|Vol. 16 No. 11 November 2014||
Gary C. Hampton
My good friend John Klimko does a lot of counseling. He has observed that a number of the troubled people he sees have similar problems. Many of them have begun to think that they can resolve any problem without the assistance of the Almighty. Too, they have concluded the Bible is out of date, which has led them to regard its teachings as nothing more than archaic nonsense.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible contains insight into the mind and heart of the Creator. While man may have to adjust his thinking as new discoveries are made, God knows His creation. Further, God, who loved man enough to send His own Son to die for him, has “given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). So, Solomon said, “A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5). He also wrote, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:9).
The importance of knowing and obeying God’s will is vividly portrayed in Abraham’s conversation with the rich man in Luke 16. After realizing there was nothing that could be done to ease his own torment, the rich man asked that Lazarus be sent back to earth to warn his five brothers lest they join him in torment. Abraham told him, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” The rich man evidently did not think they would pay attention to the written word, but he did think they would heed the words of one returned from the dead. Abraham said, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:19-31, especially 27-31). Clearly, the Word of God is vital to those who would live in heaven!
The Bible is vital because it can teach me to fear God. The Deliverer instructed Moses to, “Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4:10). Similar thoughts were conveyed by God as He was issuing instructions concerning the tithe of the grain produced in their fields. God also instructed future kings of Israel to make a copy of the Law, read it and learn to fear. The people were, likewise, to participate in a reading of the Law every seven years so that they and their children could learn to fear the Lord and keep His commandments (14:22-23; 17:14-20; 31:9-13). No wonder the Psalmist said, “Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (34:11).
I need to learn the Word of God because, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, And the people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:11-12). “Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your path” (Psalm 25:3-4). David saw learning the Lord’s will as being closely tied to protection from his enemies (27:11).
The longest psalm is dedicated to meditations on the excellency of the Word of God. In fact, eight verses were written for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet! Repeatedly, Israel’s singer referred to his need and desire to learn the will of God (Psalm 119:7, 12, 26, 33, 64, 71, 108). Moses let Israel know that the Lord had commanded him “to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might observe them in the land which you cross over to possess” (Deuteronomy 4:14). When Israel returned from captivity, one of her most powerful leaders was Ezra. “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).
Ultimately, I must let God speak to me through His Word so that I can learn what is pleasing in His sight. Paul’s greatest desire for the Christians he taught was that they could grow in knowledge of the will of the Father. He told the Colossians:
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy. (Colossians 1:9-11)
Knowing God’s will is essential to those who would abide with Him eternally since “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). In his own ministry, Paul asked, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). To please God, I must have faith, which only comes through hearing the Word of God and walking in His commandments (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:1).
All Christians should set pleasing God as their primary purpose in life. That means focusing attention on the will of our Commander and not on the many distractions of the world (2 Timothy 2:4). Like our Lord, our purpose needs to be always doing those things that are pleasing to the Father (John 8:29), which means we must let Him direct us through His Word. “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9).