TRUSTING GOD’S WORD:
Jeremiah 15:16 New Living Translation
16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
Ezekiel 3:1-3 New Living Translation
3 The voice said to me, “Son of man, eat what I am giving you—eat this scroll! Then go and give its message to the people of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. 3 “Fill your stomach with this,” he said. And when I ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
Fancy being asked to eat the Bible! Yet Ezekiel was asked to do just that! And it was sweet… The words of the Bible have to get inside us!
In Psalm 119: 10-12 we read: I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.
The words of an old song remind us of an important truth: Read your Bible, pray every day, if you want to grow…
Years ago, as a young Christian, I was very impressed by a church elder arriving for the service and crying out in anguish: ”I’ve forgotten me sword!” He turned around, jumped in his car and drove home to get his Bible.
- Today, we have ‘pew Bibles’ and the words projected on a large screen… Useful but not quite the same as having your own personal Bible open in front of you!
However, we must always bear in mind a fundamental truth:
- Learning about the Book of God…that’s great!
- Learning about the God of the Book…that’s essential!
It’s possible to pass exams on the Bible and have lots of facts at your fingertips yet fail to know the One who inspired it and reveals its truth!
The Bible is not like other religious books…it was written by many different authors at different times, yet miraculously integrated
Even so, we cannot understand the message of the Bible unless God chooses to reveal it to us…so you need to ask Him to do so each time we open its pages
- You can study/ come to church or Bible class/ go to meetings… even read the Bible regularly…but without God the Holy Spirit you will never properly understand its message
- And certainly never know its Author
When people say that the Bible is full or errors and contradictions … just smile and ask them for examples!
- There are some typographical errors here and there…and some words have multiple meanings, e.g. ‘a thousand’ and ‘warrior’ and ‘leader’
- But objections to the historical accuracy of the Bible are swept away by archaeological evidence
When people sneer at certain events and verses, particularly in the Old Testament, bear in mind the following points:
Some OT instructions were specifically for the people of that time …often based on practical things to do with health and hygiene
- Remember that the Children of Israel (of ‘Jacob’) were nomads
Many things in the Bible are principles to live by that apply to everyone, for all time
Jesus’ teaching is the final authority on life and conduct
- Sometimes people attribute things to God that He clearly did not want and does not want…the religious leaders were particularly prone to this error
So merely quoting verses can be misleading; for example, the Bible states in two places that ‘There is no God…’ but the full quotation is: ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God”!
One important thing to realise is that when the 40-odd individuals wrote their portion of the Bible, they had no idea that it would become part of the Bible!
- They wrote what God said to them and about events they saw happen or were told about… Only God brings the words alive
Some of the Bible is easy to read…others parts are not… That’s not a problem for God! He helps us to get from His word what we need to receive at that time
- So two people can read the same passage and get a different perspective… that’s because God knows what each person needs and will reveal it if he or she comes in true faith (trust)
- Jesus had time for everyone who was sincere and whose motives were pure.
However, the Holy Spirit will never teach one thing to one person and contradict it when He speaks to a second person
God didn’t dictate the Bible! It was written by ordinary (extraordinary) people with strengths & weaknesses like you and me
- What makes the Bible so sensational is that the Holy Spirit takes the ordinary words and makes them “live” and breathe”
When God opens the Bible for us we see things that we never saw before…
- Another person could open the Bible and read the same words without God’s help…and they could be as dry as dust
The Bible is a supernatural book! Forget fictional publications!
- We know that this is true because of the transforming effect it has on people’s lives
There is a story of a Chinese lady who founded a church. Such was the great success of this church, that other churches were formed from it. One day something amazing happened – someone brought the woman a complete Bible. You see, the whole church had been founded on John 3:1-21, as that was the only part of the Bible they had. The woman had read this portion, trusted Jesus as her Saviour and gone on to start a church.
In certain parts of the world, people travel for miles to hear the Word of God. How much are WE enthralled by the Bible!
What the Bible is not!
- It is not mythology…or moral tales…or legends
- It is not a series of exciting stories to keep children entertained!
- It is not just for highly intelligent people…though we should use our minds
- It is not just for old people who need something to hold on to as they approach the ends of their lives!
- Neither is it for brainless people who will believe anything
Beware of taking ‘sound bites’ from the Bible and neglecting the detail…learn to read the Bible slowly and deliberately
Throughout much of what we now call the Old Testament there was little written down, so God spoke directly to people in a way that is not as necessary today…
- People such as Abram (Abraham) and Moses and Joshua and the kings of Israel and Judah
- And especially through His prophets
- God even spoke directly to people who hated Him
Today we have the best of both worlds…the written word of God and hearing God speak to us in at least 3 ways:
- Directly through thoughts that He places in our minds
- Through other people (such as Bible teachers; Christian friends)
- Through prayer, dreams, visions…but always check with others before acting on what you think He has said to you
There have been an increasing number of valid reports people who have never heard about Jesus Christ become Christians through dreams
- God will always find a way to reveal HIS TRUTH
Finally, look what impact the Bible has had on people down the years…turning their lives upside down…
The Bible gives our lives purpose:
Nate Saint… missionary martyr who lost his life in the late 1950’s trying to reach the Auca Indians of Ecuador… “People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives … and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”
The Bible gives us wisdom:
And Jim Elliot wrote while still in his twenties … “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” –
The Bible gives us super-human courage:
When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” To that, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”
- When we take the Bible seriously, God takes us seriously!
The Bible reveals the heart of God:
C.T. Studd… who gave up everything to serve as a missionary said~ “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
But perhaps you say, “That’s fine for them; but I’m not called…”
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army wrote: “Not called! did you say? Not heard the call’? Put your ear down to the Bible and hear God bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Then look Christ in the face — whose mercy you have professed to obey — and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world.
- We should all serve God in our home and in our home town
- Some will serve specifically in another place in our home country
- And yet others overseas
- It’s not WHERE we serve so much as HOW we serve
What we cannot do and must not do is to sit on our hands and do nothing as life slips past!
SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO as a result of reading the Bible?
- That’s a key question for ALL of us
- Let’s try and be like young King Josiah whose life and actions were totally transformed after he discovered what was in the Scriptures
- Or many pastors and church leaders in developing countries who are still in their teens and twenties yet have remarkably mature insight and faith from studying the Bible
Or perhaps more importantly: What are you going to be as a result of reading the Bible?
- Because much of the Bible is about personal conduct, relationships, priorities, use of money, sacrifice, dealing with life…
- As well as revealing the person of God and His heart for humankind in sending His Son to live among us and die in our place on the Cross of Calvary
Remembering that Jesus himself is described as THE WORD of God
Years ago there was a song: “Some day I’m gonna write the story of my life”
When the story of my life and your life is written…what will be said of us?
Will people say:
“He/she not only knew the Bible of God …but also knew the God of the Bible and followed His Son, Jesus Christ”?
May it be so for His name’s sake. Amen.