Summary: This sermon addresses the importance of scripture in the believer's life. Specifically it talks about the importance of a Transformative approach to reading the Bible as opposed to an Informative approach.
Good morning. A quick question. By a show of hands, who loves reading scripture? That is good because I need some volunteers to read some passages from today’s sermon.
Thanks for volunteering to read, if you were listening, you know that in some sense they are all connected because they speak to the importance of the WORD, and lend to support the value of living a Word-centered life. And that is what I want to briefly preach on today, what it means to live a life centered on the written word of God. And the main reason we want to live a Word-centered life is because that is where God most often reveals himself to us.
But we also know to be Word-centered is also to be Christ-centered because John 1:1 speaks of Jesus AS The Word. John writes: “In the beginning was the Word (being Jesus) and the Word was with God and the word was God.” The underlying Greek word here for word is the word logos, which really is a different idea of the word Word. It is the idea that it contains the whole expression, the thought life of God, or particularly the message of God. Jesus is the Word of God that took on flesh and walked this earth for 33 years.
But not only was Jesus The Word of God, we also know that he had a very high view of the written word that we refer to as scripture. In fact, we know that he had a high view of the first five books of the Old Testament, what is referred to as the Torah or the LAW. We know that because he quotes from the Old Testament very often, especially in the gospels.
One of his favorite books to quote from was the book of Deuteronomy. In the opening passage today, we see that he quotes directly from the book of Deuteronomy when he is in the desert having a discussion with the devil. As the Gospels tell us, following Jesus’ baptism he was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit where it is said that he prayed and fasted for 40 days. Consequently, he was very hungry.
We are told that the devil approached him and said if you really are the son of God, then maybe you should turn these stones into bread. This is where Jesus gives his classic response in Matthew 4.4. He says “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” You may have heard this passage in many places, but you may not know that this is actually pretty much a direct quotation from the book of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Bible. You may not know that the subsequent answers that Jesus gave the devil were also taken from the book of Deuteronomy.
More importantly, what this passage reveals to us is Jesus did indeed have a high view of the word of God. When he is quoting to the devil, he is basically letting the devil know and really us know that the word is more than words on pages. He sees the word of God that is something that is very alive and very life giving. When he uses the word ‘live’ here, he is not talking about biological life. He is talking about what is called the Zoe life, a vitality of life that characterizes people in the kingdom of God. A kingdom life that that Christ invited people into from the moment that Jesus stepped foot on this earth.
Moses seems to affirm also the life-giving quality of the God’s word. He writes in Deuteronomy 32.45-46 “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of the law. They are not just idle words for you. They are your life.” Just as Jesus had a high view of the word, we see that Moses had a very high view of the word, so we too should have a high view of the word.
But if we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we see a gap between Jesus’ view of the word, of scripture, and our view of scripture. We don’t often see the word of God as this life-giving thing. We have a low view of the Bible because sometimes we just see it as words on a page. Words that we just read through to check it off our list. I would suggest that this low view of the Bible has less to do with the amount of time we spend reading the Bible and really more to do with how we read the Bible. Many Christians read the Bible on a regular basis, which is good, but the way we read it can limit the life-giving qualities of it. I would suggest when it comes to our approach to reading the Bible, there are two primary approaches. What I would call the informative and the transformative approach to Bible reading.