WORD OF GOD NOT BOUND
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Timothy 2:2-9
10-12-58 7:30 p.m.
We turn to 2 Timothy, the second chapter. We read from the seventh through the thirteenth verses; 2 Timothy chapter 2, verses 7 through 13. The message tonight is the text The Word of God Is Not Bound, 2 Timothy 2:7 through 13. Now let us all read it together; 2 Timothy 2:7 through 13:
Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from
the dead according to my gospel:
Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evildoer, even unto bonds; but the
word of God is not bound.
Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may
also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live
If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: If we deny Him, He also will deny us:
If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.
[2 Timothy 2:7-13]
And the text: 2 Timothy 2:9:
Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evildoer, even unto bonds; but the Word of God is not bound.
The comparison that the apostle makes there between his own chains and imprisonment and the freedom that he envisages for the Word of God is most impressive.
Paul spent no small part of his life as a preacher of the gospel in jail, in prison, chained to soldiers, chained to a rock, his feet in stocks. No small proportion of his life, he was bound, incarcerated in the provinces as at Philippi, in Judea, as at Caesarea, and the years of his imprisonment in Rome, and this final and last imprisonment in which he lost his life.
But as the apostle spent the years bound and chained behind heavy stone walls, or in dungeons cut out of solid rock, he lifted up his heart, and he lifted up his face, and beyond those stone walls and beyond those prison bars, he saw the freedom, the propagation, the sowing, the scattering of the Word of God. It could not be enchained. It could not be coffined. It could not be entombed. It could not be slain or executed or beheaded. Beyond every wall and bar, beyond every mountain range and sea, even to the isles of the far away oceans, he saw the winged Word of the Holy Spirit of God.
“I am in bonds, chained and in prison, but the word of God is not bound” [2 Timothy 2:9]. And the message this evening is an affirmation of that glorious word of the apostle Paul, the strength, the power, the immutability, the invincibility of the Word of God: for the Word of God is not bound; Isaiah 55:11, “My word shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that whereunto I have sent it.” And bitter hatred and violent hostility cannot obstruct it.
Jehoshaphat said to Ahab, the king of Israel, “Shall we go up to Ramoth Gilead and take it? It is ours, but it lies in the hands of the heathen Syrian.” And Ahab said, “Let me call all of my prophets and ask them.” And those false prophets, knowing that Ahab wished to lead his army in a glorious campaign, prophesied saying, “God has given you Ramoth Gilead. Go up against it and take it” [1 Kings 22:2-6].
But Jehoshaphat the king of Judah said to Ahab, “But is there not one other prophet of the Lord of whom we could inquire?” And Ahab replied, “Yes, there is one other, but I hate him because he prophesies evil of me and not good.” Jehoshaphat replied, “Let not the king say so. Call him” [1 Kings 22:7-8].
So Micaiah came and stood before the king of Israel. Ahab asked him the question, “Shall I go?” [1 Kings 22:15]. And Micaiah, the true prophet of God replied:
Thus saith the word of the Lord, I saw all Israel scattered as sheep without a shepherd. And each man crying to the other, every man to his own house and to his own place, for the king is dead.
And Ahab said to Jehoshaphat:
Said I not thus to thee? that he would prophesy evil of me and not good?
And he called in his henchmen and said:
Take this man Micaiah and put him prison, and feed him bread of affliction and water of affliction, until I return in victory and in triumph.”
[1 Kings 22:17-18, 27]
Then Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “You go into battle dressed as a king. I am going to disguise myself.” And Ahab disguised himself and went into the war at Ramoth Gilead. And an archer from the Syrian army drew back the arrow in his bow at a venture—adventitiously without aiming it—and he sped it through the air. And that arrow found a joint in the harness of Ahab and pierced him in his heart, and his blood ran out into the chariot [1 Kings 22:30-35].
And when the host of Israel saw that their king had fallen dead, they cried according to the saying of the man of God, “Every man to his house; every man to his tent; every man to his place.” And they drove Ahab back into Samaria. They washed the blood of the chariot according to the saying of the man of God, and the dogs licked it up [1 Kings 22:36-38].
The invincibility, the immutability of the living word of God, hostility and hatred cannot dissuade it, nor turn it from accomplishing the purpose to which God hath sent it [Isaiah 55:11]. “For the word of God is not bound” [2 Timothy 2:9]. And Jehoiakim, reading the roll of the prophet Jeremiah in his winter palace, said, “Bring me a penknife.” And he took his penknife and he cut up the Bible, the words of God, leaf by leaf and burned it in the fire [Jeremiah 36:20-23].
But the word of Jeremiah came to pass just the same. “The king of Babylon shall come and take this place, and destroy this house, and thy dead body shall be thrown out before the heat of the sun and the day and before the frost of the cold of the night” [Jeremiah 36:29-30]. “For the word of God is not bound!” [2 Timothy 2:9]. The apparent invincibility of empire cannot obstruct it or impede it.
In the long ago days, the most vicious, and cruel, and heartless, and ruthless, and merciless, and triumphant of all the armies that ever swept in deployment over the face of the earth was the bitter and hasty Assyrian. The winged bull of Asshur was a sign of terrible conquest and of an invincible, conquering army. Their monuments reveal to us that oftener than once in every two years, the great host poured out of Nineveh and out of Assyria, and they ravaged the entire face of the earth. And wherever they went, there was victory. Sennacherib, Sargon, Tiglath-pileser, the destroying of Samaria, and the carrying away and the captivity of the northern ten tribes; they ripped open the women. They dashed their children against the stones. They slew and made slaves out of the men. They wasted the whole earth!
In the days of Ashurbanipal, Nineveh rose to its greatest height. And Assyria apparently was unconquerable and invincible! And in those days, in the height of the glory of the great city of Nineveh, there arose a humble prophet named Nahum. He lifted up his hand and said, “Thus saith the Lord,” and he described the overthrow and the destruction of the great city [Nahum 1:12-3:19].
Years after Nahum had uttered the word of the Lord, there came Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, with a confederate army. And they stormed into Assyria, and they besieged the invincible city of Nineveh and failed in their attack against it. But according to the word of God, the city fell exactly as Nahum had described more than fifty years before. The Tigris River overflowed, and the great might of that overflowing stream was hurled against the walls of the city of Nineveh and dissolved it away!
And when the waters receded and the floodtide went down, the armies of Nabopolassar entered into the city, slew the king, and destroyed Nineveh forever. The great hosts of Alexander the Great marched over the site and did not even know that beneath their feet lay one of the great civilizations of the ancient world, according to the saying of the man of God, for the Word of God is not bound [2 Timothy 2:9], nor can indifference and neglect hide it away.
Hilkiah the priest came to the king and said, “In repairing the disused temple, I have found the Book of God” [2 Kings 22:8-13]. It may lie neglected in the homes of our people gathering dust, and the spider webs may bind it together, but the Word of God is not bound [2 Timothy 2:9]. A child will pick it up, a son will read it. A daughter will see it. A family will be converted by it. A great flaming evangelist will be born in the great, moving love and compassion and revelation of its pages. “For the Word of God is not bound” [2 Timothy 2:9].
In the Christian era, all of the might of intellectual and pagan Rome was hurled against the Word of God. Once in a while, you will read in history, in philosophy, in literature, in magazines, once in a while, you will hear a diatribe against the inspiration of the Word of God. It has become even poplar in the modern pulpits of our modern day to belittle the inspiration of the Scriptures, “These myths and these legends in Genesis, this aberration of mind that made the disciples think that they saw a risen Christ,” these miracles which are just parables set forth, in all of the superhuman, supernatural, the inspiration of the Word, nothing other than just a vivid imagination of people who lived in the childhood of the race.”
These things we think are new and modern. Nay, in the second century, there was a brilliant, an incomparably brilliant antagonist of the Christian faith by the name of Celsus. And since the days of the second century, of Celsus, every diatribe, every cynicism, every bitter, hasty, warring criticism of the inspiration of the Word of God is just a play, a repetition of those same things that Celsus said in the second century.
Those French intellectual encyclopedists—Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau—added nothing to what Celsus had to say. Their contemporaries, equally as brilliant and intellectual. The English deists across the channel—Gibbon, and Bolingbroke, and Hume— they were no less parroting the words of the great intellectual Roman, Celsus. These things are not new. These attacks are not strange. They have been sharpened against the inspiration of the Word of God from the day that the Book was written!
Down and down and down went our Lord. They nailed Him to the tree, Matthew 27:35], it is not possible for Him to be holden by the cross [Matthew 27:57-58]: buried Him a tomb [Matthew 27:57-60]; it is not possible for Him to be holden in the grave [Matthew 27:65-28:6]. And ascended into glory [Acts 1:9], they sharpened their attacks against the witness and the testimony of the Word of God. But it is not possible that the Word of God should be bound! [2 Timothy 2:9].
And in those ancient days under pagan Rome, the emperor commandeered his entire army to do three things: one, to destroy every place of Christian worship; second, to destroy every individual Christian; and third, to destroy the Word of God! And those ten great terrible persecutions from 63 AD to 306 AD under Nero, under Trajan, under Diocletian , under Decius, under Julian the apostate, under a host of others—these things were aimed at the destruction of the living Word of God. But the Word of God is not bound [2 Timothy 2:9].
Eusebius, Eusebius, the great church historian says, “I saw with my own eyes the Holy Scriptures commandeered, confiscated, and burned in the open market places of the cities.” But the Word of God is not bound [2 Timothy 2:9]. Men and women gave their lives rather than reveal where the secret treasures of the holy gospel of God was concealed and hidden away.
And then it fell into the same terrible persecutions of papal Rome, ecclesiastical Rome. John Wycliffe lived between about 1320 AD and 1384. And John Wycliffe took these holy words and translated them into the English language. And so bitter was the persecution against the Wycliffe Bible, the Word of God in the language of the people, that men and women were burned to death with that Bible hanging around their necks. Men and women who possessed copies of those Scriptures were bound to the stake and their children forced to light the fires that destroyed their parents. But the Word of God is not bound [2 Timothy 2:9].
After the death of John Wycliffe, they exhumed his body and burned it and cast the ashes into the River Swift, but the Swift runs into the Severn, and the Severn runs into the sea. And the Word of God, translated by John Wycliffe, was scattered over the earth to all the shores of the continents of the seas—for the Word of God is not bound! [2 Timothy 2:9].
A hundred fifty years after Wycliffe, there lived William Tyndale, and William Tyndale said, “If God spare me, I will make it come to pass that the boy following the plow in England will know more of the Word of God than the prelate in Rome.” And he crossed the channel, and secretly he made copies of the Word of God, and they smuggled them into England in bails of cloth, in sacks of flour, in every container and way they could find, those copies of the Scriptures were smuggled into England. They finally traced down their source. They seized upon William Tyndale. They strangled him to death. They burned his body. But he lighted a fire in England that never went out, burns vigorously, glorious today! The Word of God is not bound! [2 Timothy 2:9].
The outreach of the message of this Book goes on and out and beyond, touching every continent, touching every isle, touching every sea. One of the unusual, unusual things you’ll find in the story of our Southern Baptist mission work are these isles down there off the shores of South America. Some white missionary visited them, found on those little isles Baptist churches, amazed, astonished! Who founded them? Who preached the gospel to them? Nobody. No one. There was washed upon the shores a copy of the Word of God, and when the missionary visited the isles, there were those little Baptist churches founded by the washing up of the Word of God on the sands of their islands, for the Word of God is not bound [2 Timothy 2:9].
Neesima of Japan, walking through the streets of his city of Kyoto, saw a leaf on the water. He stopped, picked it up, read it. It had a message to his soul. He asked, “Where did this leaf come from?” He found it to be a part of the proscribed, interdicted Word of God. As a youth wanting to know more of the great message of that Book, he stowed away, at the risk of his life left Japan to Shanghai, stowed away at Shanghai, came to America. In America was taught the Word of life, returned back to Japan after it was opened by Commodore Perry, there established and began the great Christian movement that looked as though for a while it would sweep the entire population into the Christian orbit, for the Word of God is not bound [2 Timothy 2:9].
A missionary was passing by, in a country district far away in the interior of the northern India, and he saw by the side of the road, a man who had been left to die, the caravan had left him to die. And when he stooped over the man, he said, “Do you have any hope?” And the man replied, “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin” [1 John 1:7], and expired. And the missionary, amazed, saw in his fist a leaf, and he unclasped the hand of death that seized it. And there was a page from the Holy Book of God, 1 John, “For the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” The Word of God is not bound [2 Timothy 2:9].
I have heard these American soldiers who came back from the Pacific: some of them parachuting down, some of them washed up on the shores of those isles, afraid; cannibals, the savages—then, hearing them sing a song that they’d heard their mother sing, or the congregation at home sing back here in America; and there, in a jungle, under a thatched roof, with a little cross above, those savage, cannibal people, singing the songs of the Lord, reading out of the Book of God. They had been won by the testimony and the praise of Jesus Christ. And some of those men who had fallen from the sky, washed upon the shore, some of those men were converted to Christ by the earnest witness and testimony of those savages in the South Pacific. For the Word of God is not bound [2 Timothy 2:9].
I have stood on the shores of that great, vast, illimitable ocean, the Pacific. And if the day should ever come when its bed shall be dry as dust and its waters evaporated away, this Book that I hold in my hand shall still be a fountain and a river of the water of life [John 6:36]. I have stood and gazed upon the vast range of the Sierra Nevadas, one of the great granite ranges of this world. And when those flint rocks in that vast, colossal heap shall have crumbled to dust, this Book that I hold in my hand shall still be the rock of ages [Ephesians 2:20]. I have stood under the firmament of the sky and looked up at the stars that shine above, and when those stars have grown old and gone out, this Book that I hold in my hand shall still be the light of the world [John 8:12].
I project what these scientists say, that the sun someday shall go out, or it shall melt with a fervent heat and be destroyed, and this earth ashen and cold. When the heavens and the earth have passed away [Matthew 24:35], this Book that I hold in my hand shall live and abide forever [Isaiah 40:8].
If every copy; every publication of this Word were destroyed, it could be reproduced syllable by syllable in the memory of men. If every man were to be slain, it could be reproduced syllable by syllable from the literature and the monuments and the inscriptions of the world. And if this world itself were destroyed, it could be repeated from the saints and the angels in God’s heaven, “For forever, O God, Thy word is fixed in heaven” [Psalm 119:89]. The Word of God is not bound [2 Timothy 2:9].
We may falter and fail. We may grow old and die. There may be directed against it in these modern, socialistic, totalitarian movements, vast energies to conscript, to destroy, to burn the Holy Book that I hold in my hand, but when the Ashurbanipals, and the Tiglath-Pilesers, and the Nabopolassars , and the Alexanders, and the pharaohs, and the Caesars, and the Napoleons, and the modern, strutting bigots of this totalitarian world are forgot and dead and buried, this Book I hold in my hand shall still live in glory and in power and in triumph. “For the Word of God is not bound” [2 Timothy 2:9].
While we sing our song, someone you tonight, to give your heart in faith to the Lord, would you come and stand by me? A family you to put your life in the church, would you come and stand by me? In this balcony around, down these staircases, on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front, “Pastor, here I come and here I am. I give you my hand. I give my heart to God. We’re placing our life with you in this church.” However the Spirit of the Lord shall lead, however God shall say, would you come? Would you make it now?
The only thing that shall abide is the word and promise of the Book. All we have to build on is the solid rock of the promises of the Book. All else is sinking sand. I hold in my hands the rock, the Word, the unchanging promise of God.
If a man will build his life upon it, believing unto salvation, he shall live forever. When the storm comes and the flood rises and the winds blow, his house shall stand, for it is built upon the Rock [Matthew 7:25]. If, in your heart, you will give your life in faith to the word and promise of God in Christ Jesus, would you come and stand by me? “Pastor, I give you my hand. My heart I give in faith to the God of the Book.” Or into the fellowship of the church, while we sing, would you come? While we stand and while we sing.
OF GOD IS NOT BOUND
resistance and imprisonment Paul faced
the chains, stone walls and prison bars, he saw the freedom, the propagation,
the sowing of the Word of God
message an affirmation of the word of Paul – the Word of God is not bound(2 Timothy 2:9, Isaiah 55:11)
II. Bitter hatred and violent hostility
cannot obstruct it
story of the fall of Ahab(1 Kings 22)
burning the pages of the prophet Jeremiah(Jeremiah
III. Apparent invincibility of empire
cannot obstruct it or impede it
describes fall of Nineveh fifty years before it happens
IV. Indifference and neglect cannot hide it
the priest finds the Book of God while repairing the temple (2 Chronicles 34:15, 2 Kings 22:8-13)
the Christian era, the might of intellectual and pagan Rome was hurled against
the Word of God
Diatribes against inspiration of the Scriptures
Popular in modern pulpits – but this is nothing new
Celsus in the second century
intellectualslike Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau and English deists like Gibbon,
Bolingbroke, Hume were just repeating Celsus
V. Terrible persecution cannot stop it
days under pagan Rome, emperor commanded his entire army to destroy every place
of Christian worship, to destroy every individual Christian and to destroy the
Word of God
Eusebius saw Scriptures confiscated and burned
of papal Rome
John Wycliffe translated Bible into language of the people – men and women with
those Bibles were burned to death
Tyndale smuggling copies of the Bible into England – was caught, strangled and
VI. Outreach of its message goes on and out
Baptist mission work off the shores of South America
in northern India coming across dying man on the side of the road – “Do you
have any hope?”(1 John 1:7)
soldiers coming back from the Pacific, having found cannibals and savages
singing songs of the Lord
Word of God is forever (Psalm 119:89)