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REASON OR REVELATION - HOW TO HAVE MORE
UNDERSTANDING THAN YOUR SECULAR TEACHERS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, July 20, 2003

Many of you are here for the first time this morning. Although you may never have been in a Baptist church before, we welcome you - and we want to be your friends!

And we hope that you will come back next Sunday! Even better, come back and be with us tonight! I am going to speak tonight on "Finney's Evil Sermon Refuted by the Scriptures." Charles G. Finney was a popular preacher who was actually a rationalistic humanist. He placed salvation in the hands of man instead of God. And his humanism and rationalism has been a very destructive force, producing the "decisionism" which has greatly harmed our churches, and our nation. So, come back next Sunday. Better yet, come back tonight. I'm going to answer Finney from the Bible.

Now, before the message this morning, Mr. Griffith will come to sing for us. (Mr. Griffith's solo)

Let us stand, and turn in the Word of God to Psalm 119:99.

"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation" (Psalm 119:99).

You may be seated.

When I was a child the adults in my family were very dogmatic and certain about religion. You must not think that they went to church. No - none of my relatives went to church, except one uncle who converted to Catholicism while he lived in our home. But all of them had very dogmatic and fixed ideas about religion. They were unshakable in their beliefs. When I started going to church, and learned some of the Bible, I quoted the Bible to them. But they rejected the Bible every time. Their opinions were based on their own thinking and reasoning, not on the Scriptures. To them, the Bible was just someone else's opinion - no better than their own opinion. And so they went on, dogmatically asserting what they believed about religion, life, and God. Their beliefs came from their own minds, not from the Bible. When I grew older, I found out that there was a name for their philosophy. It is rationalism. The conflict between my relatives and me was this: they believed in rationalism, while I believed in revelation. They trusted their own minds, while I trusted the Bible.

When I became a young person, I went to a secular junior college, and then to a secular college. I wanted to go to a Christian college, but I was too poor. I had no car, no place to live, and no money. So I took a full-time job and went to a secular college at night, to Los Angeles City College and Cal State L.A.

There, in those classrooms at the secular college, I found exactly the same attitude that my non-Christian relatives had. Here in college, I quoted the same Bible verses, and here I met the same resistance to the Bible that I had experienced from my relatives, and the same preference for human reason instead of the Bible. Oh, to be sure, the professors at my college were much more sophisticated and erudite than my relatives. But their way of thinking was exactly the same. I found that I was in the same conflict with these college professors that I had been in with my non-Christian relatives. It wasn't a different conflict. It was exactly the same conflict. The conflict between my college professors and me was this: They were rationalists, and I believed in revelation. They trusted their own minds, and I trusted the Bible.

After graduating from college, I went to a theologically liberal seminary. There, in the liberal seminary, I once again found the same attitude that my unchurched relatives and my secular college professors had. I found exactly the same attitude in the liberal Southern Baptist seminary that my non-Christian relatives had. Here I quoted the same Bible verses, and here there was the same rejection of the Bible, and the same preference for human reasoning instead of Biblical revelation.

In my lifetime I have come to see that the world at large prefers rationalism to revelation. Mankind in general follows what it believes and thinks rather than seeking to find out what God says in the Bible. It is only the rare person who, by the grace of God, is turned out of the herd and becomes a lone believer in the Word of God, rather than a blind follower of the mind of man. This lone believer follows the Bible rather than the herd. The great mass of mankind runs together, like the herd of buffaloes that once roamed the plains of America. The herd runs together, kept in line by peer pressure. No one dares to break out of the herd and become a free thinker who believes the Bible. I have come to believe that only the grace of God can free anyone from the peer pressure, herd mentality, and closed-minded rationalism of our fallen race.

The beliefs of most modern men are humanistic. Modern humanism came from the 18th century Enlightenment. Five major humanistic systems developed from this period.

1. Rationalism, which said human reason could produce a clear understanding of the truth by the mind of man.

2. Empiricism, which said that knowledge comes from the sense perception of man.

3. The scientific method, which said that man could find the truth by testing and verifying data.

4. Romanticism, which emphasized man's creative ability to produce beauty in art and life.

5. Utilitarianism, which said that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the standard of all man's conduct (cf. John Blanchard, Does God Believe in Atheists?, Evangelical Press, 2000, p. 157).

All of these systems of thought are based on the humanism that sprang from the Enlightenment. All of them are man-centered. They are all based on the idea that man can figure out the great truths of life by himself, and that God's self-revelation in the Bible is not necessary. Every class you take in a secular college is based on the assumptions of humanism.

You must never go into a secular college classroom without realizing that you are in hostile territory as a Christian. The true Christian is not a humanist. The true Christian recognizes that there are limitations to what human beings can know by themselves about ultimate truths. The ultimate truths of life can only be found in the self-revelation of God in the Bible. That is why the Psalmist said,

"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies [the Bible] are my meditation" (Psalm 119:99).

I. The first sin man committed came because he rejected God's
self-revelation and accepted human reason as his standard.

"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"
       (Genesis 2:16-17).

But Satan came in and asked, "Yea, hath God said…?" (Genesis 3:1). Satan tempted our first parents to doubt the revelation of God. Then Satan said, "Ye shall not surely die" (Genesis 3:4). Satan tempted them to reject the revelation of God. Then, through a process of human reasoning, they decided to "think for themselves" rather than believe what God had said to them by revelation. They sinned as a result of using human reason rather than believing the Word of God.

Now mankind is a fallen race. Everywhere in the modern world human reason is antagonistic to the revelation of God in the Bible. But has human reason given us a better world? You young people already know the answer. Since we threw out the Bible we do not have a better world. The twentieth century's humanism produced World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, the Korean War, Vietnam, the continued threat of thermonuclear war, the slaughter of 42 million American babies by abortion, divorce, the breakup of the home, and the lonely, desolate world in which we live. Most young people like you are terribly lonely today. That's where human reason has led us - to a dark, frightening and lonely world! Your own meaningless and lonely life is the strongest proof that humanism has failed us. Human reason has led us to loneliness and despair. Millions have to take drugs to keep from committing suicide. Our streets are dark and dangerous. Our houses are lonely hell-holes. Our lives have no meaning or purpose. Human reason has failed us!

That's why we say, "Come back to the Bible! Come back to God! Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ!"

"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies [the Bible] are my meditation" (Psalm 119:99).

II. The acceptance of the Bible gives more understanding
than a humanist teacher has.

Our text in Psalm 119:99 does not say the true Christian has more knowledge. It says, "I have more understanding." The Hebrew word means "insight," or "wisdom." Sure, the humanist teacher at your secular school has more knowledge than you do. I grant that. He has a Ph.D. in his field. I admit that he knows a great deal about his subject - far more than you know about it. But how much wisdom and insight does he have about life itself - or about God - or about happiness?

Many of your secular teachers are divorced. Many of them are alcoholics. Many of them have to take drugs to keep from committing suicide. Most of them are lonely and unfulfilled. They may have a great deal of human knowledge, but they have very little insight regarding how to live. They have very little wisdom regarding life itself. They have knowledge without wisdom, knowledge without understanding the great truths of life and death. Why do they lack wisdom? Because they do not know the Lord. The Bible says,

"The Lord giveth wisdom" (Proverbs 2:6).

How does God give us wisdom and understanding? The answer is right in our text,

"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation" (Psalm 119:99).

"Thy testimonies" refers to the Bible. When you know the Bible, you know the great answers to the problems of life. Why? Because the words of the Bible are the self-revelation of God. The Bible is the only book of its kind in the whole world.

"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:21).

God has revealed His words to us through the prophets and Apostles. They did not decide what to write. They "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." That's why the Apostle Paul said,

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (II Timothy 3:16).

All of the Bible is "God-breathed." The very words of the Hebrew and Greek Bible were given by God to the prophets and Apostles. This book I hold in my hand is the best English translation in the world of the very Hebrew and Greek words given by God! This is the revelation of God! This is the Word of God! This is the Holy Bible! This is the way to get wisdom and understanding! This is the way to find out how to get to Heaven!

"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation" (Psalm 119:99).

III. The condition upon which this understanding is based.

I am not saying that a merely human knowledge of the Bible will give you wisdom and understanding. I know full-well that a person can humanly study the Bible for years and yet not have the understanding and wisdom spoken of in our text. I have had liberal professors who knew even the Hebrew and Greek of the Bible, but did not know God. They were

"Ever  learning,  and  never  able  to  come  to  the  knowledge  of  the  truth" (II Timothy 3:7).

Turn to Psalm 119:18 and you will see the reason why.

"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Psalm 119:18).

God must open your spiritual eyes or the Bible will be just like any other book to you.

This "opening" of the eyes refers initially to the new birth. Nicodemus was the leading Bible teacher in Israel at the time of Christ (cf. John 3:10), but he was spiritually blind. Jesus said to him,

"Except  a  man  be  born  again,  he  cannot  see  the  kingdom  of God" (John 3:3).

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (John 3:3, 6-7).

The Bible is God's Word. The Bible points you to Jesus Christ for salvation.

"The holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus"
     (II Timothy 3:15).

You read the Bible - and it tells you to believe in Jesus. This means to throw yourself on Jesus Christ for mercy and salvation.

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" 
      (Acts 16:31).

This is not a rational act. It cannot be fully understood by the mind of man. This is not an empirical act. It cannot be sensed by human perception. This is not a humanistic act at all. It is an act beyond the human mind and beyond human senses. The Spirit of God acts through the Word of God and shows you that you are a sinner - that you cannot save yourself - that you need salvation from outside yourself. And then, in an act of faith, you come to Jesus, and he washes you clean from your sin with His Blood.

The Bible tells us that Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. The Bible tells us that Christ rose from the dead, physically. The Bible tells us that Christ ascended to Heaven, to another dimension, outside of the physical universe. The Bible tells us that Christ is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven. And the Bible tells you to come to Jesus, and He will forgive your sins and save you - and you will be born again!

Now, my question to you this morning is this: Are you fed up with the world, and its ideas? Are you tired of the meaningless way of life you have been offered in the world? Have you come to distrust the ideas of mankind and the proud, conceited philosophies of the human race? Then why not come to Jesus Christ - and put your life in His hands?

When I was a child, I found that I couldn't really trust my relatives. They had no answers to the big questions. I found that I couldn't trust my secular teachers. They had no answers for themselves - so I knew they had no answers for me.

Then I came to Jesus, and I found the answer - to sin, salvation, and eternal life. Jesus said,

"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

Jesus is the way. He is the way to have your sins forgiven, the way to God, the way to Heaven.

Jesus is the truth. He is the perfect embodiment of all truth. Christ is the truth.

Jesus is the life. There is no life without Him, either in this world, or the world to come.

No one can come to the Father but by Him. Why? Because He is the One God sent to pay for our sins on the Cross. No sins can be forgiven without the crucifixion and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

"For  through  him  we  both  have  access  by  one  Spirit  unto  the Father" (Ephesians 2:18).

When you come to Jesus, and are born again, you will be able to say with the Psalmist,

"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation" (Psalm 119:99).

Are you interested in Jesus Christ? Are you interested in the new birth? Are you interested in having your sins forgiven and having eternal life? Are you interested in finding a group of people, in this local church, who will love you and be your truest friends? Are you interested in finding a solution to your lonely, meaningless life? If you are, then we say to you, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ - and He will save you!"


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. C. L. Cagan: Psalm 119:97-104.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Wonderful Words of Life" (by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876).

THE OUTLINE OF

REASON OR REVELATION - HOW TO HAVE MORE
UNDERSTANDING THAN YOUR SECULAR TEACHERS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation" (Psalm 119:99).

I.   The first sin man committed came because he rejected God's
self-revelation and accepted human reason as his standard,
Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1, 4.

II.  The acceptance of the Bible gives more understanding than a
humanist teacher has, Proverbs 2:6; II Peter 1:21; II Timothy 3:16.

III. The condition upon which this understanding is based, II Timothy 3:7;
Psalm 119:18; John 3:3, 6-7; II Timothy 3:15; Acts 16:31;
John 14:6; Ephesians 2:18.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."