How to Get the Most From the Word

Faith Church February 3, 2007

 

Introduction:

1.  We’re beginning a new series today:  Delighting in the Word – How to Be Discipline in Your Bible Study

- these studies are designed to further enhance our Worship Service Study of Reaching New Heights Through Our Commitment to Scripture – Psalm 119.

Note: Just like we did with the series on Prayer, we want to tie it to our annual theme for 2007

- This is where progressive sanctification enters the picture – we all need to grow in this area of commitment to the Word of God

>  to read it, to study it, to memorize it, to meditate on it, and most of all . . . OBEY it and PROCLAIM it

>  we ought to be growing in being ‘doers of the Word’ (James 1:22-25)

>  and we ought to be fulfilling the Great Commission of going into all the world and ‘preaching the Gospel . . . teaching them to observe all things’ that He has commanded us!!

2.  We want to continue to keep our focus on prayer (as the Word instructs us) – but that’s US TALKING TO GOD

- now were going to put our focus on GOD TALKING to us!!

>  Our time of prayer will be more focused on asking God to help us to grow in our love for Him and His Word so we will read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and OBEY it and PROCLAIM it!

3. This series is going to look something like this:

Feb. 4      Getting the Most Out of the Word [TODAY – “Right Attitudes”]

Feb. 11*  Letting the Word Impact Your Life [MOLDOVA SUNDAY]

Feb. 18    Reading the Word: Why and How?

Feb. 25    The How and Why of Effective Bible Study

4.  I want to begin w/ this statement:  The Word of God is not hard to understand (at least most of it).

- it’s a relatively short book to be revealing all we need to know about God & His Plan for our lives

- some parts of it,  we’ll never agree on because we don’t have all the information – that should remind us of the following verse:

  • Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, [note the purpose for which God has revealed these things to us] that we may observe [put into practice, obey]all the words of this law [not just the ones we like or are most comfortable with, but ‘all’].

5.  You can probably relate to this quote:  “It’s not the things I don’t understand in the Bible that bother me. It’s the things I do understand.” – Mark Twain, an agnostic!

6.  We should be developing the same attitude that Paul instructed Timothy to have when it comes to the study of the Word:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

“accurately handling” = literally means “cutting it straight”

- Paul would write about the power and purpose of God’s word:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Quote:  “. . . in the Bible all Christians have an incredible treasure. Effective study of the Word of God is basic to the Christian life. For the Christian, at the core of everything is knowledge of God’s Word.”[1]

- the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever – you’ll never accomplish either one without a commitment to the Word!

- Let’s start with The Right Attitudes that Lead to Discipled Study [adapted from John MacArthur’s book, How to Get the Most From God’s Word]

-  If we want to know God through His Word (Note: Which is the only way to truly understand Him and His will for our lives – the ‘heavens declare the glory of God’, true, but the heavens do not reveal the will of God – they tell us something, but not enough to really ‘know Him’ ) . . . it’s very important to start with the right attitudes!

-  Let’s consider 5 attitudes that help us to delight in God’s Word and be discipline in our study:

Attitude #1:  Knowing Jesus through the new birth (being born again )

- Jesus set the stage for this whole concept of understanding the kingdom of God (which is revealed in the Living Word and the written word):

  • John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

- This attitude (or spiritual condition) seems obvious, and to some degree it is, but it is very important to remember!

-  For a person to understand God’s word and/or to get anything out of God’s Word, a person has to be a child of God

> an unbeliever does not have the ability to comprehend truth apart from the simplicity of the Gospel message (that man is a sinner, Jesus died, was buried and rose again!)

-  Paul makes this very clear in the following verse:

  • 1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Point:  “The natural man doesn’t understand God’s truths because he lacks the resident truth-teacher, the Holy Spirit!”

Implications to us? 

1) We need to make sure we know the Lord as Savior, and …

2) If someone we know is having serious struggles with understanding the Word, we need to make sure they have trusted Christ as their Savior and Lord! 

>  that’s where is all STARTS!

- Another attitude we need to develop to be discipline in our study of the Word is a . . .

Attitude #2:  Real desire to know the Word is crucial.

-  in our culture, and unfortunately, in many churches, there is a heavy emphasis on emotionalism, on getting some kind of charge out of Christianity, or having a real ‘EXPERIENCE’ in a person’s spiritual life

-  while God is NOT an emotional dead-beat [like some want to make Him out to be], neither is He first and foremost about emotions

>  * God’s first concern is holiness! [we’ll touch on that in just a moment]

Point: Don’t come to the Bible primarily for a feeling – or to make you feel better

>  the goal is not for you to ‘feel’ better, but to think differently (to think like God would think) and then act like God would act!

[MacArthur quotes]

“The Scriptures are not a sanctified pep pill. The Scriptures are there to give you knowledge, and gaining that knowledge takes effort. The more you want to make that effort, the more you are going to gain from Scripture.” 

“Halfhearted Bible study is a bore. If you come to the Scriptures legalistically, ritualistically, or because you’re intimidated by your peers or your pastor, you won’t get much out of it. What you need is a hunger in your heart, a passion for knowing God through His Word.”

A.  Maybe it would be good to think about how the Psalmist delighted in God’s Word:

  • Psalm 119:16 I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.
  • Psalm 40:8 I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart."
  • Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
  • Psalm 119:92 If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.

- could I say these things about my desire for the Word. . . or am I desiring something else?

B.  It is possible for us to lose that DESIRE . . . to get away from wanting to know God’s Word:

  • Jeremiah 6:10 To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed, and they cannot listen.  Behold, the word of the LORD has become a reproach to them; They have no delight in it.

* Ask yourself the following questions, and be honest when you answer them:

1)  How much do I really want to know God?

2)  Where is this “desire” on my priority list?

- a 3rd attitude that will help us to be discipline in our study is a . . .

Attitude #3:  Constant diligence comes right on the heels of real desire.

A.  Jesus said there was a special blessing for those who had this kind of life/attitude:

  • Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Q:  Is that verse easy to understand?  YES – & Jesus even promises the results = satisfaction

>  maybe we not satisfied because we’re trying to fill our spiritual lives with something other than righteousness

> righteousness is found in Living Word (Jesus Christ) AND the written Word:

  • Psalm 19:9 . . . the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.

- Your desires have to result in action; or nothing will happen.

B.  There are no shortcuts, or ‘backdoor’ methods of spirituality

FACT:  Studying the Bible is hard work, and we’re not going to get ‘zapped’ by the Holy Spirit to help us overcome our laziness or ½ hearted attitude!

>  The Spirit works through the Word; and we have to work to get His message for us.

- there was a group of people who personified this (one of our ABF’s has the name: Bereans):

  • Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

Quote: “Bible study takes discipline. If there is no perspiration, there will be no inspiration.”

- sorry ladies, but we all need to sweat some in our spiritual battles and disciplines

- a 4th attitude would be . . .

Attitude #4:  Practical holiness

A.  We are to be holy because He is holy:

  • 1 Peter 1:16 because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."

Holy = to be separate from sin (God’s primary attribute)

- We can use the term “practical” because it simply means “having a cleaned-up life.”

Bottom Line Q:  How pure is my life?

B.  The key to growth is first putting off a sinful habit – Eph. 4:22-24 [READ]

- this is similar to Peter’s admonition in 1 Peter 2:

  • 1 Peter 2:1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.

putting aside =  stripping off . . . then going to the sincere milk of the Word to grow as Christians – you haven’t changed just because you STOP something…

C.  The next step is to ‘put on’ biblical habits – Eph. 4:22-24

-  All of this is happening as you ‘renew your mind’ (change the way you think)

-  If you insist on practicing certain favorite sins, the sincere milk of the Word won’t set all that well with you

-  You’ll end up with indigestion or, more often than not, you will decide you are just not hungry for the Word, and you’ll go eat something else thinking it will satisfy you, but it won’t!

 

Application:  Ask these questions of yourself:

  • Is there a specific sin that is keeping you from the Word? 
  • Is there a sinful habit that you’ve established that no matter what you read from the Word, you’re not going to change it?
  • What else are you wanting that you think will bring you joy/satisfaction?

- finally, we need to come with an understanding that . . . .

Attitude #5:  Prayer is another crucial element of Bible study.

The early apostles reduced their priorities to two:

  • Acts 6:4 "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."

Point* Studying God’s Word and prayer go together!

“Prayer is seeking the divine Source of understanding—God Himself.”

-  Paul underlined the centrality of prayer in gaining biblical understanding when he wrote:

  • Ephesians 1:16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

- We can and should pray and talk to God about helping us understand His word so we can be DOERS of His Word for His glory!

Quote:  “No Christian should ever look down at the Word without first looking up at the very Source of that Word and asking for guidance. To engage in Bible study without prayer is presumption, if not sacrilege.”

Conclusion:

1.  Take some time and consider which one of these attitudes you need to work on the most (pick one or two, or prioritize the whole list – 1-5 -- #1 being which attitude you need to change the most, #2 next . . .

2.  Take some time and pray and ask God to help us develop the right attitudes that will help us to properly understand the Word

Point: *  Our attitude set the stage for our effectiveness in understanding and obeying God’s Word!

Faith Church