A Word About the Word

Welcome to the Gideons here this morning. Like them, I believe that God’s Word is living and active. It’s more than relevant for today, but many sitting in churches have no idea.

They say that the biggest dust storm in history would happen if Christians picked up their Bibles at the same time and started reading them! So why is the Bible such a big deal, and how can it affect our lives? Paul wrote,

THE BREATH OF GOD

2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Bible seems daunting, overwhelming, confusing, or irrelevant to many Christians. But that’s not how God sees His Word. Paul uses an interesting word to describe the Bible, in Greek THEO-PNEUSTOS, which some translations say, “inspired by God,” but actually means “breathed by God.” This is the very breath of God. It wasn’t inspired by man. It wasn’t a collection of works. Nor is it a bunch of opinions. It’s the very breath of God. And according to Paul, it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training. The Bible is a powerhouse, an under-utilised, overlooked, downplayed powerhouse, and it’s the answer to not only our lives, but our nation’s current dilemmas.

BUT WE MISUNDERSTAND THE BIBLE

Here are some things children have said about what they’ve learned from the Bible.

  • Noah’s wife was called Joan of Arc
  • Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day, and a ball of fire by night
  • When Mary heard she would be the mother of Jesus when went out and sang the Magna Carta.
  • A Republican is a sinner mentioned in the Bible (Democrats don’t get to respond)
  • The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple (and man has been taking commandments ever since.)

Statistics suggest that Bible reading is at an all-time low. In 1960, nine out of ten Australians owned a Bible, but by 2010, less than 8% read it frequently. Interestingly, during the pandemic, Bible reading dropped by 26 million in the US. Netflix went ballistic, but the Bible was largely ignored.

Donald Witney said, “No spiritual discipline is more important than the intake of God’s word. Nothing can substitute for it. There is simply no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of God’s word.”

IT’S NOT JUST ANOTHER BOOK

According to the National Reading Survey, 92% of Australians are classified as readers, with 75% having read at least one book in the last year. But the Bible is not just another Book!

2 Peter 1:21 (ESV)
For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Even though the Bible, was written by the hand of man, it was authored by God, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as the Breath of God.

The Bible also isn’t just another religious book like the Koran is to Islam, or the Bhagavad-Gita is to Hindus. Nor is it like the Book of Mormon, or the individual writings of Joseph Rutherford or Charles Taze Russell (Jehovah Witnesses), Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science), or L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology).

Nor is the Bible just a great work of literature like Homer’s Odyssey, or Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, as many people would like to believe.

It’s not an old book that we think is unrelated to our lives in this age of science and technology.

Instead, the Bible is God’s word for our lives, and without it our lives would be without meaning and purpose. It contains the very words of God, teachings, history, poetry, prophecy, indeed, it is life itself. It outlines God’s roadmap to salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Therefore, Paul says, the Bible is profitable, or as some translations say, “useful,” that is, it is beneficial and advantageous for our lives by teaching what is true, reproving what isn’t, correcting and instructing us on how to get and stay right with God. What we could say is that the Bible is as relevant today as it was centuries ago.

People throughout the ages have tried to ban it, burn it, vilify it, and even outlaw it, saying that it would never last, yet it is still the best-selling book of all time. Bible Gateway.com has been viewed more than 14 billion times. Voltaire, the French philosopher claimed in 1776, “One hundred years from my day, there will not be a Bible on earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity-seeker.” Only 58 years after he made that statement, Voltaire’s house in Geneva became a storage house for the Evangelical Bible Society’s Bibles. God clearly had the last laugh!

Psalms 119:89 (ESV)
Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.

While people continue to scrutinise the Bible trying to find some fault within it, the Bible has stood the test of time. It is an anvil that has worn out critics’ hammers.  Jesus said it best saying, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Mark 13:31)

WHY I BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WORD

I think like a science nerd. I don’t just accept things, I want proof. So, I like to sort through claims and counterclaims to find the truth about the Bible.

1. THE BIBLE IS ACCURATE

There are hundreds of examples of the extraordinary accuracy of the Bible. From simple examples like the existence of the Hittites, which science didn’t believe until they found other examples of them, right through to prophecy of current and future world events.

If man wrote the Bible there would be no way that it could accurately predict what would happen hundreds, if not thousands, of years later. These are not vague word pictures, but literal fulfilment. Fulfilled prophecy reveals that the Bible is God’s word. It was and is divinely inspired.

While hundreds of prophecies have been fulfilled, there are many that have yet to be. To give you an idea, mathematician Peter Stoner compiled the probabilities of just eight prophecies about the life of the Messiah coming true in the person of Jesus. (There are of course many more prophecies). From just these eight prophecies alone, the mathematical probability of them coming true in one man, Jesus, was 1 in 10 to the 17th power. It’s like if you covered half of Queensland with dollar coins 60cm deep, marked one, then asked a blind man to choose one coin at random, and him getting it right.  And that’s only eight of the hundreds of prophecies in the Bible!

Romans 15:4 (ESV)
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

2. THE BIBLE IS ARCHEOLOGICAL

There exists overwhelming archaeological support for the historical accuracy of both the Old and New Testaments. Archaeology has proven the Bible’s historical accuracy, and therefore the Bible gives us the most accurate historical accounting, even surpassing other historical accounts written not only by current historians, but those living during the time. The Bible is historically accurate down to minute details.

With all the archaeological digs that are currently underway or that have already occurred, one would think that if the Bible was a mistake then by now they would have dug up or found something that would corroborate these accusations. But to date there has been nothing, only more and more evidence proving the accuracy of the biblical accounts.

Isaiah 40:8 (ESV)
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

3. THE BIBLE IS TOPICAL

Unlike most books from antiquity, the Bible talks about current issues, things we are talking about today. Whether it’s prophetic words about how the world ends, of whether it talks about morality, life hacks and how you can live a great life, the Bible is the Word of God for our generation, and every generation. I read this interestingly this week in my quiet time, God says to Israel,

Hosea 8:12 (ESV)
Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands, they would be regarded as a strange thing.

For some Christians they look the moral dilemmas this society poses wondering what God thinks and how they should react, when it’s clear if you read the Bible and know a holy God!

Psalms 119:105 (ESV)
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

4. THE BIBLE HAS PURPOSE

God promises that His Bible has purpose, it has a point! It’s not the ramblings of a so-called wise man. It’s not trying to be profound. It is purposeful, and always accomplishes what God desires and intends.

Isaiah 55:11 (ESV)
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

5. THE BIBLE IS ALIVE

The Bible is the Word of God, and interestingly, the Bible uses two words for the word word. The first is LOGOS, and the second is RHEMA. They have different meanings. Logos means the written word, but rhema refers to the written word being quickened to your heart. It is a verse or passage of Scripture that the Holy Spirit brings to our attention with application to a current situation.

Most often logos is used of the Bible, and of Jesus the Word in John 1:1

1 Peter 1:23 (ESV)
since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word (logos) of God;

But rhema is the logos applied to us, used in the sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6, and also in

Matthew 4:4 (ESV)
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word (rhema) that comes from the mouth of God.’”

One of my favourite verses talks about how the Bible is actually alive. Let’s pick this verse apart.

LIVING AND ACTIVE, AND ALIVE

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
For the word (logos) of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The Word of God, logos, the written word, is made alive, becoming a rhema word. ZAO in the Greek, which means alive, breathing, real life. It is active, in Greek ENERGES, from which we get energy, active, powerful energy.

Then is says that the Word is is sharper than a double-edged sword. Sharper is TOMO-TERUS, which comes from TEMNO, to cut. It says it cuts and penetrates, dividing which is MERISMOS, which is dividing asunder or cleaving. Vincent says, “The form of the expression is poetical, and signifies that the word penetrates to the inmost recesses of our spiritual being, as a sword cuts through the joints and marrow of the body.”

This verse then says that the Word is God discerns or judges, in Greek CRITOCOS, from which we get the word critic. The Bible judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Think about it. It divides your soul, which is your mind, will and emotions, and your spirit, which is the part of you that communes with God and lives forever. The Bible separates your mind, will and emotions from your spirit.

This is great news, because three of our big, ongoing problems as humans is our minds, which confuse us and cause us to doubt our will.  Our minds are frequently set against God, as well as our emotions, which too often control us, to our detriment.

The thoughts and intentions of the heart are discerned by the Bible. Not just our thoughts, but the intention behind them.

What it’s saying here is that the Word of God penetrates deep into your soul.  Have you ever had an experience with God’s Word that made you feel exposed? Ever heard the Bible preached and felt like it was directed right at you? Have you ever felt your soul sliced open by the Word? Remember, we have no private lives. As it says in verse 13, “everything is laid bare before the One to whom we must give an account.”

And if you feel confused, it discerns your mind. If your will is against God’s, it straightens you up and puts you in the right track. If you’re emotional, it soothes and settles your emotions. This living, active word meets our very human needs at every level, if we give it the opportunity.

Psalms 119:15-16 (ESV)
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

If we are open to it, this Bible can speak to us every day.  It can lead and guide us into the future God has for us.

MAKING THE WORD HIS WORD TO YOU

Colossians 3:16 (ESV)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,

Not only am I convinced that the Bible is true, it is also infallible. It’s God’s living, active, penetrating, exposing, inspiring Word to each of us. Right here, right now.

Right now, I want to open up my personal walk with God and honestly reveal and expose to you how God’s Word is living and active in my life.

Almost every day the Spirit of God speaks directly to me from His Word. Before I make any big decision in life, I ask God to speak to me from His Word. He does, every time. Honestly, you can get advice, prophetic words, spiritual impressions, but when you have God speaking directly to you from His Word, you can confidently stand on it in faith.

However, I don’t believe in using God’s Word as an offensive weapon against God to force Him to conform to your will. So many people search out verses that they try to use and support their position or claim things for themselves by faith, things like wealth, prosperity, healing, or success.

I’m old school evangelical. I believe in reading God’s Word every day in my quiet time. I believe in systematically reading through the Bible.  This is what I do, every day, and out of this habit God speaks to me every day, often in powerful and directive ways.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

If you read God’s Word every day, systematically, I promise you that you will grow spiritually. You will be led and guided by the Holy Spirit and taught new things. You will also be reproved or corrected when you need it, trained and equipped for every good work. God’s rhema word, the logos that impacts your life every day.

COME JOIN US AND GET LED BY GOD

Every day I get up, have a shower, make a cup of coffee and tea for Fiona, sit in my favourite place, and study God’s Word…systematically.

If you’re new here, let me share something very exciting with you. God spoke to me some years ago and directed me to design a Bible reading plan. It’s on our app, it’s on our website. It takes you through most of the Bible in just one year, by reading only two chapters a day.

John 6:63 (ESV)
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

I have to tell you, when God speaks you can stand on that.

When Fiona and I lost everything, God spoke to us and said,

Joel 2:25 (ESV)
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,

When I became a pastor, I did so after direct words from the Lord. That’s what has kept me going even in times of great stress. I know God has called me here to Ignite, and the Lord has vindicated us. He spoke to me continually over a few months from pretty much the entire book of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 2:20 (ESV)
Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build,

My life have been influenced and directly led by God’s Word in many areas. Not by me searching out verses to fit with what I want God to do, but by reading His Word systematically every day, and having verses jump out at me. Rhema words.

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

I want you to correctly handle God’s Word too. Will you commit to joining me in reading the Bible every day?

Joshua 1:8 (ESV)
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

James 4:8 (ESV)
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

QUESTIONS

WHY IS READING THE BIBLE DAILY SO IMPORTANT? WHY IS IT SO HARD?

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO ENSURE YOUR READ THE BIBLE AND PRAY DAILY?

WILL YOU AGREE TO DO THE BIBLE READING PLAN?

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