Title: How to Read Your Bible in 2020 Script: Dt. 30:15-20
Type: Expos./Theme for New Year Where: GNBC 1-12-20
Intro: Our theme for this year is: “20/20 Vision” with an emphasis on encouraging each and every one of us to incorporate three spiritual disciplines that will help us to grow in Christ. Those disciplines are: Read Your Bible Daily, Meet Weekly in some type of Small Group, and Tithe Regularly. Well, today, I am addressing the first discipline or emphasis, “Read Daily”. With over 5 billion copies sold, and at nearly that number given away, the Bible remains earth’s most-read book. But the world in which we read and engage with the Bible is rapidly changing. The steady rise of skepticism is creating a cultural atmosphere that is becoming unfriendly to claims of faith; the adoption of self-ful?llment as our culture’s ultimate measure of good is re-orienting moral authority; and the explosive growth of digital tools such as Bible apps, daily reading plans, study resources and online communities offer unprecedented access to the Scriptures. Barna Research, the Gold Standard in this area, has measured the influence of the Bible on American life. They measure this in a category of five levels of engagement individuals have with the Bible. Those categories are: Bible Centered (5% Read frequently, transforms relationships with God and man and shapes their choices) Bible Engaged (19% Read frequently, transforms relationships with God and man.) Bible Friendly (19% Engage with the Bible frequently, it is a source of wisdom and insight.) Bible Neutral (9% Interact with the Bible sporadically. Bible has little influence on your life but that influence may be growing.) and Bible Disengaged (48% Very little interaction with the Bible. With little or no impact on one’s life.) Now, here is the GOOD NEWS: Year-over-year, overall Bible engagement appears to have increased slightly, with some Disengaged shifting to Neutral or Friendly. The chart below shows some significant shifts among each major segment. Notably, there are 8-point increases since 2018 among the Bible Friendly and Neutral groups. There is also a 9-point decrease among the Disengaged! Well, the elders of GNBC want to see us ENGAGED with the Bible during this year. Want you to daily read, might be a verse or two or chapter or two. Don’t care, that’s between you and the Lord. We believe that establishing the habit of daily Bible reading WILL transform you and my lives! Passage I want to look at today comes out of Dt. 30:15-20, where Moses challenges the people of Israel to ENGAGE with the WOG.
Prop; Exam. Dt. 30 we’ll notice 3 Ways to Better Understand How to Read the Bible in 2020.
BG: 1. Dt. 30 is Moses’ farewell speech to Israel. About to enter Promised Land. He is about to die.
2. Very interesting passage. Moses discusses the intimacy we can have with God thru Word.
3. Not just a NT concept, Moses, Prophets, Psalmists. Theme through the Bible.
Prop: Let’s notice 3 Ways Dt. 30 encourages us on How to Read our Bibles in 2020 AD.
I. Read Your Bible As if Your Life Depends on It (Because it does!) vv. 15-18
A. Moses challenged Israel to intentionally engage with the WOG.
1. Moses Challenged his people to commit themselves to the Word of God.
a. This section of Deuteronomy includes what some scholars refer to as Moses’ farewell speech or sermon to the nation of Israel. The aged leader, knowing that his hour of departure is drawing nigh, presents the people with a clear choice: Submit their lives to the WOG and experience the blessings that submission brings or depart the WOG thru arrogance or ignorance and experience the curses that will come.
b. In American Jurisprudence we have a saying: “Ignorance of the Law is no excuse.” is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because one was unaware of its content. European-law countries with a tradition of Roman law may also use an expression from Aristotle translated into Latin: nemo censetur ignorare legem (nobody is thought to be ignorant of the law) or ignorantia iuris nocet (not knowing the law is harmful).
2. Moses, speaking as a prophet, predicts Israel’s future restoration and encourages them to trust God.
a. In Dt. 30:1-6 (Read), Moses begins by stating that in the future, the people will disobey the Lord and His Word and will suffer the consequences of their disobedience, however, in time, the Lord will restore and return the people from all of these nations back to the Promised Land! Now think about that for a moment! It has only been 40 years since Moses led the people OUT of slavery. They are about to GO INTO the Promised Land, however, even now, the Lord is saying that they will disobey His Word, Covenant and Promises, yet He will deliver them again! Throughout the Old Testament we see that though the people of God would break the old covenant, God would one day establish a covenant that could not be broken.
b. Moses was calling Israel to live their lives in total dependence upon God. That dependence was inextricably linked to a knowledge of and obedience to the WOG!As Christians, we live our entire lives in absolute dependence upon God. From our first breath to our last, it is God who sustains us. This is most evident in our redemption that comes only after the old covenant points out our absolute need for a savior. Never forget your utter dependence on God for all things, especially your salvation, and yet to do this we must daily be actively engaged with the Bible.
B. As Disciples of Christ we Need to Read the Bible as though Our Life Depends on it. Because it does!
1. Do you and I read our Bibles as though our lives depended upon it?
a. Illust: Is there something you do obsessively? Make it high priority? Maybe others joke with or tease you because that activity is associated with you when think of you. Some people work out, work, practice sport or instrument, examine retirement portfolio, watch sports…You fill in the blank as though life depended on it. Now, are there individuals who do certain things because life depends on it? Pilots? Police? Fire? Service personnel. If your life truly depends on something, you don’t care how foolish you look or people think you are for doing that. Illust: Living in Iowa last 23 yrs never looked under my car for a bomb before leaving for the office. However, back in summer of 1989 was living with a family in Holywood, N. Ireland. Derek, the husband, was head of economic development for the troubled province and as such could be a target to the IRA. I had a car provided by the church I worked with . When moved in with Derek and Leslie, Derek instructed me, that even though the likelihood was very small, for peace of mind, ALWAYS look under car EVERY morning before leaving. Guess what? I did! Why? LIFE COULD DEPEND ON IT!
b. In Mt. 7:24-26 (Read) Jesus makes a comparison between the foundations we can build our lives on and the potential outcomes of either hearing and obeying His Word. Many live their lives and do just fine in the good weather. However, when the storms of life’s tragedies come and they will, the foundations their lives are built upon prove to be either good or bad and the whole structure of their lives withstand or fall down. Only a life built on the Solid Rock of Christ will stand the test of time and tragedy. The only way you and I can know the Word of Christ is to READ it!
2. If you are fully Trusting Christ for your salvation you will trust His Word.
a. Illust: In Jn. 6:68-69, Peter makes an incredible profession. It is in that point of Christ’s ministry when many people who had been disciples now are abandoning Him because of what were perceived to be “hard statements”. Christ asks Peter and the others: “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Peter’s response: “Lord to whom shall we go? You have Words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One from God.” Wow! Hurrah for Peter! What a proclamation. Peter said: “I don’t care what anyone else does or says Lord, I am with you!” “Your Words are Eternal Life.” Peter knew that Christ and His Word was absolutely essential!
b. Let me ask you, Christian, do you have a Peter-like response to Christ and His Word? If you are truly saved and you realize there is NO OTHER hope for eternity but Jesus Christ…well then, reading His Word not be a hard thing to do. If you think Jesus is simply one of many available options, you and I will most likely be callous to making His Word a priority in our lives.
C. Applic: Brother, read your Bible like your life depends on it!
II. Read Your Bible Because God Hasn’t Hidden What He wants you to Know. V. 11
A. God has made His Word known and knowable.
1. Moses essentially says this to the nation of Israel.
a. Dt. 30: 11 (Read) Moses tells Israel that understanding and obeying the WOG is not too difficult or out of reach. “Out of reach” is one word in Hebrew – pala – something extraordinary or astonishing or too hard. Ever noticed how a lot of children, when asked to do something which is new or appears to be difficult or not fun will say: “I can’t!” Yet with a little encouragement they find out that they can and that they enjoy it! Start small and begin to add to it.
b. Moses is telling the people to look to God’s Word, it isn’t difficult to understand and it is for their good. The text of Deuteronomy 30 closes with the encouragement to choose life. Following God’s commandments are not intended to be restrictions, they are not burdensome, but instructions for thriving. When we hold on to God and obey His instructions, we find greater joy as we enjoy His good gifts.
2. The Bible is a book we should not be afraid to read but should embrace it fully.
a.Illust: Until Vatican II (1968), the official position of the Catholic Church was that the Bible should only be read by priests or other clergy so as to interpret it rightly, that it was too difficult and too mysterious for the average untrained layman. Notice the difference of opinion Martin Luther held 500 years earlier when he declared:
b. The Bible is unique. The Communists had their Manifesto. The Maoists had their Little Red Books. The Muslims have their Koran. But only the Bible contains the writings taught not by human wisdom but by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:13). Only the Bible reveals "what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). The Christian manual of operation is unique because it reveals "the things of the Spirit of God"—things from God that man can't find out on his own, things that are often very foreign to our way of thinking. And this is why we need to read it and why we need God’s spirit to understand and apply it!
B. God has Given the Believer His Spirit so as to Help Him/Her understand the WOG.
1. God has given His Holy Spirit to help illumine the believer and give him understanding the WOG.
a. Illust: Mark Twain, an avid unbeliever, said, “It is not those passages of Scripture I do not understand that bother me, but those that I do understand.” Still, the man without God’s Spirit cannot understand God’s Word in the fullest sense, for he does not and cannot have a real appreciation of the spiritual implications of biblical truth, especially in relation to himself. He may grasp the thoughts, but he misses the spirit, the life-changing purpose behind the thoughts. In that sense he comprehends the raw concepts, but he does not truly “see.” Hence, the man without the Spirit of God cannot truly understand (fully grasp or appreciate) the things of God.
b. 1 Corinthians 2:14–15 says, "They are spiritually appraised. The spiritual man appraises all things, but is himself appraised by no one." The spiritual person is the opposite of the natural person. The spiritual person has the Spirit of God. Verse 12 says, "We have received . . . the Spirit which is from God that we might know the things given to us by God." When the Spirit of God is at work in your life, then you will appraise things the way God does. You will not regard the Word of God as folly but as the most precious word imaginable.
a. Illust: Read all of the Bible! I know some Christians who say: “I won’t read this section or that section of the Bible or I won’t read the Book of Revelation because it is too confusing. I agree, it can be confusing, yet, do you know that you are cutting yourself off from a blessing that God promises to those who read or listen to the book of Revelation? Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is he who read and those who hear the words of this prophecy and heed the things which are written in it, for the time is near.” Also, the Bible tells us that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (II Tim. 3:16) And guess what, I looked at the Greek, “All” means…ALL!
b. As John Stott put it, “Your mind matters.” As explained under the previous principle, God expects a thoughtful, careful human mind to discern and apply the principles of interpretation to Scripture. I would encourage you over the course of this year, if you desire to take up the challenge and read the Bible daily, DON’T just open the Bible blindly each day and thrust your finger into it for a verse of inspiration! You may get more or less than you bargained for! I would encourage you to systematically begin to look at the Bible. Maybe read through the Gospel of John or Mark or Psalms or Proverbs.
b. Illust: John Piper has said: “The manual of operation for the Christian wartime mentality is the Bible. It was inspired and authorized by the Commander, and contains all the truth needed to win people over from the enemy camp, deprogram their old thought patterns, train them in strategies of righteousness, and equip them with armor and weapons to defeat Satan and liberate his captives (2 Timothy 3:16–17; Ephesians 6:10–19)”
C. Applic: Often hear people say: “I can’t read the Bible with all those “thees and thous” in it. Well, quit reading a version printed in 1611 AD and get one you can understand. With the exception of the KJV, RSV, Geneva and NASB, most are written at a level that a 12 year old can easily understand. If you struggle with reading, I can recommend some versions written on about a 7year old comprehension level.
III. Read Your Bible So as to Encounter the God Who Authored it. Vv.19-20
1. Moses challenges his listeners that knowing and obey God’s Word will help them growing in their relationship with God.
a. v.19b-20. Moses encourages the people to love God and His Word and choose life! Live! Prosper! Be blessed! Grow close to God. Feel His pleasure.
b. Right at the end of this sermon, Moses’ language takes a surprising turn. He goes from talking about the Word as Israel’s life to talking about “the Lord” as their life. He stops saying, “Hold fast to the Word” and switches to, “Hold fast to him.” Moses is hinting that we would need something more than merely a book to follow. He points to a greater hope than our ability to obey—God himself, who will become our life and salvation. The primary purpose of Scripture isn’t to give us a list of tasks to perform for God, but to tell us about an offer of grace from God.
2. We know God through His Word.
a. The Bible (Psalm 19) tells us that there is essentially two types of revelation: “Natural” – where certain thing about God and man are revealed to everyone through the universe itself. However, this revelation is not enough, in fact, in cannot save, rather, it can only, ultimately, condemn. The second type of revelation we see in the Bible is “Special” , where God, because of our alienation and inability due to our corruption and depravity, makes Himself known to us because we could never have known what we needed on our own.
b. Do you remember that interesting verse, Luke 24:27? After the resurrection and Jesus comes across two men on the road to Emmaus. “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” The primary purpose of the Scriptures is—and always has been—to present Jesus. So don’t read it to gain favor with God. Read it because you have found favor with him. Don’t read it as a how-to manual to improve your life. Read it as the story of how He has redeemed your life. The abundant life isn’t found by learning divine secrets, but by knowing the Divine Creator!. Peter Kreeft said that studying the Bible is like staring into a keyhole and suddenly having someone stare back at you. The Word is living and active, so don’t just read the Bible. Let it read you. Experience in it the living, moving Son of God.
B. Remember you have a relationship with the Author of the Bible.
a. God spoke through the Bible 2,000-plus years ago. But God continues to speak through the Bible. This is so important. Too often we can think of the Bible as a kind of encyclopedia of theology. But the Bible is much more than this. It’s a relational Bible through which God speaks—present tense—to us. The Holy Spirit makes the Bible living and personal to us today. It’s amazing: the Spirit who was at work in the authors of the Bible to ensure what they wrote was God’s word is the same Spirit who is at work in the readers of the Bible to ensure what they hear is God’s word. The Bible is not just a repository of information. It’s one of the means God uses to relate to us. He speaks and we listen. I think this is so important. It changes how we view the Bible. It becomes a place of intimacy. It becomes words of love spoken by a Father to reassure his children. One of the reasons people are so obsessed with prophecies and words of knowledge is that we have not rightly emphasized the intimate, relational nature of the Bible. People long to hear a personal message from God that’s specific to them, when in fact that’s what they’re hearing every day as they read their Bibles and every week as they hear it preached.
b. You and I will have two opponents if we want to commit to reading the Bible this year. “The Bible tells us that Satan is our Adversary. Satan is not opposed to all Bible reading. Bible reading that only collects facts, or relieves a guilty conscience, or gathers doctrinal arguments, or feeds historical curiosities — this kind of Bible reading Satan is perfectly happy to leave alone. He himself is quite a student of the Scriptures, and quotes it to Jesus shrewdly in the wilderness temptations (Matthew 4:1–11). But reading that aims to see the supreme worth and beauty of God — reading that aims to be satisfied with all that God is for us in Christ, reading that seeks to “taste and see that the Lord is good” — this reading, and all that goes into it, Satan will oppose with all his might. The second opponent is our own sin. What we are by nature is so opposed to what the Scripture reveals — “the things of the Spirit of God” — that we cannot discern them for what they are, because we see them as foolish, and they are not foolish. And so we do not see them for what they are. The picture is even worse in Romans 8:7–8. The mind of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7–8) Here the active hostility to God that we have by nature — that’s what “of the flesh” means — the active hostility to God that we have by nature is explicit and clear: “The mind of the flesh is hostile to God.” Left to ourselves we can only distort God’s word. So how do we read the Bible> In essence, supernaturally! Like every other area of our Christian life, it is a reliance on God the Father, and the Spirit, and Christ to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves as we seek to see what is really there in Scripture and as we seek to savor it and be transformed by it.” (John Piper)
2. In this year of 2020, I want to encourage you to fall in love with reading the Bible.
a. Illust: J.D. Grear: “Our problem generally isn’t that we think the Bible is unimportant. It’s that we don’t do anything about it. For instance, if I offered you—a Christian—$500,000 to never touch the Bible again, you would probably refuse that deal. But think about that. You’ve just identified this as an asset worth over $500K. Is there any other ½ million dollar asset you treat so carelessly? Evangelicals will often staunchly defend the “inerrancy” and “infallibility” of the Bible—as we should. But understanding the importance of God’s word won’t do you any good by itself. You’ve got to learn it, to obey it, to saturate your life in it.”
b. Like the people of Israel in Moses’ day, we have a choice before us today. We can choose life or we can choose death. This choice is tied to our love for Christ and His Word and our willingness to obey and practice that Word in our lives. The problem often isn’t bad intentions. Rather, it’s bad habits. Rather, we need to replace our bad habits with good habits that will see us daily prioritize the WOG in our lives.
C. Applic: How should we read our Bibles in 2020AD? 1. As though our lives depended on it. 2. So as to now what He has communicated to us. 3. So as to have a personal encounter with its Author!