Jump Start # 1978
John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
We continue our look and our walk through the blessings of God. We are viewing this as a journey through the garden that God has provided for us. Eve, when tempted by the serpent, focused upon the forbidden fruit. She did not consider all the other fruit that was available. There was plenty to eat from. She was more than taken care of by God. The Lord did not leave them destitute, hungry or near death. There was one tree that was off limits. That was the one tree that became the center of her discussion with the serpent. Had Eve only counted all the other trees in her garden, she may have realized that she was well taken care of by God. Trusting God and obeying the Lord would have led her to understand that there were reasons why God did not want her to have that forbidden fruit. Satan had Eve believing that God was holding out on her. Instead, God was protecting and helping her. When Adam and Eve ate what they were not supposed to, sin entered the world and their souls. They were ashamed, guilty and afraid. That was not the experience that they anticipated. That’s not what they thought the forbidden fruit would bring them. God knew.
So, in our walk through our garden, we have seen the trees of fellowship. We noticed the tree of God’s love for us. Now, we look at another massive tree, and that is truth. Truth is found in God’s word. God’s word is truth. Jesus defined Himself as being the way, the TRUTH and the life.
Knowing what is right begins a sense of security, satisfaction and confidence. We know that in other areas. You watch a game show on TV, and a question is asked. You shout out the answer, as if they can hear you, and you are right. That makes you feel good. In school, during a test, when you saw a question that you knew the answer to, that brought a sense of confidence. You felt good about that test. You knew the answers.
Here, we are not talking about finding answers to quiz questions or even filling out answer sheets to our Bible class lessons, but walking in righteousness. To be righteous means to be right. God’s word identifies what pleases God. We don’t have to guess. God’s word warns us about things that are wrong. Right and wrong are determined by God. It’s not the church, it’s not the preacher, it’s not you or me who decides what is right or wrong, but God. The Lord told Adam about the forbidden fruit. Adam’s eating of the fruit was not in ignorance, but in rebellion. He knew. He just didn’t believe.
There are four principles about God’s word, the Bible that helps us.
First, God’s word is to be read. Everyone needs to read it. We need to read it for ourselves. We need to read it within the context, which means, picking a verse here and finding a verse there and trying to weave those verses together, isn’t always accurate nor coming to the conclusions that God taught. Read it. Think about it.
Second, God’s word is understandable. It does little good to read it if one can’t understand it. That won’t take very long for a person to just lay it down thinking what’s the use, I read it but I don’t understand it. We must consider the circumstances that passages were written in. We must look at who the passage is addressed to. We must come to understand some words. Our Bibles come to us from German and Old English, through Latin, from Greek and Hebrew. That’s a journey. Our common English definitions of words may not be the accurate definition. A Webster’s dictionary may give us the wrong impression. For instance, Webster may define the word baptism as a sprinkling, pouring or a dipping or immersion. It’s easy to believe, using Webster, that how one is baptized doesn’t really matter. Yet, allowing the Bible to define itself, we see that baptism is an immersion. We are buried with Him, the Romans were told. The Ethiopian stopped his chariot and he and Philip both went down into the water. Why stop the chariot? Water could be poured over the head as the chariot travels down the road. It’s because baptism is an immersion. Looking at the Greek word shows us that.
All of this to say, God’s word can be understood. You can’t read it like a newspaper or an internet article, just hitting the highlights. Every word matters. Every word has a purpose. Slow, careful, thoughtful is the way the Bible needs to be read. Some reading programs takes a person through the Bible in a year. That’s great. You need to read the entire Bible. However, if you are reading so fast and so much that you don’t remember much of what you read, then what did that accomplish? The value is not in reading the words, but in those words, reaching my heart and changing my life. The Ephesians were told, ‘Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” Let it stay with you. Let it become you.
Third, God’s word is to be believed. This is the foundation of faith. What we believe is formed from the word of God. Our faith is not in how we feel about things. It’s not about our own experiences. We tend to only see things from our little spot in the world. We don’t see the whole picture. God’s word gives us that big picture. Rather than faith coming from me, it comes from the word of God. This is why those early apostles were sent everywhere preaching. Their message was heard, understood and then believed. It changed lives. People turned to Christ. God’s way became their way. They developed a heart and character like God. This is why the Bible must be the forefront of all that a church does. But it’s missing in too many places today. Drama has replaced doctrine. Partying has replaced Biblical principles. People gather for a good time, but they don’t know the word of God. When the storms of life come, and they will, their house of cards collapses because there is no substance and no foundation. The word of God is what we stand upon. It defines us, shapes us and motivates us. It comforts us in hard times. It reassures us. It is the bridge to God. Through the Scriptures we know God. We know what pleases God through the word of God. Wear that Bible out. Use it. Follow it. Obey it.
Finally, God’s word is to be taught. This is how disciples are made. Preach the word is what Paul told Timothy. Get the business models out of the church. Drop all the marketing lingo that is being used. Stop emphasizing sports, coffee and good times. Get back to teaching that Bible. The modern church today is suffering from an identity crisis. Folks do not know if the church is a school, a business, a club, a gym, a coffee shop, a bookstore, or a house of worship. So confusing. I heard of a preacher who put a barrel beside the pulpit and encourage the congregation to put any item they wanted in that barrel. He would randomly pick something out and on a whim, talk about it. A fishing pole led him to talk about Peter, the fisherman. A basketball led him to talk about being a good sportsman. When I heard this, I suggested that someone ought to put a Bible in that barrel. Maybe he would pick that up and actually preach God’s word. A church that is built upon sports will have to keep new programs to keep the people. A church that is built upon food will have to come up with new combinations of food to keep the people. A church that is built upon comedy, will have to keep the jokes coming to keep the people. But a church that is built upon the word of God will have people devoted and committed to Christ. It’s the word that brings the people. It’s the word that keeps the people. They become a people of faith.
One of the great trees in our garden is truth. We need to go to that tree. It will chase away fear and worry. It will answer our questions. It will build our faith and confidence in the Lord. Doubts flee when truth is known.
Give me the Bible—more than a great hymn, but a way of life for the child of God.