An old man died a few years ago. He had lived a meager existence, funded only by social security, and was always grumbling about money. When they went through his possessions, they included a diamond brooch which was valued at over 10 million dollars. Turned out he was a rich man living like a pauper.
This is the way so many of us Christians live as well. We have Bibles — often many of them — but live as though we have no hope, no security, no explanation for the way life is and no guidance about what to do. Great numbers of Christians believe that the Bible is God’s perfect word, infallible and authoritative. But they don’t know it! Maybe they have a few favorite verses, but they just don’t know the book!!! We live lives of spiritual poverty because we don’t cash in on the treasures contained in the Bible: we don’t dress our wounds with the healing ointment of the word, we don’t program our thoughts and ideas according to the principles of God’s book.
In Deuteronomy 11:18-19 God says to His people, “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
The ability to teach the Bible is a spiritual gift. But the ability to study, learn, and know the Bible is not. These things are for all Christians. Sadly, some Christians think it is possible to have a relationship with Jesus without much knowledge of the Bible. But Jesus himself would never have approved of this kind of thinking. In John 6:63 He said, “The words that I speak are spirit and they are life.” And Jesus’ words here are not new — we find the same thing in the Old Testament referring to the Old Testament scriptures: in Prov. 4:20-22: “My words ... are life to those who find them.” and Deut. 32:46-47: “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today... For it is no empty word for you, but your very life...”
A close relationship with Jesus is closely connected to a knowledge of the Bible. Of course, you can know the Bible well without knowing Jesus at all. But you can’t cultivate a strong relationship with Jesus without knowing the Bible.
Let’s look at 2Timothy 3:16–17 “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.” Several conclusions I’d like to draw out from this passage:
1- All Scripture is profitable/useful.
2- All Scripture is useful for these things:
a- For teaching, learning, giving us an understanding of God, ourselves and this world He’s put us in.
b- For reproof, for pointing out our errors
c- For correction (in contrast to reproof, which involves showing someone how and where he is in error, correction involves showing a person the proper way to act or believe)
d- For training in righteousness (each disciple of Christ must be trained in righteous living. We must train ourselves and we must train each other — to live righteous, obedient live)
What is the end result of this? All Scripture being used for teaching; all Scripture being used for reproof; all Scripture being used for correction; all Scripture being used for training in righteousness; all Scripture being used to equip us for every good work. As Christians we have at our disposal a handbook which can equip us for every good work!!! What a shame it is that so many of us leave the book on the shelf and live our lives by our feelings, by our experiences and by what seems right to them.
How often do you set time apart to meet God in His word and listen to what He wants to say to you? When’s the last time you read the Bible through as a whole? Unfortunately, many Christians only read portions of Scripture which they are familiar with, that suit their fancy; those parts which aren’t ‘confusing,’ those parts which seem to be most relevant to their lives. But our spiritual course is being charted by our own appetites rather than by the whole counsel of God.
But God wants us to hear everything He has to say, He wants us to understand His wrath as well as His love, He wants us to understand His curses as well as His blessings; His commandments as well as His forgiveness. He wants us to read His whole Word. It’s not that we have to read the whole Bible in the order it’s found. But we need to eat all of God’s food — not just pick out the potato chips and the ice cream and avoid the meat and vegetables. It is very sad that there are many Christians who hardly ever read the Old Testament. I have met people who have been Christians for 10 years and have never read the Old Testament through. 2Tim. 3:14-17 is primarily written about the Old Testament.
Psalm 1:2 says of the righteous man: “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law He meditates day and night.” Psalm 19:10 tells us that God’s precepts are “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” And Colossians 3:16 says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
We have been given a great treasure, let’s not live as though we are in poverty!
As a pastor, I strive to teach the word of God, not just make people feel good about their lives. I do it very imperfectly. I am grateful for the patience of the congregation. I am even more grateful for the hunger so many of my hearers have for the word of God.
Let's never lose sight of the fact that “these words are your life.” Graciously God has given us His book. Let's make it our book.