Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
These are only a couple of many verses we could use to demonstrate the importance of words in the Scriptures. The importance of this is critical in our current cultural shift. Many people do not believe that every word is God-breathed (θεόπνευστος) (2 Tim.3:16). But Jesus places a high level of importance to every mark that the original authors penned. 2 Peter 1:20-21 emphasizes the same thing:
“…knowing this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God las they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Words are very important in Scripture. They are in fact the very words that the Spirit of God impressed on the minds of the writers when they penned the Scriptures. At times, they were completely unaware of His subtle movement in their heart and mind. On the other hand there are times that the writer was very aware of His presence.
God did a remarkable work when He had the human writers pen the Scriptures in the ordinary language of the people. It was intended to be understood by ordinary people. Our problem is that we are not native speakers of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Therefore we need to study the languages in a much more vigorous manner to grasp what might be intuitive to a native speaker. Of course when you start talking about language then you have a whole other element of things to consider: the culture, customs, values, and unique practices ranging from community morality to judicial practice. Some of these things might feel familiar but the valuesthat drive these practices are often the most difficult to grasp.
But it is clear that God’s Word is nourishment for our spiritual health. There are all kinds of spiritually anorexic Christians who are starving themselves from the nourishment of God’s Word. Both our ignorance of His Word and our inability to make His Word the basis for daily decision-making is due to spiritual starvation. Then we wonder why life is often so difficult because we think we can ad-hoc life without God’s Word. Nothing could be truer than Jesus’ statement that we do not live on bread alone but every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. If we saw God’s Word as indispensable as physical nourishment we might stop snacking on spiritual junk food and learn to eat spiritually healthy. I have always loved the simplicity of the Navigators five-fold emphasis on God’s Word because they see the importance of it in our lives.
- Hear it– it is good to listen to the preaching / teaching of God’s Word. Never allow yourself to succumb to the temptation that preachers are there to entertain us. Hearing God’s Word is tantamount to conversing with God and discovering how He wants to speak into our life. The key issue is if we are listening.
- Read it– we often become consumed with reading books that talk about God’s Word rather than reading God’s Word. We like others to tell us what it means and that can be very helpful. But the danger of reading books about God’s Word (or some topic from God’s Word) is that it ignores the fact the God’s Word is sharper than a two-edged sword and can surgically penetrate the deep caverns of the heart and soul. It can expose us to God’s love in a way that we cannot invent on our own. It reaches far past the intellectual accent of truth to looking in the mirror and seeing how our heart needs to change to conform to His truth.
- Study it– if there is any segment of this five-fold emphasis that is a tripping point for many it is in the nature of studying His Word. That does not mean that many Christians are engaged in small groups that diligently study God’s truth and learn about how it can apply to their life. We can examine the text, study the passage, learn about the culture and understand many nuances of the truth. But the tricky part is obedience to His Word. If every person went into every study time with the attitude of discovering what truth does God want me to apply my life to, it could transform our lives. The reason is because many people love to sit around and think about how God’s Word applies to their life. This is not bad because we need to transfer the truth of God’s Word to how this impacts the discrepancies in our life. The real danger is that we substitute a theoretical exercise for actual obedience. I have a general saying, we study God’s Word to learn how to apply God’s Word to our life BUT it is only when we start applying our life to that truth that actual obedience and change takes place. In other words I have been in too many small groups where people think about how God’s Word ought to change their life, how it should change their life, how it might change their life… but nothing happens because they walk away and forget everything they just discussed. Only when we intentionally start applying my life to changing my behaviors, habits and conduct that we start obeying that truth. This is the mark of genuine faith – obedience.
- Memorize it– of course one of my favorite subjects. I have mentioned this before – it is always amazing how important we emphasizing the Scriptures for our children. It is a central part of our AWANA program. But it seems that once we get to be adults all of a sudden memorizing Scripture is not important anymore; my thought is why bother teaching our kids to memorize if we are going to abandon that discipline when we get older. By the way, if you notice that Jesus used the Scriptures to face every temptation of Satan (Matt. 4:1-11). It is a little bit like prayer, if it was good enough for Jesus then it ought to be good enough for us too… just saying. To be real honest, most people who say they can’t memorize anymore is not always the problem. It is a discipline not a gift. I forget Scripture all the time, if I do not go back over it and over it to get it imbedded into my consciousness.
5 Meditate on it – This may even trump the struggles we have with Bible study. The idea of meditation is to reflect, contemplate and muse over the truth that we have heard, read, studied or memorized. Taking the time to think through the thoughts, nuances and implications of truth is very hard in our distracted world. We like to be jazzed up, entertained and then move on to the next thing. Meditation is undisturbed time chewing on the truth of God’s Word. It allows the Spirit of God to speak to us about how this truth needs to impact our life. I know very few people who will take even small amounts of time to really think and reflect on a truth that God impresses on their mind.
Why? Why do all these things?Because this Bible is truth from our Creator. It is how God has revealed Himself to us. It is how we learn wisdom that rises above our own dysfunction. It gives us common sense when we have none. We learn to see life from God’s perspective and it feeds our soul. Remember this short statement of Jesus:
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
– Matthew 4:4
Spiritual mature and healthy Christians love to consume God’s Word. They listen to it, they read it, they study it, they memorize it and they meditate on its truth. I hope that the words of Scripture nourish you heart as they need to do so for my own soul. If we neglect this part of our walk with God we will struggle making sense of the journey we are on. Blessings.