In the mid-16th Century, a Catholic cleric, mathematician, and astronomer named Nicolaus Copernicus looked up into the night sky and made a fascinating—and controversial—discovery: Even though it looked like everything up there was moving, it was the earth that was moving, not the Sun or the stars in the sky. In honor of how that discovery transformed the sciences, we have appropriately called it the Copernican Revolution. It changed the way we all view the world—literally.
Around the same time, a similar revolution was happening in Germany and other parts of Europe with the recovery of the doctrine now known as sola Scriptura—the understanding that the word of God is central. God’s word is as immovable as the sun or stars. The Scriptures tell us: “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (Ps. 119:89). That recognition can only ever be revolutionary.
We could use a similar revolution or reformation today, couldn’t we? We live in a day when the self stands at the center of the universe, and everything else must orbit around it. That’s the prevailing assumption of modern man. But what happens when you recognize, receive, and rejoice in the reality that God’s word is firmly fixed like the sun in the heavens? Let me suggest three things.
First, a word-centered life will give you confidence. Christians need that. Every day, the media, our workplaces, and our circles of family and friends offer a “new” take on reality that questions everything from the meaning of marriage to the meaning of pronouns. It’s natural for us to ask, Are we antiquated? Do our views need to be updated and adapted to get with the times? Fixing our faith on the firmly fixed word of God gives us confidence that even as culture changes, God’s word will not. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). If we cling to God’s word, no matter how confused our world might be, and no matter what others may say, we can be confident we’re not crazy. We have a sure and steady guide for faith and life.
From our confidence in the reliability and unchangeability of God’s word will come a courage to live it out. It’s one thing to believe God’s word is true in the face of the lies of the world; it’s another thing entirely to stand up in society and claim, “I believe it, and I’m going to live what it says, no matter what you think or do.” That requires a supernatural boldness and integrity.
The prophet Elijah in 2 Kings 1 is a good example of how we’re meant to live. Elijah, representing God’s word through the prophetic office, has just announced judgment on Israel’s king. The king doesn’t like it, so he sends fifty soldiers to go and arrest Elijah, who is sitting atop a hill. The men find him and say, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’” But Elijah will not budge. It’s a great picture, isn’t it? Just as the word of God will not come down from its place in the heavens, the man of God’s word won’t come down from that hill. Likewise, we—the people of God’s word—must not come down and cave when the world wants us to render a different verdict. That takes courage. Our courage comes from this promise: if we believe God’s word and do it, God will make us as immoveable as his word! “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24, emphasis added).
Finally, when we have that Copernican-like revolution regarding the word of God and see it as central, immoveable, and unchanging, it gives us not only confidence and courage but also a sweet comfort. How so?
If what God’s word says is true, then what God says about sinners and salvation is true, too. That means, what Jesus says to you and me is true: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17) “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28) “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Don’t overestimate the truth that can be packed into a children’s hymn: “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”
This is where the psalmist takes us. Psalm 119 goes on, “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations” (Ps. 119:89–90). Because God’s word does not change, you can rest your head on your pillow tonight and sleep knowing you are saved. He has promised his faithfulness to you, and he does not lie or change his mind. Just like the stars in the sky are not going anywhere, neither are God’s promises. Even on cloudy nights when you can’t see the stars, they are still there. That’s like God’s word. It’s true on the days it’s easy to believe. It’s true on the days it’s not so easy to believe. It’s true today.
So be confident, dear Christian. You are not following a fantasy or a farce, but a firmly fixed word that will not be moved. Be courageous to stand up for it, for when you do, you stand on the firmest foundation there is. And be comforted, for just like his word, God’s faithfulness endures to all generations.