Message 2

 

The Book of books

 

 

The Bible is the Book of books. In the following paragraphs is a brief study of the indispensability and profitability of the Bible taught and demonstrated by Christ Jesus in the four gospels.

 

The very name of Jesus is "The Word of God" (Rev 19:13). The Baby Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary when she submitted herself to the Word of God (Lk 1:38). The Boy Jesus even forgot about His parents when He got engrossed in the study of the Scriptures (Lk 2:42-49). The Man Jesus loved the Word so much that He said, "My mother and My brothers are those who hear the Word of God and obey it" (Lk 8:21). The crucified Jesus even on the cross was mindful to fulfill the Scriptures (Jn 19:28). John Bunyan the author of Pilgrimís Progress learnt this secret from Jesus and said, "I was never out of my Bible!" So be it in our lives.

 

Our Daily Bread

 

The first recorded reference to the Scriptures by Christ is Matthew 4:4, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God." It is actually a quotation from the Old Testament (Dt 8:3). In these words Moses explained to the people that just like the daily manna, the Word of God was a must for living.

 

One who embraced this truth and experienced it in his life was Job. He expressed, "I have treasured the words of Godís mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12). For Job it was a necessity, but for us it is just a nicety! Do we ever forget to eat? But how many days we forget to feed on the Word! Most backsliding is because of a lack of Bible reading. Unless our inner man is strengthened daily, we will become susceptible to spiritual ills.

 

While the Word of God is bread for the soul, it also means health to our bodies. Jesus spoke the Word and healed the sick (Mt 8:8,16). God sent His Word and healed the people of Israel (Psa 107:20). His Word has the same power today. "My Son, give attention to My words... For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh" (Prov 4:20-22).

 

The Word of God is also food for the mind. The enthusiastic study of the Word gave Jesus wisdom beyond His years (Lk 2:47,52). Davidís experience was just the same. He testified, "I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts" (Psa 119:99,100). Yes, the Bible tonic is good for the brain too!

 

Get hold of a Bible reading calendar and follow its plan strictly. Consider the day without the Bible ill-spent. Begin and end the day with the Bible. Then the day will be good and the night sweet (Psa 42:8).

 

Highway of Holiness

 

The main burden of Jesus for His disciples was their sanctification. He knew the tool was Godís Word. Therefore He prayed to the Father, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (Jn 17:17). He declared them clean because of His words they had received (Jn 15:3).

 

The Word of God is pure like silver purified seven times (Psa 12:6). It stands for whatever is true, noble, just, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy. But it strikes against malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking (1 Pet 2:1,2). It is an antidote for "errors... secret faults... presumptuous sins... and great transgression" (Psa 19:7-13). The Holy Bible makes a holy people.

 

Nothing convicts us of our sin as the Word of God. It has made kings to tear their clothes (2 Ki 22:11) and people to weep bitterly (Neh 8:9). Itís a mirror that exposes (Js 1:23-25). Itís the scalpel in the hands of our Great Physician (Heb 4:12,13).

 

Sin will keep us from the Bible or the Bible will keep us from sin! (Psa 1:1,2; 119:104, 128). The Bible is not to inform but to transform us. An African woman was asked if she enjoyed reading her new Bible. She replied, "Sir, I am not reading this Book. The Book is reading me!" Yes, let the Bible search our hearts. Its detergent effect is deeply refreshing. Through the law and the testimony, that is through teaching and examples, the Bible tells us how to please God (Isa 8:20; 1 Cor 10:5,11). Even if a fool walks on this Highway of Holiness, he shall not go astray (Isa 35:8; Psa 119:165).

 

Sword of the Lord

 

The devil was after Jesus to defile and deviate Him. But he was defeated. The secret was the "It-is-written" sword Jesus swished (Mt 4:4,7,10). He did not depend on His own strength or wisdom.

 

Christís temptations in the wilderness are representative. They speak of the three primary enemies we are to fight against. "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life." These can be abated only when the Word of God abides in us (1 Jn 2:14-16).

 

Bondage to sin is the worst slavery. In vain will we seek deliverance without the sword of the Word. Jesus emphasized, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jn 8:32-34). Satan tempts us in all subtle ways (Gen 3:1; 2 Cor 2:11). He gains footing when we yield to his sinful suggestions. But he flees when we wield the two-edged sword. His attempt to ascend to the throne in our life will be aborted (Rev 2:12,13).

 

The discipline of continuous obedience to the Word strengthens our muscles to cast down all anti-God arguments, and capture every ungodly thought (2 Cor 10: 4-6). Godís Word in our mouth counteracts the enemyís floodlike invasion (Isa 59:19,21). Letís submit to the Word and speak it against the wicked one. The victory is ours.

 

Unshakable Foundation

 

In the conclusion of His sermon on the mount Jesus spoke about two foundations, one sure and the other sinking. The sure foundation is the Word of God. He said, "Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and obeys them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, because it was founded on the rock" (Mt 7:24-27).

 

All our deeds must be backed by Godís Word. We dare not do anything thatís not sanctioned in the Holy Writ. We cannot turn to the left or to the right of "all that is written in the Book" (Josh 23:6). But men have substituted traditions for truth, human reasoning for Godís power, and novel doctrines for the wholesome words. They are all sinking sand. Jesus has specifically warned us against these polar opposites.

 

a) Traditions

 

Jesus chided the religious leaders of His day, "You have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition" (Mt 15:3-6).

 

In every section of Christendom, there are unscriptural traditions which have crept in unawares. Men love traditions more than the truth because they love ease. We are called to contend for the truth. But we must count the cost. It will mean loss of popularity and even life. The cross was the reward for Jesus when He opposed the unscriptural traditions in the religious order of His day. Can our lot be better? (Lk 23:31).

 

Like Luther we must dare to protest unscriptural traditions, unafraid of the religious hierarchy. The Bible does not get its authority from the Church, but vice versa. Therefore what the Bible says is more important than what the Church believes. In the beginning was the Word, not the Church!

 

b) Human Reasoning

 

Human reasoning is opposed to the miraculous and the supernatural power of God. The Sadducees were rationalists. They did not believe in resurrection or angels. They questioned Jesus on resurrection to baffle Him. But Jesus replied, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God" (Mt 22:23-33).

 

We still have Christians and preachers who try to understand and expound the Scriptures solely by human logic and worldly wisdom without God's power or divine revelation. Apostle Paul outrightly rejected this philosophy (1 Cor 2:1-5). The word of God and the power of God should go together. One should not be sacrificed for the other. In the words of David Pawson, "We must be both kerygmatic and charismatic. God speaks and He works!"

 

c) Novel Doctrines

 

In the Olivet discourse Jesus warned, "Beware no one deceives you... Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many" (Mt 24:4,11). The last days are characterised by departure from faith and deception by demonic doctrines (1 Tim 4:1). The deceiving spirits are

more active than ever. Cults are going mainstream. Preachers come up with funny revelations and everyone gets a crowd. Unless with the help of the Spirit we diligently check the teachings with the Word, we will be duped (Acts 17:11). We have the promise, "The Spirit of Truth will guide you into all truth" (Jn 16:12,13). Godís anointing on us grants us the discernment (1 Jn 2:26,27). And we have ministers appointed and approved by God to shield us from various

winds (Eph 4:11-14).

 

Textbook on Prayer

 

No one ever prayed like Jesus. His prayers were aromatic to God since He always prayed according to the Scriptures.

 

Hereís an example. When Peter cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, Jesus corrected Peter saying, "Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with thousands of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" (Mt 26:53,54). What a lesson!

 

Undoubtedly a revival of praying is seen everywhere. But if proper teaching is absent, strange fires will get in. Believers should be taught how to pray. Prayer must be in line with the Scriptures. We are commanded to pray according to the will of God (1 Jn 5:14). The Word of God is the will of God. We can ask God for anything, but that anything must be within the revealed will of God.

 

Jesus taught, "If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (Jn 15:7). Prayerless study will be dry, but studyless prayer is dangerous. Saturation with the Scriptures is a must for acceptable praying. Submission to the Scriptures is a condition for answered prayers. Prayer otherwise is abominable (Prov 28:9).

 

It was because Daniel prayed according to the Book that his prayers were heard instantly. His prayer so pleased God that He released Michael the archangel to overcome all obstacles and get the answer to Daniel fast (Dan 9:2,3; 10:10-14).

 

Similarly, Wordless worship is worthless. It is the Word of God that reveals its Author and makes Him known to us. The exposition of the Scriptures by the Risen Christ was just how He had been prophesied and portrayed in each book. And that led the disciples to worship and nonstop praise (Lk 24:25-27,44, 52,53). Worship is meaningless when we do not "know" what we worship (Jn 4:22). But every revelation or knowledge of God from the Scriptures makes us break forth into singing, How great Thou art! When God revealed Himself to Moses, the latter "made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped" (Ex 34:5-8).

 

Code of Conduct

 

Without the Bible we will be groping in the dark. Because, "the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light" (Prov 6:23). Jesus summarised all the law into just two commandments: Love God; Love man! (Mt 22:35-40). He also added, "There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mk 12:31).

 

All Bible knowledge must therefore lead us to love God with our all and love others as ourselves. That which fails to motivate us towards a love-life can hardly be called a Bible truth. In their spoken and written messages, the prophets and the apostles consistently aimed at deepening our devotion to God and dilating our duty to man. Here are two sample passages: Prophet Micah challenged the people, "What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?" (Mic 6:8). Apostle Peter admonished, "Honour all people; Love believers; Fear God" (1 Pet 2:17).

 

We must not conclude any study or meditation of the Bible without asking these two questions: What must I do to God? What must I do for man? The worldís regard for the Bible will still go high when we live it out. The Bible lovers must be Bible-livers also!

 

Buildersí Plumbline

 

The Scriptures were the blueprint and the plumbline for Jesus in building Godís Kingdom. By reading Isaiah 61:1-3, He knew that His ministry was to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to deliver the captives, to recover sight to the blind and to liberate the downtrodden (Lk 4:16-21). His every step was punctuated by Godís Word. When great crowds followed Him, He warned them not to make Him popular (Mt 12:15-21). This He did in order to fulfill Isaiah 42:1-4.

 

The Bible is our guidebook for whatever type of ministry we are involved in. None of our practices should violate the principles laid therein. How we build is more important than what we build (1 Cor 3:12-15). Noah built the ark according to Godís plan (Gen 6:22). Moses built the tabernacle according to God's pattern (Ex 39:42,43). No athlete wins a medal if he does not compete according to the rules (2 Tim 2:5).

 

Besides direct teaching, the Bible abounds with biographies and autobiographies of men and women who served God and humanity acceptably in their generation. They educate us. We learn to be obedient like Noah (Gen 6:22), meek like Moses (Num 12:3), fearless like Joshua (Josh 10:40), outgoing like Deborah (Judg 5:7), steadfast like Nehemiah (Neh 6:3), tactful like Esther (Es 5-7), worshipful like David (The Psalms), bold like Isaiah (Rom 10:20a), prayerful like Daniel (Dan 6:10), humble like John the Baptist (Lk 3:16; Jn 3:30), holy like Jesus (Heb 4:15), good like Barnabas (Acts 11:24), sacrificial like Paul (1 Cor 9:1-12), helpful like Phoebe (Rom 16:1), affectionate like Timothy (Phil 2:19,20) and uncompromising like John (Rev 1:9). We also have negative examples like Balaam and Demas to serve as warning. Thank God for the Bible which teaches us how to and how not to do Godís work.

 

Our Greatness!

 

God called them "gods" to whom the Word of God came! (Jn 10:35). The chief advantage of the Jews was that "to them were committed the revelations of God" (Rom 3:1,2). Moses uttered the same truth thousands of years ago: "What great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgement as are in all this law which I set before you this day?" (Dt 4:8). We as Christians are even more advantaged than the Israelites. They had only part of the Scriptures. But we have the whole Bible! And that in so many languages and versions. Hallelujah! Letís therefore make best use of this greatest tangible gift we have received from God ó the Book of books!