Preach the Word: The Bible as It is, is Adapted to Man as He Is (2 Tim. 4:2)
Preach the Word
2 Timothy 4:1-2
ETR - “Before God and Jesus Christ, I give you a command. Christ Jesus is the one who will judge all people—those who are living and those who have died. He is coming again to rule in his kingdom. So I give you this command: 2 Tell everyone God’s message. Be ready at all times to do whatever is needed. Tell people what they need to do, tell them when they are doing wrong, and encourage them. Do this with great patience and careful teaching.”
Is the Bible, as it is, adapted to man as he is? We’re not talking about the Bible needing to have a miracle worked on it. Some think the word, the seed of the kingdom, has no germ of life or power in it to save the lost. They think the seed is not adapted to the soil, but must have a direct work of the Holy Spirit on it so that it will be effective in conversion. The word, the gospel, “as it is” without having any miracle worked on it - is adapted to man as he is.
The Bible “as it is” is the inspired word of God and it needs no further inspiration. A revelation which itself has to be revealed is no revelation at al. A Bible veiled in language which man cannot understand would be of no practical value. Neither would such a Bible be what the Bible claims to be - “a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path” (Psa. 119:105). It declares that when we read we can understand the knowledge of those who wrote it - Eph. 3:3-5: “God let me know his secret plan by showing it to me. I have already written a little about this. 4 And if you read what I wrote, you can see that I understand the secret truth about Christ. 5 People who lived in other times were not told that secret truth. But now, through the Spirit, God has made it known to his holy apostles and prophets.”
The Bible is, therefore, adapted to man. When we properly read it, we can understand it. It is not a mystery, but a revelation of things formerly hidden in mystery. The language of the Bible is addressed to us by our Maker; surely we can understand it. It is a form of blasphemy to say that God (who made the mind and heart of man) cannot address man in a way to be understood. Eph. 5:17.
The Bible would not be to us an all-sufficient guide in matters of faith and spirituality if it were not inspired of God and adapted to our need for understanding. 2 Tim. 3:16-17: “All Scripture is given by God. And all Scripture is useful for teaching and for showing people what is wrong in their lives. It is useful for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live. 17 Using the Scriptures, those who serve God will be prepared and will have everything they need to do every good work.”
In that context, Paul says to Timothy the Scriptures are 3:15: (ETR) “You have known the Holy Scriptures[a] since you were a child. These Scriptures are able to make you wise. And that wisdom leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”. Because of these facts, the apostle goes on to charge Timothy in a most solemn manner 4:1-2 - (ETR) “Before God and Jesus Christ, I give you a command. Christ Jesus is the one who will judge all people—those who are living and those who have died. He is coming again to rule in his kingdom. So I give you this command: 2 Tell everyone God’s message. Be ready at all times to do whatever is needed. Tell people what they need to do, tell them when they are doing wrong, and encourage them. Do this with great patience and careful teaching.”
The word is inspired, and will thoroughly furnish us until all good works. Thus it is adapted to us. It is an all-sufficient rule of faith and practice; therefore we should “preach the word.” We should not merely preach about it; we should not pervert it; we should not apologize for it, but preach it. It is adapted to mankind as we are. The word, as it is, is adapted to us.
We do not need a modern gospel for a modern age. The old Jerusalem gospel is adapted to all ages. The wise man said, “men have sought out many inventions” (Ecc. 7:29). Many modern marvelous changes have been made in the last 2,000 years, even in the last 50 years, but the gospel, as it is, is the same. And we need the same threats, facts, commands, and promises as those who received the initial revelation.
IT NEEDS NO FURTHER REVELATION:
The Bible as it is means the Bible as it is already revealed by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was given “to instruct” men (Neh. 9:20). But the Spirit was not given directly to all men to instruct them, but only to the prophets of God. Nehemiah continues in that same prayer (Neh. 9:30 - “You were very patient with our ancestors. You let them mistreat you for many years. You warned them with your Spirit. You sent the prophets to warn them. But our ancestors didn’t listen. So you gave them to people in other countries.”). This is the way the Spirit instructed them. David says (2 Sam. 23:2 - “The Lord’s Spirit spoke through me. His word was on my tongue.”). So the Scriptures were the words of the Holy Spirit and surely the Holy Spirit would address men so He can be understood.
The NT writers quote the OT Scriptures as being the message of the Holy Spirit. The writer of Hebrews in 3:7, says “it is just as the Holy Spirit says” and then quotes Psalm 95:7-11. But he introduced the quotation by saying the Spirit said, and then quotes the Scriptures of the OT.
In Hebrews 10:14, the writer emphasizes the fact that the one offering of Christ brought eternal forgiveness and made them perfect. Then he said “The Holy Spirit also tells us about this,” and quotes the testimony of the Spirit through the prophet Jeremiah saying God would make a new covenant and their “sins and iniquities” would no longer be remembered (10:14-17). The “witness” of the Spirit was what the Spirit had said through Jeremiah, the prophet in 31:31-34. All that the Spirit has to say to man has now been said by him in the Bible, his word.
The NT was also the message of the Spirit and is adapted to man. Christ promised the apostles that the Spirit would guide them “in all the truth” and bring to their remembrance all he had said unto them (John 14:26; 16:13). Paul declares that the things he taught were not in words of man’s wisdom but in words “which the Holy Spirit teaches” (1 Cor. 2:13). You see, the Spirit did not merely present the idea to the apostles, but selected the very words in which the idea was to be expressed.
Surely we can understand the Bible and it is adapted to us, since its very words were chosen by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the inspired writer did not understand what he said until further revelation was made on the subject (1 Pet. 1:10-12). Peter did not understand on Pentecost that the promise was to Gentiles, yet he, being guiding by the Spirit, said it was (Acts 2:39). But his failure to understand was because of his own prejudice, or preconceived idea of the matter. The great commission had authorized them to preach the gospel to every creature in all the world (Mark 16:15-16). Yet, it took a miracle to convince him that the gospel was for Gentiles as well as Jews (Acts 10 &amp; 11). But the Spirit had spoken the truth by his mouth, using him only as a microphone, as it were, for the occasion.
While the writers of the Bible were inspired in all they taught, they were not infallible in conduct. God did not compel them to practice what they taught. They were free moral agents just as we are and had to be persuaded to live right by the power of the truth which they taught, just as others. This accounts for the fact that Peter sinned on one occasion and Paul had to rebuke him for it publicly (Gal. 2:11-16). Peter’s mistake was not in teaching, but in his failure to live up to what he himself had already taught. This was no reflection on his inspiration. No man is sinlessly perfect, not even inspired men (1 John 1:8 (ETR) - “If we say that we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”). But they were infallible in their teaching.
So, the Bible as it is - as it is the Book or message from God - is adapted to man as he is; and that means without any further revelation. The gospel which I preach was first preached “with the Holy Spirit send down from heaven” (1 Peter 1:12). If the Spirit failed to adapt the message to us when he first preached and revealed it by the apostles, how could we expect Him to do any better now if He were to try to improve the message?
IT NEEDS NO FURTHER CONFIRMATION:
The Bible as it is means the Bible as it is already confirmed. It neither needs new revelation nor new confirmation. Is the Bible, as it is, adapted to man? It is not a question of whether or not the Bible as it could be made to be by further revelation or further confirmation - as to whether or not that sort of a remodeled Bible would be adapted to man. We affirm the Bible “as it is” is adapted to man. It has already been revealed and confirmed by the Holy Spirit through inspired men. The apostles “went everywhere in the world telling people the Good News, and the Lord helped them. By giving them power to do miracles the Lord proved that their message was true” (Mark 16:20; ETR). To confirm the word was to prove by the miracles and signs done by the apostles that their message was true - that God was with them - that they were true messengers of God.
This was God's way of bearing them witness that they were speaking for God. “So surely we also will be punished if we don’t pay attention to the salvation we have that is so great. It was the Lord Jesus who first told people about it. And those who heard him proved to us that it is true. 4 God also proved it by using miraculous signs, wonders, and all kinds of miracles. And he proved it by giving people various gifts through the Holy Spirit in just the way he wanted” (Heb. 2:3-4; ETR). Since none of us are now inspired, and the Bible has already been finished, we need no such witness to our preaching as did the apostles back then. Those signs back them were written that we might believe (John 20:30-31). They confirmed the word when first revealed and they keep it confirmed wherever the record goes. The word of God needs no modern miracles to prop it up and make it stand. It needs no new confirmation.
When the Supreme Court confirms the decision of the lower courts, the decision stands; and that which is confirmed does not have to be confirmed over and over every time the SCOTUS convenes. Just so, when God confirmed the gospel, it stays confirmed for all time to come.
When the apostles were first sent out to preach, Jesus said, “Heal the sick. Bring the dead back to life. Heal the people who have leprosy. And force demons out of people. I give you these powers freely, so help others freely” (Matt. 10:8; ETR). Of course, I cannot, and I do not need to do these things during this lesson to further confirm the word as though it were not already adapted to men and as though it had never been confirmed. Such signs and miracles were the credentials of inspired men given to prove them to be inspired, to confirm their word, even as Moses was given such power to prove God sent him (Exo. 4:1-9). We now prove we are speaking the truth by an appeal to the Bible and not by counterfeit miracles. Almost every false system today claims to work miracles. Of course, God is not confirming the contradictory doctrines of these systems.
The miracles and signs by which the NT was revealed and confirmed, little by little, and part by part, were to cease when the complete or perfect revelation came. Paul mentions nine miraculous supernatural gifts of the Spirit in 1 Cor. 12:8-10. Then in the next chapter, he says these miracles were coming to an end (13:8-13). No one can speak with tongues and preach by the inspiration of the Spirit now. All religious bodies alike sending missionaries to foreign nations have to teach their missionaries those foreign languages. For illustration, no American knowing only the English language can go to Romania and teach the gospel to the Romanians by the power of the Spirit in their own language; but he first studies and learns their language.
But God started the gospel to all in their own languages on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11). The Lord did not choose to use hundreds of years getting the gospel started to every creature. It was more than 60 years after Pentecost before all the NT had been revealed, confirmed, and recorded. During that time miracles were worked to qualify teachers and to enable them to carry on the work until the written NT should be completed. So the Bible now as it is, is complete.
Nothing more can be added and nothing taken from it (Rev. 22:18-19). We are to simply “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2), “speak the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11), “teach no other doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:3), and “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3).
So, the Bible as it is, reveled by the Spirit as it is, confirmed by signs as it already is, is adapted to man as he is.
TO MAN AS HE IS:
Yes, the Bible as it is, is adapted to man, as he is. Man does not have to have some sort of miracle worked upon him so the Bible may be adapted to him. But the Bible as it is - without any change or addition - is adapted to man, without any miracle worked on him. All the change desired in man is to be brought about by the word of God and man’s own response to it. God’s law is adapted to him.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Psa. 19:7). It does not have to have something added to it, or any miracle worked on it. But the word, as it is, can convert the soul. And it can convert the soul which is unconverted, and which needs converting. The word is “able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Being able to do this, it needs no miraculous help beyond its own revelation and confirmation. And being adapted to the souls to be saved, they need no miracle worked on them. The word as it is fits like a hand into a glove in all man’s spiritual needs.
The Bible is adapted to man’s intellect. It gives him understanding. If one is reading something he does not understand, he is to be guided by some man - by a teacher of the word - and not by the Holy Spirit directly, but as Philip guided the Eunuch (Acts 8:26-39). The Bereans searched the Scriptures to see whether what was preached was true or not (Acts 17:11). In the light of gospel preaching they believed they could understand even the OT. The gospel gives man the light he needs (2 Cor. 4:3-4). The Bible is also adapted to the intellect in that it changes man from doubts and unbelief unto faith in Christ (Rom. 10:17).
But man has a will as well as an intellect; and the will must also be used in obeying the Lord before man can be saved. When the gospel is once believed, its facts, threats, commands, and promises are intended to make men willing to serve the Lord. One cannot go into the Lord’s vineyard and work so long as he is saying, “I will not” (Matt. 21:29). The old song says, “Renounce at once thy stubborn will, be saved O! Tonight!” The prodigal son did not arise and come home from the far country until after he said, “I will arise and go to my father” (Luke 15:18).
Will is the strongest force in the universe that is to be utilized by man. The will is important. God’s people are a willing people (Psalm 110). We obey God because we want to do so. The will is changed from “I will not” to “I will,” by what the Bible calls repentance. The Bible, as it is, is adapted to man to bring about this change in man. The command to repent is adapted to the will. “But now he commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
But man has more than intellect and will. He also has emotions and affections; and those must be reached and used in obedience to the gospel. The love of God, the death of Christ, and all the loving appeals of the gospel are adapted to man’s emotions. God’s love causes us to love Him in return (1 John 4:19). God calls upon us to love Him with all our heart, mind, and strength (Matt. 22:37). Faith works by love (Gal. 5:6). If a man were to give all he has to the poor or even give his body to be burned, and has not love, it would profit him nothing (1 Cor. 13). Those who love not the Lord will be accursed (1 Cor. 16:22).
But how could any one keep from loving our Creator and Maker? He has done so much for us and made such wonderful provisions in our behalf that all should love to serve Him. Yes, the gospel appeals to all that is in us to be Christians. It is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). The gospel as it is, is adapted to every creature in the wide world (Mark 16:15-16). It is the magnet that draws and lifts man up and out of himself. It has in it all the incentives, inducements, and motivating power invented in heaven for the salvation of a lost world. There is wonder-working power in it! That is why we are worshipping this morning and why we invite you to obey the gospel in your own life.
Take home message: The Bible, as it is, is adapted to man as he is: a world filled with hate and division, parents and children, young and old, sick and well, educated and uneducated, the sorrowing in the hour of death, the sinner needing salvation, and the church striving to become more like Jesus.