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Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Believer's View of God's Word

I'm not sure where the saying originated, but I hear it quoted from time to time. It's a warning that we should be "worshiping Christ and not the Bible". On one level it sounds quite logical and godly, but behind it is the idea that the two are mutually exclusive. That's not what I see when I read Scripture. Scripture itself tells me that it is "God-breathed" [2Tim3:16-17], that it contains "the oracles", the very words, of God [1Pet.4:11] and that I am to crave it as a newborn baby craves milk [1Pet.2:2]. God's Word reveals God. If we are worshiping Christ, we need to be doing so in Truth, as He has revealed Himself to us. Otherwise we're worshiping a false Christ, an idol of our own making.

John 4:23 "But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him."

How then should we view Scripture? Dr. Mayhue's book ["How to Interpret the Bible for Yourself"] gives an edifying summary:

1. A Commitment to Receive It
1Th 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

Paul preached an eternal message. Scripture contains the mind and the word and the will of God. It's eternal, non-negotiable, never-changing and absolute. It "is at work in...believers". Those who are "in Christ" need to receive it for what it truly is.

2. A Commitment to Feed On It
Job 23:8-12 "Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food."

Job finds himself in circumstances he doesn't understand. He thought he had a good understanding of God, but now he finds himself groping in the darkness. He's trying to find the reality of God in the midst of horrendous circumstances. Where does He turn? He trusts in God's words - and the KEY is that this has been Job's lifelong experience. He didn't wait for disaster to strike. He had received and been consistently and continuously feeding on "the words of his mouth". It was MORE important to him than his daily nourishment! May our souls be satisfied because they've fed on that which is spiritually healthful and worth more than gold. We also need to be consistently and continuously FEEDING on God's Word.

Psa 19:7-10 "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb."

3. A Commitment to Obey It
Num 14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.

Moses sent 12 men into the land. They all viewed the same scenery, they all experienced the same feelings, they all came back with the same report - there was a tough road ahead. But they were divided in their advice concerning what to do next. Ten concluded it was too difficult and they had better not go. Two, Joshua and Caleb, knew it wouldn't be easy... but concluded that they needed to go because God had said He would be with them.

What does God say about Caleb in the above verse? He calls him "MY servant". The servant of God "has a different spirit" and follows Him fully. God doesn't want a 70% follower, or a 90% follower....He wants a 100% follower! How can we be that? By knowing His Word and obeying it.

1John 2:4-6 Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

4. A Commitment to Honor It
Neh 8:4-6 And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose... And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

After the return from the Captivity Ezra read the Scripture to the people. How did they respond to it? They worshiped God. Our response, every time the Word of God is opened, should be worship, for in the pages of Scripture are seen the majesty and the greatness of God. There is only one right response to the living God, and that is to bow down and worship Him. Scripture reveals God! It's a privilege to have it, to know it and understand it, to receive it, to feed on it, and obey it. And one day, God will hold us responsible for it.

2Tim.2:15 "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."

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