The Duty of Searching the Scriptures (George Whitefield)
In the new issue of Credo Magazine, “George Whitefield at 300,” we have an excerpt from a sermon from George Whitefield himself! The sermon is called, “The Duty of Searching the Scriptures” and it offers some very practical and biblical instruction on the Christian’s obligation to dig deep into the Word of God. Whitefield takes as his text John 5:39, “Search the Scriptures.”
Here is the start of the sermon:
When the Sadducees came to our blessed Lord and put to him the question, ‘whose wife that woman should be in the next life, who had seven husbands in this,’ he told them ‘they erred, not knowing the scriptures’ [Matthew 22:29]. And if we would know whence all the errors that have over-spread the church of Christ first arose, we should find that in a great measure they flowed from the same fountain, ignorance of the word of God.
Our blessed Lord, though he was the eternal God, yet as man he made the scriptures his constant rule and guide. And therefore, when he was asked by the lawyer, which was the great commandment of the law, he referred him to his Bible for an answer, ‘What readest thou?’ And thus, when led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil, he repelled all his assaults with ‘it is written.’
A sufficient confutation this, of their opinion who say, ‘the Spirit only and not the Spirit by the Word, is to be our rule of action.’ If so, our Saviour, who had the Spirit without measure, needed not always have referred to the written word.
But how few copy after the example of Christ? How many are there who do not regard the word of God at all but throw the sacred oracles aside, as an antiquated book, fit only for illiterate men?
Such do greatly err, not knowing what the scriptures are. I shall, therefore, first, show that it is everyone’s duty to search them. And secondly, lay down some directions for you to search them with advantage. . . .
Read the rest of this sermon today in Credo Magazine!
We live in a day when those in the church want to have their ears tickled. We do not want a sermon, but a “talk.” “Don’t get preachy, preacher!” is the mantra of many church goers today. What is preferred is a casual, comfortable, and laid back chat with a cup of coffee and a couple of Bible verses to throw into the mix to make sure things get spiritual. One wonders whether Timothy would have been fired as a pastor today for heeding Paul’s advice: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). Paul gives such a command to Timothy because he knew what was to come. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Has that day come? Are churches filled with “itching ears,” demanding “teachers to suit their own passions”? Have we turned “away from listening to the truth”?
In a day when ears itch and truth is shown the back door, what could be more needed than men who actually preach the Word? George Whitefield (1714-1770) was one of those men. He was a preacher who preached in plain language, so that even the most common man could understand God’s Word. Yet, his sermons were incredibly powerful, often leading men and women to tears as the Holy Spirit convicted their souls. Whitefield not only preached the truth, but he pleaded with his listeners to submit themselves body and soul to the truth. He preached God’s Word with passion because he understood that his listener stood between Heaven and Hell. His robust Calvinism, in other words, led to a zealous evangelism.
This year, 2014, marks the 300th anniversary of Whitefield’s birth. These articles are meant to drive us back to Whitefield’s day, that we might eat up his theology, and drink deeply his passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Contributors include: Thomas Kidd, Lee Gatiss, Michael A.G. Haykin, Thomas Nettles, Ian Hugh Clary, Mike McKinley, Mark Noll, Doug Sweeney, and many others.