In his 1999 Book “When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi” David Maraniss tells the immortal story of the first day of training camp in 1961 for the Green Bay Packers. When Coach Lombardi assembled his team that July day, this was their first time together on a football field since losing the 1960 NFL Championship game to the Philadelphia Eagles. The coach’s focus would not be on new trick plays, developing complicated strategies or obtaining the latest advanced equipment to give them an edge. Rather, quoting Maraniss’ book, “He took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before… He began with the most elemental statement of all. “Gentlemen,” he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, “this is a football.” 1
Now clearly, I am no Vince Lombardi and I didn’t bring a football, but I will follow his lead in clarifying my position on the basics, “Gentleman, this is God’s Word!”
I want to make four basic critical, essential points that God wants us to anchor our lives upon. I will make the argument that God’s Word is indispensable in our lives, which, in turn, are vital in the lives of our spouses, our children, our families, our businesses and our nation.
The first thing that God wants us to know is:
HE – the biblical God – Exists – Immense (unable to be contained), Eternal, One (Simple), God is Three (Tri-Unity), Self-existent or uncaused (aseity), Unchanging (Immutable character), Impassible (Unchanging Passions); Spirit (Immateriality), Infinite (without attributable limits): All knowing (Omniscient) ; All Powerful (Omnipotent); Beautiful, Majestic, Sovereign, Transcendent, Immanent, Omnipresent, Ineffable. Literally, “ineffable” means “incapable of being expressed” (Lat. ineffabilis: in = “not” + effabilis = “capable of being expressed”). Theologically, ineffability refers to the transcendent characteristics of God that cannot be adequately expressed in human language.2 Infinite (without attributable limits – whatever attribute He has, He must have completely, necessarily, and infinitely): Holy, Righteous, Jealous (Wrathful – God’s wrath is based in several of His attributes, including His holiness, righteousness, and jealousy), Just, Merciful, Loving, Truthful, and Good. Isaiah 45:5–7. “I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.”
“Never does Scripture seek to prove His existence; rather it presents His reality as the foundational starting point of both knowledge and wisdom.3 Real knowledge, including theology (and all the other -ologies) is simply the truth about reality, which Scripture tells us is completely and utterly, based on the existence of the biblical God himself. God is prior to anything we can conceive of – which are all parts of what HE has created. Our mind is decidedly within the world or universe – God is not!
So in attempting to bridge over from the reality of God’s pre-existence and his eternal, unchangeable being, to where we are – where, from the human perspective, does knowledge and wisdom start? Do we begin, as human philosophers surmise, with only our minds, our experiences, our senses to guides us? To explore and find truth, and with those tools alone to make sense of the world? Job asked (28:20-28 ‘Where can wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?’) Proverbs 1:7 gives us the answer “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” The biblical perspective is that a deep, abiding, quailing fearful of this awesome God is the a correct place to start. Isaiah’s testimony in 6:1-7 gives us a sense of this confrontation. “I am undone!” he says. It is a prerequisite of all correct, accurate, ‘true’ knowledge to understand that the biblical God is, and that He is the source of all knowledge. Proverbs 9:10 tells us “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” So what are we to do? What can we do in this situation? Quoting now from Isaiah 1:2:“Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the Lord speaks…”
The second thing God wants us to know is that HE – the biblical God – has an overall purpose: It is all for His Glory. God’s plan, begun before creation, was that through all his works, he should receive glory. In Revelation we have a whole chorus of praise and worship going to God. First in chapter 4 we see the 24 elders glorifying God for his creative works: (Revelation 4:11. “And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” ). And in chapter 5, all are giving praise to the Father and to Jesus for salvation’s mighty work: (Re 5:8–14 “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”)
In chapter 11 they are worshipping and praising God for his JUDGEMENT!! (Re 11:15–18. “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”)
In chapter 15, for His Righteousness (3-4), and in 16:5-8 for his vengeful judgments. In 19:1-5 for judging Babylon the Great; in v6-9 at the marriage supper of the Lamb. In all these things we should marvel in wonder, just as expressed in the words of Ro 11:34 –36 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
The third thing God wants us to know is that HE, the biblical God, has spoken – (Proverbs 2:6 “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”) One reason God spoke to us through His word, is so that we will know him. It is God’s self revelation to us! Jeremiah 9:23–24, “Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
He wants us to recognize the Bible as His word and to trust it completely, both for the truth He reveals to us about Himself and everything else. Once again we turn to Isaiah. In chapter 55 God says (vv.10–11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there, but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”) God’s self revelation in His Word is complete – it is everything he intended it to be; it is authoritative (firm, final), pure (unadulterated) and TRUE (Inerrant and Infallible). In the New Testament, Peter explained it this way (2 Peter 1:20–21 “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved (φερόμενοι pheromenoi) by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”). God’s Word is not the product of human imagination or human desires. It is trustworthy, it is true. It is exactly what we need in every circumstance. Paul described the Holy Spirit’s work in overseeing Scripture using the term ‘theopneustos’ θεόπνευστος, which is literally: God Breathed. (2 Ti 3:16–17 “All Scripture is [ ‘theo -pneustos – inspired by God] and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Wow! can that be right?? Adequate – equipped for every good work??
The fourth thing God wants us to know is that He – the biblical God, has a specific Goal for Us – individual spiritual growth – MATURITY.4 In the first chapter of Colossians, Paul says the following: “Him (Jesus Christ) we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” So here is Paul working ‘with all his energy’ toward a goal for the Colossians – “that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” He wrote the same thing to the Ephesians: (Eph4:11-13 “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”) So here again we see the goal which Paul’s is urging them on toward: maturity.
The process, the method that gets us to that Goal? From God’s perspective it is ‘sanctification’: Romans 8:29. “For those whom He foreknew, he also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” From our perspective, the human cooperation with God’s plan – we call discipleship. Here are two specific goals or effects that God intends in our ‘maturity’: Eph 4:14 -15 “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, 1) speaking the truth in love, we are to 2 ) grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” And speaking of wind, how do things fare in the Wyoming wind?? Here’s how we avoid being blown into another state (of mind), (Col 2:6-7 “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him…having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (See Col 2:7 & Eph 6 ‘”the full armor of God…”)
So what does this have to do with the men in this room? ‘How does this effect help me?’
First: Are you firmly convinced that the God of the Bible exists? He is the only God? Do you ponder his amazing attributes; do they jump out at you as you study His Word?
Second: are you firmly convinced that Scripture is what it says ? That is is the infallible, inerrant word – saying exactly what he intended it to say – no more – and no less??
Third: are you firmly convinced that his plan is the best plan and that it is all for his glory?
Fourth: are you willing – in light of all these things to go ‘all in’ on his plan for you and to follow Peter’s command? At the very end of his second epistle – the last word we have from Peter, here’s what he said – no, it’s actually it’s an order, an imperative, a command. (2 Pe 3:18 “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”)
We have tough demanding jobs as men. We are to be strong yet kind, demanding yet patient, leaders yet listeners, growing yet growers. If we are not making disciples of ourselves, how can we make disciples of others? Jesus said ( Jn 15:4–5. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”)
Gentlemen – this is God’s Word!
2 Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2003), 245.
3 Christopher Cone, Prolegomena on Biblical Hermeneutics and Method, 2nd Edition. (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2012), 55.
4 Daniel Goepfrich, Biblical Discipleship: The Path For Helping People Follow Jesus (p. 81). Exegetica Publishing. Kindle Edition.