************ Sermon on Psalm 12:6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 10, 2017
"The Purity of God's Word"
Church Year Kick-Off
We are at the start of another church year. My prayer, my hope, is this:
Dear Father, let it be,My hope, my prayer, is that we grow in faith, in godliness, in love, in service.
In working or in waiting,
Another year with Thee;
Another year of leaning
Upon Thy loving breast,
Another year of trusting,
Of quiet, happy rest.
Another year of mercies,
Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness
In the shining of Thy face;
Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of service
Of witness for Thy love;
Another year of training
For holier work above.
How does this happen? How do we grow? How do we progress in the Christian life? It starts with Sunday worship. But it also involves the rest of our church's ministries and programs. This past Wednesday marked the start of GEMS, Cadets, Youth Group, Men's Bible Study, Women's Bible Study. Today marks the start of Sunday School, Catechism, Choir, and Sunday Evening Fellowship. Tuesday Morning Bible Study, Senior Bible Study, and Pastor's Class are both starting in the next couple of weeks. Friday Night Fellowship and Small Group Prayer continues to meet.
Central to all of this activity, central to all of these programs and ministries, is the Word of God. It is fair to say we don't do anything as a church without Bible reading and prayer. And, this should be true of us as individuals and families as well. I hope and pray that Bible reading and prayer will be an essential part of every single home in our congregation this church year.
Our text from Psalm 12 tells us why the Word of God is so central: because the Word of God -- unlike the word of men -- is pure.
I The Lies of Men
A I was on the phone with AT&T. "We want to save you money on your phone bill." Anyone here believe this?
A message shows up on your computer screen: "Your computer is about to crash. Call the Microsoft number on your screen to get help." I hope none of you make the mistake of calling the number.
Have you ever gotten this email, supposedly from a friend or family member? "I am on vacation in London, England. My wallet and passport has been stolen. Can you send me $2000?" Or, what about this one: "My great uncle needs to get twenty million dollars out of Nigeria. If you will help me I will give you a helper's fee of ten percent."
Do you know what Psalm 12 says about all these schemes and plots? "Everyone lies to his neighbor" (Ps 12:2). The psalmist is talking about the world: lying politicians, lying salesmen, lying lawyers, lying press secretaries and public relations departments, lying emails and pop-ups.
"Everyone lies to his neighbor" (Ps 12:2). According to research, by age four, 90% of children have learned how to lie. According to a 2002 study, 86% of teens lie to their parents regularly. According to one estimate, 40% of people lie on their job resumes; we had a fire chief in Visalia who claimed degrees he never earned. Another study discovered that 90% of people using online dating sites lie in their profile: women claim to weigh about 8 pounds less than they actually do; men lie that they are taller, richer, and better educated than they actually are. The point? You can't trust the words of unregenerate man.
"Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception." Being in the world, God's people are exposed to lying lips. So notice what the Psalmist prays for: "May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue ..." (Ps 12:2-3). The psalmist prays for deliverance from deception. That same prayer should be prayed by all the saints of the Lord. And, we should also pray for a discerning spirit so we can distinguish the truth from the lie.
We aren't told but I wonder what incident or time of his life caused David to write Psalm 12? Was he thinking of how someone told King Saul that Ahimelech the priest helped David by giving him food; in response Saul killed Ahimelech and all the priests with him (1 Sam 21-22)? Was he thinking of the men of Keilah who betrayed him into the hands of Saul after he saved them from the Philistines (1 Sam 23)? Was he thinking of Shimei who cursed him as David fled from Absalom (2 Sam 16)? Was he thinking of his good friend Ahithophel who counseled Absalom on how to best defeat David (2 Sam 16-17)?
B Did you notice how Psalm 12 begins? At the start of our Bible reading, the psalmist is looking, searching. He is looking for a godly man. He is looking for faithful men who love God. He is looking for people who love the truth and speak the truth.
(Ps 12:1) Help, LORD, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men.Do you hear the psalmist's sad conclusion? He is saying the godly are like dinosaurs: they are extinct, they have disappeared from the land.
Try to imagine this. Try to imagine the psalmist's sad conclusion. What would life be like if every person you consider to be holy and godly disappeared from the world? What would it be like if you walked into our building this morning and everyone you met used curse words and gutter language? What would it be like if in this morning's worship the songs of Zion were replaced with Country and Western music, the top-40 songs on public radio, blues, or "Let It Go" from Disney's "Frozen"? What will happen in and to a church when the godly and righteous are no longer there?
Something like this was David's experience. He was looking for the holy, he was looking for the faithful, he was looking for the godly. But they all had vanished.
C We know that the godly and faithful are never totally out of the picture. God always preserves a remnant to serve Him. We see this when we look at Elijah. Elijah's life was threatened by evil Queen Jezebel. So Elijah fled for his life to Mount Horeb. The word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Listen to Elijah's response:
(1 Ki 19:10) "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.""I am the only one left." "All the righteous are gone but me." "All the holy are gone but me." "All the faithful are gone but me." "And now they are trying to kill me too." "No, No, No," says God, "I reserve seven thousand in Israel ..." The holy church is preserved by God against the rage of lying lips. Even though for a time she may appear very small and insignificant in the eyes of men, even though she appears to be snuffed out, God preserves for Himself a people.
II The Truth of God
A The lies and deceit, the flattery and deception, of men are all over the earth. There is a remedy. There is a counterweight. We see it in our text for this kick-off Sunday:
(Ps 12:6) And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.
What a contrast, what a tremendous contrast, between the words of lying men and the words of the LORD. The words of the LORD are pure, like silver that has been purified so many times that no impurities remain. Every one of God's words are pure (Pro 30:5). That is, God's words are free from defects, perfect, faultless. There is not a single word in scripture which is in error or that God did not intend to be there.
Our text compares God's Word to refined silver. In ancient times, silver that was being purified was placed in an earthen vessel such as clay and heated in a very hot furnace until it melted. In this process, the impurities floated to the top and were skimmed off the surface. The process was repeated a number of times until the silver was completely purified.
Our text is not saying that God's words have gone through a process of purification. They have always been pure. Rather, His words are likened to silver that has been purified seven times. Why seven times? Seven is the number of completeness and perfection. Meaning what? Meaning what God says is completely true and flawless. What God says is absolutely reliable and trustworthy and fully dependable. What God says is not tainted with the deceit and flattery of the wicked.
B God's words are compared to silver that has been refined in a furnace of clay. Ever since the beginning of creation, the Word of God has continually been under intense fire. As far back as Genesis 3:1 the serpent was already beginning to raise questions about God's very words. He put doubt in Eve's mind about what God said. He tirelessly persists in that effort today. Also, the scriptures have literally been burned by those who wished to suppress them. Jeremiah 36 gives the account of King Jehoiakim cutting inspired scripture with a knife and throwing it into the fire because he didn't like what Jeremiah said (Jer 36:23). In the Middle Ages, Roman Catholicism prohibited access to the scriptures on the part of the ordinary people and often burned translations other than Latin. A notable example of this is when William Tyndale and his Bibles were burned at the stake. Tyndale's crime? Translating the scriptures into English.
C "And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times" (Ps 12:6). Unlike the speech of human beings that is filled with lies, the Word of God contains no dross. There is no errors mixed with the truth. The Bible is inerrant.
We don't teach our children and youth the lies of men; rather, we teach them the Word of God. For instance, we don't teach the big bang theory; rather, we teach that the LORD God made the heavens and the earth. We don't teach that Adam and Eve evolved; rather, we teach they were created by God as the first humans. We don't deny there was a real snake in a real Garden; instead, we teach that Satan in a real serpent led Adam and Eve into sin. We don't deny or explain away the crossing of the Red Sea; instead, we teach that God sent a wind and drowned the Egyptian army. We don't teach that Jesus became God; rather, we teach the eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. We don't teach that Jesus almost died but the cool air of the tomb revived Him; rather, we teach that Jesus actually died and arose and someday will return.
Why do we teach this? Because that is what the Bible says. Because that is what the inerrant Word of God says. Because the Bible is not dross but like silver refined seven times: Altogether pure, faultless, holy.
The health of the church depends upon a firm commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture. Why? Because everything is up for grabs once the idea that the Bible teaches some false things is accepted.
D "And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times" (Ps 12:6). Refined silver is pure silver. Refined silver is clear silver. Scripture is equally clear.
God does not speak to us in a strange or lofty language; rather, He used the language of His people: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek. And, His Spirit has guided the translation of His Word so that those of every tribe and language and people and nation can hear and understand. God's Word is not meant to be locked up in libraries and colleges and studied only by scholars; rather, it has been designed so all people can read and understand its basic message.
Last week I told you a couple of my favorite verses in the Bible: Romans 4:25; Colossians 3:1-4. Another of my favorites is Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
(Deut 6:6-7) These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. (7) Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.God is talking to parents and grand-parents. They are to teach their children the Word of God. This command assumes the Word of God is clear like refined silver. You don't need to be a Greek or Hebrew scholar to teach the Word of God to others. You don't need to be a minister or a priest. You don't need to be a seminary professor. The Bible is clear enough that every person -- from the most educated minister to the barely literate peasant -- can understand its message and teach it to others.
"And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times" (Ps 12:6). From beginning to end what is clear is the plan of salvation. From beginning to end what is clear is the message of the Gospel. From beginning to end what is clear is the message of Jesus Who died and arose for our salvation and God's glory. Every single book presents Jesus.
"Everyone lies to his neighbor ... [but] the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times."
This year, will your time be spent on the lies of men? Or, will your focus be the Word of the Lord?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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