The Bible is often referred to as ‘The Good Book’ and people seem to hold a myriad of:
- Views on it and its authority.
- Have so many ways of interpreting it.
- Think it’s important but never seriously invest into knowing what it says.
- Would like to pick and choose what they like out of it.
- Have favourite bits, but ignore other sections.
In fact there is nothing in our faith that has been so attacked as the Bible the Word of God because the devil knows that without it Christianity ceases to exist.
Although many have relegated it to a ‘good book’ it is actually a ‘God Book’ that as Christians if it is not taken seriously we either have:
- An immature faith.
- A partial faith.
- Or a faith that is not really Christian, but just a mixture.
John 1:1-4 and 14 (NIV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word of God is actually the prism or filter through which we know God!
Without God’s Word we all have a bunch of personal preferences and ideas, but there is no ultimate truth.
- Jesus is the Word of God with skin on.
- His life reflected what it looks like to live God’s Word here on earth.
- Therefore HE is our ultimate example because He is God’s Word.
- We cannot love and follow Jesus and not take the WORD of God seriously.
The previous two weeks we have considered the importance and place of the scriptures in our lives and also its practical roles in our life as believers.
This week I want to begin to unpack a little on how we read it.
Over the years I have discovered that people often know that they should read the Bible, but just don’t really know how to read it or where to start. So let’s see how we can approach this incredible and powerful book the Bible.
There are two ways of receiving God’s Word. They are connected to one another but different.
John 1:1-4 and14 (NIV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
- The Greek term here is Logos, and means the written Word of God that we believe is inspired by Him.
- This is whenever you open up the Bible and read – it is God’s written word, promises and instruction for us.
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
- This time the Greek word is Rhema and refers to ‘an utterance, or communication, usually on a specific topic or matter’ – a revelation direct from God to us.
That is why it is possible for someone to know a lot about the Bible and even read it religiously, but never really personally know God or engage with Him because it isn’t just His written Word but having that personalised to you.
Kerrin bought Tegan a Garmin watch which was supposed to track all her physical activity. They read the general instructions and knew all about the watch, but until they contacted the company help desk, they didn’t know how to get the watch working.
Similarly with the Word of God, we might be reading it and generally applying it, but sometimes we need God to highlight something and give a personal touch to something we need to do, or believe or accept.
That takes it from being a general Word of God:
To being a specific to you and me Word from God:
- “Love Bill your neighbour, forgive him for throwing his rubbish over your fence. He needs it now”
This becomes important for us as we endeavour to understand the Bible and make it powerful and relevant to, and in, our lives. It moves from being a text book to a living book.
2 Peter 3:16 (TPT)
“…speaking of these things in all of his letters (the Scriptures). Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.”
The message translation says:
16 He consistently speaks of these things in all of his letters, even though he writes some concepts that are overwhelming to our understanding, which the unlearned and unstable love to twist to their spiritual ruin, as they do to other Scriptures.
So this is the key, because there are some things we read in the Bible that are hard or challenging to understand. They don’t always make sense and this will help us to do it right rather than get ‘things twisted’, misunderstand or draw a wrong conclusion about .
Let me put something on the table here because God is very specific here, the wording is careful and important.
It says that ‘unstable’ people will twist and distort the Bible to their own hurt or destruction.
What is it that makes something unstable – lack of balance!
- A three legged stool with a leg missing is unstable – no balance.
- A person who loses their balance while walking or standing is unstable.
- When something is stacked up and you have too much weight on one side it becomes unstable.
Likewise, if we want to get the whole truth from the Bible we need to be balanced in it.
Sadly too many believers get off on weird tangents and focuses because they lack balance – therefore they fall into the very category that the Bible says will twist things to their own hurt.
- I see it sadly all too often.
- Lack of balance with Spiritual gifts and want to run off with the fairies.
- Out of balance with end times and become consumed with a side issue.
- Out of balance with mercy and grace – no truth.
- Out of balance with law and truth – no grace in their world.
- Out of balance with ideas on Jesus just wanting to befriend everyone and not upset anyone.
- Out of balance with angels, demons and manifestations.
- Out of balance with pursuing feelings and no conviction or word.
- Out of balance not acknowledging our feelings and brokenness.
All these things can be good – but when they are out of balance, it ends up twisting things and can draw incorrect conclusions.
- If we correctly understand the Word of God and are balanced in it – we can avoid all that.
But there are some challenging concepts in the Bible and things that need to be considered and wrestled out etc and part of doing that is:
- Knowing there are two types of Word of God.
- Secondly we need to know one will never contradict the other and this is where people miss it. They get out of balance with the Word of God.
The Logos – the written Word of God is complete and unchanging and the ultimate test for anything that comes into our lives. The Word of God is the measuring stick and our compass.
- What others say can be tested against it.
- What our culture or public opinion says can be measured against it.
- What we understand to be good and right.
- Our response in a situation.
- Our own ideas and ‘revelation’.
- Even our experiences are weighed against God’s eternal Word, rather than our finite limited knowledge.
- It is often said “If we could totally figure God out, He wouldn’t be a very big God”.
The Rhema – God’s personal revelations to us. He personally invites us to know Him.
- God will never give us a Rhema Word (personal revelation) that contradicts His Logos word of God.
- We might have funny ideas.
- Too much pizza can mess with our thoughts.
- An insecurity filter.
- A brokenness.
These may make us interpret something one way, but our measuring stick is always, what does God’s written Word say about this?
So now we begin to see that reading and understanding the written, everyday, logos Word of God is essential for anyone who want personal revelation of God.
- In fact my observation has been that the more time a person spends in truly understanding the Logos Word of God, the more Rhema Word of God they receive. One is dependent on the other.
The more we read the Bible, the greater the opportunity for God to speak to us about our lives from it.
As believers we need both of these levels of the ‘Word of God’ in our lives.
If all we do is study God and have no revelation from Him – we know about Him but miss the most important thing and that is a relationship with Him.
We can get information about God, but we need the Rhema Word of God in our lives.
Here is what Jesus said about this:
John 5:39-40 (NLT)
39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.
However we also need personal revelation from the Scriptures because that is how faith comes (without which we cannot please God – Hebrews 11:6).
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Matthew 22:29 (NIV)
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
The Scriptures Logos and the Scriptures Rhema should both be active and operating in the life of a mature believer.
In 2020 Kerrin wants to take some classes on reading the Bible and studying the scriptures because it’s so important in our lives.
But this is where Kerrin wanted to be practical for a couple of moments.
When we read the Bible we should:
Read it regularly!
Luke 4:4 (NKJV)
But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’
If we only hear and read God’s Word when we come to Church, then we are incredibly limited in our access to God’s Word for our lives.
- It is not the Biblical pattern God outlines.
- We will become spiritually weak and starved. We will go out looking for other things.
Read it sequentially
- Not Genesis to Revelation – you need to start a book and finish a book.
- Gospels – about Jesus.
- Proverbs and Wisdom books.
- Psalms – personal engagement with God.
- New Testament letters – Paul communicating life truths given Jesus and what it means for us.
The key is to not just jump around and read favourite passages and never get something in context. Work your way through each book.
Out of context equals out of line and out of balance. Don’t take things out of balance.
Ask some questions:
- What is it talking about? This puts it into context. Chew it over and think about it.
- What does this say about God? Bible based theology on God. It is telling you what God is like.
- What does it say I should do or believe? Then take it to heart.
- Forgive and love.
- Is there a promise for me?
Read God’s Word as a Book of promises, not rules!
Most people who resist reading it do so because they don’t want to:
- Know where they are failing.
- Read about another task to do.
- Feel like they don’t measure up.
Sadly these are all things that the Bible is not about – that is a religious attitude that has been passed to many.
We need to ask what the Word of God is saying to me personally.
This is where we create space for God to speak and for us to listen – the Rhema words of God come here. Ask for revelation from Him.
If we are simply reading the Bible to tick off a job we should be doing, we are missing the point. We don’t stop to listen.
Yes, we should be doing it, but the idea of the exercise is not literal reading. It’s listening to what God is saying. It’s about hearing from God and engaging with Heaven.
When we put God’s Word in the hands of religion, it becomes a big stick, but in the hands of a Spirit filled believer it becomes a torch.
A torch that illuminates:
- God’s Promises.
- Steps of Faith.
- Life changes that are needed.
- Powerful revelation about Jesus Christ.
- Shows what is righteous. The Word of God is a bright light that leads the way to life.
- Eternity and this life in light of that.
Journal what God is saying and doing. It will transform your life.
The Word brought Life into the world in John 1 and it will bring Life into your world!
Without it the darkness will continue to cover our lives and the power and life of His Word will be unseen.
Suggestions for discussion
- Discuss the difference between the Rhema Word of God and the Logos Word of God.
- What takes the Bible from being general to specific?
- Discuss the statement – the more we read the Bible, the greater the opportunity for God to speak to us about our lives from it.
- Will you determine to attend classes to study the Bible in 2020?