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Read the Bible Because…

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 10, 2023 9:00 am

Read the Bible Because…

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 10, 2023 9:00 am

For most Christians, reading the Bible is like getting a shot. We know it’s good for us, but it’s not something we look forward to. But is that really how God wants us to approach his word?


Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Moses says read the Bible as if your life depended on it. Read your Bible as if your life depended on it because it does.

I could not imagine him putting a more clear choice out in front of us. Submission to the Word brings blessing, departure from the Word, or even ignorance of the Word brings cursing. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. Have you ever felt like reading the Bible is like getting a shot at the doctor's office? You schedule it, you know it's supposed to be good for you, but it's not necessarily something that you look forward to.

And in fact, sometimes it can feel a little painful, but is that really how God wants us to approach His Word? That's our subject today on Summit Life, and it's part of our teaching series we just began called Start. Be sure to stay tuned to the end today to learn more about our latest resource, a set of 52 scripture memory cards.

You can give us a call at 866-335-5220 or visit us at for more information. Now here's pastor J.D. with some answers and a message he titled Read the Bible Because. Several years ago, I picked up a book in Barnes and Noble called The Year of Living Biblically. It's not a Christian book. In fact, the author is agnostic who says, and I quote, I am officially Jewish, but I'm Jewish in the same way that Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant. For an entire year, this guy attempted to follow every rule of the Bible as literally as possible. First, what he did is he read the Bible cover to cover, writing down any directive that he saw that included big things like the Ten Commandments that also included lesser known things like, you know, the regulations on diet and dress and all those kinds of things. So he tries to keep them all literally for a year while living in Manhattan.

As you can imagine, the outcome is pretty interesting. For example, the book of Leviticus says that men should leave the edges of their beards unshaven. So this guy stopped shaving and he ends up looking like walking around downtown Manhattan, like somebody from Duck Dynasty or a member of ZZ Top. He stops wearing clothes made out of any mixed fibers. He refuses to shake hands with women who might be ceremonially unclean, which how do you determine that? And this is one of my favorites. He tries to fling tiny pebbles at people without them noticing in order to fulfill the command of stone adulterers. He did all this for a year and kept a journal of it.

This whole process almost drove his poor wife crazy. Now, there are, of course, massive problems with that kind of approach to the Bible. But I tell it to you because for me, it captures the intimidation that many people in our culture, and might I even say our church, the intimidation they feel when they approach the Bible. They don't even know how to begin to understand and apply it, they don't think. In a recent article, get this, in a recent article, 56% of Americans say that they believe the Bible is inspired and inerrant and the word of God. 56%, yet only 19% of Americans read it on any regular basis. In other words, yep, I believe this book has all that I need to guide me in life, and I believe it comes directly from God. No, I don't read it. Let me play a little bad cop, good cop pastor with you if I could.

Bad cop pastor. Girls, many of you have read the Twilight series through three times. You have read the entire Hunger Games series. You have never read the Bible cover to cover. Can you seriously look me in the face and tell me that you actually believe it is the word of God? Guys, some of you have three fantasy football teams going right now.

You can tell me every stat of every player. You can just spout it off without any thought whatsoever. You could not quote me five verses on marriage or parenting from the Bible, and you could not find the book of Isaiah in the Bible without a table of contents if your life depended on it. Can you actually look me in the face and say, yep, I believe the Bible is the word of God? All right, that's bad cop pastor.

Here's good cop. Let me try to understand why many of you don't read it. For some of you, it's just not that interesting.

You've given it a try, but you're just getting stuck in stuff, and you're like, I just don't find it that interesting. Or for some of you, you feel like you can't understand it. Some of you are just too busy. In a world where everything has to compete for every second, the Bible just doesn't make the cut.

Others of you have good intentions, you just forget. Some of you assume that, I will explain to you everything you actually need to know about the Bible. So if you'll just come in here once out every three weeks, I'll tell you what you need to know. Many of you look at the Bible the way that you look at the little terms and conditions thing when you get new Apple software, and you just accept, I agree, right? And that's what you do with the Bible.

Like, I accept, I agree. I'm not actually reading that because if I read it, I might get stuck in some genealogy about Abimasham, but getting no shizzle, and I don't even know what that means. And so I'm not reading it, I'll just accept it. And I'll let somebody else tell me what's important out of there. Well, in this message, I wanna show you what God says about the Bible.

I wanna show you why, try to persuade you why you need to read it for yourself daily, and then show you how you can go about getting the most out of it when you do. If you have a Bible, Deuteronomy chapter 30. Deuteronomy is Moses' farewell sermon to the children of Israel. For 29 chapters, he has been preaching one really long sermon. And when he comes to chapter 30, he comes to the climactic conclusion of that sermon.

And like all good preachers, he makes three points, all right? Here is the first one, it's in verse 15. Moses says, see, I have set before you today life and death. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, that I command you today by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land. But if your heart turns away and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, verse 18, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. Number one, Moses says, read the Bible as if your life depended on it. Read your Bible as if your life depended on it because it does.

I could not imagine him putting a more clear choice out in front of us. Submission to the word brings blessing, departure from the word, or even ignorance of the word brings cursing. Jesus would say something very similar. He compared those who hear the word of God and do it to a man who builds a house on a rock solid foundation. When the storms come, the storms go over that house, but the house is secure and so the house stands.

He compares the person who does not hear the word of God and do it to the one who builds their house on a sandy foundation, it looks the same, has the same specs, same features, but when the storm comes to this house, it crumbles and falls apart because it has no foundation that endures. What Jesus is saying, listen to this, is that there's a lot of people who have lives that fair just fine in fair weather. But then something happens, you go through a storm and a storm will inevitably come at some point and that storm is called disease. That storm is called loneliness.

That storm is called job loss. And then all of a sudden you've got a life that begins to fall apart because you've never had the foundation to endure that kind of storm. The difference in a life that endures, Moses says, and Jesus agrees, and one that crumbles is how securely it is built upon the word of God. And I think, by the way, to make it really practical, I think you can extrapolate that principle and apply it to the various areas of your life. The stability of each part of your life depends on how well it is founded upon the word of God. Have you learned to think through your vocation through the lens of scripture? Have you learned to think through your finances? Have you learned to think through your marriage?

Have you learned to think through your hobbies, toward your approach toward aging, to your approach toward health, to sex? Whatever part is not anchored into God's word is a part where the enemy can bring you down. It's the enemy where he sends that storm and he destroys that. I think of it like the game Jenga, you know the game Jenga where you get the blocks and you pull them out and whatever part of you is not anchored into God's word becomes the place that the enemy begins to tap on to bring the entire structure down.

What part of your life is right now most vulnerable to the enemy? Maybe you're sensing it right now. He's tapping on that because it's not anchored in God's word.

It might be your retirement. It's not anchored into God's word. I'm raising four children. I want to do my best to teach them to anchor every part of their lives in the word of God. Unashamedly, I will tell you, I do not have my kids involved in nearly the amount of extracurricular stuff that the average American parent has their kids involved in. But I'm making you, why?

Because I'm freeing up time for relationships. Well, I'm also freeing up time so that they can learn the Bible. And if they don't know, grow up knowing everything there is to know about Taylor Swift and LeBron, but they can talk their way through 1 Timothy and Lamentations, I'll be just fine.

Because yes, I care about where they go to college, but I care more about where they go to eternity. And so I'm going to make sure that I put into them the things that will give them life and bring God's blessing. Of course, what Moses is promising in this chapter is more than just stability. He's actually talking about the blessing and the cursing of God. He's saying that your relationship to the Bible will determine the blessing or cursing of God in your life.

In chapter 29, one chapter back, he's even clear. Listen to this, chapter 29, verse 19, Beware, lest there be one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart. You know, instead of being blessed by God, you're going to bless yourself and say, I'll be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart. You're the one that's sitting there thinking, oh, I don't really know the Bible that well, but I'll be okay. He's like, all right, the Lord will not be willing to forgive you, but rather the anchor of the Lord and his jealousy will smoke against that man. And the curses written in this book will settle upon him and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven. Do you realize how important this book is?

This is not an idle word that the nerdier ones of you ought to learn and get into. This is your life. I cannot understand a father who is not devoted to the word of God, who thinks about being a protector to his children and doesn't know the one thing that brings the blessing of God. You see, the problem is not that most of you don't know that it's important.

It's just you're not doing anything about it. We'll return to our teaching here on Summit Life in just a moment, but I wanted to share a little bit more about our current resource this month. One of our goals is to equip everyone who listens to Summit Life to be disciple-making disciples, and developing healthy spiritual disciplines is an important part of that. So each year we create a pack of 52 memory verse cards to help you do just that.

Memorizing Scripture gives you a great opportunity to share that truth with other believers and also encourages us to all live in obedience, fight temptation, renew our minds, and conform more to the person of Christ. Reserve your set by giving us a call at 866-335-5220 or go online to Now let's get back to today's message with Pastor J.D.

Greer here on Summit Life. If I could offer you $500,000 right now in cash, $500,000, but the one condition was you could not touch, think about, hear, or read the Bible in your family ever again. Anybody here that's going to take me up on that offer and say, yep, $500,000, I will never touch the Bible again.

I would say, especially for those of you that are Christians, there's no way you would take that. Okay, so you just identified the Bible as a $500,000 asset. Is there any other $500,000 asset in your life that you treat that carelessly?

Oh, you got a house somewhere that's worth $500,000. You never pay any attention to it. You got a half a million dollars in the bank and you don't even check on it from time to time. Now see, the problem is not that you don't know it's valuable.

The problem is you're not doing anything about that. By the way, even those of you that are not sure if it's the Word of God, you're not a Christian, but you're here. For most of you, if I offered you a half a million dollars and not touched the Bible, you wouldn't even take it. Because if there's a chance it might be the Word of God, you don't want to cut yourself off from it, not even for half a million dollars. You see, it makes sense.

Listen to this. It makes sense when somebody knows that it's not the Word of God and so doesn't pay any attention to it. It makes sense when somebody's not sure if it's the Word of God and so they spend their time devoted to figuring out whether that it is the Word of God or not. That makes sense to me. What doesn't make sense to me is the person who says, I'm not sure if it's the Word of God and I don't really care about the question.

Don't care about the question. If it's the Word of God, you got to figure that out because that is what God is saying to you. It doesn't make sense to me.

The person definitely doesn't make sense who says, yes, I believe it's the Word of God, but I just don't take any time to learn it. The problem is not that you don't believe it's important. It's that you don't do anything about that. Here's the way I was thinking about it this week. Imagine that the Department of Health developed a vaccine for Ebola and the way that they were going to distribute it is they were going to mail it to everybody's house. So you get yours in the mail, but it's a liquid form and it's really nasty and your kids hate it.

So you're just like, I'm going to put it on the shelf and you don't worry about it. Well, driving home from work one day, you hear the radio announce that Ebola has come to Raleigh-Durham and it is spreading like wildfire through the schools as fast as anything they've seen spread. All of a sudden driving home from work, right, you're not thinking of, I mean, what you're thinking about is how quickly can I get home to get this into my kids to save their lives? This is what I think about when I think about the Bible because that is how God describes the world. It is a world filled with the poison of death. It is my kids have it already in them because they're born sinners and I've got to get the word of God in them because that is the only way that the blessing and the life of God will come upon them. Y'all when Satan attacked Jesus, when Satan attacked Jesus, he quoted scripture. What are your kids going to come up with when Satan attacks them? But I didn't say if, when Satan attacks them, what are they going to come up with? Because he will and he is. The only way you can confront a lie is to know the truth.

And if your kids don't know the truth, they will buy into the lie. You say, well, of course, Jesus knew scripture. He wrote it. The New Testament, Gospel of Luke, goes to great pains to show you that Jesus was not born with scripture memorized. He had to learn it like everybody else.

In other words, Jesus went to a one and two and he finished every book and he stuck around afterward for extra credit. Here's my point. It is not your understanding of how important God's word is that helps you or your kids. It's what you do with that understanding.

It's whether you learn it. It's whether you obey it. Obedience to the word brings the blessing and cursing of God. And if you want the blessing and cursing of God on you, your marriage, your family, or anything that involves, you will make sure that it is grounded in God's word. Moses says, number two, read the Bible because God has not hidden what he wants us to know. God's not hidden what he wants us to know. Moses says in verse 11, this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you.

Neither is it far off. You see, a lot of people feel like they can't possibly hope to understand the Bible. There's so many interpretations.

I've heard that before. Sometimes the Bible says weird things. And I want to say this respectfully to the word of God.

But I want you to know that I understand where you're coming from in that. There are some verses that I read and I'm like, I have no idea what that's talking about. In fact, I've got, as I do my quiet time, read through the Bible, I have a little Evernote file, right? It's called weird verses. And I just will copy and paste weird verses into there just because I have no idea what that means. I copied and pasted some of them into the sermon. I'll give you a few of my favorites. Nahum 3-5, I will lift up your skirt and show your nakedness to the nations.

I'm like, how do you apply that? Jeremiah 13, one and two is one of my favorites. The Lord told me, go and buy a loin cloth, put it on, but don't watch it. Where was that verse when I was in middle school? I would live by that verse in middle school. Ecclesiastes 7-28, I do know there is a good man in a thousand, but I've never found a good woman. By the way, some of the girls around here tell me exactly the opposite. They're like, I know lots of good women, no good men. Haggai 1-15, anytime I'm at a high school student camp and somebody brings up one of the books I wrote for me to sign, I always sign my name and put Haggai 1-15.

Haggai 1-15 says in the fourth and 20th day of the sixth month of Darius the King. Why? Because I want some middle school or high school back in their dorm and not going, what does it mean? What does it mean? Is there some kind of symbolism? What is he saying? It's just details about months. Ecclesiastes 9-8, I love this one.

Wear fine clothes with a dash of cologne. Some of you live in biblically this morning. So yeah, I understand that there are some things in the Bible that can be befuddling, but Moses says, listen to it again. This commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you.

Neither is it far off. It's not in heaven that you should say who's going to go up to heaven and bring it down to us so we may hear it and do it. In other words, the meaning is not so mysterious and so lofty that you can't possibly hope to grasp it unless you have a PhD and you're super brilliant. Verse 13, neither is it beyond the sea that you should say who's going to go over the sea and bring it to us that we may hear and do it.

In other words, it's not so culturally foreign to you that you can't possibly hope to know the meaning. The word is near you. It's in your mouth. It's in your heart so that you can do it. It's right there. It's accessible.

It's ready for you to grasp and obey. And by the way, note that when Moses says that, he's not talking to a group of seminary professors. He's not talking to a group of people who have gone through Bible college. He's talking to ordinary people.

He's talking to teenagers when he says that. You see, I have heard some say the Bible is so mysterious we can't possibly hope to be certain about its meaning. God wrote several books a few years ago named Brian McLaren who says that whenever you say you're sure about something the Bible teaches, that's a sign of pride and arrogance. That really what you ought to do is be humble enough to say, I don't really know what it means. And that sounds humble and yeah, we should be humble about our interpretations, but that's not how the Bible describes itself. And if I'm always looking at God saying, I got no idea what you're saying, that may sound humble, but it's actually an insult to God. They'd be frustrating to you if I did that, wouldn't you? Every time you said something, I'm like, you know, I don't really know what you mean. I mean, you'd be like, I'm telling you, listen to the words coming out of my mouth. That's what God's saying. I made it plain.

You're not humble when you do that. It's arrogant to tell God that he didn't know how to communicate. I've heard other people say that we are so culturally bound that we can't hope to understand the Bible. That all we end up doing is reading it through our 21st century American biases.

And certainly we got to be cautious of that. Christians have done that in every generation where they twisted the Bible to fit their prejudices. But listen, that is not how the Bible talks about itself. The Bible is clear. What you need to know is clear.

The core essential elements are accessible and they're accessible to common people. Jesus was asked a lot of questions during his earthly ministry. I've read all of them. And not one time when he was asked one of these questions, did he ever say, you know, I understand. I understand why you're confused on that issue. The old Testament is just so unclear on that. Now his response was always, haven't you read?

At least six times in the midst of an argument, Jesus said to his opponents, have you not read? Suggesting that if they had just known the scriptures better, they would not be making the mistake that they're making. What you need to know, he says, is in the scriptures. Then you're responsible to know what's in there.

And you're responsible to know what it means. You see, the problem is not that there are parts of the Bible you can't understand. The problem is that you won't heed and obey the parts that you do understand.

And by the way, let me tell you a little secret. When you won't obey what is clear, then more and more of the Bible becomes unclear because you begin to walk in darkness. The darkness is not in the Bible, the darkness is in you. Twice, Moses has told us now in our first two points, read the Bible.

Here's our third point. Don't just read the Bible, encounter the person within the Bible. Don't just read the Bible, encounter the person within the Bible.

Right at the end of his sermon, Moses' language takes a surprising turn. Listen to it, verse 19. Today, I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast. Watch this, holding fast to him for he is your life.

Now, here is why I say that is a surprising twist. Up until this point, for 30 chapters, Moses has consistently said, obedience to the word will be our life. And then here, almost inexplicably, he suddenly switches to say, God is our life.

You see that? He doesn't say hold fast to his word, he says hold fast to him. So which is it? Is it obedience to God's word that is our life? Or is it God himself that is our life? You say, well, I don't quite understand the distinction. Does gaining spiritual life, does gaining real life and God's blessing, does it depend on how well you obey the words of this book? That's the question.

And it is a trick question. In one sense, yes, that's exactly what he said. Life comes by anchoring your life into God's word, but here is the dilemma. Do any of us truly keep God's word sufficiently to lay hold of this life and blessing? Praise God for Jesus who kept the law perfectly like we never could, and took the punishment that we deserved. That's the message of the gospel, the bullseye of everything we do here at Summit Life. There's more to come in this study, but in the meantime, you can always listen again or download the free transcript at This month, we'd like to send you a set of 52 scripture memory cards as a thank you when you support the ministry of Summit Life.

These cards are made small, similar in size to playing cards for quick reference and easy handling. Scripture cards remind us of God's steadfastness and his unchanging promises now and in the days to come. The Lord calls us to take a step of faith, and then another, and then another, and the only way to walk in step with him is to know him more and more each day. Something we say a lot at the Summit Church is when life cuts us, we want to bleed God's word. That comes from a desire that we be saturated in scripture so much that we can't help but to talk about it, share it, and apply it.

So let me encourage you to prioritize memorizing it this year. We're so grateful for you and your partnership with us as we begin a new year of ministry together. Ask for the scripture memory cards when you become a gospel partner or when you give a single gift of $35 or more. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or you can give online at I'm Molly Vadovich. You know, most of us struggle to read the Bible on a regular basis. And when we do read it, we have trouble even staying interested. But Pastor J.D. will explain why that is and how we can start to want to read the Bible. That's Wednesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-10 12:04:07 / 2023-01-10 12:15:38 / 12

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