Today’s Scripture:

  • “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

Introduction:

Today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite topics…the Word of God.  I don’t have a long-winded opening because we spent over a month talking about why reading the Bible is important.  I would recommend that you take some time to read our messages from the “Why Read The Bible?” series.  I enjoyed writing that series…and revisit those messages myself from time to time.  It’s important to be familiar with the Word of God…and today’s message from John Piper is about just that…Read Your Bible More and More…and I’m certain this message will challenge me to spend more time reading mine too.

Today’s Message:

Don’t rest on past reading. Read your Bible more and more every year. Read it whether you feel like reading it or not. And pray without ceasing that the joy return and pleasures increase.

It is extremely important…especially in this day and age where there is so much garbage being preached in pulpits throughout American churches.  It’s so important that as mentioned in the introduction…the Holy Ghost had us do an entire month-long series on “Why Read The Bible?” to remind us of the importance of reading the Word of God.

So…here we are again with yet another message that we have to talk about reading our Bibles.  Friends, we need to know our Bibles.  It really is important.  It is our only defense against the false doctrines, false gospels, and the growing incompetence of the preachers in our pulpits to preach correctly divided Scripture.

Prayer and the Bible are linked together because they’re our only offensive weapons as Christians.  It’s much more productive to pray the Word of God because that’s what the Holy Ghost responds to.  God is obligated to respond to His Word…and further He’s obligated to respond to His Word when it’s used in prayer…and it’s prayed in Faith believing and knowing that God is always going to respond to His Word.

So…let’s see what John Piper has to say…and we’ll break down what he says.

Three reasons this is not legalism:

1. You are confessing your lack of desire as sin, and pleading as a helpless child for the desire you long to have. Legalists don’t cry like that. They strut.

2. You are reading out of desperation for the effects of this heavenly medicine. Bible-reading is not a cure for a bad conscience; it’s chemo for your cancer. Legalists feel better because the box is checked. Saints feel better when their blindness lifts, and they see Jesus in the word. Let’s get real. We are desperately sick with worldliness, and only the Holy Spirit, by the word of God, can cure this terminal disease.

3. It is not legalism because only justified people can see the preciousness and power of the Word of God. Legalists trudge with their Bibles on the path toward justification. Saints sit down in the shade of the cross and plead for the blood-bought pleasures.

He gave us three reasons why Bible reading is NOT legalism.  So…let’s look at each reason one at a time…Amen!?!

1. You are confessing your lack of desire as sin, and pleading as a helpless child for the desire you long to have. Legalists don’t cry like that. They strut.

Legalists also don’t want you to be passionate and read the Word of God because if you do…then you’ll uncover their lies and deceit.  You see, when you take the time to read the Word of God, and really have a strong understanding of the Word…when someone stands up and starts preaching the “do’s and do not’s” of Christianity…and then further proceeds to tell you that if you do this and don’t that then you’re not saved…and you’ll lose your salvation…you know that the reason we can be assured of our standing before God has everything to do with His grace…and very little to do with what we do and don’t do.

The more you read the Bible…the more the Holy Ghost teaches you.  The more the Holy Ghost teaches you the more solid your foundation in the Word of God becomes.  The more the Holy Ghost teaches you the Word…the more you come to understand that the reason we’re the righteousness of God is because we’re in Christ.  The reason we can be assured of our salvation and our eternal destination is because we’re in Christ.  So…legalists don’t want us reading the Bible for ourselves…because when we do we’ll come to realize that while what the legalists say sounds nice and spiritual and religious…the truth is what they teach is wrong…and it’s them who need to repent for preaching wrongly divided scripture.

2. You are reading out of desperation for the effects of this heavenly medicine. Bible-reading is not a cure for a bad conscience; it’s chemo for your cancer. Legalists feel better because the box is checked. Saints feel better when their blindness lifts, and they see Jesus in the word. Let’s get real. We are desperately sick with worldliness, and only the Holy Spirit, by the word of God, can cure this terminal disease.

I really don’t have anything to add here.  I believe that these statements by John Piper are good enough to stand alone, and I really don’t have anything to say that would expound upon what he writes.  I do like that he says that Bible-reading is our chemo for our cancer.  I love that he says that the more we read the Bible the more the blinders come off, and the more the veil is lifted from our eyes to see the truth…and the truth is everything we have and are is because we’re in Christ.  Bible reading is the cure for false doctrine…and I love that John calls is a disease…because it’s very much an epidemic in the body of Christ today.  There’s so much false doctrine out there that it seems like false teaching is the norm…and that true and correctly divided scripture is actually abnormal.

3. It is not legalism because only justified people can see the preciousness and power of the Word of God. Legalists trudge with their Bibles on the path toward justification. Saints sit down in the shade of the cross and plead for the blood-bought pleasures.

Friends…Christians are so busy running and striving that they’re all exhausted.  That’s not the way it’s supposed to be is it?  Why can I say that?  Jesus says that we can exchange our burdens and yokes for His because they are light…and He will give us…what…REST.  We’re to REST in the finished work of the Cross…but there’s so much teaching out there that what Jesus did on the Cross wasn’t enough to secure our eternal futures in Heaven.  There’s so much teaching out there that says that we have to “earn” and “work” for our place in Heaven.  I know the scriptures that they will use to pad their arguments and beliefs…but those of us who really have a firm foundation in the Word of God understand why Jesus is such a stumbling block because it’s hard to believe that salvation and eternal life is really as simple as the Bible says it is…and the legalistic religious people cannot believe that it really is so simple…but it is…whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved…there is no other name under Heaven by which we are saved…and when we are saved and born again…we immediately are taken out of the first Adam…and placed in the second Adam.  It really IS that simple.

“Do not think you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day. The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and are most easily observed. The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced.

“Think of the influence of the moon upon the earth, and of the air upon the human lungs. Remember how silently the dew falls, and how imperceptibly the grass grows. There may be far more doing than you think in your soul by your Bible-reading.” (J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion, 136)

I have discovered J.C. Ryle thanks to the Social Networks.  What an outstanding wealth of truth this man teaches, and he’s quickly becoming on of my favorites from the generation that saw preachers like Smith Wigglesworth, Oswald Chambers, and A.W. Tozer.  I’m a huge fan of Mr. Ryle, and I’m glad that something he said is included in this devotion written by someone who I greatly respect today in John Piper.

So lets give heed to Mr. Ryle and never grow weary of the slow, steady, growth that comes from the daily, disciplined, increasing, love affair with reading the Bible.

I don’t know about you…but I love the Word of God.  I enjoy reading it, I enjoy teaching it, and I enjoy being educated by it.  The Bible is my favorite book.  There’s no other book in the world like it.  I don’t know about you, but I never grow weary of my love affair with the Word of God…and messages like this only help to fuel the passion for the Word…and also challenges me to spend more time reading the Bible…like Mr. Piper says…whether I want to or not.

It’s food for our souls, friends.  It’s full of everything we need to know, and it’s the cure for this epidemic of false teachings and doctrines that have invaded the Body of Christ at an alarming rate these days.

I believe that God is raising up a people who still have a passion and love for His Word.  I believe that the days of the super preacher is over…and those who aren’t so well-known…but really love the Bible are being raised up to be a voice.  I know a couple of them.  They don’t have these large mega-churches…but what they do have is a heart for the Bible…and because they have a heart for the Bible…they have a heart for the things that God has a heart for.

Let me ask you…what do you have a heart for?

Conclusion & Prayer:

Oh…thank God for the Word of God.  It’s so important to make sure that we’re taking in a steady diet of the Word of God in our own private devotional time.  I never really seem to read it enough, and can admit that I don’t read it enough…but I will most definitely continue to strive towards making sure that I’m rooted and grounded in the Word of God…and I’m challenged to make sure that I’m making it the priority in my life.

Father…how I love Your Word.  I know that I can always spend more time reading and studying it, but I thank You for the foundation You’ve given me…the opening statement about making sure that I’m not relying upon past revelation of Your Word only fuels the passion I have to know it more…read it more…and understand that I can always spend more time in Your Word.  I ask that You would light a fire and passion in all of our hearts for Your Word that wouldn’t be satisfied or quenched.  Please…Lord God…keep our hearts on fire for Your Word…in Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen