Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. The gospel is not that you obey sufficiently that one day God lets you into heaven based on your obedience. The gospel is that Jesus Christ came and lived the life you could not live and then died to death in your place that you being condemned to die so that if you would receive it by grace, you would be given the righteousness of God. So the primary purpose of the scriptures, listen to this, is to present Jesus. Welcome back to Summit Life with J.D. Greer.
As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. If you've been around the church for any length of time, you know the Bible is important. And yet if we're honest, many of us struggle to read it on a regular basis. And when we do read it, we have trouble staying focused and interested.
So why is that? And how can we change this attitude and begin to want to read the Bible? Today, Pastor J.D. continues our study on the basics of our faith called START.
As always, if you've missed any of our programs or if you're in search of our featured monthly resource, you can find it all online at jdgreer.com or by calling us at 866-335-5220. But right now, Pastor J.D. continues our message titled Read the Bible Because. 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.
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.
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. Of course, what Moses is promising in this chapter is more than just stability, as if the Bible was the best how-to book there is on how to build a life or how to, you know, whatever, have a good marriage. 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 clearer.
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 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. Y'all, when Satan attacked Jesus, he quoted scripture. What are your kids going to come up with when Satan attacks them? 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.
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. 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. 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. A guy 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. 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.
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? David would say that if you marked iniquities, who could stand? Paul would say we've all together become unprofitable.
There's nonrighteous, not even one. There's none who seeks God. All have sinned, Romans 3 23, and all have fallen short of the glory of God.
None of us obey sufficiently to gain life and blessing. So as Moses comes to the very conclusion of his sermon, he starts to point to something else. He points beyond obedience to a hope that is greater than our ability to obey. And that hope is God himself who will become to us life and salvation. You are listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer. We'll return to our teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to quickly tell you about our new featured resource this month, our yearly set of scripture memory cards. One reason we look to memorize scripture is that it allows us to share our faith with unbelievers better. We are urged in 1 Peter 3 15 to always be ready to give a defense for our hope in Christ. So we should memorize scripture so we can walk unbelievers through the salvation message and help them understand their sin and need for a Savior, speaking God's words instead of our own. You can keep this pack of 52 cards or maybe even better, share them with others. They're an inspiring reminder to your loved ones that God is always with them. Support Summit Life today by giving us a call at 866-335-5220.
Or you can give online at jdgreer.com. Paul takes this passage and does something amazing with it. Watch this, Romans 10 5 and 10. In Paul's explanation of the gospel, Romans 10. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandment shall live by them. He's quoting Deuteronomy 30. But the righteousness based on faith says, don't say in your heart who will ascend into heaven, that is to bring Christ down, or who will descend into the abyss, that is to bring Christ up from the dead.
But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. That is the word of faith that we proclaim. So what he's saying is the ultimate fulfillment of this word is not something we're going to do for God, it's something that God's going to give to us.
That if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus, the one that came down as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead as a substitute for our sin, then you will be saved. Because it's with the heart that man believes unto righteousness, not that we obey into righteousness, but we believe it and we receive it. With the mouth confession is made to salvation, for whoever believes in him will never be put to shame.
The one who's not going to experience shame is not the one who obeys sufficiently, because that's none of us. The one who will not be put to shame is the one who hopes in God, who will become righteousness to us. That word brings life and blessing. It's embodied in the word of the gospel. The gospel that declares that Christ has come to us, that he became our righteousness and our life and offered himself to us to be received as a gift. You see, that's what the gospel is. The gospel is not that you obey sufficiently that one day God lets you into heaven based on your obedience.
The gospel is that Jesus Christ came and lived a life you could not live and then die to death in your place that you being condemned to die. So that if you would receive it by grace, you would be given the righteousness of God. So the primary purpose of the scriptures, listen to this, is to present Jesus.
The primary purpose of the scriptures is not to give you a list of assignments. It is to tell you about the grace and salvation that you can receive and by which you can be restored to God. Scripture is not primarily a list of pasts about what he wants you to do for him. It's the glorious good news about what he's done for you. It's not marching orders about what we are supposed to do. It's an offer to be restored to relationship to God through the finished work of Christ. We often say the Bible is not good advice. The Bible is good news and there's a big difference in those two.
Most Christians, you see, most American Christians struggle to read the Bible because they see it like an assignment. Yet another thing that you got to do, put it on a checklist to earn God's favor. But when you do that, these things always become drudgery.
They start to feel monotonous, like these religious rituals. I got to do this so that God will be happy with me. But it's not. That's not what the Bible is.
It is the story of God's love for you, how he reached out himself to save you. And when you begin to read it that way, it starts to look totally different. The primary purpose of the scriptures, listen, is not to give you a how-to manual for different parts of your life.
That's how a lot of you approach the Bible. And you struggle to understand it because you're like, well, I want to know, you know, five ways to get along with my annoying husband. Well, what page is that on? I want to know three ways to think about the pain in my life.
I want to know 10 things I got to do to get ready for retirement. Where's that chapter? But then you get into the Bible and you find a genealogy or a list of sacrifices or the dimensions of the temple.
Ever done your quiet time through that? And this curtain was this long and then how high it was, you know, I don't know what that means. Page after page of the histories of people whose lives are a dubious moral character and who often have very little in common with you or your time. And so you throw up your hands in desperation and you say, what does this have to do with my life?
Listen to this, Michael Reeves. But when you see that Christ is the subject of all the scriptures, that he is the word, the Lord, the son who reveals the father, the promised hope, the true temple, the true sacrifice, the great high priest, the ultimate king, then you can read not so much asking what does this mean for me right now, but what do I learn here of Jesus? Knowing that the Bible is about him and not about me means that instead of reading the Bible obsessing about me, I can gaze on him. And as through the pages you get caught up in the wonder of his story, you find your heart strangely pounding for him in a way you never would have if you treated the Bible as a book all about you. You see, the Bible will give you a lot of practical instructions on marriage. It'll give you a lot of practical instruction on child raising and how to think about your vocation.
That's why we teach it up in here 52 weeks out of the year. But the main way to life and peace is not by figuring out the secrets to the abundant life because the abundant life, listen, is not something Jesus explains to you how to do. The abundant life is Jesus himself. That's what he said, John 17, three, I am the abundant life. This is the abundant life to know me. Some of you come to the Bible looking for the secret to an abundant marriage, an abundant family, an abundant vocation. Jesus says, I am the abundant life.
And if you know me, then your life becomes abundant. Not because these things all become perfect, but because you know me, you find it by knowing me. Learning five steps to a good marriage is not going to do you nearly as much good as learning about the 10,000 steps that Jesus took toward you when he came to rescue you at the cross. Because when you learn that and you believe that, that will break your pride and your selfishness and it will make you a gracious person, which is the primary problem in your marriage anyway, is that you're a proud, selfish person. So it's not learning five things to do better in your marriage that's actually going to change it. It's when that pride and that selfishness has been broken.
And that's not by learning five steps to how to be a better husband. It's learning about the 10 billion steps that Jesus took when he came to rescue you. Feeling the weight of God's love for you is what will fill that gaping chasm in your heart. It's what's going to take away your anger, not because it gives you three ways to cope with your anger, but because it makes it so that what happens at your job or with your friends or with your health or in your marriage, it's just not that devastating to you because you have something greater than health and a good job and even a good marriage and that is fellowship with the almighty God who calls you son or daughter or friend and that is the abundant life. So when you read the Bible, you got to read it the right way. Don't read it to gain favor with God as if God's going to look on you more favorably because you read it this morning. Jesus has made you fully acceptable on the cross. There's nothing you can do to add to that. God's not going, oh yeah, Jesus died for that person, shed his blood, rose from the dead and they read their Bible this morning. I'm feeling good about that person.
You can't add to that. You are complete in Christ, right? So don't read it to gain favor with God. Don't read it as a book of how-tos for your life.
Read it primarily as a presentation of a glorious savior to get to know page after page of declarations of the father's love for you, the marvelous way he came to earth to take away your condemnation by living the life you were supposed to live, dying in your place and restoring you to full fellowship with God. I've heard the Bible described before like one of those magic eye puzzles. You know, you've seen those where you stare at them for like 15, 20 minutes and there's a bunch of people around. It's this big mass of dots and everybody's claiming to see the man that's, you know, in the dots and you end up lying about it, your ability to see it, even though you can't really see it. And then later you come back when nobody's there and stare at it for about 30 minutes, or maybe I'm telling my own story, but you stare at it for a long time and all of a sudden that man comes out of those dots.
You remember this? The man comes out of the dots and then you can't look at that picture and not see the man. It's no longer a meaningless morass of dots.
It is a man that is in that picture. That's what reading the Bible is like. It suddenly goes from being a collection of details and genealogies and stories to be in the presentation of Christ. And when that happens, you'll never read it the same.
C.S. Lewis said that when his life was radically transformed was when he, he said it was like I was reading the Bible, staring through a peephole and suddenly having somebody stare back at me. Now staring through a peephole was creepy enough as it is. Having somebody stare back at you is really, really, it's creepy.
It's creepy. Experiencing in the Bible the living, moving Son of God. That's why Lewis said don't just read the Bible, you got to let the Bible read you. Which is why I will tell you, you got to read it every day. Because the Word of God, when you read it, the Spirit of God takes it and makes it personal to you. What promise do you need?
What warning do you need? That's why you can't just depend on me to explain it to you. Why? Because I got to preach to 9,000 people every weekend. I cannot always tailor the Bible to your situation. So you come here and be like, I didn't get anything out of the pastor's sermon today.
Well maybe there's 8,999 other people that needed to hear something besides just you. So maybe you shouldn't be so narcissistic and self-centered and not depend on me to spoon feed you what God wants you to know. There are some times that I'm going to preach and it's going to be right for your situation.
But the majority of what God says to you should come as the Spirit of God takes the Word of God as you got the Bible open in the morning or at night and He is speaking those words to you. See, it's not me. I can't do it.
You got to do it. So don't be a sermon hog. Write that down. In fact, let me correct a wrong analogy that I've heard over the years.
One that I've used. Read the Bible like a love letter. That was the wrong analogy. I've heard that. I've used that.
Here's the problem with that analogy. A letter comes from far away. The person sends it to you because they're not with you. That is not how the Bible talks about itself. This is not a far off God who's sending us some instructions. Jesus said these words are spirit. They are life. As you read them, you commune with Me.
I will make them personal to you. This is no letter. This is Me in My Word speaking to you. So let me bring this to a conclusion. I leave you with two things in this.
Two things at least that are impressed upon my heart. One is a choice. One is a choice. You got a clear choice between life and death.
Now can I make this any plainer? If you ground your life, if you ground your family in the Word of God, you and your family will live. If you do not, then you will die.
You got to make that choice and then you got to act on that choice. Amos chapter 5 verse 4 says, Seek me and live. We're told that if we seek the Lord through His Word, it will change our life. Encouraging words here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer. J.D., I think we were kind of taught early on that scripture memory is mostly an activity for kids, but we know that's not really true. So why is it important for us as adults to keep up this practice?
Yeah, Molly, I could probably list a dozen reasons why this is such an important thing for us. But for the sake of time, number one, I mean, Jesus memorized scripture. When the enemy came at him, it was clear that what he knew he needed to use to fight the attacks of Satan is scripture. The second reason is I would say we're just commanded to memorize scripture. I mean, Colossians 3 tells us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. Deuteronomy 6 tells us to write them on the tablet of our hearts, our foreheads, to put it around our house so that in our coming in and our going out, we're thinking about scripture. Memorizing scripture renews our minds and it transforms our lives. It's not just hearing, preaching or reading the Bible that changes you. It's when the word saturates you and begins to reshape your thoughts and you believe these promises of God. So I want you to get a pack of these and start doing what Psalm 119 11 says.
I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Just go to jdgrier.com and you can see what we're talking about. As our way of saying thank you for your one time donation of $35 or more, or for your monthly commitment as a gospel partner, we'll send you this brand new exclusive resource, the 2023 scripture memory cards to help you not only remember, but to apply the Word of God in a fresh way this year. Ask for your set today when you call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.
Or you can give online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vidovich. Be sure to join us tomorrow when we'll continue our study on the basics of the faith called Start. That's Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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