Perhaps our greatest need in the church is to get into God’s Word. Many people have shared their opinions on this matter, but now God wants to speak.
Finance, fitness and food goals are important, but no goal is more important than sitting before God with an open Bible and a humble, teachable heart.
This is the posture a Christian is to assume his or her entire life. Salvation may happen in a single moment of belief, but learning to live as a Christian and fully follow Jesus is the adventure of a lifetime. We continually learn to follow Jesus through his Word, the Bible.
R. A. Torrey, a close associate of D.L. Moody, once said, “Christians who pray for power, but neglect the Bible, abound in the church. But the power that belongs to God is stored up in the great reservoir of his own Word, the Bible.”
D.L. Moody himself had much to say about the Bible, and was always pointing His hearers back to the Word:
“The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.”
“The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”
“I never saw a fruit-bearing Christian who was not a student of the Bible. If a man neglects his Bible, he may pray and ask God to use him in his work; but God cannot make use of him, for there is not much for the Holy Ghost to work upon.”
I don’t know about you, but reading D.L. Moody’s encouragements to read the Bible are soul-stirring! He gives us a window into what it means to treasure our Bibles.
The Bible has much to say about itself, as well. Here are five Scriptures that will super-charge your Bible engagement.
1. Meditate on God’s Word day and night (Ps. 1:1-3).
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”
This is one of my all-time favorite Scripture passages.
Planting yourself in God’s Word is like planting a tree by water. There is an abundance of life giving nutrients to give strength for a lifetime.
Here’s a more modern illustration. A missionary to Africa has said, “Christianity, boring? So is the best TV show if the set isn’t plugged in. Be plugged into God and you won’t be yawning.”
We plug into (or put our roots into) God and his purposes for our lives through engagement with the Bible and obedience to what God has spoken. If we don’t do these two things (read and obey the Bible), we will always be lacking in our spiritual fervor and vibrancy. If we do them, we will be on an adventure of a lifetime, and our spiritual life will be moving in the direction it needs to be going.
2. Let the Word dwell in you richly (Col. 3:16).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Maybe you already love your Bible … but are you giving enough time or consideration to it? Let the Bible dwell in you richly—not poorly, not half-heartedly—but richly. Build your life on it. Make it your most important daily habit. Stake your future on it.
3. Remember that the authors of the Bible spoke from God (2 Peter 1:20-21).
“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Scripture is not fanciful tales, or incorrect history. It is pure, true and trustworthy because it has come to us from our faithful God. Archeology has consistently proven the accuracy of the Bible, and all doubt cast on these points by secular society fall flat to the honest scholar. There is far more evidence pointing to the accuracy of the Scriptures than we could ever fathom.
The Bible is not just nice words from men and women. It is not simply the oldest and most accurate history book. It is not just the bestselling book of all time, packed with wonderful stories.
The Bible is God’s words to us today, and every day. God has spoken and is now speaking through the Bible. The Bible is wisdom, peace, comfort, correction and direction for your tomorrow. The Bible is the lifeblood of the Christian, drawing him or her ever closer to Christ. The Bible is the greatest book in all of humanity, and our greatest potential opportunity to know God more.
4. Remember that all Scripture is useful (2 Tim. 3:14-16).
“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
The Word of God is not just lofty prose. It contains various forms of literature and tells powerful stories, but it is far more than this. It is useful for you and your everyday life. It is helpful to show you the way to God and how to live in light of the reality of God.
There are a thousand insights in the Bible that could help you right now in practical ways in your everyday life, but they will never benefit you if you don’t open the book. A pastor recently shared, “How many times the wisdom we needed for the day was in the Bible passage we didn’t read that morning.”
5. Do what it says (James 1:21-25).
“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it–not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it–they will be blessed in what they do.”
A. W. Tozer said, “We can know the right words yet never be changed. This is the difference between information and transformation.”
Scripture gives this warning. Don’t be “deceived”—or, how another translation words it, ” you are only fooling yourselves.” We need to obey.
Is there an area of your life that doesn’t line up with what the Bible says, and you know it? Don’t keep looking for another solution when you know what you need to do. Repent, turn from ways you know are wrong, and obey what God has spoken to you through his Word.
This is the real power of the Word of God—when we allow it to transform the way we think, speak, act and live.
Continue in the Word. Don’t forget what you’ve heard. Do it. And you will be blessed in ways you cannot begin to imagine.
Matt Brown (@evangelistmatt) is an evangelist, author and founder of Think Eternity, an evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands of people with the gospel each year through live events and online. This article was originally published on Matt’s blog at ThinkE.org.
Obeying authority is hard. We bristle anytime we hear someone say: “You must do this. You ought to do that.” We want to be able to say: “Don’t tell me what to do. I want to do what I want to do.” We want people to empower and entitle us. We hate receiving mandates. That’s our nature. In light of this, I like to talk about a Christian worldview and how it differs from a pagan worldview. One way to differentiate the two would be to consider each worldview’s understanding of responsibility toward authority. If I were not a Christian, I certainly wouldn’t embrace submission to authority. But being a Christian makes me hesitate before I live in active disobedience to those whom God has put in authority over me. To understand why, we must look at the New Testament’s explanation of the origin and function of government under God. This issue is clearly dealt with by the Apostle Paul in the thirteenth chapter of his epistle to the Romans.
Romans 13 begins: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment”(vv. 1–2). Paul begins this study of the government with an Apostolic command for everyone to submit to governing authorities. This lays a framework for Christian civil disobedience.
Paul’s teaching in Romans 13:1–2 is not an isolated instance in the New Testament. Paul is simply reiterating here what he teaches elsewhere, what is also taught by Peter in his epistles—and by our Lord Himself—that there is a fundamental obligation of the Christian to be a model of civil obedience. We as the people of God are called upon to be as obedient as we possibly can in good conscience to the powers that be. Remember that Paul is writing this to people who are under the oppression of the Roman government. He’s telling people to be submissive to a government that would eventually execute him. But he doesn’t do so in a blind sense that precludes any possibility of civil disobedience.
For now, I want us to see that Paul is setting the stage in Romans 13 for explaining why the Christian is supposed to be particularly scrupulous and sensitive in civil obedience. Paul begins to set forth his case by saying, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” Why? “For there is no authority except from God.” Peter puts it another way. He tells us to submit ourselves to the earthly authorities for the Lord’s sake (1 Peter 2:13). That means that if I show no respect to a person whom God has set in authority between Himself and me, my disrespect carries beyond that person and ultimately lands on God as the giver of the authority. The biblical concept of authority is hierarchical. At the top of the hierarchy is God. All authority rests ultimately in God, and there is no authority invested in any institution or in any person except through the delegation of that authority from God. Any authority that I have in any area of my life is a derived, appointed, and delegated authority. It is not intrinsic but extrinsic. It is given ultimately by the One who has inherent authority. Within this hierarchy structure, God the Father gives all authority on heaven and earth to Christ, His Son (Matt. 28:18). God has enthroned Christ as the King of kings. So if Christ is the prime minister of the universe, it means that all the kings of this world have a King who reigns over them and that all the earthly lords have a superior Lord to whom they are accountable. We know that there are vast multitudes of people in this world who do not recognize Christ as their King, and because His kingdom is invisible right now, they say, “Where is this king? I don’t see any reigning king.” In light of this, the task of the church is of cosmic political proportions.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus gave a mandate to His disciples: “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). They were to be witnesses, but witnesses to what? The immediate context of this verse is a discussion about the kingdom. Jesus was going to heaven, but He said, “In my absence you are to bear witness to the transcendent, supernatural truth of my ascension.” That’s why our first loyalty as Christians must be to our heavenly King. We are called to respect, honor, pray for, and be in subjection to our earthly authorities, but the minute we exalt the earthly authority over the authority of Christ, we have betrayed Him, and we have committed treason against the King of kings. His authority is higher than the authority of the president of the United States or Congress or the king of Spain or any ruler anywhere else.
If you don’t like the president of the United States, remember that the One who cast the deciding ballot in his election was almighty God. Of course, God doesn’t sanction or endorse everything that the president does; neither is it the case that God turns the authority over to the president and says, “Go ahead and rule these people however you want.” Every king is subject to the laws of God and will be judged accordingly. It may be that the president is completely ungodly, but for reasons known to God alone, God has placed him in that seat of authority.