are some dates and numbers, some bare facts.
But we must understand it to be more than that if we are to gain the full benefit from it:
I. The Design of the Bible
- Two Testaments
“The Old Testament is an account of a Nation. The New Testament is an Account of a Man. The Nation was founded and Nurtured of God to bring the Man into the world.” – Henry Halley
- Jeremiah 31:31-34
- I Corinthians 11:25
- Hebrews 9:11
The Bible is made up of Two Testaments, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The New Testament does not all-together replace the Old, but rather continues and completes it. The Old Testament focused upon beginnings, the Law, the development and history of the nation of Israel through which the Messiah would come.
The New Testament completes the Old in that
- the Promised Messiah comes
- the plan of salvation is fulfilled
- some parts of the law which were but shadows of that to come ceased,
- other parts of the law which rest upon God’s righteousness and not temporary out workings of His plan, continue
- the beginnings, the growth, the principles and patterns for the Church are demonstrated and instructed
- and God’s last plans for this world are prophesied and explained
- Groupings in OT
- Books of the Law
- Books of History
- Books of Poetry
- Books of Prophecy
- Major Prophets
- Minor Prophets
- Groupings in NT
- God’s Design in Revelation
While we speak of the practical design of the Bible we must also consider God’s design in revelation.
God did not give complete revelation of His character and plan all at once. Revelation means a revealing. God gradually and progressively revealed His character and plan
The revelation was gradual because it would be impossible to do so other wise. This is perhaps why we find some thing in Israel’s history that we find disturbing, but when understood of God’s gradually dealing with them it makes more sense.
The revelation was progressive in that each revelation built upon and developed the previous.
II. Titles for the Word
The Word of God/ of the Lord
- Occurs 255 times
- Individual occurrences were recorded together and eventually the whole Bible become known as the Word of God
- Scriptures – Mark 12:10
- A document, Holy Writ
- II Timothy 3:16
- The Bible
- Basically means a book
- Could refer to an authoritative book in a particular field
- We have the Holy Bible
- Sword of the Spirit – Ephesians 6:17
- Titles from Psalm 19
- The law of the LORD
- The testimony of the LORD
- The statutes of the LORD
- The commandment of the LORD
- The fear of the LORD
- The judgments of the LORD
III. Characteristics and Actions of the Bible
- Inerrant – Free from error
- Infallible – Incapable of error
- Perfect and perfecting
- Complete and completing
- Characteristics from Psalm 19
- enduring for ever
- Righteous altogether.
- More to be desired are they than gold
- Actions from Psalm 19
- Converts the soul
- Makes the simple wise
- Rejoices the heart:
- Enlightens the eyes.
- Endures for ever
- Comforts – I Thessalonians 4:18
- Develops Faith – Romans 10:17
IV. How we got our Bible
- I Corinthians 2:9
- II Peter 1:21
- Moved by the Holy Spirit
- Acts 27:17 – The ship was driven
- Psalm 119:89
- Matthew 24:34
- I Peter 1:25
- Translation – History of the English Bible
The Books of the Bible were collected and arranged as writings met clear and careful guidelines. The Bible was the first book printed on the printing press.
By AD 200 the Bible was translated into seven languages; by AD500, 13 languages; by AD900, 17 languages; by AD 1400, 28 languages; by 1800, 57 languages; by AD900, 537 languages; by AD 1980, 1100 languages. Originally the words were written on Papyrus, leather and now paper.
It is thought the OT was compiled by Ezra around 450 BC. By AD 150 the NT Scriptures were complete and widely distributed. By around 300AD the 27 books of the NT as we know them were accepted as inspired and authoritative. Christianity arrived in England before AD 300 but it was not until AD 600 it become more active.
Caedmon, an illiterate monk retold portions of Scripture in Old English. In 709 Aldhelm of Sherborne is said to have translated the Psalms. For the next 500 years little translation work is done. In 1382 John Wycliff translated the Bible into English from Latin. In 1516 Erasmus published a Greek translation that would be the basis of the Textus Receptus. It was not the Textus Receptus, but formed its basis. In 1525 William Tyndale translated the New Testament into English. His translation and style form the basis of the later KJV. Tyndale had to smuggle Bibles into England in sacks of flour. He was later strangled and burned at the stake. He dying words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”
Over the next decades several other important translations came out such as the Coverdale Bible, Matthew’s Bible, the Great Bible, the Geneva Bible and the Bishop’s Bible. Matthew’s Bible was printed by permission from King Henry the 8th just one year after Tyndale’s death. Answered prayer! In 1611 the first King James Version or Authorised Version was published. It went through several revisions correcting spelling errors and other minor issues. The copy we hold is the 1769 revision. For some 300 years it was the most popular Bible.
In 1885 the Revised Version came out with several significant changes from the KJV. Since 1885 there have been literally hundreds more. Some have some value, others I believe to be dangerous.
V. What the Bible says about itself
Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
II Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
I Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
VI. What the Bible is to me.
- A personal letter from my Heavenly Father, to me
- My guide in all standards and decisions
- The centre point of friends, fellowship and all relationships
- My comfort
- My inspiration
- My motivation
- My manual for life
A relationship with God is necessary
The Bible is how we know God
To walk with God we must know the Word
These sermons are about knowing God by knowing His Word
To Walk with God We Must Walk in His Word
Commit to spending time daily in the Word
Lord willing next week we will talk about how to read the Bible and in two weeks we will talk about how to understand the Bible.