"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
Is the Bible Relevant for Today?
On Sunday I had the opportunity to preach in the senior pastor’s absence (to hear the sermon CLICK HERE). The topic God laid on my heart to speak on was His Word. I didn’t produce a manuscript of this sermon, and I’m going to mostly give you the basic bullet points with some explanatory material, but I encourage you to study this out for yourself and see what God reveals to you about the importance of His Word.
As Christians, we need to come to grips with the fact that the Word of God is Amazingly Wonderful and a Priceless Gift. It is worthy of our time, study, reverence and effort to defend it. Many people would like to dismiss the Bible as culturally irrelevant or antiquated… they’d like you to believe that there are errors or unresolvable difficulties or perceived contradictions. But our view of Scripture is a pretty good indication of our spiritual health… You see there are a few truths about God’s Word that we need to let sink in… Understanding and believing these truths is fairly essential to the Christian life.
- Scripture is The Word of God and because Jesus is called the Word in John 1 it can be thought of as synonymous with God. In other Words, you cannot separate God from His Word or His Word from God… It is the primary method He has chosen to reveal His character to us (as well as all the truth we know about Him). – John 1
- It is Beneficial and Useful to us to show us how to live life correctly. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- The Word of God is Trustworthy and Permanent – Psalm 119:89, 160
- The Word of God brings Blessing, Joy, Peace and Fellowship with God – Psalm 119:1-8, 165
You see, God’s word is SO wonderful it cannot be summed up by calling it just a good book nor can we describe it with just one analogy. In fact the Bible uses at least 14 different metaphors to describe Itself and each one of these tells us a little more about its benefits and uses in our lives. Let’s briefly look at each of these… As you do, ask God to open your heart and mind to just how awesome His Word is and to reveal to you how you might better let it revolutionize your life!
The Word of God is Like:
- A Lamp and a Light – It leads us to Christ (Rom. 10:17; 2 Tim 3:15); It reveals God’s will (Romans 12:2); It directs us in the way we should go (Psalm 119:105).
- Bedrock – It is solid ground upon which to build our lives (Psalm 19:9, 119:98-102; Luke 6:46-48)
- Water – It refreshes us (Psalm 19:7); It cleanses us (Eph 5:25-27); It helps us grow (Psalm 1:1-3)
- A Warning – It reveals the consequences of sin and benefits of obedience (Psalm 19:11)
- A Fire – It refines us by burning away unnecessary impurities (Psalm 119:9-11, 36-37; Jeremiah 23:29; 1 Peter 1:22)
- A Hammer – It breaks the hardness of our hearts and shapes our lives (Psalm 119:75; Jeremiah 23:29)… I don’t think that it’s any coincidence that the metaphors of fire and a hammer are used in the same verse. Think of a Blacksmith here and how he would heat up metal and then beat it into shape so that it will be more useful and valuable… God often uses affliction to do that to us, but in the end we are much shinier and more useful, are we not?
- A Sword – It convicts us and frees us of sin (Psalm 19:13, 119:45, 133; Hebrews 4:12); It is mighty in spiritual warfare and defending the faith (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:17).
- A Mirror – It reveals the things in our lives that are incompatible with God’s Holiness (Psalm 19:12, 119:59; James 1:22-25)… Nobody looks in an actual mirror and sees that they are a terrible mess (hair, clothes, teeth, make-up, etc.) and then just goes on as if everything is fine! Instead they fix what’s messed up before going to out or to work or school.
- A Shield – It is a refuge in times of trouble that protects our lives and integrity… About 25% of the verses in Psalm 119 have to do w/ affliction and/or persecution. In fact, throughout the Bible we are told that following God will result in persecution and other troubles (cf. Rev. 1:9, 6:9, 20:4)… But where we turn for help and refuge in times of trouble reveals a lot about our character… Psalm 119:114 tells us that God (and His Word) should be our refuge and shield; and we should put our hope in His Word. (see also Psalm 119:39, 67, 71)
- A Companion/Counselor – It gives comfort in times of need and provides wisdom, training and understanding, training (Psalm 19:7, 119:24, 92, 156; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- A Song – It permeates our hearts and minds with Joy (Psalm 119:54)… Have you ever had a great song stuck in your head and it just made your day??? This is the idea here – Get God’s Word stuck in your head!
- Honey – It is so sweet we begin to crave it and it makes sin repugnant and bitter by comparison (Psalm 19:10, 119:103-104)
- A Heritage – It is a valuable sign of son-ship and it is worthy to be passed on (Psalm 119:111; 2 Timothy 3:14-17)
- A Treasure/Gold – People chase after money and what it provides with extreme intensity… In comparing His Word favorably against money, treasure, plunder and Gold, God is saying it is to be pursued and valued over everything else (Psalm 19:10, 119:72, 127, 162)
Psalm 119 is the central and longest chapter in the Bible… and it is appropriate that it is dedicated to God’s word… Perhaps this is a little symbolic of the fact that it should take a central role in our lives as well… Indeed, the Psalmist loved God’s Word so much that he took the painstaking effort to write a poem dedicated to God’s Word where he took all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and wrote eight line sections for each where each line started with that section’s letter… Okay, so, how do we know we really treasure God’s Word like the Psalmist did? By getting a tight 5-Finger grasp on it:
- Finger 1: Hear It – Psalm 122:1; Romans 10:17; James 1:22
- Finger 2: Reading and Studying It – Psalm 119:82; Acts 17:11
- Finger 3: Memorizing and Meditating upon It – Psalm 119:11, 15, 97-99, 148
- Finger 4: Obeying, Sharing and Defending It – Psalm 19:11-14, 119:13, 139; Romans 10:14-15; James 1:22; 1 Peter 3:15
- Thumb: Desiring it and Delighting in It – Psalm 19:8, 119… As we put fingers 1-4 into practice then the thumb should naturally follow.
So, you don’t have a 5-finger grasp on God’s Word? Maybe you don’t desire and delight in it as much as you’d like… Well, Psalm 119 may be informative on this as well. See, this is amazing poem is not just a pneumonic device for learning stuff about God’s Word – it is a prayer for a deeper love and appreciation of Scripture, and it’s a prayer we could all stand to pray on a more regular basis.