Summary: Why do we do what we do in worship services? This is expository and topical of why the Bible is useful for us today, with lots of stories and quotes.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – What’s the Use?
The US standard railroad gauge – that’s the distance between rails – is 4 feet, 8-1/2 inches. Why such an odd number? Because that’s the way they built them in England, and American railroads were built by British expatriates – that is, people who used to live in Britain.
Well, why did the English use that particular gauge? Because the people who built the pre-railroad tramways used that gauge.
They in turn were locked into that gauge because the people who built tramways used the same standards and tools they had used for building wagons, which were on a gauge of 4 ft, 8-1/2 inches.
Why were wagons to that scale? Because with any other size, the wheels did not match the old wheel ruts on the roads.
So who built these old rutted roads?
The first long distance highways in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since. The ruts were first made by Roman war chariots. Four feet, 8-1/2 inches was the width a chariot needed to be to accommodate the two rear ends of war horses.
Maybe “that’s the way it’s always been” isn’t the good reason some people believe it is. (Clark Cothern, “Leadership”, Winter 1998) Today we begin a summer sermon series looking at The Why’s of our Worship – that is, why do we do what we do on Sunday mornings. Why is our worship service the way it is? Do we worship as we do for biblical reasons, or like the railway, for other reasons? Today we look at the use of the scriptures in our worship services.
You can find that we use scripture in several parts of the Sunday morning worship service. Sometimes it is used as a call to worship – a truth that tells us to place Him first in our lives. There is usually a responsive reading or a scripture reading sometime during the service. Sometimes I use scripture when I pray the pastoral prayer. And of course, the sermon is always based on the Bible. I’d like to think that someone who comes on a Sunday morning will get God’s opinion on things more than mine.
But why is the Bible used so much? Why do we have it so much in our services? What difference does the Bible make? Turn with me to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 for the answer.
First of all, the Bible is useful. There is a richness and value in the Bible that cannot be found in anything else.
Maybe you’ve heard the story of the parents who gave their son a Bible when their son left for his freshman year at Duke University. They assured him it would be a great help. Later, as he began sending them letters asking for money, they would write back telling him to read his Bible, citing chapter and verse. He would reply that he was reading the Bible—but he still needed money. When he came home for a semester break, his parents told him they knew he had not been reading his Bible. How? They had tucked $10 and $20 bills by the verses they had cited in their letters. (John T. Spach, in Reader’s Digest) So many of us lose out on riches that God wants to give us, simply because we do not live by the truths contained in the Bible. He promises us grace and strength for the challenges we face, but if we don’t know that, we lose out.
Someone once said: A Bible in the hand is worth two in the bookcase. And someone else said: A Bible stored in the mind is worth a dozen stored in the bottom of one’s trunk. You know, as people who say that we live by the Bible, we don’t know it very well. It’s funny and sad at the same time: the newest Harry Potter book sold millions of copies within a month, with kids all over the world reading an 800-page book about wizards and witches. And the kids finish these monstrous books in just days. Meanwhile, too many Christians can’t seem to read our Bible even once a year.
The Bible calls itself many things: a light, a fire, a hammer, a rock, a lamp, the double-edged sword of the Spirit, and a treasure map. It’s sweeter than honey, and more valuable than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. God’s words are the source of joy for the psalmist’s heart, as well as his source of strength. It’s a giver of peace and a keeper of purity. It will never fail, and it will endure when the rest of this world passes away. Above all, the words of God are all-important.