I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God!
These words from John Wesley seem radical to us modern day Methodists. There was a time when we were called a People of the Book, and our delight in and dedication and devotion to this Book was in large part what made us Methodist. What has happened to us? Throughout history and even today in some parts of the world there have been people who have given their lives to preserve and defend this Book and yet today we are largely ignorant or suspicious of it.
I believe this Book, these Words, are different from all others. Label them however you wish – inerrant, infallible, inspired, God-breathed – but the fact remains they are Words unlike any other and they have changed my life. They have and still do change the lives of any who would stoop low enough to take up and read, and submit.
What is it about these Words that make them different from your words or mine?
- They are pure words. They have been refined like silver in a furnace, refined not just once but seven times (Psalm 12:6). These words have zero sediment in them – they are clean and pure like the most refreshing spring waters.
- They are true words. Every word of God proves true (Prov. 30:5). Not most, not some, but every word is true. Unlike my words which often times are used to protect my self-image or protect someone else’s feelings, God’s words, every one of them, are truth. We can trust that God never lies to us, but always tells us the truth.
- They are useful words. These words will get us to where we need to be! They are useful for rebuking us, correcting us, teaching us and training us in the way of righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Like a trustworthy map, these words will safely land us on that heavenly shore. If one wished to know how to be in a right relationship with God and others, these words point the way.
- They are fixed words. Unlike my words or yours, which change with the shifting sands or seasons, God’s words are forever fixed in the heavens (Psalm 119:89-90). These words transcend all time and culture, all place and people. They are above us, beyond us, beneath us, and forever for us. God has not changed, and neither has His words.
- They are living words. God’s words are living and active, able to cut through us and create in us all at once (Heb. 4:12). These words get inside of us and do something that my words nor yours can do. They change hearts and minds, renewing us into new creations who were once dead in our sin but now made alive in Christ. With a single word God created all that is out of nothing, and His words continue to do the same in our hearts, giving us new desires and imaginations where there was once filthy rags and dry bones.
God help us for neglecting such wonderful words of life! So what shall we do? If you are struggling with being a person of the Book, I recommend these 5 R’s which I hope will resuscitate your devotional life and mine, that we might all delight in God’s words once again.
- Repent –Confess to God that you have neglected his word for too long and too often. Confess that you have not understood how much you need it, and thank Him for it. Repent of being more suspicious of it and it’s authority than of your own desires and will. Admit to God that you simply don’t want to read the Bible and ask him to change your desires. This is a prayer God loves to answer! “Repent, therefore and turn again, so that your sins may be blotted out and times of refreshing can come over you” (Acts 3:19).
- Retreat – find a quiet place. You may need to wake up early to do this. As the father of 5 children I often have to wake up at 6, an hour before the kids, in order to carve out quiet time to spend with God and His words.
- Request – As you begin to read, ask God to create something new in you. Ask the Holy Spirit make these words stick and come alive.
- Read – Start right away. Some of you need to get a new bible. Get one that you understand. Unless you know Hebrew and Greek don’t worry about what translation you use – any will do. Just get started. Invest in a Bible YOU like and YOU understand, not one that someone else tells you you need to have. This is your soul. A map that is written in a language you don’t get will not be of much good to you.
- Remember- When you don’t feel like it, that is the enemy speaking. Remember you are in a battle for your soul! Of course you don’t feel like it! Your spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. When the desire to do anything but read God’s word comes upon you remember you have just now entered the spiritual battle Paul speaks of in Eph. 6. Arm yourself! Fight. Pray and ask God to change your desires. Tell Satan you would rather live on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Then go back to #1.
Thank God for God’s Words! Give me that Book! At any price, give me that Book!
Last Sunday I preached a sermon called “God’s Words Can’t Be Trusted” which is part of a sermon series called “Satan’s Favorite Lies.” Some of the above is found within the sermon. Here is that sermon if interested: