Thursday, June, 30, 2016 | 7:30 PM | by Pastor Rick
Why Read The Bible?
How do you know if the living truth of Scripture is actually at work in your life? How do you know that God’s Word has actually taken root in your life?
To help you understand your own spiritual growth and how God’s Word works in your life, I want to highlight the key steps in the process of sanctification with three simple words.
The first is understanding. God’s pattern for spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says and what it means. The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture—if you don’t know what it means, you don’t have the truth. So the process of spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says.
Many years ago as a child, the importance of knowing and understanding God’s Word was impressed upon me. I began to read my Bible repetitiously—day after day, over and over. The further I went, the more connections I was able to draw from book to book. After a few years, I was overwhelmed with the understanding that the Bible is its own interpreter. And that is why I am so committed to teaching the bible to this day.
True sanctification or spiritual maturity begins with renewing your mind. You must know the truth, plain and simple. There’s no premium on ignorance in sanctification. You’re not going to get there through some emotional or mystical experience. Spiritual growth won’t happen by osmosis—it requires the discipline of constantly putting God’s truth in your mind.
Don’t confuse childlike faith with childish thinking. There are no shortcuts in sanctification—a lack of biblical knowledge will always retard your spiritual growth. Apart from the truth of Scripture, there simply is no mechanism to restrain your sinful flesh. Legalism can’t do it. Pragmatism can’t either. The same goes for mysticism and sacramentalism. The only certain method for true spiritual growth starts with absorbing God’s eternal truth.
Understanding leads to a second step: conviction. As you grow in your understanding of the Bible, you begin to develop convictions out of that understanding. Those convictions or beliefs determine how you live, or at least how you endeavor to live. As God’s truth takes over your mind, it produces principles that you do not desire to violate. That’s sanctification—it’s the transformation of your heart and your will that compels you to obey God’s Word which leads to the lifelong process of sanctification or spiritual maturity.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul talks about the persecution and threats he faced on a daily basis. Every day presented a new danger to him, a new plot to silence his preaching, and a new threat to his life. In verse 11 he says he and his companions were “constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake.” There was never a time when he wasn’t in danger for preaching God’s truth.
Why would he live a life that invited that kind of persecution? He tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:13-14. “But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.”
“I believed, therefore I spoke.” As far as Paul was concerned, he didn’t have any other options. His belief in and love for the Lord compelled him to preach the truth, in spite of the dangers he faced. That’s conviction.
John Bunyan spent twelve years in jail, but it wasn’t the steel bars that held him there. He could have gone free if he simply agreed to stop preaching. Instead, he wrote,
"If nothing will do, unless I make of my conscience a continual butchery and slaughter-shop, unless putting out my own eyes I commit me to the blind to lead me, I have determined, the Almighty God being my help and shield, yet to suffer, if frail life might continue so long, even till the moss shall grow on mine eye-brows rather than thus to violate my faith and principles." John Bunyan, The Whole Works of John Bunyan, 3 vols. (London, Blackie and Son, 1862), 2:594.
His convictions wouldn’t allow him to compromise, no matter the cost.
When you read the Bible, you’re not just trying to know it academically. You’re studying the Word of God to develop a set of convictions that rule your life, inform your conscience, and guide you toward greater Christ-likeness. That’s the goal. To “walk as he walked” 1 John 2:6