Today on Summit Life, J.D. Greer gives the key to lasting change. What I'm doing is not standing up here giving you a bunch of opinions and insights that I have about things.
Even if those are any good, which they're usually not, it's not really going to help you. What changes you is not my insight, my funny stories. That's not what changes you. The Word of God is what changes you.
That has the power to transform you. We should be radically committed to this book. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D.
Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Last week, we began a new teaching series called Gospel.
And if you missed the first few messages, you can catch up right now at jdgreer.com. Today, Pastor J.D. continues this series and explains that while going to church and listening to worship songs and reading devotionals, those are good, but they're not enough.
We need to go deeper and we need to make it more personal. The gospel isn't just meant for a moment in time. It's the power of God all day, every day. So grab your Bible and turn to the book of John as we begin our teaching today. Here's Pastor J.D.
Wires don't have any power in themselves, but wires connect you to the place from which the power comes. One son of my grandparents had a farm. And when I was five years old, they got a horse. And I used to love to go visit that horse. And the horse would chew, would gnaw the top of the wood post fence. And so they took a little electric wire and they ran it around the top of that fence to keep the horse from doing that. I'm five years old.
They forgot to pass that on to little J.D. when he came to visit the horse. You know, so I'd go trucking out there, climb the little fence to see the horse.
You know, it shocked me. Now, you know, I only kept the horse four or five years. And then after they got rid of it, I would still go out to that barn, that farm.
And at 17, 18 years old, whenever I would walk up to it, I'd have this kind of Pavlov's dog reaction to that fence because I can remember being shot. Well, they turned the power off. The wire was still there. There was no power in that wire.
Wires don't have power in themselves, but they connect you to the place the power comes from. Well, see, in the same way, listen to this, the same way spiritual disciplines have no power in themselves, but they keep us connected to the place that the power comes from, which is the gospel. And that's what they help you abide in, okay? So here's command number one that we see in John 15. Command number one.
Here we go. It's John 15, 7, which we're going to look at today. Abide, Jesus says, in my word.
That's his command. Abide in my word, 15, 7. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it'll be done for you.
Abiding in the word of God is going to give you access to the power of God. He also says this to him just a few verses before, if you go back one chapter to chapter 14, verse 23. And by the way, you remember, in the original writing of this, there was no break between chapter 14 and 15. This was all part of one discussion. So right before this, Jesus had made this statement.
Look at this. If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words, and the word which you hear is not mine, but it's the Father's who sent me. Okay, there are four things that Jesus is teaching us about his word, the Bible, in these verses that I want to develop for you. Then one of the first things Jesus does is he shows us the divine nature of the Bible, shows us how he views the Bible.
It's divine nature. The second thing that he does is shows us the single focus of the Bible. Then the third thing he explains is the benefits of abiding in the Bible. And then the fourth thing that kind of flows out of these is he urges us toward a radical commitment to the Bible.
So here we go. Number one, Jesus claims that the words that he speaks are not just the words of an enlightened man. They're not heightened God consciousness. They are the very words of God. You see that in verse 24?
The word which you hear is not mine. It is the Father's who sent me. Number two, the divine nature of the Bible. Number two, the single focus of the Bible. This is verse seven. You see on verse seven, Jesus equates, look at it, his words abiding in us, with us abiding in him.
See how he just kind of moves between those two, abiding in my words, and abiding in me are the same thing? That's because the words of the Bible, listen, are always about Jesus. Luke chapter 24, Jesus explained this in what had to be the greatest Bible study moment ever. Jesus is talking with his apostles, and it says that he begins with Moses and the prophets, and he explains to them how every story, every chapter, all of it is about him. The point in everything that he has taught them is about him. That's because the point of the Bible is one. It's about Jesus. So the single focus of the Bible is Jesus. Here's number three, the benefits of abiding in the Bible.
Jesus explains the divine nature of the Bible, then he explains the single focus, then he gives you the benefits of abiding in the Bible. Now I'm going to have to do these quickly, but I see three different ones in these verses. They'll be A, B, and C. Here's A, a recreated heart.
You have a recreated heart. That's verse five. Jesus says that when you abide in the gospel, his word, his life comes into your dead heart and begins to make it spiritually alive.
Number two, or letter B. The second benefit is it gives you effective prayers, effective prayers or answered prayers. This is verse seven. Again, look, if you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you want it to be done for you.
That's a pretty big promise, is it not? Whatever you want, it's going to be done for you. When you're filled up with the word of God, you see, listen, your requests come into line with the purposes of God. And when your requests are in line with the purposes of God, you have open access to the power of God. You see, the reason, listen, the reason many of us don't get any answers to our prayers is because our requests of God are so out of step with the purposes of God. When the people of God know the purposes of God, they have open access to the power of God. The reason some of you have never really seen major answers to prayer is because God's word has not transformed your heart to put you in line with his purposes.
I love John Piper's image here. He says prayer is like a wartime walkie-talkie. You're on the front lines of battle and you use that wartime walkie talkie to radio back to headquarters to get them to give you the supplies to get the battle won. Prayer is not a bell that you ring for a butler as you're lounging around the pool and you need more ice in your drink. That's not what prayer is. Prayer is a wartime walkie-talkie for those who are engaged in the purposes of God to have access to the power of God.
You don't have answered prayer? It's probably because you're not in line with the purposes of God. The disconnect is never between the power of God and the purposes of God. The disconnect is usually between the people of God and the purposes of God.
And if the people of God would get in line with the purposes of God, they would find their lives overflowing with the power of God. So that's the second benefit is effective prayers. Here's your third one.
Your third letter C. This is my favorite one. Fullness of the Spirit. Fullness of the Spirit, verse 23. This verse is awesome.
Look at this. If anybody loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we, who's we, my Father and I, we will come to him and make our home with him. I mean, you've heard about fullness of the Spirit, right? That's fullness with the whole Trinity, which I don't even really get, to be honest with you. I mean, because, you know, the Father, Son, and the Spirit are in some ways different, but the fact that they reach God means that somehow they're all present in one another, which means that when one of them is with me, all of them are with me.
Mind explodes. And that's fine because you're thinking about God and that's just what happens when you think about God. But what it's saying, watch, is that the promise and the benefit of the word is as you abide in the word, as it abides in you, the fullness of the Spirit of God comes into your life, the fullness of the Trinity. I love that this verse, watch, this verse addresses the two different extremes of Christians.
We got both kinds of these Christians in our church and I love both sets of you guys, even though I'm about to make fun of you. One set of Christians always prioritizes the Spirit over the word. I mean, they're all about getting filled up by the Spirit, knocked out by the Spirit, baptized by the Spirit. I mean, that's what they want. They want, I just want the, I want the warm fuzzies of Jesus.
I want to be knocked out. I want to like, you know, speak in another tongue and I want to, I just want to have these crazy experiences with the Spirit. That's one set of people. On the other side, there are those who prioritize the word over the Spirit. Their idea of, you know, growing in Christ and is just taking a lot of good notes and learning more doctrine, reading theology books.
You talk about these people about, you know, first, second and third John, they're thinking John Calvin, John Piper, John MacArthur. That's what they do. They want word. They don't want spirit. They want word. Here in verse 23, the two are inextricably joined.
Do you see that? Verse 23, if you keep my word, I will come and abide in fullness in you. As you grow deep in God's word, you will increase in the fullness of the Spirit.
And that addresses both sides, both extremes. So to one group of you, okay, the Spirit side, I would just ask you this, how do you get the presence of God in your life? How do you do it? Is it through some special ceremony? You come down here, me lay my hands on you, you get knocked out, you start laughing and the Holy Spirit fell into the mouth and that's it?
No. According to this verse, you get the fullness of the Spirit of God by abiding in the word of God. Paul says the same thing in Galatians 3. To the Galatians, he says, how did you receive the fullness of the Spirit?
How did it happen? He said it happened when you believed the Gospel. And then he goes on in verse 6, he says, just like you believed the Gospel and God gave you righteousness and forgiveness, as you continue to believe the Gospel, he fills you with his Spirit.
That is revolutionary for some of you that come from a charismatic background. You want the fullness of the Spirit? It's not in a special ceremony, abide deeply in the Gospel and you will be overflowing with the Spirit. So don't seek the Spirit, seek the Gospel. And as you grow deep in the Gospel, as you abide in it, you will be filled with the Spirit. And by the way, where the Spirit really comes and is present, that's his whole focus, to draw your attention to the Gospel. Theologians call him the shy member of the Trinity because he never wants to point people to himself, he always points people to Jesus.
So wherever he's present, the focus won't be on him, it'll be on Christ, you won't hardly even notice him because he's magnifying and bringing Jesus's qualities out. Jesus said this, John 16, 14, the Holy Spirit, he will glorify me. And I say this humbly, but because I love you, at a lot of these churches that teach you to be filled with the Spirit, their focus is on the Spirit. And that is proof that they're not really full of the Spirit because the Spirit would never do that. The Spirit always focuses on Jesus. So this speaks to those who prioritize Spirit over Gospel.
You see, it also speaks to many of you who have no concept that there really is the Spirit of God. You know it theologically, but you don't know it experientially that he speaks to you and communes with you and fills you. For 2,000 years, the saints of God have talked about these incredible moments where they're filled up with the Spirit of God. The book of Acts talks frequently about the apostles being filled with the presence of God and having a sense of boldness and clarity, understanding of his love and preaching with boldness.
Paul, 1 Corinthians 14, 25 talks about a church being filled with the presence of God so much so that even when somebody who doesn't believe in God comes in, they're suddenly filled with this awareness that there is a God who knows everything there is to know about them and they fall on their face and they worship. This is Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer and a message titled The Word. We've just begun this new teaching series titled Gospel, and our gift to you this month follows right along with the program. You see, our greatest joy comes not when we're working overtime to impress God, but when we're serving him from a platform of gratitude. The thing that makes the difference is the gospel. This amazing gift that God gives us doesn't merely punch our ticket to heaven, but it powers everything that we do as believers. Make these lessons you're learning personal with our eight-session video Bible study, simply titled Gospel.
Reach out today in support of this ministry and give us a call at 866-335-5220 or go online to jdgreer.com and get this Bible study today. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, one of my preaching heroes, he talks about these repeated moments of ecstasy he had in the presence of God. He said, it's like I'm walking along with my five-year-old daughter and suddenly I look at her and I pick her up and I spin her around and I kiss her on her cheek and on her neck and I look her in the face and say, you know who loves you? Your daddy loves you. He said, now truth be told, I didn't love her anymore in that moment that I did in the moment before. She probably knew that I was no more her daddy in that moment than I was in the moment before, but her perception of it changed. And in that moment she was filled with awareness, a felt sense of who I was and how I felt about her. He said, that's what God does with me. Suddenly he sweeps me up in his arms and fills me with his spirit and I have a felt sense of his glory and his love and his presence with me.
I love how he concluded this. He said, I spend half my time telling Christians to study doctrine and the other half telling them that doctrine is not enough. Word, spirit, both. As you abide in the word, you abide in the spirit. So the divine nature of the Bible, the single focus of the Bible, three, the benefits of abiding in the Bible, that leads us last to number four. See, that calls for a radical commitment to the Bible.
You see, if all these things are true, we should be radically committed to this book. That's why the center of our church is the word of God. That's what I'm doing when I'm preaching to you. What I'm doing is not standing up here giving you a bunch of opinions and insights that I have about things.
Even if those are any good, which they're usually not, it's not really going to help you. What changes you is not my insight, my eloquence, my wisdom, my funny stories. That's now what changes you. The word of God is what changes you. So the center of all we do here is I walk you through the Bible and I get you deep into it because that has the power to transform you.
The spirit of God doesn't flow through my stories that happen to me when I kid or what happens to my kids now. The spirit of God flows through the word of God. That's why it's the big thing in what we do. It's the big thing of our worship. Have you ever noticed that? We anchor our worship in Scripture.
Why? Because it's not the style of music. It's not anything about music about music that brings you into the presence of God. The word of God brings you into the presence of God. You ever hear somebody say, man, that worship leader really brings me into the presence of God?
No, he did not. Unless he lived a perfect life and died for your sins, he did not bring you into the presence of God. Jesus brings you into the presence of God. The worship leader may remind you that Jesus brought you into the presence of God, but that's all he's doing.
He's not pointing to a style. He's not pointing you to God. He's pointing you to the Scriptures.
You ever hear people say this? They're like, hey, worship, you know, it's not about what God's doing for us. It's about what we're, we got to give God something. We got to, we got to bring something to God. We got to offer something to him.
News flash. God doesn't need anything from you. Nothing. Worship is about him declaring his word to you because he is the giver. You are the receiver. And as you are given the word of God in worship, the response of your heart naturally is worship. See, it starts with the word. The center of all we do here at our church is the word of God, the focus of every ministry, because the word does the word.
If I just get the word out of there, the word will do the word. For your part, what that means is that you resolve to know it. You got to resolve to know it. I love what Moses said, Exodus 34, to the children of Israel, is that these are not idle words. This is your life. It is your life. What I stand up here and do every week, the reason I take it so importantly is because this is not an idle word. I'm not filling your head with knowledge.
It's your life. You ever notice, you ever notice this, how in Jesus' darkest hours, you read the accounts of Jesus' darkest hours, what he is always doing? You ever notice this? He's quoting scripture. To whom? He's not teaching anybody. He's quoting it to himself.
Why? Because the way he sustained himself in his darkest hour was through the word of God. When he's tempted by Satan, face to face, what's he do? He quotes the word of God. In his darkest, most troubling hours, he sustained himself through the word of God. Did you know there are 1,800 verses in the New Testament that record Jesus' words? Of the 1,800 verses that record Jesus' words, 180 of them are quotations from other parts of the Bible. Ten percent of everything Jesus said was a quotation from the Bible. That was how he had the strength to endure darkness and temptation. Here's my question for you. How much of your speech is the Bible?
When you get into the darkness and temptation, what sustains you? Most of you have a lazy attitude toward the Bible because you don't really think it's all that essential. You're like, well, I go to church, and J.D. will explain it to me, and I got friends.
Seriously? In Jesus' hour and moment of trial, what's happening in the Bible, what sustained him is the word of God, but you, you got something Jesus didn't have. We don't know what it is, but you got it, and that's why you don't need to know the Bible so well. Jesus didn't have time, by the way, to run and get his Bible and look up some stuff that he was going to go through. He just quoted it. Psalm 22 comes out when he's on the cross.
When he's in front of Pilate, other scriptures come out. You see, in the moment, in the moment, you have no time to go back and think about what you want to think about. It just, what's inside of you comes out. You know, I grab you and get ready to throw you off a cliff. What's going to come out of your mouth is not a prepared remark. What's going to come out is whatever's inside of you. When Jesus was stabbed in the heart, he bled God's word, and because of that, he was sustained in the hour of temptation and trial. Some of you college students are going to be destroyed this year.
I see it every year. You're going to be about to go through temptation you have not ever gone through. You're going to go through questions of belief. You're going to go through darkness, and it's going to crush many of you because the word of God is not sustaining you. This is not an idle word.
It's your life. You resolve to know it. Parents, that means I resolve to teach it to my children. Deuteronomy 6 says, you write it on the tablet of their heart. You write it on the doorpost of your house.
You write it on your walls, which is not a decorating scheme. It means that my most important role as a dad is teaching my kids the word of God. I know we've got different styles in how we parent.
I get that. I have no problem with that, but I do not understand a dad that does not look at his primary responsibility in life, teaching his kids the word of God and discipling them, which is why the most important time in my day is what I do with my children after I get home from work. You know what? Eight percent, eight percent is what they say of a church like ours. Eight percent of our kids will be following Christ the second year of college. Eight percent. Ninety-two percent of our children, if statistics hold true, will not follow Christ beyond their second year of college.
You want to know why? Because you didn't prioritize the word in their life. You got them involved in extracurricular activities. They're going to dance. They're going to soccer. They're going to all this stuff. You're like, oh, but I've got to make sure they get into the right college.
Yeah, I'm concerned about college too, but can I just submit to you that where they go to college is probably not as important as where they spend eternity? This is not an idle word. This is not an academic exercise. This is their life, and they will be destroyed by our enemy unless they are sustained in those moments by the Scripture that you have put into the doorpost of their lives and written on the tablets of their hearts. For you, you've got to prioritize it in your life. I know who I'm talking to. I'm talking to mothers who have three kids, two kids, four kids, and you're like, you don't understand me. My day, by the time I get up, my kids are yelling. I mean, they yell at me all day, and then we go to bed.
They yell. It's just, I never have any time to do anything to tell me to prioritize the Bible in my life. I understand.
I have four kids. I live in that world. I'm saying that for some of you mothers, you're probably going to have to get up a half hour earlier, which means you've got to go to bed a half hour earlier, which means you've got to turn the TV off a half hour sooner, which is where the discipline really starts. You businessmen are like, oh, well, you know, no, I mean, I don't work like 70 hours a week, dude. Be nice to live in your world. All you do is read the Bible, show up on Sunday, go home.
That'd be awesome. That's just not me. First of all, I don't buy that because somehow you manage to squeeze in three rounds of golf a month, all right? Second of all, if that's true, then buy yourself a listening Bible on MP3 on your iPod. Get your teenager to show you how to use it. And listen to it on the way to work. I used to do it one time in my life, one chapter where I felt like I was so busy I was just cutting everything, and I said, you know what?
I'm going to buy it, and I'll listen to it 20 minutes driving to work, 20 minutes back. Get the Word of God in you. But probably most importantly, I just don't buy it, period. You just don't prioritize it. That's why you don't make time for it.
I'll prove it to you. You eat, right? You're like, no, man, sometimes I get so busy at work, I forget to eat. Fine, you never do that two days in a row. You'll squeeze it in somewhere. When your spirit craves the Word of God as much as your body craves food, you won't skip it for days on end either.
You've got to prioritize it because it's your life. You've got to open yourself to what it teaches. Some of you, you'll never really know anything about God. You want to know why?
Because you come to God with a bunch of biases and preconceptions about what God is allowed to be. Let me tell you how dumb that is. And I say this humbly. I'm just using this as an illustration. I'm not making any political statements here. Let's say that you and I are going to be friends, and I come to you, and you're like, well, tell me about yourself. You're like, well, I'm kind of a pretty ardent Democrat. God, I really want my friends to be Republicans. And so in my mind, you're going to be a Republican. I'll never know you that way because I'm not knowing you for who you are. I'm knowing you for how I think you should be.
There's a lot of people come to God exactly that same way. God, this is what you're allowed to do. This is what you're allowed to be.
I don't like this part of you, so I'm just going to ignore this. You will never know God that way. You have to let God challenge you, contradict you, even tick you off for you to know the real Him.
You have to open your heart to His teaching. Listen, you and I are rebellious against God. We're sinners. And because of that, there's a penalty that we owe, but God in His love came as Jesus and suffered our penalty in our place so that the word of God to us is repent and believe. Repent means surrender control of our lives. Believe means to receive what He's done for us. And if we repent and believe, we will be reconciled to God.
That is where it begins. So, JD, we often hear you say that we cannot earn God's favor. There's nothing we can do to become more accepted in God's sight. But is there a right way to work for God?
Yeah. We've got to be sure, first off. God doesn't need us, but even though He doesn't need us as recipients of His grace, He uses us. And as an act of worship, the Bible says, we want to offer our lives in response to Him, proclaiming His worthiness, and then also as an act of love to others, seeking to love them the way that He has loved us. And so you're going to find that as a Christian, your greatest joy comes when you are living like Christ, not when you are accumulating and running that race of endless acquisition of stuff, but when you're pouring your life out for others. So one of the things we're making available this month is something that I produced a few years ago called the Gospel Bible Study Kit.
And I'm so excited, Molly, we are bringing this back out. We would love to provide this for our partners. You can just reach out to us and reserve your copy of this Bible Study Kit. Just go to jdgrier.com.
We thank the Lord every day for our faithful partners because we truly couldn't do this without you. As always, you can visit us at jdgrier.com or call us right now at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. I'm Molly Vitovich. Be sure to listen tomorrow when we'll discover the only path to genuine transformation.
I think you know where we're going with this one. So we'll see you Wednesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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