Whether it’s a teacher wanting to correct a student’s behavior, a husband or wife desiring to improve their marriage, a CEO trying to find out what will make their company better, or a Christian wanting to follow Christ more closely, no one will ever get to the deepest depth of any issue without asking the question of “why”? The past two newsletters have dealt with this question in regards to prayer and church attendance. This month (and next) we will look at the subject of “Why Do We Read The Bible?” (note: these are based on a series of messages available at www.gcmfm.com that began on Wednesday, Oct. 1st).
Reason 1—We Read The Bible Because It’s Authoritative (John 1:1)…During my early years of high school I had my mind set on becoming a lawyer. I liked books, loved to study, and believed I could deliver a presentation somewhat effectively and persuasively. It didn’t hurt either that two of my favorite shows were Perry Mason and Matlock (and of course Matlock’s first name was “Ben”, surely that must be a sign!). Thankfully I sensed the call to ministry in my junior year after having the privilege to minister at some youth retreats (and after reading the many “woes” Jesus gave to lawyers—of course those were a different kind of lawyers I guess—though I think He might have some woes to deliver to some of our present day lawyers as well!). Anyone who studies law for any period of time, even as short of time as my interest, will find that lawyers are always looking for precedents to cite in their cases. They search for past rulings that have come down in other suits similar to theirs that agree with their point of view and use that as evidence that the judge should now currently rule in their favor. The higher court they can cite the better is the strength of their case. And if they can find a Supreme Court decision from the past that agrees with their perspective, that’s pay dirt! The other side may have a lower court’s opinion on their side but you’ve got the highest authority behind you if you’ve got “the Supremes!”…John1:1 declares that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God!” There is no higher authority than God, the Creator of all things, the Giver of life, and the Judge of the living and the dead! So, from John 1:1 it follows that there is no higher authority than the Word of God! Research studies may come to different conclusions about the same subjects at different times, courts (even the Supreme Court) may change their opinions, scientific theories come and go as fast as the new editions of textbooks can be produced, what was the authoritative view or opinion in one day may be discredited or fail in another day, but the Word of the living God will always be the final authority! Don’t you want to know the bottom line authoritative word on life? Then read the Word of God!
Reason 2—We Read The Bible Because It’s True (John 17:17) …You know we’re in the political season when you see the gubernatorial candidates on the TV screen more often than you see Billy Fuccillo! Each candidate tries to paint themselves in a positive light as the person who is simultaneously so down to earth that everyone can relate to them and the superman who being smarter and more powerful than everyone else can fix all the ills of the job market and the education system with the snap of a finger (or was that the snap of a cape!). Then there’s the way they picture their opponents. The one they’re running against is pretty near evil, wanting kids out on the streets, willing to stack up budget deficits as far as the eye can see, letting vile criminals out on the street in record levels, making deals with crooks while being crooks themselves, and being so untrustworthy that the only way you can tell if their opponent is lying is if his lips are moving! Interestingly enough whether the ad is one that is good about themselves or bad about their opponent, they all sound just as confident as they cite newspapers or TV programs at the bottom of the screen as the authority that what they’re putting forth is accurate. Yet, when news organizations do fact checks into the political ads they find that they’re hardly ever 100% truthful! You see, not everything that claims to be authoritative or is accepted to be authoritative is actually true. In fact, I am convinced that one of the most dangerous things in life (even more so in matters of faith than in politics) is when lies are put forth with such confidence that they are accepted as authoritative. Indeed, confident deceptions are the ones most believed…The authoritative Word of God is not like political ads or the tales of men. It has no higher authority to cite than itself and what it declares is absolutely and positively trustworthy. It will tell us the truth about God, the truth about the world, the truth about life, the truth about others, and, let’s not forget, the truth about ourselves! As part of the high priestly prayer in John 17 (I encourage you to
study all of that chapter in depth), Jesus petitioned His Father on behalf of those who would believe in Him to “sanctify them according to Your truth, Your Word is truth!” Don’t you want to know and believe what is true and trustworthy rather than be deceived by a lie? Then read the Word of God!
Reason 3—We Read The Bible Because It Lasts (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35)…I currently have the “opportunity” to watch over a group of seventh graders for 15 minutes at the end of every day while they wait for their buses to come pick them up from school. The conversations they have amongst themselves can be very telling. One day in the past couple weeks I heard a boy bragging to his friends about the fact that he had 10 “exes” last year. True or not who knows, but this young man seemed to think that to have had 10 girlfriends come and go IN HIS SIXTH GRADE YEAR! was something to be proud of! I do not know whether this view comes from music that he listens to or TV shows that he watches or hanging out with the proverbial wrong crowd or a broken family background or some combination of all of these as well as other factors. However, the thought that struck me as I heard his words was that no matter how much the world may boast about such things, there is something deep inside of them that longs for a relationship that will last. There is a great comfort, joy, warmth and security that comes from knowing that you and the one you love are genuinely committed until “death do you part.” No one looks for a car that will break down in four years when they’re going to be paying five years for it. No battery is advertised as the one that will need replaced faster than the others. In all areas of life we are ultimately looking for something that will last!…Isaiah 40:8 encourages believers to look around and see the grass that withers and the flowers that fade (and whither and fade as well would the powerful Babylonian empire that held God’s people in exile) but the Word of God would stand forever. In the 24th chapter of Matthew in the New Testament Jesus teaches His disciples about the multiple perils that will exist in the latter days, but He goes on to assure and comfort them that even though the very heavens above and the earth below may pass away, God’s Word will not pass away and will never fail! Do you want something that lasts…FOREVER!? Then read the Word of God!
Reason 4—We Read The Bible Because It’s Powerful (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 3:5-7)…I remember learning to drive. However, my sweet momma probably remembers it even more vividly as the process of teaching me to drive still wakes her up with cold sweats in the middle of the night ever so often! Actually, I think I did pretty well when I first got under the wheel. I’ve never been one to like to go fast, so riding with me is always mostly calm (do “always” and “mostly” used together cancel each other out?!) Even as a teenager the cops never had to be concerned about me speeding. Now I may run a red light here and there but I would never do it going over the posted limit! That having been said, there was one Friday night during my early driving days that proved to be a quite harrowing experience. Mom and I were on our way to a Bible Study. To get there we had to get on I-75. I had never driven on an interstate before but mom figured there must be a first time for everything. The difference in speed was a bit unnerving at first, but I eventually almost got used to it. I even proved to be a courteous driver, getting over into the left lane (out of my comfortable slow right lane), to let some drivers merge in from an off ramp. All was well and good until I got beside of a semi-truck. He was in the right lane and I was in the left lane and I was nervous. In fact, I was so nervous that it might be more accurate to describe my location as more in the left shoulder than in the left lane! The longer I stayed at the side of the massive truck and the closer the exit came into view that I needed to get off on, the more panicked I became. Eventually my racing heart worked its way down into my foot! I pressed the accelerator of that Oldsmobile Toronado to the floor and went past that semi like nobody’s business! I think I stayed in the double digits but I’m not 100% sure of that! I got back into the right lane just in time to make the exit! Thankfully we hit the red light at the bottom of the ramp before me or mom went into a code blue! Now, that semi-truck never did anything to me. He was on his side of the road and truth be told was undoubtedly a better and more experienced driver than I was at that time or perhaps will ever be. So what made me so nervous, what caused me to have such a strong reaction, what made me even notice that it was there? It was the fact that whether I trusted it or not, whether I liked it or not, whether it liked me or not, that semi was powerful and demanded my attention and respect…Hebrews 4:12 declares that God’s Word holds the power of life. Indeed it does for those who genuinely believe the gospel message it delivers will be born again and inherit everlasting life. 2 Peter 3:5-7 informs us that God’s Word accurately foretold the Old Testament destruction of the earth by water and just as accurately foretells a future destruction by fire. Thus God’s Word also holds the power of death. It is by this Word that believers will overcome and be saved and by this same Word that unbelievers will be judged and judicially condemned. Do you want to be a follower of that which has so much power it cannot be ignored? Then read the Word of God!
Reason 5—We Read The Bible Because It Gives Wisdom For Salvation (2 Timothy 3:15)…I remember “having” to read a book on the art of biblical narrative and poetry of the Old Testament in seminary. I love to read but the reason I say I “had” to read these books was because they were written by an admitted unbeliever. He knew the Hebrew language, Old Testament customs and ancient people groups far better than I probably ever will. He maybe even “knew” the Bible better than me, but unless he comes to put faith in Christ all of his head knowledge will only serve to increase the degree of his accountability and condemnation on Judgment Day. There are many who look to the Bible for wisdom for various aspects of life but never speak of the necessity of Jesus for salvation that the Bible clearly proclaims. Sadly, there are many preachers who will wax eloquent on the wisdom of the Bible to make you a more successful businessperson, a better father, a better mother, a nicer coworker and a more well-mannered citizen, but never speak on scripture’s main theme that all of us are sinners who will be cast into the lake of fire apart from the saving work of Christ. Certainly, the Bible gives wisdom in all areas of life and godliness, but apart from the wisdom it gives concerning salvation all else vanishes to nothing in the scope of eternity. Do you want to know and to share the wisdom “leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15)”? Then read the Word of God!