Dear radio friends,
Last Sunday we began a series of messages on the truth of the perseverance of the saints — the truth that is built upon the truth of preservation. God is a God who is faithful, who cannot deny Himself, according to Titus 1:2. He is therefore a God who shall save all those who are purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ and brought to salvation by His grace. But this truth of preservation teaches the believer to persevere, that is, calls the believer to persevere.
We saw last week that we are called to persevere especially in light of the evil day in which we are now living. The Lord spoke to us in those sober words, that because lawlessness would abound, the love of many would wax cold, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Today we want to look at the means that God gives to us to persevere in our faith. The means are the Scriptures. By the power of the Word of God, believers persevere in their faith even to the end.
The Scriptures that we will especially look at are the words of Jesus Christ in John 5:39, where He spoke thus to the Jews: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Jesus is urging us to search the Scriptures, that we might know Him and possess eternal life.
In John 5 we read that the Lord had healed an impotent man at the pool of Bethesda. Jesus had told that man to take up his bed and walk. The leaders of the Jews had come criticizing Jesus, for He had done this on the Sabbath Day. And they sought to kill Him because, in response, Jesus had made Himself equal with God. Jesus, in His sermon, confronts them with their sin of rejecting the testimony of God concerning Him as God’s Son, as both Christ and Savior. Jesus says that the testimony that He was God’s Son did not rest upon His own witness. But He points to three things that testified that He was God’s Son.
First of all, He reminded them of the witness of John the Baptist. Secondly, He goes on to remind them of the witness of the works that He did, for His works testified who He was. And thirdly, He reminded them of the witness of the Father who had spoken from heaven: “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” But Jesus said to them, “None of these witnesses have ye believed. You have rejected all of these witnesses. And you do not believe, ultimately,” He says, “because you do not believe the Scriptures. Search the scriptures,” He said, “for these are they which testify of me.” Jesus, thus, has a final appeal for the proof of who He is as God the Son. His final appeal is the Scriptures. He says to the Jews, “You haven’t believed John the Baptist. You haven’t believed My works. You haven’t believed the Father from heaven. Here is the final appeal: Search the Scriptures.”
The Scriptures are the power and the authority of God. And they are also the power and the authority to keep us in persevering in our faith.
We must understand especially one thing as we look at these words of Jesus. We must see Jesus’ opinion of the Scriptures — His view of the authority and power of Holy Scriptures. The weight of that must fall upon our souls. His imperative: “Search the Scriptures; for they testify of Me,” in the context of this chapter means that Jesus considered the Scriptures to be the final court of appeal. He is saying to the Jews: “Ye did not believe John the Baptist when he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ You did not believe My works. You did not believe My Father Himself, who hath sent me and hath borne witness of me.” “The Father Himself testified of Me,” said Jesus, “but you have not His Word abiding in you, you do not believe God Himself.” Jesus says, “All right, then, I have one more witness, I have one final authority. Go to the Scriptures.”
That is a very powerful tribute to the Scriptures. For Jesus, the last word on any subject was: the Scriptures. That is crucial for us. To what did Jesus turn to determine the truth of something? To what did He turn to withstand temptation? Where did He go to find comfort? The Scriptures. He said, “It is written.” If you and I, then, are to be preserved from the wiles of the devil; if we are to be kept back from the whole of darkness and despair; if we are to learn the way that we are to go; if we are to understand His will in dating and in jobs and in all of our life, we must search the Scriptures.
That is very comforting. You say, in your trouble, in your sorrow, and in your problems: “Oh, if an angel would come and tell me…or if God would just write it in the sky…or if God would speak audibly to me so I could hear what He has to say….” But Jesus says, “In My view you have something far greater than that. You have something far greater than an angel, far greater than a voice from heaven, far greater even than beholding a miracle that I could perform—My own works. You have something greater right in front of you. You have the Scriptures. Search the Scriptures, the Word of God. God will speak to you through them.”
The Scripture that Jesus is referring to is the written word of God. Let us appreciate that fact as well. Scripture means “writing.” The Scriptures were the writings of truth, God’s word written. God’s word, of course, was also spoken. We read in II Peter 1:20, 21, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man.” There reference is to the spoken word of God by prophets, through visions, dreams, or other means through which God spoke directly to them. But Jesus, in our text, is not referring to the spoken word but to the written word. When He says, “Search the Scriptures,” He means, “Search the holy writings of God.” For our God, out of a special care that He has for us and for our salvation, commanded His servants the prophets to commit His revealed word to writing. God, in a loving care for our salvation, had His word written down. We believe in verbal inspiration — the words, the act of the writing, is inspired so that now the word of God is black on white. It is on paper. It is called the Bible. We read in II Timothy 3:16, 17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God [all Scripture, all writing, sacred writing, 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.” All of the Scriptures, from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21, the sixty-six books of the Bible, through forty different men, all of the Scriptures are God’s writing. It is the revelation of God and His glory in Jesus Christ. Note what Jesus said: “The Scriptures are they which testify of me.” All of the Scriptures, the sixty-six books, all of it testifies of Me. It is not a loose collection of various writings. It is not an anthology of religious experiences. It is not a hodgepodge of revelations and all the rest. But it is one united message of Me. It is the truth of Christ who came from heaven for our salvation in order that we might be reconciled to God.
Now, said Jesus, Search the Scriptures. Take it up. Open it. Read it. Believe it as no other book. Believe that you are holding in the Scriptures the abiding and living word of God. Do not think that you cannot search the Scriptures. “You,” said Jesus, “you search the Scriptures.”
The Word of God says in II Timothy 3:15, “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.” That means that not only are the Scriptures the inspired Word about Jesus; but the Scriptures are, by the grace of God, understandable to every child of God. Search the Scriptures. They are lucid. They are clear. They testify of Me. “In them,” said Jesus, “is eternal life.”
The question, then, is this: “What are you doing with your Bible?” They testify, they speak. The word “testify” there is an oath, a word spoken under oath. They testify, they speak to the believer about Me. “Search them,” says Jesus.
To search the Scriptures means much more than just to read the Scriptures, to skim over them with a blasé attitude. But it refers to a careful, thorough looking into the Scriptures. The word “search” that Jesus uses is also used in I Corinthians 2:10. We read, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” That verse brings us into the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God. He does not brush over them. He does not skim them. But He delves into them and He brings them out to us. So we are to search the Scriptures. We are to delve into them. We are to study them.
This is counter to our culture. Our culture on religion says it has to be easy and it has to be dumbed down. Jesus says, contrary to that desire, “You are to dig into the Scriptures.” He does not mean that the Scriptures are a hidden, complex book. We have seen that even a little child can dig deep into God’s heart. But that word “search” comes literally from the root of a “hunter” — a hunter who studies the tracks and the habits of his game. He studies the wind. He studies the color. He studies the blood-trail. Jesus says, “Search them. Hunt them down. Search them in such a way that you say, ‘I want to know the will of my God, I want to walk with my Savior, I want to obey them, I want to understand what they say, I want to do what they call me to do.’ Search, discover the word of God.” “The issue,” said Jesus, “is life or death. For in them is eternal life.”
This searching must begin in our homes. It must begin personally. It must begin by teaching our children the habits of personal devotions. We must teach them what it means to have time every day with the Word of God. We must live with the Scriptures before our children in such a way that they see that we relish them, that we joy in them, that we look to them for our comfort. It means that there must be family time with the Scriptures. You put your foot down, parent, to the demands of the school, the business, the recreation, and television. And you say, “This family will have time every day to search the Scriptures together.” You take the time, Dad, to explain. You look up references. You bring out, perhaps, a Bible atlas to show your children where these things transpired that the Bible is talking about. You ask your children, “What is God’s word to us here?”
And then, from the home comes the church Bible study classes, where we want to go because we hunger for more of that Word — an opportunity that we can discuss that Word as the body of Jesus Christ. Search the Scriptures.
Our searching must be focused. It must be for the right reason. Jesus said, “for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” You see, in the controversy between Jesus and the Jews, there was one point of agreement and one point of disagreement. The point on which they agreed was that the Scriptures had divine origin. The Jews were not liberals. They recognized that the Bible came from God. The point of disagreement was on the purpose of the Scriptures. Jesus said that the purpose of Scripture is one. “It reveals God’s Word in Me. It is all about Me, Jesus Christ, the Word of God.” The Jews said, “No. It is not all about knowing you. But it is about how God looks to us to hold Him up and about how we can save ourselves.” The Jews searched the Scriptures all right. They searched and searched. They were meticulous in their search of the Scriptures. They memorized it from front to back and from back to front. But it did them no good. It damned them because they rejected Christ. They missed the whole point. The Scripture was given that we might know Jesus and believe in Him. But for the Jews it had become academic. It had become external. It had become more about outward life. They were not drawn closer to God. They did not learn about themselves as sinners. They did not come, after searching the Scriptures, to worship at the cross of Jesus Christ. They did not believe in Jesus. The purpose, the focus, for searching Scripture must be that I know Him.
Today there are also those who are searching the Scriptures. They believe they are searching the Scriptures. But they are only fooling themselves. Jesus is saying that the reason men and women, boys and girls, are to search the Scriptures is to learn that they testify of Him. If I do not search them for that purpose, namely, to learn of Christ who has come from heaven for my salvation and was crucified upon the cross and rose again that I might be forgiven and live unto Him, if I do not search them for that reason, then my reading is of no profit. No, it is worse. It will condemn me. Eternal life is to be found in searching the Scriptures, in knowing Jesus Christ. They testify of Jesus.
Are you searching the Scriptures? Do you believe the Scriptures? By the grace of God, do you believe in the One who is revealed to you in the Scriptures — Jesus, the Son of God?
The Bible, in all of its parts, is the testimony of Jesus Christ. Do you remember what Jesus said to the two travelers to Emmaus (Luke 24:27)? “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” They all are concerning Jesus Christ.
That is why we are excited about the Bible. That is why we are excited about our opportunity to study the Bible together in the church. That is why we are excited about attending a biblical church where the Word of God is expounded Sunday after Sunday. We are excited because in this way we see Him, we come to know Him. We hear Him guide us and teach us and comfort us and direct us in the way everlasting. We hear Him give us instruction on marriage and on our jobs and on finances and on dating. He gives us to know all about Him.
Do you believe in God’s Son unto eternal life? Do you believe the Scriptures? Do you believe in His righteousness as the only thing that can make you right with God? Do you place your trust in the cross? Are you resolved to live before God in Christ in all of your life? All of this is because of God’s grace to you.
But now, search the Scriptures. Search them diligently. Delve into them with loving delight. Then you will grow up in Jesus. We will be comforted. We will be instructed. We will be strengthened. We shall enjoy life eternal. We shall persevere through searching the Scriptures.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word most holy. And we pray that we might receive it as that great gift of Thy grace in Christ. May we search the Scriptures. May we see Christ written upon every page. And may we, through that, come to know Him and enjoy life eternal through Him. This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.