John 8:31-32 NAS “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Anyone, who gives of themselves, to earnestly read and consider God’s Word, sooner or later, should come to the realization that these are no ordinary words, spoken by an ordinary man about ordinary truths. The words of Jesus and indeed, the whole of the Bible, takes us to realities that we haven’t seen, and helps us understand truths that we weren’t always aware of and touches our hearts like no other words can.
“If you continue in my word ….” That’s the direction Jesus gives us. That’s the path that is narrow, that’s the means whereby we truly become disciples of Jesus.
It’s interesting to note that Graham Cooke (who I’ve written about before) puts his own little spin on this verse on an advertisement for one of his new books. Here’s a picture of the advertisement:
Notice the words that have been dropped, notice the words that have been added such as “encounter” and “experience”. Subtle isn’t it.
If one wasn’t conversant with God’s Word, those subtle little changes wouldn’t even be noticed, in fact, one could easily assume this is a direct quote. But of course, if one did, one would be mistaken.
Did you ever notice that God puts little, what I call “flags” into His Word to alert you that something significant is connected with the scripture that you are reading? And these “flags” can be introduced in a number of ways. Sometimes it is the insertion of a short statement on a specific detail or sometimes it is a statement that just seems to stand out from the others. Other times it can be what specifically isn’t addressed. If you’ve been following my “Observations in Genesis“, series (Part 5) the instance of Ham’s blessings and his son’s Canaan’s curse, even though it was Ham’s sin, is a good example.
When I was relatively new in the faith, I had the good fortune of having a very knowledgeable mentor who instilled in me the methodology to utilize when studying scripture. And what follows is one of the crowning principles he instilled in me that is taken from Isaiah.
Isaiah 28:9-10 KJV “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line, here a little, and there a little:”
And my mentor’s advice was sound because it instilled in me the necessity to dig deeper and ensure that the precept that I was studying agreed with God’s other precepts and the method used to ensure this is to study the precepts of God individually and collectively, line upon line compared with line upon line., here a little and there a little.
Does that take a lot of time? Absolutely. There are no short cuts. Studying God’s Word is a life long endeavor and I’m pretty sure we never come even close to all that God has given us in His Word.
But once you start on this journey, a strange thing happens. When you run into a statement or a supposed quote like the one that Graham Cooke makes above, you immediately sense that something is not right and the words like “encounter” and “experience” stand out like sore thumbs.
God’s Word tells us that it is complete, that it contains everything that we need.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Note the word “thoroughly”.
Hebrews 4:12 NIV “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Luke 24:27 NIV “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
Acts 17:11 NIV “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
“Savoring” God’s Word is the way in which I like to explain how one approaches God’s Word. We’re not talking about “fast food”, this is not a hamburger, it’s much much more than that.
Notice the contrast the leads us away, “encounters” , “experience”. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with encountering Jesus and experiencing God in our daily lives BUT when our focus starts to center on these “encounters” and “experiences” rather than be centered on His Word, which we all know center’s on Jesus, that simple diversion is another road and another path from the one that Jesus has told us to focus on.
It is subtle, but that subtle diversion leads to more and more of the different path of “signs and wonders” and less and less of Him.
Matthew 7:22-23 NASB “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
“Lawlessness“, that’s where everyone does what they think is right in their own eyes.
As opposed to staying in God’s Word, which happens to be the means by which Jesus says, “…. you are truly disciples of mine“.
Matthew 7:13-15 NASB “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!