Thursday, July 29, 2010

What do the Scriptures Say? – The Importance of the Scriptures

The Importance of the Scriptures

Deuteronomy 8:1-3
All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.
And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

When God gave His Word to be written down in the Scriptures, He explained that the Scriptures were necessary for life. They were as important to man’s well being as the bread or food that he ate.

Psalm 119:11
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Sometime you might consider reading this whole psalm. Every verse is a declaration regarding God’s Word. The psalmist understood that the Scriptures would allow him to not sin against God. What a revelation! If we want to know how to walk with and for God, we don’t have to speculate, we don’t have to guess, we simply go to the Scriptures and put them in the innermost part of our being.

Psalm 119:105
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

What a beautiful figure this is. The psalmist recognized that the Scriptures would provide light in darkness. The Scriptures declare that they provide direction in the darkness of life.

Psalm 107:20
He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

How did the healing and deliverance come? God sent His Word to bring health. God’s Word provides healing and deliverance. If we want to see healing and deliverance in our lives and the lives of others, this is written for our learning.

Psalm 138:2
I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

If God has magnified His Word above all else that His name represents, then it would seem that what the Scriptures actually say would be important. God considers His Word as very important.

Jeremiah 15:16
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

The prophet Jeremiah considered the Scriptures something that brings joy and rejoicing to the heart.

Hosea 4:6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

It is a sad commentary, but the statement made in Hosea is still true today. We have an abundance of knowledge of science, history, literature and great authors and even religion. The Internet has vast resources that can be searched with the click of a mouse, and yet people are still being destroyed for a lack of knowledge.

It is a lack of knowledge of God’s Word, rightly divided that has and continues to defeat people today.

Jeremiah 2:13
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

When you forsake God, you forsake His Word. God had given His people His Word, the Scriptures which gave them a path to life, prosperity and instruction on how to walk with Him. However, they considered their thinking and their thoughts better than God's. Scholars teach us that in the lands and times of the Bible, people often dug out cisterns to hold rain water that would provide a source of water in the dry periods. This verse says that in a similar manner, the children of Israel forsook God, the fountain of living waters and hewed out cisterns. This is called religion. Religion is man's attempt to provide for himself instead of relying upon God, who is a fountain.
John 5:39
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Jesus Christ told those present here to search the Scriptures. 
This record occurred during the beginning of Jesus Christ’s public ministry. To gain a greater understanding of this verse, we will consider the context in John 5.
John 5:1-9
After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

Jesus had gone to Jerusalem for Pentecost, as required by the Mosaic Law, and he performed a great miracle, but it was on the Sabbath.

John 5:10-16
The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.
Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

This is an amazing record. A man who had an infirmity for 38 years was healed. We are not told what the infirmity was, but whatever it was, the man had been afflicted by it for 38 years. The Jews here refer to the religious leaders of the Judeans. One would have thought that they would have been thrilled that the power of God had helped this man. Yet their religious traditions, which the true God had not given, led them to persecute Jesus and seek to kill him.

Religion is what man does; it is what man has developed in a feeble attempt to reach God or to have meaning in life. The history of religion is a history of hurt, harm and destruction. Wars are fought over religion. Things have been done in the name of God and religion that have absolutely nothing to do with the one true God or what He has revealed in the Scriptures. If one wants to know God, one must come back to what the Scriptures say.

Here instead of being thankful for the deliverance provided by Jesus Christ, the Jews sought to have him killed. Things had not really changed since the days of Hosea and Jeremiah.

John 5:17-18
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus Christ did not call himself God here. Rather he called God his Father. The Jews would have understood that to mean that he had the power of God and all the legal rights of a son. Accepting that as the truth would have meant that they should follow him and revise their religious thinking.

John 5:19-47
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.
There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.
Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.
But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.
He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.
But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
I receive not honour from men.
But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Jesus Christ came to bring a new order, a new administration, a new way of God dealing with his people, and yet what he was to bring would not contradict the Old Testament Scriptures. The words and works of the Lord Jesus Christ would fulfill the Old Testament Scriptures.

What the Judeans failed to do was to believe the Scriptures. Let's look at Mark 7.

This record is occurs during the late summer of Jesus' ministry, in Capernaum which was an area where many healings had occurred. The healing of the centurion’s servant and the woman with an issue of blood had occurred here. Jairus’ daughter had been raised from the dead in this area, and the feeding of the 5000 had recently occurred not far away. This is also where Jesus walked on the water of the sea of Galilee.

Mark 7:1-13
Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.
And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.
For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

The Pharisees, Sadducees and the scribes were three different religious groups that were competing for power and influence in the times of the Lord Jesus Christ. Most of the time they fought one another, but here they came together to oppose God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Things had not changed much since the days of Jeremiah. These of the nation of Israel were not worshiping golden calves, but they had substituted various forms religion for godliness. They placed their words and their thinking ahead of the Scriptures. By doing so they disregarded the Scriptures, giving them no authority over their lives. That which God gave to govern their life, they declared null and void.

Mark 7:14-23
And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:
There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.
And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;
Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Jesus Christ went on to explain that it is not what one eats that matters. What defiles a man or woman are the thoughts and evil thinking that are contrary to the Scriptures. What defiles a man or woman is the intent of the heart.

Romans 10:9-10
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Believing unto righteousness comes from the heart. The believing that brings Godly results is believing what the Scriptures say. Romans 10:9 and 10 reveal the simplicity of how to receive salvation. It is not by doing good works or by saying the sinner's prayer. To receive God's promised salvation (what the Scriptures call being born again), all one must do is accept what God has already done in Christ Jesus by confessing that he is Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead.

There is a tremendous difference between religion and Christianity. Religion is based upon human reason and philosophy. It usually involves perfecting the flesh in an attempt to make oneself worthy of God’s love and deliverance. True Christianity is based upon God’s divine revelation – the written Word of God. Religion is man’s feeble attempt to redo what God has already accomplished in Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 55:8
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

Again, religion is based upon human reasoning, human ways, and human philosophy. God says His thoughts are different. His ways are not man's ways.

Isaiah 55:9-11
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Religion is the ways of men. Christianity is what God brought to pass in Christ Jesus. It is the way of a Father with his family. God is our Father; we are His children. He cares for us and wants us to know the truth.

John 17:17
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

God’s Word is truth.
Matthew 22:23-29
The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,
Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: 
Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.
And last of all the woman died also.
Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

What did they not know? They didn’t know the Scriptures or the power of God. Jesus Christ knew the Scriptures and he demonstrated God’s power. He taught and brought God’s deliverance everywhere he went. It must have driven them crazy. There is no record in God’s Word, or in history for that matter, where the Pharisees, Sadducees or scribes ever operated the power of God bringing deliverance to anyone.

Jesus Christ often responded to the religionists of his day by quoting the Scriptures. Matthew 21 is one example. When the chief priests and the Pharisees of the people came to him questioning him, he spoke a parable about a man who planted a vineyard. At the conclusion of the parable he said:

Matthew 21:42 - 46
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

These were the religious leaders and Jesus is asking, “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures?” He had told them before that they didn’t know the Scriptures or the power of God. No wonder they considered him a threat and sought to kill him. He embarrassed them.

During the 40 days between his resurrection and his ascension is the following record:

Luke 24:44-45
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

Jesus Christ could have reflected on so many things. He could have reminded the disciples of the great miracles and healings. He could have addressed the worsening political and religious situations. He could have talked about being dead for three days and what it was like. Instead he opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures.

So what happened after Jesus Christ left and the new birth became available on the day of Pentecost?

Acts 17:11
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

God’s Word declares that the Bereans were more noble because they searched the Scriptures to confirm the word that they were taught by Paul and others. The Scriptures declare that God is not a respecter of persons, so when we take the time to search the Scriptures, we too can become more noble.

II Timothy 3:16 - 17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Here the Scriptures are declared to have been given at the direction of God. Many have presented their personal opinions, debated the truth of the Scriptures and offered points to “prove” that that this was not the case. The Scriptures declare of themselves that they are the handiwork of one Author and that Author is God.

There is very little believing of the Word of God left in the churches today. A person can go to all the Bible colleges and have all of the right initials after his name and still not know the Word of God or believe one word of it. One may have impressive knowledge outside of the Word of God, but that is still a broken cistern. It is still a lack of knowledge of God and the power of God.

Here in II Timothy we see that all Scripture is declared to be profitable. The world may not think a knowledge of the Scriptures is profitable. God apparently does. God declares here in His Word that they are not only profitable but a knowledge of the Scriptures is required to be fully outfitted and prepared for life.

God declares that the Scriptures are important. I choose to take Him at His Word!