Summary: The study of God’s word has always been central to our understanding of following Jesus and growing in our faith. The Bible is the very foundation of our faith. The foundation for us is God’s Holy Word and the pilings upon which it stands are the timeless
The Amazing Race: The Word
A recent survey by George Barna sought to discover American’s attitudes about and usage of the Bible and found that a majority of each of the 4 generations believes that the Bible is a sacred or holy book. The younger the person though the less likely they are to read the Bible. In particular, less than 20% of all Americans read the Bible each day. Interestingly, none of the four generations were particularly likely to say they aspired to read the Bible more as a means of improving their spiritual lives. Why is that? Here’s the top ten reasons
1. The Bible is just another book. The younger you are, the more likely you are to believe this
2. The Bible was written so long ago that it isn’t relevant to me.
3. The Bible is so hard to understand. I don’t know how to read the Bible and understand it
4. I usually end up just feeling guilty when I read the Bible.
5. I need a pastor or Sunday School teacher to explain the Bible to me.
6. I have some real doubts about the reliability of the Bible because it's full of contradictions, at least that's what I heard.
7. The Bible is boring to me.
8. Time. Between job, family and life, I just don't have the time for the Bible.
9. I have other things that if I am going to read I prefer instead of the Bible.
10. I don’t see the need to read it on a regular basis
In this sermon series called The Amazing Race, we’re looking at the disciplines for training in the Christian life. And as Methodists, the study of God’s word has always been central to our understanding of following Jesus and growing in our faith. The Bible is the very foundation of our faith. Ravi Zacharias tells of an experience of lecturing at Ohio State University. As he was being driven to the lecture, they passed the new Wexner Art Center. The driver said, ‘This is a new art building for the university. It is a fascinating building designed in the post-modernist view of reality.’ The building has no pattern. Staircases go nowhere. Pillars support nothing. The architect designed the building to reflect life. It went nowhere and was mindless and senseless. I turned to the man describing it and asked, ‘Did they do the same thing with the foundation?’ He laughed. And then he writes, You can’t do that with a foundation. You can get away with the infrastructure…..(but) once you start tampering with the foundations, you begin to see the serious effects.” We know about how important a strong foundation is to the future of a building. The foundation for us as Methodists is God’s Holy Word and the pilings upon which it stands are the timeless truths and claims of the Bible.
So why do we need to read the Bible? The first reason is to discern the will and the leading of God for your life. There are two dimensions to the word. The first is what the Bible calls Scripture. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You are in error because you do not know the scriptures. And because you don’t know the scriptures, you’re missing the power of God.” You'll never know the power of God if you’re not disciplined in the scriptures. Here’s the problem: a lot of us think we know the scriptures. I hear people quote all the time stuff they think comes from the scriptures. How about “God helps those who help themselves.” No, it’s not in the Bible. It’s in Poor Richard’s Almanac. If you’re not disciplined in the scriptures, then you’re going to be basing your life on godless myths and old wives’tales.
Christmas is the time of year when we get things with instruction manuals we have to read. I hate to read instruction manuals. I abhor it. Is there anyone else like me? But with the growing complexity of technology, you have to read the manuals if you’re going to get the full benefit of what you’ve bought. What did Jesus say? You are in error because you do not know the manual of life. You think you do. But your life is like your VCR, it’s still flashing 12:00. Because of the complexity of life and all of the inaccurate philosophies with which we’re bombarded like “Everything happens for a reason”, we have to daily download the right ideas and truths about God. Having the right thoughts and attitudes about God affects everything we do. Because everything you think, say or do is driven by what you believe. So it’s essential to have the truth of God in you. Otherwise, I’m living off half truths and myths.
The second dimension is 'The Word of the Lord’ which is God’s personal word to you in this moment. This is where it gets exciting. This is where it leaves Sunday School and now becomes relationship – when God has a word for me in this moment. In 2 Samuel 7:4-5 it says, “That night, the Word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: 'Go and tell my servant, David, ‘This is what the Lord says . . .'” and God said, You’re not the one who’s going to build God’s temple. Your son, Solomon, will ultimately build God’s temple.” When you begin to study the scriptures, you'll learn to recognize the living word of God that will come to you through the scriptures which is God’s specific word for you in your life at this moment. How many of you have felt that you have experienced a Word of the Lord in your life? How many of you would like to? Then begin reading the Word.