Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. -Psalm 119:97
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. -Psalm 119:105
Where is your personal Bible? Is it a family Bible that sits on a shelf like an ornament? Is it just another book collecting dust? Or is it used or marked or bent pages throughout? Reading and studying God’s word provides nourishment for our growth. If we are to grow spiritually and become mature in Christ, we must feast on His word.
The Bible is God’s Word. In fact, more than 760 times in the Old Testament authors identify their message as the “Word of God” or repeats the phrase “the Lord says.” The New Testament also claims to be God’s Word. The Gospel message has divine authority. Jesus declared in our reading of John 8 this week that He only speaks what the Father says. The Bible has 66 books which were written over approximately 1500 years. The New Testament does not wipe out the Old Testament. Sadly, I have heard through the years that the Old Testament is no longer applicable to today and that Jesus came with the New Law which took over the Old. Jesus came to fulfil the law but not to abolish it. The Old Testament is just as important (not just Psalms by the way) as the New. In fact, the majority of the New doesn’t make full sense without the Old. And if the Old is not important, why would Jesus and Paul make loads of references to Old Testament Scriptures? Both the Old and New Testaments are essential to our growth.
God’s word has authority. It demands serious attention and respect. The wisdom comes from God’s Spirit who is understood by those who are mature in their faith. Others cannot understand because one they are not saved and two, they don’t read and study the Word. If we do not have the Spirit, we cannot understand the things of the Spirit. The Spirit makes known God’s Word to us. When we know the Word, we speak the Word. We then begin to make judgments about life according to the Word.
We cannot take what we please from the Bible and use it for our own agenda. The enemy knows passages of Scripture and knows how to manipulate them for his own agenda. Look at the temptation of Jesus for example, Jesus knew the devil’s schemes and was able to stand up against Him. Do we know God’s Word well enough to stand up to the evil one?
The trouble is in the world there are a lot of people who twist the Word of God and use it to further their will. God will not be mocked. Many Christians don’t honestly know the Word. They may be able to quote Scriptures and have a bit of head knowledge of what is in the Bible, however it won’t be any more than head knowledge without the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit makes God’s word heart knowledge and the more we read and study it, the more it will change us. Paul tells in Romans 12 that we are to be renewed in the mind. How do we do that? by prayer and by digging into the Word.
The Word of God is inspired. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit who supernaturally controlled and guided the human authors to write what God said. Let’s look at 2 Peter 1:20-21: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Our first doctrine says that we believe that the Scriptures from the Old and New Testaments were inspired by God. The Word of God is infallible. God’s word will achieve His purposes. Isaiah 55:.10-11 says “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” God’s word is accurate. The Bible is truth. What God says is true, we cannot change His Word for our own agendas no matter what we would like to do.
The Bible focuses on our own personal accountability. Spiritual growth requires us to believe that it is truth. We must believe that it is inspired by God through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must believe that His Word will be accomplished. We are required to respond to God’s word with undivided attention, humble submission and obedience. James 1:19-25 says: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.”
The Bible is a catalyst for growth. It is liken to a seed. The Word is the source of growth within our lives. Matthew 13 talks about this. May our hearts be receptive to the Word. God’s Word is the “sword of the Spirit” which is our offensive weapon against Satan. (Ephesians 6) The Word is a light for our path and the more we read it and study it the more it becomes hidden within our hearts so we will not sin against God. The Word of God keeps us from having a hard heart, making us mouldable and responsive to God’s voice. A soft heart allows the Word to grow in our lives. Look at Hebrews 4:12-13: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
The Bible is a ministry training manual. It must be our foundational truth for learning how to grow and minister to others. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” It is inaccurate to try to apply Scripture to our lives today without accurately studying what it meant within its original and cultural concept. When you read the Word, take time to look at the culture in which was written in, as the Holy Spirit to show you how it is applicable to our culture today and then ask Him to show you how to apply it to your own life.
The Bible is not just to be studied in Bible groups or at church. Take time to read it, read it again, think about the context of the passage and how it applies to us today. Always seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. Memorise scriptures, apply them to your life. Pray the Word, the book of Psalms is a great book to praise God from. Be prepared to share the word at any time. If you struggle to understand the Word, switch translations, there are several out there today and ask someone you can trust to help you to understand.
Warning though, do not add to God’s word, do not change it or quote scriptures out of context for your own agenda. Jesus warns us about this at the end of Revelation: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Rev 22:18-19)
If you read the word, study the word, meditate on it, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, and apply it to your life, you will be changed. You will become more Christlike and yes, some may even fuss at you for being too radical or fundamental. Don’t let that stop you. Feast on the Word, rend your hearts to God and be prepared for amazing things in your life.
Make it a New Year’s resolution to feast on and digest the Word. You will not be disappointed.