A Bible focused Christian - Download This Episode
The title of my message today is, “Being a Bible Focused Christian”. It is the second message in a series I am doing on being Kingdom Focused. This series includes the key points I touched on last week in the introduction.
- A Bible Believing church
- A Christ centred church
- A praying church
- A serving church
- A Spirit empowered church
- A loving church
- A missional church
Each week will look at the next topic in the list. Today we start with the Bible.
As Christians we see the Bible as different from every other book because we believe that its writers were ‘inspired’ by God when writing it (2 Timothy 3:16).
For Christians, the Bible is God’s handbook for life. When we read the Bible, it teaches us about God, about this world and about God’s great love for all mankind. We also learn how to live our lives and how we should relate to each other.
It is important for us as Christians to read the Bible as it helps us to line our thinking up with God’s thinking and to live the life God wants us to live. It also helps to grow strong in our faith and belief in God.
In this message, I want to look at four main ideas. What the Bible says about itself; What blessings do we get if we read the Bible; Some reasons why we can trust the Bible; and some practical ways to help us engage with the Bible each day.
Favourite quotes about the Bible
Before we get into my points I want to share some of my favourite Bible quotes.
“I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from The Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book.”
“The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.”
Augustine of Hippo
“The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.”
Dwight Lyman Moody
“A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
“The primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible but to know God.”
“I used to read five psalms every day – that teaches me how to get along with God. Then I read a chapter of Proverbs every day and that teaches me how to get along with my fellow man.”
“You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.” Mahatma Gandhi
Some great quotes in there. The last stings me a bit, but I like it because it reminds me not to take the Bible for granted. It contains life and power and salvation and I can never forget it.
1. What the Bible says about itself?
When thinking of the Bible, it is important to see what it says about itself.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – 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. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Psalms 119:89 – Your eternal word, O LORD, stands firm in heaven.
Matthew 24:35 – Heaven and earth will disappear, but My words will never disappear. (Jesus)
The Bible has a number of unique aspects that other books do not have. It is inspired by God and it teaches what is right and God uses it to prepare us to do His work in this world. God’s Word is also penetrating. It is like a sword that cuts back the layers of exposes who we really are. This sounds painful, but it is a good thing. It is also eternal and will not pass away.
2. What blessings are there in reading the Bible?
The Bible tells of many blessings for those who read it. It has the power of salvation (2 Timothy 3:15, 1 Peter 1:23), the power to heal (Psalm 107:20), and the power to make us holy (Ephesians 5:26).
My two favourite passages on the Bible come from Psalms 1 and Joshua 1.
Psalm 1:2-3 – Blessed is the man…[when] his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law, he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Joshua 1:7-8 – Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
Both of these passages talk about being blessed by God’s Word. Psalm 1 tells us that if we mediate on God’s Word we will be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” And Joshua 1 tells us that if we “Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
Meditating or thinking deeply on God’s Word and obeying it, brings blessings. I want to be blessed. I want my family to be blessed. I want this church to be blessed, so I am going to read and meditate on God’s Word.
3. Can we really trust the Bible is God’s Word?
Over the years I have been asked if we can really trust the Bible. I think this is a very good question because as Christians we base our whole faith on what the Bible says about God, life, salvation and heaven. Here are five reasons that I have found we can trust the Bible.
a. Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled
A prophecy is when a person speaks on God’s behalf and tells what will happen in the future. Hundreds of Old Testament Prophecies from the Bible have come to pass. Many of these refer to the coming, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is said that there are over 300 fulfilled prophecies in Christ alone. A careful study shows that Jesus is the promised one that the prophets spoke about.
b. Archaeological Discoveries
Many of the places and cities mentioned in the Bible have been confirmed by archaeological discoveries and research. A number of these cities were destroyed by wars or the passing of time but have been rediscovered during archaeological digs. It is interesting to note that the Bible is the only “Holy” book that consistently links events with places.
c. Unity of Theme
While it was written over many years by a number of authors (under God’s guidance) it has a unity of theme and purpose. About forty men were engaged in the writing of the Bible, during a period of about 1,600 years – that is, from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 100.
An overview of the Bible.
The Old Testament includes the first 39 books of the Bible. It covers from creation to several hundred years before Jesus was born into this world. It is broken into four main sections.
The Law – Genesis to Deuteronomy. The story of how everything began in the world but then quickly went wrong, and how God started to build a nation (Israel), to whom his laws were given and through whom he planned to save everyone.
Israel’s History – Joshua to Esther. A record of how Israel got their ‘Promised Land’, but then lost it through repeated disobedience. Nevertheless God, seen as always faithful to his promises, restored the nation, giving them a new start.
Poetry and Wisdom – Job to Song of Solomon. Insights into how people can get the best from life by living God’s way.
The Prophets – Isaiah to Malachi. Messages of hope bringing challenges to God’s people, especially through the hope of God’s coming messiah.
The New Testament begins in the period just before Jesus Christ is born into this world. Like the Old Testament it is broken into four main sections. It contains 27 books in total.
The Gospels – Matthew to John. Records the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the messiah promised in the writings of the Old Testaments.
The Book of ACTS. The story of how Jesus’ followers began to spread his message across the world. It is the story of the early church.
The Letters – Romans to Jude. Writings to newly established churches, explaining the Christian faith and how to apply it to daily life.
REVELATION. A glimpse into God’s final plan to destroy evil and create a new world.
To summarise – The Old Testament (OT) tells of creation, mankind’s separation from God and God’s coming Saviour. The New Testament re-affirms the OT and points readers to Jesus Christ who was God’s Saviour for all mankind. The unity of theme is like no other book. It stands clearly above everything else that has ever been written.
d. Original Manuscripts
Until the invention of printing in the middle of the 15th century, all copies of the Scriptures were made by hand. The ancient Jewish scribes copied the OT with extreme care and many of these are still existence today in partial form. Evidence for the reliability of the NT text includes about 4,500 Greek manuscripts.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947 in a cave and confirmed much of the original writings that had been handed down over time were not changed or added to.
e. Biblical Claims
As we saw earlier, the Bible itself claims to be the Word of God and eternal – the phrase “Word of God” appears 48 times in the King James Version of the Bible.
So as Christians we can trust the Bible is the Word of God. We can trust I hasn’t been changed or corrupted. It is God’s Word, it is how He wants it to be.
4. Practical hints for helping us engage with the Bible
It is important for us to engage with the Bible regularly. According to pew research and the recent NCLS, only 2 in 10 Christians read their Bible daily. When I read during the week, I stopped and asked Larissa, “Do you read the Bible everyday”. She said, “Yes”. It made me wonder if the next 8 Christians I ran into that day didn’t read their Bible very much?
With all this in mind. Here are some practical hints to help us…
Come to church – each week at church we open the Word of God and have teaching and encouragement from it. It is a core of what we do. If you want to engage with the Bible, come to church each week.
Do a daily devotion – Daily devotions like Our Daily Bread and Word for today have recommended readings for the day. Take the time to do them. You will be blessed.
Find a Bible reading plan – we have several on our church website. We have a “Read the New Testament in a year” reading plan on our website. It gives you a list of books to read and you check them off as you go.
Get an app for your phone or iPad – The Bible app is a great app you can have on your phone or iPad. It has hundreds of reading plans and even has reminders. Lots of us here already use it.
Subscribe via email – Biblegateway.com has a simple way of subscribing to receive a reading or a Bible verse each day. So if you are not into these newfangled apps and things, but you can a computer with email, you can receive daily verses.
Today I wanted to give you some encouragement to read your Bibles. Let us not be a church where we are like the averages. Let us be a church where all of us read our Bibles every day. We looked at the following things…
- What the Bible says about itself – inspired by God, it cuts to the heart of things, and it is eternal.
- The blessings that come from reading the Bible – we will prosper and succeed in all we do if we meditate and obey the Word.
- We can trust the Bible because – the prophecies fulfilled, the archeological discoveries, the unity of theme, the original transcripts and it claims to be the Word of God.
- We looked at some practical hints to help us engage – come to church, do a daily devotional, find a reading plan, get an app for your phone/iPad, subscribe via email.