|Vol. 14 No. 1 January 2012||
The question was asked in a sermon recently when people hear our names, what is the first thing that comes to their minds? Was it our looks? Was it our money and possessions? Was it our power and position? Was it our education and social status? Was it our stand on politics? What was it that identified us in the minds of others?
We were challenged to look at what battles against God that defines us, to relinquish whatever that was and replace it with Jesus Christ. We were called upon to accept heaven’s definition of who we are because nothing else will matter when we come to the end of life’s journey.
As I thought later, all I could think about was what identified us as Christians should be our knowledge of and adherence to the Bible as God has revealed it. That is our strength as individuals and as the church. If either of these two factors is missing, our lives as Christians fall into full-blown disarray! Our effectiveness becomes virtually nil. What glee for Satan!
Our spiritual identification is daily on display. People in the world are watching; other members of the church are watching; our families are watching; our neighbors are watching. Paul told the church at Corinth, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).
Gaining knowledge of God’s Word and adhering to that Word is a lifelong undertaking. We do not ever “graduate” from the Bible. The more we learn, the more we realize how much we do not know. Even more sobering is the realization that we will die before we ever touch the hem of the garment of the vastness and richness of God and the Bible! This is perfectly stated in Romans 11:33. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Why is this? Because the Bible is the mind of God in human language, and He is the God of all that exists!
David declared in Psalm 119:7, “I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments.” Verses 10 and 11 continue this thought. “With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
Jesus Christ was and is the Word of God personified. This is revealed in John 1:1-2, 14. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
As that Word, Jesus confounded the rulers of His day with His supremacy of knowledge and wisdom. His knowledge constantly amazed His followers as well as the unbelievers. When He ended what has come to be known as The Sermon on the Mount, the people were astonished at His teaching, “for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29). The people marveled at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth (Luke 4:22 ).
Jesus said in John 12:48-50, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” Those verses alone tell us anybody else’s word no matter how sincere, suggesting authority in an eternal sense, counts for nothing.
The people stood in awe after Peter had healed the lame man in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:1-16). The rulers, the elders, the scribes, the high priest and the family of the high priest questioned Peter and John about this. Acts 4:13 revealed the source of their knowledge and strength. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”
One of the greatest benefits of biblical knowledge is staying watchful and staying ready for the return of Christ. He said in Matthew 24:42-44, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour, your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Knowing what the Bible says and not doing what the Bible says is dangerous and deadly. It is sin. James 4:17 says so. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” What is James saying? It is a sin to hold a truth, any truth from the Bible in our hearts, that we do not allow to affect our emotions and regulate our will. We must yearn earnestly to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
However, knowledge does not equal adherence. What is adherence? The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as “being devoted as a follower or supporter. To follow closely; carry out without deviation; to stick or hold fast.” Jesus always and totally adhered to God’s Word and His will. In John 8:29 Jesus said, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” Verse 30 tells us what kind of impact that statement had on His listeners. “As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.” Shortly before His death, Jesus prayed for God’s will rather than His will be done (Matthew 26:39).
Jesus told His disciples that He was going to suffer many things, be killed and be raised the third day. When Peter rebuked Him, he was sharply and sternly reproved! Matthew 16:23 says, “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.’” Jesus never lost sight of His purpose for being sent into the world. His commitment and adherence to save the world was irrevocable!
Jude 1 tells us that we are those who are called, sanctified by God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ. Jude then charges us in verses 20-21, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Knowledge of and adherence to the Bible is our strength as Christians walking worthy and making our calling and election sure.