Abiding in God's Word
If you abide in my word and my word abides
you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
Garland (c) 1998 AngelicArtistry Cross (c) New Creation Web Design
Jesus is exalted in every word of truth, because he is its sum and substance.
Charles Surgeon is my favorite writer of all times. He addresses so eloquently those things which I cannot quite get my mind wrapped around. He has taught me so much about Jesus and loving Jesus. Here is something he wrote about the Living Word of God.
"Jesus is The Truth. We believe in Him—not merely in His words. He is the Doctor and the Doctrine, the Revealer and the Revelation, the Illuminator and the Light of Men. He is exalted in every word of truth, because he is its sum and substance. He sits above the gospel, like a prince on his own throne. Doctrine is most precious when we see it distilling from his lips and embodied in his person."
If we have fallen in love with Jesus, we will fall in love with His Word. And the more we love His Word, the more we will know and love Him.
In The Beginning
The Old Testament starts out "In the beginning God . . . " (Genesis 1:1), and the New Testament starts out "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-2, 14 NAS Italics mine).
John 1:1-2 and 14 tell us the most important thing about God's Word. First these extraordinary verses tell us that Jesus was, is and ever shall be The Word of God. Everything God has chosen to reveal to us about Himself is in The Word of God.
John 1:14 also tells us that Jesus was filled with the glory of the Lord. Have you ever encountered God's glory as you are reading your Bible? Sometimes when I'm reading in my Bible, all of a sudden, WOW! The glory of the Lord leaps off the page and right into my heart.
And that's exactly what Psalm 119:130 (NIV) says.
"The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives gives understanding to the simple."
We also know that, just as Jesus, the Living Word, is full of grace and truth, the written Word is also full of grace and truth. The Bible not only tells us about God; it is the revelation of God to man. I'm not speaking about the paper, ink and binding. I'm speaking about the God-breathed words on the page that tell of the glory of the Lord.
Just like Jesus,
the Living Word is full
of grace and truth,
the written Word
is also full of grace and truth.
The Bible is a supernatural book. It gives understanding to the simplest seeker. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 says it not only gives understanding; but it also works that understanding into the depths of our nature, progressively renewing our minds and altering our hearts and lives forever. " . . . the word of God . . . performs its [supernatural] work in you who believe."
Jesus said, "I am . . . the truth . . . " (John 14:6). He also said to His Father, "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). And He said to the Father, "Sanctify them through the truth." He called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth who would guide us into all truth (John 16:13). Jesus said it is truth that sets us free.
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32).
If the Word of God is the truth; if Jesus is the truth; if the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth; if He will lead us into all truth; if it is the truth that sanctifies us; if it istruth that sets us free, we should not be able to wait to abide in His Word.
The only safeguard against deception is to the know the entire Word of God backward and forward. If God's Word says it, we can believe it. If man says it, I've got to see it in the Word—not just one place but many places.
The only safeguard against deception
is to the know the entire Word of God
backward and forward.
The Importance of Praying Before, During and After Bible Study
Sometimes I just dive in to reading my Bible, but most of the time before I pick it up to read or study, I stop and pray as Paul did—"that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to [me] a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of [my] heart may be enlightened, so that [I] may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might" (Ephesians 1:16-19 NAS)
The hope of His calling. The riches of His glory. The surpassing greatness of His power toward those who believe are things I want to know much more about. How about you? Years of experience have shown me that the Lord continues to answer this prayer for me. It's a good one!
You can see that I personalized these verses by replacing "you" and "your" with "I", "me" and "my". This prayer invites God to have His way in my heart. I also invite Him to correct any lies and false doctrine I have believed. He has been faithful to do this. I know He will continue to be faithful in this regard.
When we come to the Bible asking the Holy Spirit to teach us all truth and to protect us from deception, He will do it.
The Lord our Teacher
Many places in Scripture we read that the Lord is our teacher. Even though a
flesh and blood person may be standing before us to teach us, the Lord is the only One Who can bring that truth to life and write that truth upon our hearts.
He will teach His children and His teaching brings great peace.
"All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace" (Isaiah 54:13 NIV).
We are admonished to be teachable.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you" (Psalm 32:8-9 NIV).
The Lord is our teacher. Let us turn our hearts to Him for insight and wisdom from His Word. This is a prayer the Lord loves to honor.
"Make me know Thy ways, O Lord, teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation; for Thee I wait all the day" (Psalm 25:4-5 NAS).
Why Read the Word of God?
Since we know that the Bible is God's revelation of Himself, we also understand why we need to read and study it. It is not so we can feel good about ourselves. It is not so we can get all the goodies God promises, though these things are natural by-products of studying the Word. It is not so we can know about God. We study the Word of God to understand and know God.
"This is what the Lord says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord" (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV).
We can invest our lives in no greater pursuit than understanding and knowing God, and the only place we can pursue this study is in the Bible.
"I will instruct you and teach you
in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you
with My eye upon you"
Psalm 32:8 NAS
Many of us read the Bible selectively, only touching on the parts that make us feel excited or good. There is no way to understand and know the character and ways of God by only studying in this way.
Moses was a great man of God. Psalm 103:7 says that God made His ways known to Moses. He revealed His character to him. Moses understood the
heart of God. Psalm 103:7 goes on to say that He made His acts known to the children of Israel. In other words Israel only knew God superficially. They did not understand and know Him intimately. They only knew God by the things He did. They only knew Him according to the flesh. Moses knew God for Who He Was.
Paul wrote, " . . . I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Philippians 3:8-10 NAS).
These are the confessions of someone who panted to know and understand God with all of his heart! Paul yearned to get inside the heart and mind of Jesus and live there. There was no price he was not willing to pay. God's reward for Paul's commitment was to fill his heart and mind with Himself.
Unlike Paul, many of us pick and choose what we read in the Bible like some folks pick fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, reading only the parts that make us feel good. We choose what we like instead of seeking to understand those things we do not yet understand.
When we read the Bible selectively, we will be like the children of Israel. We will never understand the character and ways of the Lord. When we lack the commitment to search and discover truth from the entire Bible, we may end up serving a false god.
When we read the Bible selectively,
we will never understand
the character and ways of God.
2 Timothy 3:15-17
Paul gave Timothy some very strong encouragement about the Bible. That same encouragement is just as good today as it was 2000 years ago.
"and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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" (2 Timothy 3:15-17 NIV).
When Paul wrote the Epistles to Timothy, their Scriptures were the Old Testament. I've heard it said that the Old Testament is the New Testament "concealed" and that the New Testament is the Old Testament "revealed". Jesus said that the entire Old Testament was about Him (Luke 24:44). If you are new in the Lord or inexperienced in studying the Bible, it is best to start by reading the New Testament all the way through a few times before tackling the Old Testament on your own.
Proverbs, Parables and Plain Speaking
I believe that every word of the historical parts of the Bible is literally true. I believe everything happened exactly the way it is written in God's Word. I believe that every jot and tittle of the Bible were inspired by God and are literally the truth. I know that the Bible can be plain and direct and is some- times meant to be taken literally. Sometimes it can also be mysterious and is meant to be interpreted from figurative language into literal understanding.
Here is an example of plain speaking instruction in the Bible, which not only can but must be taken literally.
"Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:28-32).
Ephesians 5:6 is another verse that is plainly spoken and is intended to be taken literally.
"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient" (Ephesians 5:6 NIV).
We will NEVER grow far in the Lord without studying the Word of God for ourselves.
Many believers never mature
beyond spiritual infancy
because of lack of indepth Bible study.
At other times the Bible uses proverbs, parables, allegories and other figurative language to communicate truth. Matthew 16:5-12 (NAS) is a good example of the use of figurative language in the Scriptures.
"And the disciples came to the other side and had forgotten to take bread. And Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.' And they began to discuss among themselves, saying, "It is because we took no bread.' But Jesus, aware of this, said, ‘You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you
not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets you took up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Phari- sees and Sadducees.' Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
The figurative language of leaven is used to describe the corrupt principles and practices of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
In John 2:18-21 Jesus gives us another wonderful illustration of figurative language.
"Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews,
Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But [Jesus] spake of the temple of his body"
In this passage, Jesus was prophesying of his crucifixion and resurrection.
Developing a Reading Plan
Many believers never mature beyond spiritual infancy and unhappiness because of lack of indepth Bible study. 1 Peter 2:1-3 give some very plain-spoken direction for babes in Christ.
"Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good (NIV)."
I dislike using absolute terms, but in this case I feel comfortable doing so. We can only gain so much from spoon-feeding. We will NEVER grow far in the Lord without studying the Word of God for ourselves.
As newborn babes in Christ, start with the Gospels and progress through the Epistles. Psalms and Proverbs are also good for new believers. In my opinion Revelation should definitely be saved for later. It's important to lay a firm foundation before we get into the meaty and mysterious things of God, though
I have to confess that the Old Testament is my favorite part of the Bible.
A Bible which includes an annual reading plan is an excellent way to begin studying the Bible, especially for new believers. Many of these Bibles include a devotional with questions and instructions for each day's reading. These are quite wonderful tools for learning the Bible.
Bible study is more in depth than Bible reading. A true Bible student will never be satisfied with reading non-stop through the Bible every year, though reading the Bible is very important. I rarely read the Bible without stopping to cross- reference verses in the margins of my Bible. By cross referencing, I mean noting beside one verse other verses that contain or explain the same truth. It is a good idea to cross-reference scriptures of the same or similar truth by the verse that is easiest for you to remember. Then when you discover similar verses you want to note, you will always be able to find what you are looking for. Cross-references often amplify or clarify one another. What do I mean by this? I mean that the Bible has a way of explaining itself. The more we read it, the more it will do this. This is an important part of Bible study. Let me give you an example:
Ephesians 4:11-16 speak of the body of Christ as maturing "into a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ".
1 Corinthians 12:12-26 give us a different picture of the body of Christ. These two passages shed light upon one another, enlarging our understanding of the meaning and significance of the body of Christ, so I have them cross- referenced in my Bible.
The door of the word
only opens to the key
I also often stop to look up a word in the Hebrew or Greek Lexicons as I'm reading. Knowing the meaning of a word in the original language often enlarges my understanding of a verse. This too is Bible study.
There are also many excellent guided Bible studies available on the shelves of Christian bookstores. They range from the beginner to advanced levels. These studies are an excellent way to learn, but they should never replace reading and studying through the Bible on your own on a regular basis.
Hebrews 11:6 says that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. May we all become diligent seekers of the Lord through His word.
There are many wonderful study tools available to aid us in our quest for the truth of God. The most basic tool beyond a Bible is a dictionary. The most important tool for me is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance which contains lexicons of both the Hebrew and Greek words found in the Bible. This marvel-ous resource helps me find a verse in the Bible when I can only remember a word or two in the verse. It also gives me the meanings of the words from their original language. It is something I simply cannot do without, though a dictionary runs a close second.
There are incredible jewels to be mined from the original languages of the Bible. Take the following verse for example.
" . . . love covers all transgressions" (Proverbs 10:12 NAS).
At first glance one might take this reference to mean that love covers up sin. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Hebrew word for "covers" means "to plump up the hollows". In other words, love—God's unconditional love— plumps up or fills the hollows in our souls caused by our own transgressions as well as the transgressions of others against us. I love the use of the word "all" here too. There is no other way to cut it. All means every last one. This one definition helps me understand one of God's ways of healing. It also helps me understand the love of God. This one Hebrew word also helps me understand that those things called transgressions that seem so harmless and often even pleasurable actually create hollows in our souls. They leave us bruised and battered of heart and mind, and we are blinded to the fact that God has something better for us.
An important thing to remember when studying the Hebrew and Greek is that the full meaning of a word is found in the root word, which is the verb. The Strong's Greek and Hebrew Lexicons will always refer you back to the root, so be sure to take your study all the way there.
Doesn't Bible study sound like fun when you read something like this?
Many great Bible study tools are available on the Internet today. Matthew Henry (my personal favorite), The Geneva Study Bible, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, Wesley's Explanatory Notes, Nave's Topical Bible, Darby's Synopsis, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Smith's Bible Dictionary, Torrey's Topical Text Book, Baker's Evangelical Dictionary, Easton Bible Dictionary, Hitchcock's Bible Dictionary, Hebrew and Greek Lexicons, The Blue Letter Bible Search Tools, multiple versions of the Bible in many languages, Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary, Wordsmith Dictionary and Thesaurus and Roget's Thesaurus are just a few of the resources available on the Net. These can all be found by going to a search engine and entering the title. To find the links to resources click here.
For those who are not on the Internet but have a computer, most of the resources listed above are available on software. For those who don't have a computer, then a Bible, a Strong's Concordance, a good dictionary and good commentary will be sufficient. These are the only tools I had for years, and I got by just fine. No, I did better than fine. I learned 80% of what I know today with just these tools. Become a Berean. Become a seeker of truth. Study the Bible diligently.
"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11 NIV).
Can you imagine searching the scriptures to make sure what Paul had said was true? If this was true in the first century church, it is just as important to be diligent 2000 years later.
"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth"
(2 Timothy 2:15 NIV).
Most of us, including myself at times, have gotten off track in studying the Bible. In my earlier years as a Christian I went off on tangents and got into extremes. For reasons like this, it is very important to be under solid authority. When married, our number one priority, is to be submitted to our husband, even if he is not a believer. This is the crucial first step. Second in priority is being under the authority of a pastor and a church. Mentors and teachers are our third priority. All three are vital. The question then is how do we know who to trust to be the second and third tier authorities in our lives as we grow in the Lord?
This too should be a matter of great prayer. I personally do not want someone in authority over me who will simply go along with me. I do not want someone who is unskilled in handling the Word of God. I do want someone who has authority in the Word of God but is also not authoritarian.
The obvious question then is how do I find such a person? How do I even recognize a person like this? Godly character would be the most important thing to look for. Integrity, purity of heart, approachability, teachableness, vulnerability and how one handles personal relationships are all very impor- tant to me in a teacher, a mentor as well as a friend. Legalism is always a red flag for me. Next I look for someone who preaches/teaches Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I always look for someone strong on the sovereignty of God and committed to a local church. These things are all very important in my choice of those to whom I submit, sit under, learn from and befriend.
A solely intellectual understanding
of the Scriptures will inevitably
result in license or legalism.
Titus 2:3-5 (NAS) gives women excellent guidelines in finding a Bible teacher.
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may
encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored."
In choosing a teacher, mentor and/or friend, we should also look for someone of our same sex as well as someone who is under authority themselves.
Hebrews 13:17 instructs us to "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."
A godly pastor will always be accountable to his peers. These can be his elders, other pastors or other mature, godly men. Everyone is called to be under authority, even pastors.
These criteria are tall orders but they are not impossible.
Here are some questions to ask yourself. Can you say that you are this kind of person? If you aren't yet, do you aspire to be this kind of person? What will it take for you to become this kind of person?
We have given a lot of thought to the kind of person our pastors, teachers and mentors should be. Let's take a moment to think about what kind of person we ought to be as disciples. 1 John 4:6 describes a teachable person.
"We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."
Once we commit ourselves to a church and to someone for discipleship, we need to trust them, respect them and listen to them. It is alright to question
them and even to disagree with them, but we must remember that the godly authorities over us are in our lives to protect us from deception and error.
Truth in the Hidden Parts
David wrote in Psalm 51:6 that God "desires truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom". Oswald Chambers des- cribed the hidden parts and the innermost being as the unconscious part of us.
Here's what he had to say about our hidden, innermost parts.
"Most of us live only within the level of consciousness—consciously serving and consciously devoted to God. This shows immaturity and the fact that we are not yet living the real Christian life. Maturity is produced in the life of a child of God on the unconscious level [the hidden part], until we become so totally surrendered to God that we are not even aware of being used by Him. When we are consciously aware of being used as broken bread and poured-out wine, we have yet another level to reach—a level where all awareness of ourselves and of what God is doing through us is completely eliminated. A saint is never consciously a saint—a saint is consciously dependent upon God."
Certainly we must live consciously devoted to God until we mature in our relationship with Him, but a strictly intellectual or conscious ongoing under- standing of the Scriptures will inevitably lead us into hard core legalism. The Bible will be a dead letter to us and those who must endure us.
When truth is reduced to principles and remains log-jammed in our conscious- ness, it isn't truth in the truest sense of the Word of God. It becomes only rules to break or rigidly follow and stringently impose upon others. Strict, unforgiv- ing rules are dead things that steal, kill and destroy. Truth is a living thing. It brings life wherever it is welcomed. For truth to become alive to us, it must be written upon the fleshy tablets of our hearts [our hidden parts—our uncon- scious] by the Holy Spirit and not upon our intellects by our own wit and good memory.
" . . . . you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts" (2 Corinthians 3:3).
into Thy truth,
and teach me.
Is truth alive to you? Is your heart a heart of flesh or a heart of stone?
Are you growing in truth through you own personal Bible study or a Bible study at your church?
As we study the Word of God in conscious dependence upon Him, the Spirit of the living God writes His truth in our hidden, unconscious parts. God will make the exact same lesson or the exact same passage of Scripture personal for each one studying it. Each of us may see the same truth in a unique way, because the Holy Spirit has written it upon our hearts to uniquely conform us
to the image of Christ.
This in no way means truth is relative. It is not, but truth is alive. A verse or a passage can be seen and applied from many different perspectives. Only the Holy Spirit of God can make this possible. The caution then is that our under- standing of a verse or passage must never violate God's original intent of that verse or passage. Neither should it violate the Bible as a whole.
After David wrote that God desires "truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom," he then went on to write, "Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice. Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities"
What I glean from the above passage is that God writes truth upon the tablets of clean hearts. A few verses down, God gives us the key to a clean heart.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise" (Psalm 51:17).
What God reveals to us in this verse is the description of a repentant heart. It is through godly sorrow that we are brought to repentance and our hearts are cleansed. Our hearts are then tender enough to be written upon by the finger
The Lord also writes His word upon our hearts in times of affliction.
"It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes" (Psalm 119:71).
Yes, just as we learn the Scriptures in times of affliction, it is also written upon our hearts at such times. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 amplifies Psalm 119:71. It tells us that affliction produces an eternal weight of glory in us. God's glory in us! Just think about this!
The Scriptures that are written upon our hearts are the ones that keep us from sin.
"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (Psalm 119:11).
"The law of God is in his heart; His steps do not slip" (Psalm 37:31).
"I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:8).
Are you devoting quality time to prayer and Bible study so that the Lord can write His Word upon your heart? If not, will you make a commitment to the Lord to do this? Are you allowing the Lord to cleanse your heart through repentance? How important is a quiet time to you? What steps will you take to establish a quiet time of prayer and Bible study?
Be a Thinking Christian
After all this talk about the law being written upon our hidden parts and not just upon our brains, I want to now say that we need to be thinking Christians! Our brain is a very important organ inside the cavity of our skull though I don't know a lot about it. I do know that it regulates all the functions of our bodies via our central nervous systems without our ever being conscious of much of it until something ceases to work like it's supposed to. To say that there is lots of information stored in our brains is a gross understatement, but I don't know how to tell you or even know the whole truth of that statement. I can only tell you that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
I'm not sure scientists would agree, but the Bible teaches that the mind is distinct from the brain. Many words for the mind in the Hebrew and Greek include the heart and the soul in its translation. The mind, will and emotions
are our heart and soul. Phrasing it another way, our minds are spiritual. Our brains are mechanical and organic. Our minds operate in both the conscious and unconscious realms of our being. Serious thinking enables our minds to remember, discern, organize, prioritize and process some portion of the information coming from our brains. Our minds feel, perceive, think, will and reason, and as Christians we must use them!
When He, the Spirit of truth, comes,
He will guide you into all the truth.
The Holy Spirit works in both our hearts and our minds. The task before us then is to find the balance between either discounting or intellectualizing the Bible. That balance is to ground ourselves in the truth of God's Word.
Jesus said if we abide in His Word we are His disciples and we will know the truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:31-32). This is a very big "if". We cannot be His disciples (learners) unless we abide in His Word. When we do not abide in His Word, we cannot know Truth with a capital "T" down deep in
our hearts and minds. Isaiah describes the consequences of not walking in truth.
"They do not know the way of peace, and there is no justice in their tracks; they have made their paths crooked; whoever treads on them does not know peace. Therefore, justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, but behold, darkness; for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at midday as in the twilight, among those who are vigorous we are like dead men. All of us growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none, for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: Transgressing and denying the Lord, and turning away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words. And justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice" (Isaiah 59:8-15 NAS).
The above passage of Scripture is pretty disturbing. Without a firm foundation of truth beneath our spiritual feet, even when we try to turn from evil we will fail. Unfortunately this all too well describes our culture. Even more sadly, it all too often describes the hearts and homes of many Christians. All because truth is lacking in our lives.
Building Truth into Our Lives
Truth is Christ and Christ is Truth. The Truth of Jesus Christ is built precept upon precept, line upon line into our lives by the Holy Spirit. It is like con- structing a house. The foundation is the most important part. If truth is not built upon a firm foundation, the house will fall. Jesus Christ who IS the Truth, is the foundation. Our hearts are the house. He is the rock upon which we build (Matthew 7:24-27), and He is the builder of our house. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, we might as well be trying to build the Great Wall of China all by ourselves.
To have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we must understand that He is the
author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We cannot come to Him unless he draws us to Himself (John 6:44). Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. We also know from Ephesians 2:8-9 that faith is a gift from God. It is not something we can create on our own.
We must establish ourselves in these most vital truths of total dependence upon God Who is able. As we apply ourselves to study His Word, the Lord will write truth upon truth upon our heart. Stone by stone we will become an unshakable house. Our part is to pray for the Holy Spirit to be our teacher and to seek the Lord diligently in His Word. We must rely upon the promise that when we ask [for truth] it shall be given to us. When we seek [for truth] we shall find it! When we knock [on the door of truth] it will opened to us (Luke 11:9). Count on it! It's a promise straight from the lips of the Savior.
We should all be involved in a Bible study that matches our maturity level. Our church or Christian friends should be able to help us find what we need. We must never forget that though people may teach us, the Lord tutors each one of us personally, building truth upon truth, according to our need. John 16:13 tells us that it is up to the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us. Without the Holy Spirit's help we cannot have faith, cannot learn truth and the Bible will be a closed book to us.
Arise and Shine
Remember what I wrote at the beginning of this lesson? It was that the word of God is filled with the glory of the Lord, and sometimes it jumps off the pages of the Bible right into our hearts. Well, the word "think" in the Greek is actually the root word for "glory," which Joseph Thayer writes in His Greek-English Lexicon also means "to shine". Scripture clearly indicates in many places that the glory of the Lord "shines". Two words in the Hebrew, ‘amar and ‘ashath, also mean both "to think" and "to shine". Just "think" about this for a moment. As we "think" upon the truth of God's Word, His glory will shine upon us. And it will be seen by others upon us!
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men in such way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16 NAS). Isaiah said it this way:
"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee" (Isaiah 60:1-2).
The great Puritan, Matthew Henry, says of this passage in his commentary, "As far as we have the knowledge of God in us, and the favor of God towards us, our light has come . . . then his glory is seen upon us".
As far as we have
the knowledge of God in us,
and the favor of God towards us,
our light has come
then His glory is seen upon us.
Do you think upon the Lord and His Word? Tell me what you "think" about all day, and that will tell me who or what your god is. Scripture affirms this as truth. We become like what or who we worship.
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being trans- formed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).
When we study, "think" and act upon the Word of God, we will become more and more like Jesus.
"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Colossians 3:9-10).
Our new man is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created us.
Bible study is as necessary as the air we breathe for us to grow.
The same can be said about casual inquirers, selective readers and non- seekers of The Truth. We will become like what or who we worship.
"Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man's hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; They have ears, but they cannot hear; they have noses, but they cannot smell; They have hands, but they cannot feel; they have feet, but they cannot walk; they cannot make a sound with their throat. Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them" (Psalm 115:4-8 NAS Italics mine).
This truth is never more obvious than when we look at the followers of rock stars. May they find the Lord, the only One worthy of our worship!
We simply cannot afford to be complacent in the area of consistent Bible reading and study. Most of the problems in our relationships with people and things exist because of our lack of knowledge and understanding of God's Word. We need to use both our hearts and our minds in studying and applying the truth we glean there, for only truth can set us free.
You say you love your family and they require all of your time? I say the most important thing that you do for your family is prayer and studying your Bible. If our hearts and minds are not being renewed by the Word of God, we can not give our family what they need most—a life nurtured by the spirit and love of God. The Bible tells us to "be renewed in the spirit of your mind" (Eph. 4:23).
I cannot dictate how much time you need to spend in the Bible. Only the Lord knows this. I am simply saying you need to spend some focused time in the Word of God every day. It is our nourishment. Without it the light of His Presence within us will grow dimmer and dimmer.
"O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him" (Psalm 34:8).
"Think" upon these things. God knows our hearts and He will honor our commitment. In His economy He will maximize every moment we spend with Him in the Word and prayer.
Praying God's Word
In the next chapter we will be studying what the Bible says about prayer. We will also hear from some great men and women of God about what they say about prayer. As someone one said to me, no one needs to be taught to pray.
We do need to be encouraged in our prayer life.
Relative to this chapter, it is important to know that there is almost nothing God loves more than to hear His Word prayed back to Him. And the only way we can find those Scriptural prayers is to study God's Word.
Lord, You are the Living Word. When I neglect the written Word I neglect you. I pray you will draw me into your Word. I pray you will help me prioritize my time and feed me from your Word. Write it upon my heart that I may know You. I ask you to teach me and protect me from deception. In Your Name, Jesus. Amen
Truth must enter into the soul,
penetrate and saturate it,
or else it is of no value.
"Doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested." Charles Spurgeon
"Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it, or else it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of creed are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the frame; but doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains and builds up the body. In us truth must be a living force, an active energy, an indwelling reality, a part of the woof and warp of our being. If it be in us, we cannot henceforth part with it. A man may lose his garments or his limbs, but his inward parts are vital, and cannot be torn away without absolute loss of life. A Christian can die, but he cannot deny the truth. Now it is a rule of nature that the inward affects the outward, as light shines from the center of the lantern through the glass: when, therefore, the truth is kindled within, its brightness soon beams forth in the outward life and conversation. It is said that the food of certain worms colors the cocoons of silk which they spin: and just so the nutriment upon which a man's inward nature lives gives a tinge to every word and deed proceeding from him. To walk in the truth, imports a life of integrity, holiness, faithfulness, and simplicity—the natural product of those principles of truth which the gospel teaches, and which the Spirit of God enables us to receive. We may judge of the secrets of the soul by their manifestation in the man's conversation. Be it ours today, O gracious Spirit, to be ruled and governed by Thy divine author- ity, so that nothing false or sinful may reign in our hearts, lest it extend its malignant influence to our daily walk among men." Charles Spurgeon
"You all have by you a large treasure of divine knowledge, in that you have the Bible in your hands; therefore be not contented in possessing but little of this treasure. God hath spoken much to you in the Scripture; labor to understand as much of what he saith as you can. God hath made you all reasonable creatures; therefore let not the noble faculty of reason or understanding lie neglected. Content not yourselves with having so much knowledge as is thrown in your way, and as you receive in some sense unavoidably by the frequent inculcation of divine truth in the preaching of the word, of which you are obliged to be hearers, or as you accidentally gain in conversation; but let it be very much your business to search for it, and that with the same diligence and labor with which men are wont to dig in mines of silver and gold." Jonathan Edwards
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