Pastor's Study: Taking God At His Word
2014-04-23
I was in a conversation with our Elders at our last Session meeting and as things were wrapping up the content turned more philosophical and even personal as a meeting coming to an end normally does for us.  One of the Elders shared a piece of information from a recent study that showed there was no moral difference between those who claimed to be a Christian and knew very little of the Scriptures and those who were non-believers and knew nothing of the Scriptures.  In fact, the study went on to say that those who knew very little were worse off in their decision making process than those who knew nothing of the Scriptures.  Sadly, many in the church today do not understand God's Word, do not study God's Word, dismiss devotional time as something grandmother used to do, and lean into the subjective opinions of similarly illiterate preaching, podcasts and blog posts.  Am I being too critical?  Not from what I can tell.  Am I being critical just to be critical?  No.  I write these things because I have a deep desire for the church to stop grasping at political straws for salvation, buying into slick marketing, and looking forward to light shows on Sunday mornings and to return to the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you want to see a people changed, they must know the Scriptures.  I firmly believe that books like Taking God At His Word will help to edify the church by helping to bring understanding about important doctrines surrounding the Scriptures.  

This new book by Kevin DeYoung is not a scholarly work in the sense that a seminary student would find anything new.  However, I believe that DeYoung, as he has done in the past, has made the importance of knowing God's Word accessible so that the western Christian is without excuse in having a thorough and workable knowledge of the Scriptures.  The Bible is knowable, necessary, and enough which means that the Bible has something for each one of us.  Okay, I took that straight from DeYoung's book cover - and the reason why is to demonstrate how DeYoung takes deep doctrines and makes them accessible to everyone.  Theologians talk about the Bible being inspired, inerrant, sufficient, authoritative and a few other fancy descriptions.  What they mean is that the Bible is easy to read, can be easily understood, is all we need have in order to know who God is, what He desires for us, what the purpose of life is, and how we ought to go about living life.  DeYoung's book works through all of these wonderful doctrines.  Additionally, his book is short and a must-read for thinking Christians - and hopefully that is the majority of Christians.  

When I was studying for ordination in the PCA I had to pour over the Westminster Standards, along with books by many dead men, and listen to countless lectures on the nature of Scripture.  DeYoung, I am sure had to do something similar and is also a gifted writer - as a result we have Taking God At His Word.  Throughout the book DeYoung starts with Scripture to demonstrate various aspects of what we believe about the Bible and how it matters to our every day life.  For instance, in the second chapter, DeYoung writes from 2 Peter 1 to explain that the Scriptures are the very words of God.  He goes on to say that the Bible does not "contain" the Word of God.  The Bible does not "become" the Word of God as our hearts are moved - these are theological errors that many professing Christians hold to without even knowing it!  The Bible is the Word of God.  We call this the doctrine of inspiration.  According to the Bible, it's words are objective truth and do not depend on our interpretation or our particular feelings that day.  What a comforting doctrine!  When we read God's Word we can take Him at His Word because we have His Word - right in front of us.  We don't need sages, near-death experiences, or crazy self-proclaimed prophets to communicate God's Word to us.  We have the very words of God in the Word of God.  

In each chapter, DeYoung takes various passages of Scripture and begins a short journey to discuss the important doctrines about the Scriptures - inspiration, sufficiency, clarity, authority, necessity and so on.  Did you notice a key word in that last sentence?  Short.  The book is short, compact, to the point, and an easy read.  

I would encourage everyone I know in the church that I pastor to pick up this book and read through it.  DeYoung, in my opinion, always writes with style but never at the sacrifice of substance. During my ordination trials I was moved and the direction of my preaching was sealed as I studied these important doctrine's of Scripture.  DeYoung has made them accessible to everyone.    
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