I hold in my hand a miracle. The Bible is a miracle, and I challenge you to give me any definition of a miracle that our Bible does not qualify. It was the Word God sent, for faith comes by hearing so that we might be saved. James 1:17 – God chose to give us birth by the word of truth. The Scriptures are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15).
There are elect people who have not been justified yet; there are justified people who are not finished being sanctified. The finish line of salvation is the resurrected body; therefore, we are not finished yet, and we are in danger every hour. We need the ministry of the word of God every hour. The doctrines of grace, the five points of Calvinism have been precious to me most all of my Christian life. Most believers are aware of the “p” of tulip–the perseverance of the saints. But I have come to have a different view of perseverance over the past couple of years. It is much more dynamic; Jesus continues to save me, continues to project me until I am brought to glory.
(I missed a great exposition on our dependency upon the Trinitarian work of ongoing sanctification in the life of a believer to keep one in the faith through perseverance wholly as a divine work of grace. I was taking photos as this time).
The ongoing ministry of the Word keeps our faith in Christ strong.
Text: John 15:1-8 (click)
The centrality of this message is abiding, remaining, and dwelling in Christ. This fruitfulness comes only from abiding in Christ, and abiding in Christ does not come apart from abiding in the Word of God. Look at verse seven and eight:
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
I want trace out this theme of the centrality of the Word. Then I want to speak generally how this will be beneficial and helpful, and giving practical helps in studying Scripture.
1. Eternal life comes by the Word (3)
“You already clean because of the Word I have spoken to you.” We must be washed by Jesus or we do not go to heaven. Nobody’s will is stronger than Jesus’. Clean means justified–to be pure in the sight of God. God is looking on us as clean–he sees us pure and clean in Christ because of the word spoken to you. Rom. 5:1–we have peace with God; Heb. 10:22–hearts sprinkled and consciences cleansed.
2. Eternal life is sustained daily by the Word (2, 4)
Sanctification is the ongoing work of cleaning by the Spirit with the Word of God. The Father is cleaning you all the time–he is pruning you. God is cleaning those who are already clean. There is a direct relationship between justification and sanctification. We are sanctified daily by the same means we are justified–the word of God. We have an essential daily walk with Christ through the Word (4).
This is a dynamic walk with Christ. It is life-giving sap from the vine to branch. Everything you need for life is flowing from the vine, but you must remain in the vine. You cannot thrive today with the fellowship you had yesterday with God.
3. Fruitfulness in ministry depends upon your communion with Christ (5)
Healthy communion with Christ is guarantees fruitfulness in ministry–fruit that will remain. 1 Cor. 3 talks about the testing of our works by fire. If we have done is burned up, we will suffer loss. Justified people will suffer loss. Do you want to suffer that loss? God has appointed us to bear fruit that lasts. What does it mean by fruit? Not just evangelism, it is that; but it is anything that we do by faith following the leadership of the Spirit and using of our spiritual gifts–even giving a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name. It is money given in secret, putting sin to death, praying to the Father in the closet–any of these things and more, and I say that it is impossible apart from abiding in Christ to do anything of eternal consequence.
4. Communion with Christ moment by moment depends on Scripture (7-8)
“If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you . . .”
His words must live in you for you to constantly to be abiding in Christ. In this way, you will continually be transformed to the image of Christ. It is total saturation of the word of God, transforming you over decades. Constantly immersion in God’s Word we will be transformed–constantly moving through your mind changing the way
5. Effective personal prayer life depends upon Scripture (7).
Ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. That’s not, “Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz.” What you wish is different; you are transformed in what you want. You want Christ exalted to the ends of the earth. A great example of this powerful effective prayer was George Mueller. He ministered 10,000 orphans over 64 years. He had that kind of German discipline with prayer journals. He cited over 50,000 examples of answered prayer, 30,000 of them answered on the same day. All of the prayers were saturated by the Word of God–gleaning principles, patterns, and promises He could bring back to God in fervent, effectual prayer. His life verse was Psalm 81:10:
I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
Word at Work in Your Life
The central need of the hour according to Don Carson is to know God better. The core of true worship is revelation and response. God reveals and we respond. Your prayer life should be motivated and constrained by the word of God. When you understand what God has done, who he is–then you will worship. Pray richly. Pray deeply. Mortification of sin depends upon intimate acquaintance with the Word of God. Jesus is our model in this. When he was in the desert, he did not bring anything with Him except the word of God. The sword of the Spirit put the devil to flight. The more Scripture you have internalized, the more weapons you give the Holy Spirit to fight the devil and live with spiritual victory. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly! You will never exhaust Scripture and its truths.
Marriage–washed with water through the Word. Present your spouse clean through the powerful work of the Word in your marriage. Talk with your children about the precepts of God’s Word. You need to saturate your child’s life with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Evangelism–give the Spirit a full array to address the unbeliever with the Word. Consider the case of Phillip in Acts 8 and his explanation of Isaiah 53.
Counseling–we should be competent to counsel one another. As we saturate our minds with the word of God, we will be able to bring out the appropriate Scripture to counsel a brother or sister in Christ, to bring the truth of God to bear in their lives.
Basic Scripture Intake
Basic daily quiet time. Less than 10% of students at an evangelical seminary have a quiet time. 19 out of 20 seminary students don’t finish the race in Christian ministry. Are you having a quiet time early in the morning? Why not imitate Jesus? Better an ounce of prevention than a pound of cure.
We need to study for breadth and depth. I would read through the Bible in a year, and I would recommend memorizing a book of the Bible in a year. George Mueller read through the Bible over 100 times in his lifetime–that is every six months for his entire life! In order to read through the Bible, you must keep with it.
You need to meditate on Scripture, not as water through a pipe, but pause and let the words sink into your life. Feed and give food to your inner man. The first and greatest duty is to get your own soul happy in the Lord first by study and second by prayer. Let God speak to you first and speak back to Him in prayer. The goal is personal feeding on Christ.
I say to you that memorization is the most efficient way to do all of this. Why should you memorize Scripture? God is commending Scripture memory to you, but He is not commanding it. If I was in 1985 offering you a million shares of stock in Microsoft, you would buy it. Memorizing Scripture will make you rich.
John 15:7–His words. It is plural. All of Scripture are Christ’s words. How can you have His words in you if you don’t memorize them? The blessing is “much fruit.” Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. How does that not speak of memorization?
Psalm 1:2–on his law he meditates day and night. Do you picture a big Torah scroll before him? The Psalmist is commending this to his readers. He was ready day and night, and this commends memorization.
Joshua 1:8–do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth, let it stay in you, and meditate on it day and night.
Psalm 119:11–hide the word of God in your heart.
James 1:21-22–the man who look intently and continues to do this, this is memorization
Deut. 6:6-9–the words that I command you shall be on your heart, when you walk down and when you rise
Psalm 119:97 – I meditate on your law all the day long
Prov. 2:1ff–store up my commands within you
Prov. 7:1-3–keep my words and store up my commands within you; write them on the tablet of your heart
Your Ten Best Excuses for not Memorizing a Book of the Bible
1. I don’t have a good memory. You have a better memory than you think you do. Think of all the numbers and names you know.
2. It will take up too much time; I am too busy. This is the most efficient use of your time. It will bless you in everything you do. Invest your life in the Word of God.
3. I am too lazy, and it’s hard work. The secret to memorization is repetition over time. Repeat, and repeat, and repeat over months. It is hard work, but it is worth doing.
4. I am not very interested; it seems boring. Could the word of God really be boring to you if you are justified by faith? You haven’t seen the glories of the word of God.
5. I have tried it before, and it never really worked. Try it again.
6. I don’t see the benefit of working that hard. I have given you numerous benefits.
7. I read the Bible everyday; why do I need to memorize it? Satan isn’t going to wait for you to get your Bible before he tempts you.
8. I don’t know what translation to use. Use any reputable translation. I use the NIV, but any reputable one would work.
9. I might become prideful. No, you will become prideful, so memorize verses on pride to humble you.
10. I don’t know how to do it. It is simply repetition over time.
The word of God is living and active. If I could have one sin out of my life, it would be pride. That self-focus and selfishness, I would love to have it out. Those who walk in pride, God is able to humble (Dan. 4). Is it a warning? Yes. Is it a promise? Yes. Store up the word of God in your hearts, and in the judgment day, you will not be disappointed.