New years. New beginnings. A time of change. A chance for a clean slate. Some of us will make goals, but not do anything at all. Some of us will actually try for a while. Some will stick to it and make new habits. We do this every new year. Why? Why do we really believe that change can actually happen? Why do so many of us have things we want to change? And why do we always try to do it on our own? People seem to think this is the only season to start building new habits.
So, we make resolutions and we build. And yet, sometimes, it still doesn't go as planned. So, what? Wait until the next New Year's rolls around? Well, what if we had access to a reset for our lives? What if Jesus was offering each and every one of us a chance to be renewed regardless of who you are, where you have been or what you have done? It's time for a restart; a redo. It's time to reset.
Well, good morning to everybody and good morning, also, to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. I learned something last night. We have a group of people in Seattle, Washington that get together and watch these sermons. So, to the Seattle church, hey. There you go. Pretty cool. You never know where this stuff's going. It's crazy, the world we live in. Well, I want to start off, before I get started in my message, and let you in on a little bit of a secret. And I think you'll probably enjoy this. It'll probably be a little humorous to you.
Guys that do what I do, preachers, we have 52 weekends that we have every year. Somewhere between probably 40 and 52 of those, we're speaking to the church. Here's something you've probably never thought about. You know, you come once a week and you hear a message and, hopefully, you leave going, "Hey, that was something that applied to my life. Something I can take out of here and work on something." Or you get a nugget or maybe see a passage of Scripture a way you've never seen it before or something like that. And you get something out of that and that's why you come.
You come because you want to grow and you want to learn. Well, you don't think about this often, but, you know, guys that do what I do, Chip as the preacher, most of the messages that I preach, I need to hear too. You probably don't think about that that much. So, it's the conundrum and dilemma of the preacher is we're saying things and as we're saying things that we know are biblically true, we're also having to deal with the fact that we're not doing all those things that we're saying in our own lives. Do you understand what I'm saying here?
So, sometimes, you're just like, "Wow."
And the deal is, I've got to do it four times every weekend. So, sometimes, I go home after Sunday and I just beat myself up and I've got to go get right with God. You know what I'm talking about? Well, anyway, the reason I'm so excited about this weekend is because I'm going to talk about something that – and when I say this, there's no arrogance or pride in it, but it's the one thing that I feel like, "Okay, of all the things I preach about that I don't get right, this is one I've sort of got right."
I'm going to talk about the importance of reading Scripture in our life this weekend. The importance of the Word of God. And it's like, "Yes. I've spent 25 years studying that thing. At least I can be a little bit happy."
So, I'm not going to be beat up after the 11:30 service. I mean, I need to grow as everybody else does. But, this is something that I'm passionate about. So, if you see me being excited and a little bit emotional today, please understand that this is something that's just very much a part of my life. So, I want to start off by saying when I bring up reading Scripture, reading the Word of God, I know some people immediately go, "Oh, man. I read that thing three times last year or eight times last year."
Whatever. I know there's people in here that are thinking that. Listen. I am not here to guilt you. If you read the Bible eight times last year and after this sermon you read it ten times this year, I think I won as a pastor. I inspired you a little bit more to move a little bit more forward. So, I want to make that very clear. There's no guilt going on here at all. This is not Guilt Community Church, if you're a visitor. It is Grace Community Church. Okay? And I want to do something today that encourages you and inspires you to want to spend a little bit more time in the Word of God.
So, that being said, I know there's always visitors and there's always people that maybe missed a couple of weeks. We're in a series called "Reset." And at the beginning of every year – and I have a different title at the beginning of every year – I usually deal with something things that I think are important for us to focus on not only as a church, but as individuals. And that's what we've been doing for the last number of weeks. We're getting close here to landing the plane on this series and moving on to the next one. But, I want to talk about the importance of God's Word in our life today. And I hope that you will walk out of here really encouraged and wanting to spend a little bit more time in God's Word. At least that's my hope.
So, to do that, we're going to start off in the book of Psalms. You might think that's sort of an interesting place to start. But, the beginning of the book of Psalms, chapter one, talks about the blessed life of the person who has really spent time and delighted themselves in the Word of God. And there's a reason why the Psalms start off that way, because the person who's writing this wants to make sure that as you put all those 150 Psalms together, you're really understand that there is a blessed life to reading Scriptures.
The way he does it in chapter one is he gives us two fundamentally different ways of life. But, he does it in such an incredible way. There's so much beauty in the Scriptures, and I hope that I can do a good job here of going through a couple of verses. We're going to talk about that. Then I'm going to give you some real reasons why we should spend time in the Word of God and then some take-homes. And I really believe we're going to leave out of here differently than when we came in. So, let's get started. Let's get to work.
Psalm 1 starts off, "Blessed is the man..."
Now, the reason the psalmist starts off this way is because he's saying, "This is the blessed life. There is a blessed life that you and I can live."
Jesus, if you remember, does sort of the same thing in Matthew 5. He talks about what we call the Beatitudes. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek. All of those things. But, Jesus is not saying in the Beatitudes – and this is important, because neither is the psalmist. And a lot of times when we read Scripture, we read it this way. He's not saying, "Blessed is the man who goes and does these things."
Jesus doesn't say "blessed are the pure in heart" so that you go out and try to be pure in heart so that you can be blessed. He's making a pronouncement on those that are pure in heart. The psalmist is making a pronouncement on someone who is delighting in the words of the Lord. He's not saying, "Hey, if you go do these things you'll be this way."
And oftentimes, we read Scripture that way. You know? "I've got some checkmarks to check off and do these things."
That's not the way the biblical writers are writing. But, what's interesting is the way he starts off this. He does not start off, "Blessed is the man," and then tell you all the things that the man's doing that make his life blessed. He starts off by saying the things that the man is not doing. But, he's not saying that so that you and I read this as, "Okay, I'm going to be blessed. So, I don't do this and I don't do this and I don't do this. But, I do this and I do this and I do that."
That's not what he's saying. He's saying, "This person is so focused on one thing that he's not going to be doing the other things. It's not because he's not trying to do the other things. It's because his focus is here."
Just like you cannot get on a plane in Chicago if you're in New York. You just can't do it. It's impossible. So, the psalmist starts off and he's got a reason why. So, let's read through this and then we're going to unpack this and you're going to think this is really an awesome psalm and you're probably going to go, "Wow, man. That's really cool the way they write."
Because, the biblical writers are awesome.
So, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night."
The psalmist is saying, "This man is blessed because this man is focused in one direction. And, because he's focused in one direction, he doesn't do this other stuff. It's not because he's not doing this other stuff that he's blessed or whatever. It's because he's focused that he doesn't do these things."
Now, oftentimes, when we read the Bible – and it's because there's a lot of things that get taught, especially in modern American Christianity and some of these books that are running around. You know, when people read the word "law", they automatically start thinking of sacrificing goats and rules and regulations and all this stuff that you go, "How does that work?" or whatever. Listen, the word "law" is the word "torah." And the word "torah" comes from a root word in Hebrew that means "to point." That's what it means.
So, think about this for a second. Think about if you read it this way: "The man is so blessed whose delight is in the way that God points."
His delight is in the instruction guide that God has said. That you want to do what it is that God wants you to do. You don't always do it. But, your delight is that you really want to make sure that you are focused in the way that God points. And, in that way, in the way God points, you're meditating day and night. You fundamentally have chosen that, "Hey, I'm going to go the way God points."
Which is so important here to understand. Because, he says, "This person is blessed because that's what they're doing, and they're not doing the other thing."
Which is a fundamentally different path that you and I can choose. And the way the writer does it is he does it this way. He says, "They walk, they stand and then they sit." The movement is getting less and less to where it becomes more rigid and more secure in a belief system. I want you to listen to what he says here.
He says, "This person doesn't walk in the counsel of the wicked."
Now, the problem is that we have words that we use differently. You know, all you've got to do is like, I think the word "set" has like 100+ usages in the English language. So, oftentimes, when you get a word, we have an assumption of what a word means. The biblical writers, when they use the word "wicked" or when they use the word "fool" or those types of words, what they're saying is that people that choose not to do the way God points, they choose to do the other way. There's two fundamental choices here. We can say, "Hey, I want to go where God wants me to go and I may not always live up to that. There's grace. But, that's where my hearts at and my heart wants to go where God wants to go. I'm meditating on that and I'm thinking about that. I've decided that's my life."
Or, there's another choice. And this person's not doing it because they've made the choice that they're going to point in this way. But, the psalmist says, "Listen. Here's what happens. Here's the way it works. When you start walking in the counsel of people that don't really care about what God says, don't really care about what God's Word says, what happens is you start acting on that and now you're standing in the way of sinners. And before long, you're sitting."
The Hebrew word is "dwell." You're dwelling in the seat of a scoffer. And you know, we look around the world as Christians and we go, "Yeah, that makes total sense."
You know, everybody's sort of listening to their own thing and doing their own thing. And they scoff about God's Word and everything else. And all of that's true. But, I want you to hear the heart of your pastor. The problem is that this attitude is in the church. I want you to listen to me here. What's happened is we do our thing – and I'm not saying you're not going to heaven. It's not the heaven or hell issue here. It's really the attitude issue. What happens is we love God and we say we love God and we love worship and we put our hands in the air and we do that stuff. But, we don't spend a whole lot of time in God's Word and we don't really delight in the way He points and we don't really know it that well. And before long, the words and the counsel of the people that are going in another direction. And the psalmist is so cool here. The word "man" is singular, but "wicked sinners" and "scoffers" are plural. It's like, "That man's walking against a stream of all of these other things coming the other direction."
The psalmist says, "Here's the way it works. You start listening to the counsel of 'I'm going to do it my way, not God's way' and before long you're acting on that. And before long, you're scoffing at God's Word."
And unfortunately in the church we have a lot of people that don't know the Bible very well or they go by what they feel. It's like, "You know, I just feel this way and I think this is the way it should be. I don't really know what the Bible says, but the Bible's probably a little outdated. I've listened to people and I've listened to all this stuff. I've listened to the counsel of those that aren't pointing this way."
And, before long, little things and little problems and it's culture and that and whatever. And we start scoffing at the very words of the God that we worship, that we say is our King. And the psalmist says, "Don't do that. That's just not the way to go. Because, the person who goes in the way God points, they're like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not whither. And, in all that he does, he prospers."
He says, "Listen, when your heart and your delight is to simply go in the direction that God points, when that's where you're at and you delight in that and you meditate in that and you spend time in that, you're like a tree. You didn't plant yourself. Somebody came and planted you right by the water."
And this is an arid land. I mean, getting by water. That's why the Egyptians were so important in the Old Testament, because they lived by the Nile. When you live by the Nile, you always had stuff. When you didn't live by water, there was famine that would come in the land. It was so important to be by the water. And here's a tree. You're like a tree. The one who delights themselves in the very words of God is like a tree planted by water. And what happens is all those roots go deep down and you can't see how that tree's being fed. You don't even understand sometimes how that tree's being fed. But, because it's by the water and it's being fed and it's got nutrients, what happens is its leaf doesn't whither, it yields fruit in its season and it prospers.
Now, that doesn't mean that storms don't ever come up. That doesn't mean that branches don't break off. It doesn't mean that fruit doesn't get eaten by birds. There's stuff that goes on. But, there's a difference here between the one who says, "I want to do what God wants me to do. I want to point my heart in the direction of God's Word."
That's different than the person who decides to go the other way. Because, he says, "It's not that way for the wicked. It's not that way for those that choose to do their own thing. They're like chaff that the wind drives away."
The wicked aren't necessarily somebody that's doing all evil. They may do evil. But, the wicked are just simply those that just don't want to do what God says. They're going to do their own thing. He says that when you do that, you're like chaff. You're not like the tree by the water that's got all the nutrients. You're like chaff that's dried up and the wind blows you away. So, the psalmist here has made it very clear that there's two fundamental ways here that we can live. And he starts off the Psalm that way. The book of Psalms, which we call the Psalter when we put all 150 together. And he says, "This is the two paths, and blessed is the man and blessed is the woman that really takes delight in doing it God's way."
Now, why would he say that and why would we go, "Well, let's think about that a little bit more about the Bible and maybe it's the Word of God and all those things. How does that work in my life and why should I want to read Scripture?"
Well, let me explain why. Let's look at these here. First of all, the Scriptures are God's revelation to us. Now, I teach systematic theology. I teach hermeneutics. I mean, I do a lot of these things. We have these big words that we use like infallibility and verbal-plenary inspiration. And I watch kids and their eyes gloss over like, "What do those words mean?"
Like when you go to a doctor and you don't want to hear him tell all the stuff. You just want to hear about some Aspirin or something that you know, like an Alka-Seltzer. You don't want to hear the medical name of it. It's cool that they know the medical name of it, but you're just like, "Dude, can you just give me some practical stuff?"
That's what I want to do here. The Scriptures are God's revelation to you and me. Anybody ever been to an auto show? You know, they've got the brand new car that they're going to unveil for everybody. They've got the lights on it and they've got people around and they've got the big blanket on top of the car. And then somebody comes out and says, "Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to show you now the 2018 whatever-it-is."
And, all of a sudden, they take the sheet off and there's the car and the lights are on and everybody's clapping and doing all that stuff. The word "revelation" is "apokalupsis" is the Greek. It just means to uncover; to unveil. It means to show you something that you didn't know. The Scriptures are God's revelation to you and me. You and me wouldn't have woken up one morning next to your wife and said, "You know honey, I just woke up and realized I'm a sinner. I'm just a sinner. Yeah. That's what it is."
She'd be like, "What do you mean?"
"I just came to this conclusion. I'm a sinner. I came to a conclusion that I'm a sinner and I'm in desperate need of God. That's what it is. And by the way, I've got these wisdoms that are just dropping in my head. Like 'one God.'"
And she's like, "Okay. One God..."
"...but there's three."
"Yeah. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
"Well, how does that work?"
"I don't know. I'm telling you. I don't know. I just came to these conclusions. I woke up and had it."
No, no, no. None of us would ever know some of these things had God not told us these things. The Scriptures are God's revelation to you and me. Look at the way Paul says it here in 2 Timothy 3:16.
He says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God."
I know some translations says that all Scripture is inspired. The original language is "pasa graphe theopneustos."
All graphe, the writings, theopneustos. A compound word. Theos. You've probably heard that word before. God. Pneuma is like wind or breath. It's a compound word that Paul has constructed. He says, "All Scriptures are God-breathed."
I don't like the word inspiration because, you know, if you play an instrument you can be inspired. And it sort of makes the Scriptures seem like maybe they're like that. They're not that. Paul says, "They are God-breathed. They're breathed out by God."
And listen to this. They're profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction. We don't like the reproof and correction part. But, that's what the Scriptures are there for. Okay? And training in righteousness. We don't like the be trained either. We say, "Oh, I don't want to be trained.
"That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."
Paul says, "Look, Timothy, I know you're pastoring in Ephesus. And I want you to understand something. The Scriptures themselves are God's revelation to you and me. They are breathed out by God and you can use them to teach people and to help people to be equipped for every good work. The revelation."
Secondly, the Scriptures instruct us in the way of righteousness and they keep us from false teaching. Now, oftentimes when we're reading the Scripture, if we're honest – you know, we read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and we're like, "Okay, all Scripture. I've got that. I've got that."
And then chapter 4 comes in and it's like, okay. Well, we're done. We can set the Bible aside. And maybe a couple weeks later we pick up in chapter 4 not realizing that those things all go together. He says, "Timothy. Listen, man. The Bible's God-breathed and it's profitable for teaching and correction and reproof and training in righteousness, that you may be complete and totally equipped for everything that you need."
And he says, "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom."
Man, that's strong stuff. Imagine I pull Heath, our youth pastor, in my office and go, "Heath, I charge you in the name of the Lord and of Jesus Christ, who is going to judge the living and the dead, at his appearing and his kingdom."
He'd be like, "I quit."
Because that'd be weird, right. But, Paul says, "Timothy, listen. I know you're a pastor and I know you're in Ephesus and I know that's a rodeo in Ephesus. I know there's a lot of stuff going on there. But, here's the deal. I'm charging you, Timothy. You've got to stand before God. Remember that. You know that. I know that. You've got to stand before God when He comes and He appears. There's one thing I need you to do as a pastor."
And I bet you if we said, "What's the thing that pastors should do," we'd have a bunch of different answers. Listen to what Paul says to Timothy what he's do to. He says, "Timothy, I charge you in all this stuff here who's going to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom. Here is what you're charged to do:
"Preach the word."
Preach the word. And you say, "Well, man. Chip, are you committed to teaching the Bible around here?"
I am. Why? Because I've read that. And you say, "Well, aren't there other things that a pastor should do?"
Yes. But, the highest calling of the pastor is to preach the word. And I want to say something to you all and also to those who watch online. I want you to hear me here. You could go to another church and there's other churches, I'm sure, that preach the Word of God. There's some that maybe do it more or less or whatever. But, you've chosen to come to a church that really does preach the Word of God and I think you should be complimented for the fact that in your life you have decided that you want to be at a place that teaches the Word of God. Because, I can't think of anything more important when we gather together on Saturdays and Sundays than to teach the Word of God.
So, I want to say thank you for coming to a church that believes in preaching on the authority of Scripture and believes in the Bible as the Word of God. Thank you. And you may say, "Well, why wouldn't you come to a church that preaches the Word of God?"
Seriously. I'm not joking. I'm being honest here. I've had people say, "I'm not coming back to your church."
"Why are you not coming back to our church?"
"Because, you preach too much Bible."
I'm like, "Really? Okay. What would you like?"
"More stories and jokes."
I'm like, "Yeah. My jokes aren't really that funny, because my wife tells me every weekend that it wasn't really that funny."
And now Grace, my oldest daughter, sits in church service and she's like, "Daddy, you're really not funny."
So, I want to be a comedian, but I'm not. So, preach the word. Listen here. He says, "But, be ready in season and out of season."
In other words, Timothy, you need to know this thing, buddy. If you're going to pastor people, then you better know the Word of God. Reprove, rebuke and exhort. You do those things. But, here's the way you do it. You do it with complete patience. Get on your people. Ride your people. Give them a hard time. It's complete patience. And teaching. That's what you do. And he says, "Here's why."
Remember, I said, point two. The Scriptures train us in righteousness and they keep us from false teaching. Here's what he says. "Timothy, preach the word. Make sure you do that because the time is coming when people are not going to endure sound teaching. They're going to have itching ears and they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions."
And listen to me here, every one of you. Because, you may have different opinions on certain things. It's real easy to go on the computer and find somebody to agree with your position on the Bible. Whatever it may be. When you're doing that, you're doing consumeristic Christianity. Because, it's so easy to go, "Well, yeah. That group over there, man, they just want to make the Bible say whatever it wants to say."
Yeah. But, for all of us, no matter where you think you're at on the Bible, it's really tough to do the turn the other cheek and love your enemy thing. It's easy for us to go, "That's not what it means."
It's easy to do that. It's easy to find somebody who will tell you, "That's not really what it means. It means something different than that."
But, the bottom line is Paul says, "Hey, you preach the word, Timothy. You don't let people get off. Because, what happens is when people start accumulating for themselves other stuff, what's going to happen is they're going to turn away from listening to the truth and they're going to wonder off into myths. They're going to follow the stuff that they like."
You know, myths, in this day and age, were like founding statements of culture and everything. He says, "I get it. People are going to follow these things and they're going to say that that's what's going on and that's really who God is. That can't be."
Not only that, but Scripture is a record of God's faithfulness to His own word. Listen, this is one of the best reasons to read the Bible. You and I have gone through stuff. Anybody in here not gone through stuff? Talk to me after church, because you will be going through stuff at some point. I can assure you of that. Okay? Many of you are going through stuff right now. And when we go through stuff, what happens? We go, "Where's God at? Where did He go?"
We don't feel Him and all that stuff. These stories that are in the Bible show you people like you and me that are going through stuff. And, even though they don't feel God, they don't see God, they wonder where God's at and read the Psalms. "Where are You at, God? Why is this going on?"
What happens is when you read those stories to the very end, you realize that even though the people were not faithful, God was always faithful to what He said He would do. Always. That's why Paul says to the Roman church, "Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction."
He understands that pointing. He understands that instruction guide. He says, "Through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope."
In other words, you start reading those stories of the patriarchs and the people that have come before you, the men and women of God who have been in all kinds of junk and all kinds of danger and all kinds of stuff, what you realize is that God is faithful to His word. Another reason to read Scripture.
Fourth: The Scriptures have validating internal testimony. They say things about themselves that are important for you and me to know. Peter's writing to his church. He's already written one epistle. This is 2 Peter 3:15. Look at what he says here.
He says, "And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him."
He's like, "Hey, I'm writing to you guys and telling you about the Lord and telling you about His patience and how He really wants people to come to the knowledge of truth and to understand who He is. And Paul has also written to you guys. Paul the Apostle. He's written to you guys.
"As he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters."
Now, listen. This next verse is just so awesome. This is so good for all of y'all. Anybody ever read the Bible and go, "Man, I have no idea what I'm reading."
Come on, now. I know you've done that. Right? Especially Paul. Like, "Paul, are you on a rant, man? Like, 16 chapters in Romans. What in the world are you saying, dude? I mean, you're just meandering all through the Law and grace and all this stuff and everything."
I love what Peter says here. He goes, "Because, there's just some things that Paul writes that are hard to understand."
I like that. Don't you? Isn't that great? You're going, "Is that really in the Bible?"
That's really in the Bible. I know sometimes I put up stuff here just to get you thinking or whatever. This is really in the Bible. You can go read your Bible. It's there. Peter's like, "Hey, I know Paul's written to you guys some things. And, I've got to be honest with you, some of them are like... the dude is hard to understand."
And you're thinking, "If that's Peter, the guy that said in Matthew 16, 'You're the Christ, the Son of the Living God.'"
"Peter, on this rock I'm going to build a church."
Peter, the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2. 3,000 people get saved. All that good stuff. If he's saying, "Hey, Paul's sort of hard to understand," that's a touchdown for you and me. Right? That should be the biggest get out of jail free card. I mean, even at 10:15 you ought to be going, "Woo!" like a football game.
So, anyway, "There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction," – look here, now. This is important – "as they do the other Scriptures."
Peter is saying that what Paul is writing is Scripture. So you can say, "Well, I don't really believe the Bible. I don't really believe that. I love Jesus. But, I'm not quite sure about the Bible."
But, what you can't say is that the Bible doesn't think it's the Bible or that the Scriptures don't think they're inspired. You can say, "Well, Jesus is a sort of cool dude. But, I don't really think that Jesus is the only way. There's got to be a lot of other stuff."
You can say that, but you can't say that Jesus said that because Jesus said, in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me."
You can say you don't believe it, but you can't say Jesus didn't believe it. You can't say that the Bible doesn't believe that the Scriptures are inspired and that some of the writings that are going on right at the time that these guys are doing it, they're realizing, "Man. Paul, the stuff you're writing that you probably don't even know you're writing, man, they're, in fact, Scriptures. God is using you to write some things."
It internally validates its own self. So, now that we've looked at all of that and said, "Okay, that's a pretty good case. Good stuff," let's do some simply good advice to take home. This is where I want you to get out your sheet of paper. Write these things down. These are some things I want you to really go home and think about and I want you to chew on and I want you to spend time with God about looking at your life and where you're at with reading God's Word.
The first one is that the more committed we are to our relationship with Jesus, the more life changing our reading will be. See, there's a lot of people that read the Bible and they read it like it's a transactional truth book that if they just memorize it and they just know it, they can tell everybody what they're doing wrong. Like it's just this book that they read. The Bible's not intended for you and I to read it that way. It's intended for you and I to read it to understand more of who Jesus is and to have more of a relationship with Him. It's a relational book. Look at the way Jesus says this in John 5.
He says to the religious leaders, the people that know Scripture really well – they can quote it chapter and verse. I mean, the know it, know it, know it.
He says, "You guys search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. You think you should read that book and tell everybody how to live and all that stuff. That it's just like a fact book for you to memorize and tell everybody don't do this, live that way, do this, do that. That's what you guys do. You guys are all in the Scriptures. You read them a lot. And they do bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life."
Jesus is saying, "Hey, you can read this thing the wrong way. If it's not leading you to a relationship with me, then something's awry in your searching of the Scriptures."
That's why the more committed you and me are to Jesus, the more life-changing it's going to be. We've got a lot of people that know Scripture in the church. The problem is they're not really knowing Jesus in the church. And that's the big problem. The more committed we are to Jesus, the more when we read Scripture it will change our lives.
Secondly, the more committed we are to the truth of God's Word, the more attention it's going to have in our lives. Now, I want everybody here that's like 45 and younger to lean in. Because, this is important. We live in a day and age where the truth of God's Word has been eroded. You hear it all the time. I mean, I sit around with students and stuff and they'll say, "You know, Chip, I really feel this way about this particular thing," or, "I just think this way about this particular thing," or, "I just know that this is the way it is."
And I want to look at them and say, "Look, I totally understand that's the way you feel and I'm not trying to downplay your feelings. I believe you feel that way. But, the authority for you and me is not how we feel or what we think or our persuasions on things."
What's the truth is the truth. And the more we're committed to the truth of God's Word, the more we're going to give it attention. The problem is it's sort of eroded. And people go, "Yeah, you know, I love Jesus. But, there's like 66 books and I've read some stuff online. I'm not quite sure. Some of those numbers don't add up. We know the earth's pretty old and I don't know about that six or seven-day thing and all of this stuff."
And, next thing you know, you're going, "Well, I love Jesus. But, I don't really know about this. Chip, for me to really read the Bible, I mean, I hate to say it, Chip, I sort of have to put my brain on the shelf a little bit because that's just what I'd have to do."
I like what Ben Witherington, a New Testament scholar, says. He goes, "It's not your brain that's required to be sacrificed. It's self."
It requires the sanctification of the intellect to read Scripture, not the sacrifice of it. People say, "Well, yeah. I just want to love Jesus. I love Jesus. I love Jesus."
Okay. Great. Let's start there. You want to follow Jesus? Well, what did Jesus think about Scripture? Of the roughly 3,779 verses in the Gospels, roughly 1,934 are the words of Jesus. Of the words Jesus spoke, in 10% He quotes the Old Testament. Every one out of ten words out of Jesus' mouth, He was quoting something out of the Bible. In fact, what I did is I did a little thing here. I didn't quote the whole Scriptures. I just took Matthew 12:3, 12:5, 19:4, 21:16 and 42. Here as I put them up, I want you to see people talking to Jesus.
"You know, Jesus. I just love You, You know? And I'm just not quite sure."
"Well, have you not read what David did?"
"Well, You know, I'm not quite sure, You know, about all of that stuff."
"Well, have you not read?"
"Well, yeah. You know, but I'm not quite sure."
"Have you never read?"
"Well, yeah. You know, but, I mean, Jesus, well..."
"Did you never read in the Scriptures? Have you not read?"
This is the way Jesus talked. He's like, "Hey, you know what? Have you read these things?"
Because, these things, they're true. They're not like some story that's made up. This really happened. This is truth here. He says, praying to His Father in John 17:17, "Your Word is truth."
It's not some fabrication. And maybe we need to learn to read it better. Maybe we need to learn how to literarily understand some of the things. Maybe we need to understand some background. All of that stuff's on the table. We're going to do all that stuff. But, I want to assure you as your pastor if you come to Grace Community Church that the Word of God, the 66 books, the library that we call the Bible, it's God-breathed and it's profitable to do all of the things that God says it will do. And there's no reason for you and me to walk out of here and not believe that the Scriptures are in fact the Word of God. And I'm committed to that as a pastor. And I've spent a lot of time and I've read all the things against it and I've done all the things to tear it apart and I've taken textual criticism.
I've done all those things. And I'm telling you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, if there's one thing that I know other than that Jesus Christ got up from the grave on the third day, literally, and one day is going to come back, I can tell you for a fact that reading God's Word has been the most transformational thing that's happened in my life. It's made more of a difference in my life than anything else. And I can tell you I can go to that book over and over again and it just shows me different things every time and I see Jesus in everything that I find in that Scripture. Man, it just changes your life.
Thirdly, and this is the best one of all, God's more committed to His own Word than He is to our actions. Let me explain this, because I know some of you are going to go, "Well, yeah. But, there's 'if/then' things."
Yeah. There is. If you don't do the "then," you don't get the "if." I agree with that. There's if/thens there. But, there's sometimes God says things and when He says them, He just says them and they're true. He came to Abraham in Genesis 12 and He said, "Abraham, I'm going to make you a great nation, buddy. I'm going to do great things with you."
He didn't say, "Abraham, if you'll do all these things..."
He said, "Abraham, this is what I'm going to do in your life."
And what does Abraham do? Well, he bumbles and fumbles just like you and me. He does all kinds of stuff. He lies about his wife. He takes Lot with him when he's not supposed to take Lot with him. I always joke when God tells us to go somewhere that we usually take a lot with us too, right? You know? See? It's one of those bad jokes. That's why I need to preach the Bible.
In Genesis 15, God's talking to Abraham about all these things He's going to do.
"Abraham, I'm going to do all these great things."
And Abraham says, "God, how am I going to know?"
And he doesn't ask it in a sense of doubt. He just says, "God, how am I to know?"
He says, "I'll tell you what, Abraham. I'm going to do something that you'll understand. Me and you are going to cut a covenant, buddy."
And Abraham knew about those covenants. He knew how to cut a covenant. You take some animals and you lay them out and you cut them in half and spread them out and two people walk through those animal carcasses and they agree that if they don't keep their end of the bargain, they get cut up too.
He said, "Abraham, go cut some carcasses up. We're going to cut a covenant."
Abraham's like, "Alright, man. Now I know how it's going to happen, man. God's going to tell me what He's going to do. He's going to tell me what I need to do and we're going to know. This is how I'm going to know."
So, Abraham does all of the things that he's supposed to do and it's time to walk through those animal carcasses. And God puts Abraham to sleep. You're out. The Bible says that God Himself comes walking through those carcasses by Himself. Why? Because God knew that Abraham would not keep his part of the bargain. But, God knew that He would. God will keep His part of the bargain. But, if we don't know what His part is, we're missing out on everything. And I'm not trying to guilt you into reading Scripture. I'm just tell you, man, you've got a love letter from the King of Kings telling you all the great things that He's done and will continue to do. And there's no reason for us not to know those things.
Because, when you were dating somebody and you loved your sweetie and some of you all got letters back in the day and some of us today get texts. It's like, you can't wait to see those texts and read them. God has given you and me a text to tell us all the great things that we need to know about Him and what He'll do for us. Let's reset here at the beginning of the year and let's commit to spending a little bit more time in the Word of God.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for the opportunity to be able to share Your Scriptures on a weekly basis. God, I'm committed to that as a pastor. I pray, God, that You would commit us as a church to spending a little bit more time in Your Word. Lord, I pray that You would really download that into us today.
So Lord, I pray that as we leave here today that You would watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us. And I pray, Lord, that You'd bring us back safely to when we meet again and I pray, God, that You would continue to help us be a church that is pleasing to You in every way in everything that we do; not walking to the left or to the right, but to stay focused upon You and Your Son.
Go with us as we leave and help us bring back some people when we come back to hear the great things from the Word of God. We love You for it and praise You for it. In Jesus' name, everybody said "amen."
Give the Lord a big hand clap and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.