2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Dear Friends in Christ,
I came across the most incredible story recently about this fellow here. His name is Dean Karnazes. He is known as the Ultra Marathon Man. Ranked #27 on Time Magazine’s poll of the world’s top 100 most influential people back in 2007, Men’s Fitness Magazine had this to say about him: “Dean Karnazes might just be the fittest man in the world.” I don’t think I’d have any problem agreeing with that, especially after reading his biography on his web site. Listen to this incredible list of just a few of his accomplishments:
Among his many accomplishments, he has run 350 continuous miles, foregoing sleep for three nights. He’s run across the Sahara Desert in 120-degree temperatures, and he’s run a marathon to the South Pole in – 40 degrees. In 2006 he accomplished the seemingly impossible by running 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days, finishing with the NYC Marathon (which he ran in three hours flat!).
And the list of accomplishments just goes on and on. He’s an amazing man whose level of physical fitness requires relentless, dedicated hours of training. When asked how many miles he runs each week to maintain that level of fitness, he said that it’s anywhere from 60 to 170 miles.
Well, in my last 2 sermons we’ve been talking about how we can become not more physically fit like Dean Karnazes, but rather more spiritually fit. And the only way to do that is to spend time in God’s Word for the more we get into the Word, the more that Word is going to get into us. Now in my first 2 sermons in this series that I have entitled “The Foundation of Our Faith,” we took a look at 9 reasons that people give as to why they don’t read the Bible. This morning we want to shift gears completely and examine some great reasons as to why we should read the Bible in the hopes that this will get us pumped up and primed to become as spiritually fit as Dean Karnazes is physically fit.
The first reason why we should spend time in God’s Word is this: It gives you confidence to share its teachings and truths with others. This is something that I have especially come to appreciate as a pastor. I can remember a time early on in my ministry when I was still very young and inexperienced and people started to come to me with problems they were having and I would feel as though I had to come up with some profound words of wisdom that I could pass on to them to help them out. That way of thinking created a lot of anxiety in me as I would be listening to them. But in time I discovered that God had a whole book of wisdom called the Bible that I could draw on when people presented their problems to me. And the more I read the Bible and the more familiar I became with its teachings and truths, the more I found myself incorporating its perfect wisdom into my counseling rather than my far from perfect wisdom. Now, instead of wondering what I’m going to say about a particular problem or issue, I just ask myself, “What does God say about it in his Word?” And let me tell you something. That takes a tremendous burden off my shoulders as well as the shoulders of any other counselor or person like yourself who is leaning on God’s flawless wisdom rather than their own faulty wisdom to help people out.
So think of the Bible as a compass. While there are a lot of man-made compasses out there these days that are pointing people in all kinds of wrong directions, the compass of God’s Word will never lead you astray. It will never lead you down the wrong path. So follow it and you can be confident that it will guide you and others through the toughest of times.
Then a second reason to read the Bible is because it insulates you against Satan’s attacks. I love how author Woodrow Kroll puts it in one of his books. He says: “Failure to read and study God’s Word is an open invitation to the devil. It’s a way of waving a red flag in his face and saying, ‘Come get me. I’ll fall for anything.’”
Cal Thomas once wrote in one of his columns about a time when he was working as a reporter for a Houston television station back in the 70’s and he did an interview with Madeline Murray O’Hair, perhaps the most avowed atheist our country has ever seen or known. She was the closest thing to the devil incarnate that I have ever heard. She’s the one credited with the lawsuits that ultimately got prayer and Bible reading thrown out of our public schools back in the ‘60’s even though those activities had gone on in our schools ever since our nation was founded. Well, in that interview Cal Thomas asked Ms. O’Hair why so many Christians were afraid of her. He said he never forgot her response. She said: “I’ll tell you, Mr. Thomas, why some Christians are afraid of me. They’re not sure that what they believe is really true. If they were sure, I wouldn’t be a threat to them at all.”
Well, my friends, when you spend time in God’s Word getting to know it better as well as getting to know God better, you are not only strengthening your conviction that what you believe is true, you are also equipping yourself for any temptations or battles that Satan might try to bring your way. That’s why the psalmist wrote in Ps. 119:11: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” And nobody demonstrated better what it means to have God’s Word hidden in his heart and to use it as a weapon against Satan than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Remember when Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness those 40 days? For every temptation that Satan brought his way Jesus countered it with a quotation from Scripture. “It is written,” “It is written,” “It is written,” is how he began each one of his responses until the defeated devil went running away with his pointed tail between his legs.
So read the Bible to give you confidence to share its teachings and truths with others and to insulate you against Satan’s attacks. Then a third reason to read it is that it helps you think Christianly. You’ve heard me say many times in the past that when pollsters like George Gallup and George Barna conduct their surveys these days they find no appreciable difference anymore between the way the average Christian and the average non-Christian live their lives. And as you can probably guess, it’s not that the non-Christians are living more like the Christians. Rather, it’s the other way around. Author Harry Blamires says in his book, The Christian Mind: “The modern Christian has succumbed to secularization. He accepts religion – its morality, its worship; but he rejects the religious view of life, the view which sets all earthly issues within the context of the eternal.”
What he is simply saying there is that many 21st century Christians have become so secularized, so biblically ignorant and illiterate that they are no longer capable of having a biblical worldview, of thinking Christianly. Consequently they are being influenced more by the culture around them than the Bible and in the process they have lost their ability to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world that Jesus has called them to be. Though they may go to church on Sunday morning, they live like the world the rest of the week. In fact, that is probably one of the biggest criticisms I hear from people who are outside the church. They say things like, “I know people who go to church. They drink as much as I drink. They cuss as much as I cuss. They lie as much as I lie. So why would I want to waste my time going to church? It’s obviously not doing anything for them.”
But my friends, we can change that. As we consistently read the Word of God and expose ourselves to its principles and teachings, the Holy Spirit will be able to use all of that to help us think as God thinks, to help us love the things that he loves and to hate the things that he hates. Listen once again to the words of our text for today: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
And that really leads right in to a 4th good reason why we should read the Bible. And that is because it helps you define morality. And oh how we need that in this day and age! Currently we find ourselves living in what is called a postmodern culture. Postmodernism is the champion of what I like to refer to as moral relativism which basically says that all morality is relative, that there are no absolute rights and wrongs. So each person has to define their own morality. Consequently, what may be right for you may not be right for me. And what may be wrong for you may not be wrong for me. All this does, my friends, is lead to the moral mess and mayhem that we see all around us in our culture today.
I heard a good example of this moral mess while listening to KMOX some time ago. They were talking about a woman who was a meth addict and was also pregnant. In time she delivered a stillborn baby. When it was discovered that the baby’s death was due to her addiction to meth, the authorities wanted to prosecute her. And as this was being discussed on KMOX someone called in and said, “Wait a minute. What’s the difference between what this woman did and what millions of other women have done who have intentionally aborted their babies?” In the one situation it’s perfectly legal and ok to kill your baby while in the other it isn’t. That’s a good point, isn’t it? In fact, I was thinking the exact same thing and I was glad somebody brought it up. Now I’m certainly not in favor of abortion as you well know. Nor am I condoning what that pregnant meth addict did to her baby. All I’m saying is that when we hold to this idea that there are no absolute rights and wrongs anymore and there is no such thing as absolute truth, you’re going to run into situations like this. And instead of having order in your society, you’re going to have confusion and chaos.
The Bible, on the other hand, gives us a firm place to stand. It helps us define morality because as our text for today says, it is “God-breathed.” It comes from the very heart, the very lips, the very breath of the One who is the source of all truth and therefore it is absolute truth. And though the rest of the culture around us may not agree with that, though it may not define its morality according to the Bible’s standards, it would be wise of us to do so. Because when you follow the moral guidelines that God has laid down for us there, you’re going to discover that they are far superior to the morally relativistic and imperfect guidelines that are creating such chaos in our already chaotic culture.
Well, our time for today is up. The next time I stand in this pulpit we’ll continue our look at some other excellent reasons as to why we should read the Bible. But of those reasons, the one that stands head and shoulders above them all is that the Bible introduces us to the One who loved us so much that he was willing to take all of our sins and shortcomings upon himself and suffer the punishment and penalty for them that we deserved, all so that we could be forgiven of them and be allowed the greatest privilege of all, the privilege of spending eternity in his glorious and perfect presence. So more than anything, my friends, read your Bible to get to know Jesus who is not only the living Word of God as well as our Savior and Lord, but also the very best friend that any of us could ever hope to have. Amen.