The Essentials: Bible

We must say with Job, “I have loved Your Word more than my daily bread.”

 

(Key Verses:  1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 3:15-16; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:15-17; Acts 20:32; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; John 5:39; Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; 5:18; Hebrews 4:12; Isaiah 55:11)

 

Voltaire, the famed French philosopher and writer, who died in 1778, is notably remembered for his hatred of Christianity.  Declaring that within 100 years of his own death Christianity would be extinct and pass into history, he raved on like so many in history who hated the Bible and the faith it produces.  Fifty years after his death, however, the Geneva Bible society turned Voltaire’s own printing press and home into a Bible production and distribution center.

 

I remember one time when Evan made a monster out of legos and when he was finished he made it attack me.  When it bumped me its head and right arm fell off, clearly disappointing my son. These attackers of the Bible are made of legos, and when they come up against the eternal word of God they bust apart on impact.  

 

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  (Mark 13:31) To get rid of Christianity you’d have to get rid of the Bible. But since our Lord has promised His word isn’t going anywhere (1 Pet. 1:23-25), neither is the faith it produces among men.  

 

This is an incredible book.  Lewis S. Chafer, founder of Dallas Theological Seminary said, “The Bible is not such a book man could write if he would, or could write if he would.”  The Bull Moose himself, Teddy Roosevelt said, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” The Bible is a living book and it gives life to those who believe it

 

If you determine to grow as a Christian you will do so only by a commitment to the Bible.  How serious you are about your own maturing as a child of God will be reflected by how serious you take God’s Word.  Consider 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”.  Or even the temptation of Jesus, where Jesus responded to Satan: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt. 4:4).  Have you ever noticed in that episode how each of the three responses Jesus gave to the Devil began with “It is written”? Paul knew how essential God’s word is to a Christian’s growth, “Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up…” (Acts 20:32).

 

Our 2nd Essential for growth in the Christian life is:  the Bible. “Like newborn babes crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” (1 Pet. 2:2).  Now, we can’t see Christian growth like a crash diet. You know what I mean: we can’t hope for some quick, overnight event or experience to bump us up in our spiritual maturing.  We can’t go to a conference or a concert, or, go to church for a short time, or have a so-called experience and get any real spiritual growth. Christian growth happens as we add the right things to our lifestyles that over time are going to make lasting, righteous changes in us.  The Bible is top on that list.

 

In what ways should you be interacting with the Bible?  You should be reading it, listening to it (in the car, at work, at home, in church), hearing it preached, sitting in when it is taught.  You should be memorizing it. Who cares if you’re not good at memorizing and it takes you a year to memorize John 3:16. What better deposit in your memory bank can there be than a choice piece of Scripture?  You should study it. You can do that all kinds of ways. The sermons should be a great way to study the Bible…take notes, go over them again throughout the week, think about how it has added to your knowledge of God.  You should meditate on Scripture – which is a fundamental part of studying….sit down, undistracted for 5-10 minutes and think about the passage your into. Turn what you’re learning into a poem or a hymn. You should always have an eye towards obeying the Bible and ask yourself:  in what way should I put into practice what I’m hearing? How does God want me to conform to this teaching? You should trust it and let nothing you ever hear erode any confidence in it you have. Prioritize it, value it over everything else, and treat it reverently. Those are just some ways I can think of practically to interact with God’s Word.  

 

A natural love will exist between the Christian and the Bible.  The Holy Spirit who lives in you as a Christian is also in the words of Scripture (1 Cor. 3:15; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).  He who authored your salvation is at the same time the Divine Author of the Scriptures.  Christians love to hear it preached, learn it when it is taught, expect it be treated with reverence and accurately handled, read it themselves, go to it for all sorts of reasons be it guidance, encouragement, hope, truth…

 

Christians:  each of us must hold the Bible to be the single treasure we love more than any other possessions.  In the underground church in China the estimate is that there is one Bible for every 1,000 Christians.  I remember a story I heard somewhere about a man from the Chinese underground Church who secretly received a delivery of 500 smuggled Bibles to deliver to this Scripture-starved underground Church.  He and his team were stopped by the Chinese police and they quickly threw the Bibles into the sewage ditch on the side of the road. After being questioned and checked out they were finally let go. Those Christians went back into the ditch where they threw their Bibles, wading up to their chest to fish out every copy of the Bible they could find again.  Look at your Bible in your hands. Does what you have in your hands mean that much to you? Now understand this, I’m talking about the content of Scripture – what is written on the pages – that is the treasure!

 

Someone recently sent me a picture of a Bible they received from a relative that has been in their family since 1880.  This person laughed and said “No one has ever read it – the pages still stick together and are in perfect condition because they have never even been opened.”  Sad. That Bible may have sentimental value, but, it has had no spiritual value to its owners.

 

Someone once said, “A well-worn Bible is the sign of a soul that is not well-worn.”  What am I saying? That a special love, attraction will exist in the Christian for the Bible.  It will be the most compelling object in our lives. If it is not – we must look in the mirror and ask why it is not.  Because something is wrong. We must say with Job, “I have loved Your Word more than my daily bread.”

 

#1:  The Bible is your Sustenance

The Bible is necessary for growth (Matt. 4:4; 1 Pet. 2:2; Acts 20:31).  It is our manna in the wilderness of this world, our food from heaven to meet our truest and deepest needs (Read 2 Pet. 1:3-4).  The words of God are our very life.

 

#2:  The Bible is your Standard

The Bible is the standard for us Christians.  It is the standard of truth and it is the standard of behavior.  Not feelings. Not public opinion. Not political affiliation. Not favorite celebrities.  Not friends or co-workers. Not even other Christians and not even pastors. The Bible is the standard.

 

Does my behavior comport with God’s word?  Should I do this or not do that is a question answered by searching God’s word.  It is the standard of behavior. When we say “I believe this to be true” and “I believe that is not true” those must be determined by the Scriptures.  It is the standard of truth. We form our convictions from it.

 

Application:  Be open to correction from God’s word.  When you read it or hear it preached, ask God to show you if there are things you need to change.  If someone approaches you and tries to lovingly as a fellow believer show you a fault that is problematic that the word of God speaks to, then be humble enough to repent.  

 

Application:  Don’t expect ataboy’s from the world for this either.  Expect praise from God thought. Learn to care only about what He thinks.  Make the Bible your standard.

 

#3:  The Bible is your Sureness

The one thing people are sure of today is that we can be sure of nothing.  But for us, we know that because God does not change, the Bible does not change.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). Read Psalm 102:25-27.  

 

It gives hope.  Remember hope biblically is not like we normally use the word “hope” in our conversations.  Hope us usually a synonym for “wish” or “to long for”. For instance, “I hope the Tigers will win the World Series this year.”  See that, you want something, but, you don’t know for sure you will get it. Or, “I hope this sermon is done on time”. Again, you want something, but you’re really not sure you’re going to get it.  There is desire + uncertainty in the normal way we talk about hope with each other. But hope in the Bible is not an uncertainty. A hope in the Bible is something that God has promised will happen that we long for and we know for certain will come about.  It is desire + certainty. And the reason we are certain is because God has said so.

 

Hope brings peace.  Think about it: when you have hope, things are settled deep down within your soul.  You’re in that place where you know what God has promised and you believe Him and so all the soul-agitation has been relieved.  You aren’t counting on the here and now, you’re not counting on man, you’re not counting on circumstances, you’re not counting on this world working it all out.  You’re counting on God and counting on what He has said. Trust.

 

#4:  The Bible is your Strength

 

#5:  The Bible is your Soap.  

It cleanses (John 13:8; 15:3)

 

#6:  The Bible is your Sight.

It gives light (Psalm 119)  It informs our picture of who God is.  

 

#7:  The BIble brings Sanctification

The word of Christ brings forth the character of Christ.  

 

  • John 17:17, “Sanctify them by the truth – your word is truth.”  The word sets you apart – or sanctifies – you. The word presents a faith, an ethic, a worldview, a hope, a whole other way than anything in the world.  So to abide in the word categorically sets you out of the world and into the way of Christ. It’s the narrow road alongside the wide road.
  • The Bible sanctifies by bringing power against sin’s temptation, Psalm 119:9-11…..
  • The Bible sanctifies by training you in righteousness, Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17….

 

Christians approach the Bible the right way:  

  • Hungry (1 Pet. 2:2), for righteousness and truth
  • Humble (Ps. 25:9), good riddance to pride and self-willed attitudes!
  • Heeding (Jas 1:22), poised to believe and obey what is learned

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