It’s our final day of laying a foundation of what Believers believe. Glad you’re here. Do you have a sister or two to chat with? your journal and a pen? Let’s get started.
Father God, open our hearts to You today. Open our eyes to the wonder of Your Word.
One of the truly basic aspects of living out the Christian faith is to believe the Bible is God’s Word. Our memory verse last week tells us: All Scripture is God-breathed… speaking requires breath. Therefore, Scripture, the Bible, is God speaking to us. We believe, trust, it is His very words to His people.
I didn’t grow up in church, but I was exposed to Christianity all my life through extended family. When God captured my heart and I began walking with Him, there were only two things I knew to do: pray and be in His Word. I made the conscious decision as a new Believer to accept the Bible for what He said it was, His breathed out Word and not the words of men.
It’s not all blind faith for me. I wrestle with God in His Word when things seem incongruent or contradictory. But I view the problem as my problem and not God’s. I ask for understanding. Like Mary asked about being a pregnant virgin, “How can this be?” I’ve never, or at least I don’t remember ever, questioning whether the Bible was God’s Word.
In my naiveté I believed all Believers accepted the Bible as God’s Word. My first look at the reality of those who call themselves Believers and don’t believe the Bible is His Word was, ironically, during a Bible study.
It was the first session and the pastor of the church was teaching. We were in a small chapel with a center aisle about twenty feet long. The pastor asked us to stand in the aisle as a measure of the percentage of the Bible we believed was true. The doors at the back of the chapel marked believing 100% and the altar (again ironically) was the mark for not believing any of it was true.
As people moved to reveal their belief in the Bible I was astounded. There were about 25-30 in the class. I positioned myself about three inches away from the doors. There were two others in my general vicinity. The next nearest about 5-6 feet away from the doors, many in the middle, but some ranged within five feet of the altar. The pastor smiled and said, “Yes, that’s about right statistically, and I would fall somewhere in the middle of the aisle myself.”
I have to tell you, again, I was utterly astounded! I wondered, “Why are you people even here if you don’t believe!” I just don’t get it.
My experience has been, the more you trust the Bible as His Word and live by it to the best of your understanding the more alive and active you will find His Word in your life.
“Stacy, I don’t believe the Bible is the literal word of God.” He was my friend, boss, and my pastor. We discussed this further as we drove to Dallas, and at the ripe old age of twenty-six I was astounded. At some point in our Christian lives we will run into others who believe many things about the Bible. They believe it is allegory, poetry… just a story. Some will agree it has historical value and others will say it is essential to the Christian faith.
I’ll never forget the drive home after a particularly heated debate among the members of my Old Testament class and the professor. I watched as the professor made tough statements and my classmates came apart at the seams. By the end of the discussion some were fighting mad and others were in tears.
I was quiet during class, but the two-hour ride home was a bit different. My mind was spinning. “Lord, what in the world am I supposed to do with this? Is there truth or validity in the professor’s words? Did you inspire this book? Are there mistakes, contradictions? And what about translation errors?” Tears flowed as I considered the week I just spent in a Christian seminary studying the Old Testament. It was not what I expected, but it was just what I needed.
Somewhere along that stretch of highway I found peace. Not because God answered each question, but because I made a choice. I simply decided for me, the Bible is God’s Word. He inspired His children to write it and He has preserved it for thousands of years. God has shown me His Word is true and He is faithful to speak to me through His Word. The Bible is God’s Word… a point I’m not willing to debate.
Where are you when it comes to believing the Bible is God’s Word?
The Bibles we read in English are translations, paraphrases, or a mixture of both. God’s Word was originally delivered to those who wrote it in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. There are 66 books contained in the Bible written by thirty-something different people over a period of about 1500 years. But when put together in one volume they deliver one message. Evidence of one author: God.
When we take a book, which is actually a translated version of 66 different books, how can we be sure of its validity and accuracy? How trustworthy is this Book?
Read 2Peter 1:19-21
We read this passage last week in our homework as evidence of Scripture being the very Word of God through the Holy Spirit and not the words of men. But look at how Peter begins this discussion on the validity of Scripture as God’s Word: And we have something more sure… (ESVUK) or We have also a more sure word of prophecy… (KJV)
When we see a comparative statement like this or a therefore it’s usually very wise and enlightening to read the verses before to see the full context.
Read 2Peter 1:16-21
Who is writing this letter?
What is he explaining?
The truth of the gospel. It is not a myth and did not come from the imagination of men. He reminds them he was an eyewitness to Jesus’s ministry and to the Transfiguration. He saw Jesus transformed on the mountain in all His glory and heard God the Father say: This is my beloved Son… (See Matthew 17:1-8)
Immediately following this eyewitness testimony, what does Peter write?
And we have something more sure…
What do we have that is more sure?
The prophetic word, Scripture. Specifically, he is referring to the Old Testament. The prophecies foretelling the coming of the Messiah give more assurance of the truth of Jesus than the eyewitness accounts of the apostles. In short, the Bible is more sure, more believable, than an EYEWITNESS ENCOUNTER. Are you believing that!?
The Word is our light in a very dark world. Without it and the revealing power of the Holy Spirit we don’t know what we are seeing. And others don’t see what we see.
Last week I was in St. Louis and we had the opportunity to go to a Cardinals game. You have to understand, we are not baseball fans. I know very little about the sport and less about the Cardinals. The only thing I know is my sister in faith and her family are huge Cardinal fans.
I sat in the stadium watching the lights, stats, and players not really knowing what I was seeing. As I texted pictures to Stacy, she would text back information which helped me understand what I was seeing. Without her words I would have no idea about the importance of the game, the history of the stadium, her favorite player, or the significance of the Bobblehead I received upon entering the gate. Her words and her spirit turned me into a Cardinals fan for an afternoon.
In the same way, when Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the Temple to have Him dedicated according to the Law, many saw Him but only two knew what they were seeing: Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:22-38). They knew because of the Word and the revealing power of the Holy Spirit.
We need to pay more attention to God’s Word than to eyewitness encounters. Why? Because it is God’s Word! He cannot lie. He has the power to preserve and protect His Word, His Holy Scriptures. And if He tells us it’s His Word we need to receive it as His Word. He will bless our faithfulness to His Word even if we get it wrong or misunderstand. And when we are wrong He will bring correction in a very gracious way.
Do you believe the Word is a better assurance of the truth than an eyewitness encounter?
Yes, we understand the only proof we’ve offered for the Bible as God’s Word are verses from the Bible itself. But we must remember our definition of faith… the conviction of things not seen.
The best evidence comes from accepting His Word by faith and living it out obediently in your life to the best of your understanding. There is proof to be had in trusting His Word is true.
Have you experienced the truth of His Word? How?
Before we can start living it, we have to read it.We need to know what He says.
How have you approached reading the Bible? Have you read the entire Bible?
We considered Deuteronomy 8:3 in our homework last week. God reminded the people through Moses they would not survive on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus, during His time of temptation in the wilderness, quoted this verse to the tempter in order to overcome temptation.
Read Matthew 4:1-4
We are to live by God’s Word. Nourish ourselves from it. Gain strength and life from it. But it takes time to learn and grow to eat His Word.
1Corinthians 3:1-2 gives us a picture of spiritual milk and meat.
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not ready for it…
What prepares us to move from milk to solid food? Consider a baby. They start with milk. What literally has to happen for them to be able to eat meat?
Growth needs to happen. Teeth need to erupt. Muscles need to develop. And the more we grow the more we need to eat.
My second child was born a ravenous little man. The first few days, before I began producing the calorie rich milk he craved, was a challenge. I remember sitting in my grandfather’s rocking chair to feed him for what must have been the hundredth time, and the tears began to fall. I was a hurting, sore, tired momma with a baby who couldn’t get enough. My husband took one look at my tears and said, “Why are you doing this if it hurts so bad?”
I’m just stubborn about some things I guess and after a week or so the baby and I adjusted. At nine months he was sitting in the high chair when I handed him a green bean all smashed up. He gummed the bean, swallowed, and from that point on he ate what we were having for dinner. Not long after as I sat to nurse him before bedtime, he pursed his little lips and turned away. He was done with Momma’s milk and never looked back.
The same thing is true spiritually when it comes to God’s Word. As spiritual infants we are hungry for God’s Word and are satisfied with the milk. As we grow, the way we approach God’s Word must grow too. At some point we must move from milk to solid food.
Read Hebrews 5:11-14
Why was the author of Hebrews unable to explain more to his readers?
He was unable to teach them because they wouldn’t be able to understand.
According to this passage, how do people grow spiritually to the point of needing solid food?
We grow spiritually by practicing to distinguish good from evil. This happens when we exercise God’s Word by faith. When we fail to distinguish correctly, He will gently convict us. With each step of faithful obedience, with each conviction we become more adept at discerning what is good and what is evil.
The author of Hebrews expected his readers to all be able to teach someone something of what they’d learned from Scripture, from practicing what they knew of Scripture. But they had not grown. They needed to be taught afresh, given more milk. They were unskilled in the Word.
Reading and responding to Scripture as God’s Word is essential to our spiritual growth.
What inspires you to read God’s Word?
Read John 14:25-26
What did Jesus tell His disciples?
The Holy Spirit would come and remind them of all He has said.
Last week, we considered Jesus as the Word. If Jesus is the Word of God, what parts of the Bible does He encompass?
All of it.
John 14:26 inspired me to read through the entire Bible. My reasoning was: He can’t remind me of something I’ve never heard Him say. So I set to work.
But this is not where I began. When I first started reading the Bible after I began my walk with God much of it seemed overwhelming to me and I didn’t always understand it. But I knew I had to be in it to get to know this God who captured my heart.
I remember Christmas shopping a few months after my conversion. I came to a book store in the mall and thought I needed to go in and find a devotional for the coming year to help me read the Bible. I went to the Christian book section and said a brief silent prayer, “Show me what I need.” And a book on the shelf drew my attention. It was a yearlong devotional by Kay Arthur on the book of John. I flipped through the pages and by faith bought it. I read it through the year and she helped me more fully understand the gospel and what was going on in me. She fed me some much needed milk.
As I continued to read on my own, in the company of the Spirit, I would be caught by just one verse or phrase and would carry it in my heart, all the while asking what it meant. He eventually revealed why the verse was important to me at that time. Over the months and years, I began being moved by paragraphs, pages, whole chapters, and seeing how it connected to my life, spiritually speaking.
Looking back, I can see where I moved from milk, to semi-solid food, to meat, and then three-course meals. I’m waiting to be prepared to eat a full seven-course meal.
Where are you when it comes to eating His Word?
There are many different ways to read His Word. We have seen already it is the bread of life to be eaten. His Word is also for washing.
This metaphor of the Word being related to water gives us a picture of the many ways we can spend time in the Word. We drink water, like eating we take it into our lives and let it work in us and through us. It gives us life. But we also use water for taking a shower. Letting the water run over us, not trying to take it in, just letting it cleanse us. Then other times, we get in the bath and soak in it. We remain in it.
Though I’ve been studying God’s Word almost all my life, I can’t truly say I’ve read or heard every single word. This year I made a commitment to read or listen to every single word. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m still going.
Last week I was listening to one of the gospels in my car as I went to pick the boys up from school and I wondered… Is this doing any good? I can’t really sit and study or meditate at this moment. I don’t have study tools to help me understand a word or phrase. Is there any good in listening as I ride along?
Not long after as I hopped in the shower part of a Scripture came to mind. “…having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” Listening or reading through His word is like a shower for me at times. I don’t have to understand where hot water comes from or the molecular structure of the droplets raining down on me. Just like the water cleanses me without my understanding… so does God’s Word.
No matter how we spend time in the Word, it is doing a holy work in us through Jesus by the power of the Spirit.
Let’s consider soaking in the Word for a moment.
Read John 8:32
What does abide mean? How do we abide in His Word?
The Greek translated as abide means to not depart, to continue to be present, to be held, kept continually (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon) and continue in an activity (Dictionary of Biblical Languages). To abide in His Word, means to remain in His Word. Soak it up. Soak in it. Never leave it.
What have you experienced by abiding in His Word?
When we abide in His Word we discover truth about God and ourselves. If we willingly accept the truth revealed, He moves us toward healing and freedom.
As we gain spiritual maturity, learning to distinguish good from evil, the Word is our only offensive weapon against evil.
Read Ephesians 6:10-18
What does this passage tell us about God’s armor? Identify the pieces of armor and their role in spiritual warfare: equipping, defensive, or offensive.
- Belt of truth: equipping, girds up our pants so we don’t trip.
- Breastplate of the righteousness of Christ: equips us with courageous hearts.
- The shoes of the peace of the gospel: equipping, helps us stand firm against attack.
- Shield of faith: defensive shield against the attack of the enemy.
- Helmet of salvation: defends and protects our thought life.
- The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God: offensive weapon with which we can make the enemy retreat. Just as Jesus did in the wilderness when He faced temptation.
We also learned this last week in Hebrews 4:12 the Word of God is a double-edged sword. A two-edged sword has to be handled with care.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (ESV)
God’s Word judges our obedience to His Word. When we know what it says but don’t do it, His Word reveals our disobedience. When we do what it says but with wrong intention, His Word reveals our hypocrisy. We are not to use it to judge others, that’s God’s job. We are to read the Word and let it judge our hearts. We might try to use it to judge others, but we will get cut in the progress.
It’s been a funny grace I’ve recognized in my walk with God. Anytime I’ve tried to memorize Scripture solely for the purpose of defending an argument, I’ve not been able to retain it or remember where it is found in the Bible. Yet verses He’s used to cut me to the bone with conviction are seared in my memory.
Our battle is spiritual: both internally and externally. Growth and strength depend on eating the Word of God. Washing in it. Soaking in it. Allowing it to transform us with its truth.
The final part of the battle gear in our Ephesians passage is prayer.
We will begin going deeper into prayer with our homework this week and it is closely related to His Word.
Lord Jesus, You are the Word made flesh. Fill us with a hunger for Your Word. Grow us to live out Your Word in the flesh.
Have a great week.
Click the link for the PDF of the next week’s homework: Week 6-Going Deeper