A lazy man has no claim on understanding God's Word. An indifferent woman who cares not to crack open the Scripture should not expect the blessings and the understanding that God promises in His Word to be made to them. How many times have you heard someone who doesn't know the Lord say, the Bible is so hard or even impossible to understand? Yet, as a believer, when you read it, its meaning is clear. Hello and welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
I'm Bill Wright. Today, as Don continues teaching God's people God's Word, he's going to give us the surprisingly simple reason why some can and some cannot comprehend the Bible. Here's our teacher now with the second half of a message called, Who Can Understand Scripture? We said, there's the promise of Scripture and the provision of the Spirit. There's one other aspect that we need to look at, a third aspect that we need to consider, and that's the preparation for Scripture. The preparation for Scripture.
We speak in these most broad general principles that set the whole framework, and yet we need to continue to refine them to get our understanding to exactly what it needs to be. Everything that we've said about the promise of Scripture and the provision of the Spirit is true, but we need to understand that there are also certain spiritual traits that God requires from those who would know his Word. There are certain things that need to be in place if you would be a student of God's Word. First of all, we would say this, is that you must turn from sin. You must turn from sin. A sinful heart is not prepared to receive God's Word, and you cannot simultaneously in a stubborn, hard-hearted way cling to sin in your life and expect to have an understanding of Scripture unfolding as you read it.
You have to let one or the other go. Someone said, and it's been often repeated, that sin will keep you from this book, or this book will keep you from sin. And I know that you understand that from your own personal experience if you're a Christian, that when you're conscious of sin and you're being a little bit stubborn about it, you start to lose the desire for God's Word. When you repent, when you confess it, then God's Word seems sweet once again. Well, Scripture describes that process.
Scripture tells you that you must turn away from sin and repent if you would be one who would comprehend God's Word. Look at 1 Peter in chapter 1. 1 Peter chapter 1, just after the book of James. For those of you that are still getting familiar with where the books of the Bible are, that's fine, you're in the right place.
This is how you get started. 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 22. Peter writes to the readers and reminds them of their conversion. He says, For since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart. For you have been born again, not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable. That is through the living and enduring Word of God. It was the Word of God that taught you what you needed to know in order to turn to Christ and away from sin.
Verse 24, For all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever, and this is the word which was preached to you. Peter says, you remember your conversion?
You remember the centrality of the Word? And he brings that to mind, well then he goes in chapter 2 and he applies it. And he says, therefore, in light of your conversion, in light of the nature of the Word of God, here's what you need to do. Putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the Word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
Peter says, you want to understand God's Word? Understand that you need to turn away from those sins in your life, and not just the external ones, those internal attitudes of malice and deceit and hypocrisy and envy. You need to put that all away.
You need to be specific and intrusive and looking to step on your toes perhaps a little bit for the sake of your soul. You need to put aside and let go of some of the bitterness. You need to put away the bitterness and say, you know what? I want to understand God's Word, and therefore the bitterness that I feel and the settled resentment that I feel against so-and-so, I'm going to let that go and not cherish that and churn that and cultivate that any longer, because I realize that as I'm doing that, I am squelching the Word of God in my life, and that's the last thing I want.
Why? Because God's Word is clear, because it's precious, because it can be understood, because it promises blessing to me, and that's the glory of all of that is so precious to me that I don't want to cling to my little earthly spats, because that would keep me from the glory of what I know is contained in God's Word. And so you see, beloved, here's the thing. When we get serious about God's Word, reading it, understanding it, we see how crystal clear it is and how precious it is and everything that it promises to us, well, there start to become ethical demands, character implications on that for you. I can't always let every ounce of passion that I feel out, or I would just be, people would start asking, why is Pastor Don yelling at us? Look, God is holy and His Word is holy. God expects His Word to be treated as holy.
He doesn't just convey understanding of it to minds that are in hostility toward Him. Those who reject God as unbelievers because they love their sin more should understand that they're choosing sin over God's Word. We as the people of God should realize that God is holy and He's a God without partiality. That if His Word is holy, then we should have holy affections and holy dispositions as we come, and not expect to cling on the one hand to our sinful former way of life and fractured relationships that we could actually do something to bring peace to. We can't approach a holy Word with a sinful disposition. That wouldn't be right. And we need to respect the holiness of God and we need to respect the holiness of His Word as we come to it and say, as I'm trusting in Christ, I'm also going to consciously turn from any known sin in my life.
Why? Not because I'm trying to impress anybody, but because I desire this Word and I understand that I can't be holding on to sin with one hand as I try to open the Bible with the other. And so, what we believe about Scripture, the doctrine of Scripture points us to sanctification. And in your marriage, men and women, husbands and wives, you know, elsewhere Peter says, yeah, we're in Peter, let's just turn there. 1 Peter 3, verse 7 says something along these same lines, not referring specifically to Scripture, but the implications of sin in the life of a believer. 1 Peter 3, verse 7, you husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman, and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. Don't come to God while you've been cultivating conflict with your spouse and expect that God is going to receive your prayers favorably.
It will hinder your spiritual life. And so we realize that we cannot be indifferent. As we approach God as believers, as we come to His Word, as we come to prayer, we realize that we have to turn from sin.
That is the call of God and it is right and fitting that He should do that. And for some of you, maybe you just need to stop making excuses with your mediocre spiritual life and say, you know what, all of this points me to the fact that I have some spiritual business to do with God. And I say that not to scold you.
I'm not yelling, am I? Not to scold you, but for your own spiritual benefit. To realize that this is the path forward to God's blessing. Sinful attitudes, sinful relationships, you have to let them go, you have to set them aside, you have to turn away from them if you would have this blessing as your own.
Now, that's the spiritual side of it, you could say. What else could we say about this preparation for Scripture? Well secondly, you must work for it. You must work for God's Word. You must turn from sin, you must work for God's Word.
That's part of the preparation of receiving understanding. Scripture says that we must seek God's Word like a treasure. And that the desire and, watch this, the effort that you make toward it should be commensurate with the value of what you're seeking. Look at Proverbs chapter 2. Proverbs chapter 2. Very challenging section of Scripture. Proverbs chapter 2 verse 1 says, My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding. For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding. If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures, then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Men will go to great lengths to find earthly treasure. Some men, as you know, will make a career out of searching for shipwrecks, a career of digging for gold, mining for jewels, maybe in the realm of South Africa where so many of our diamonds come from. But a lot of effort and a lot of machinery and a lot of digging, and a whole lot goes to trying to find a little precious jewel. Well, Scripture compares the search for earthly treasure to the desire that you should have and the effort that you're willing to make in order to pursue God's Word. You see, this book, the Bible is an accessible book if you set your heart on it.
But it takes effort that corresponds to its great value. In other words, understand this. God does not promise understanding of the Scriptures to you apart from your own effort. And it would be wrong for someone, on the one hand, to say, okay, I've got the Holy Spirit, I've got God's Word here, and in 30 seconds I want to open up a passage and I want to immediately understand what it says.
That's crazy. That is an insult to the holiness of God to take such a casual approach to His Word. God's Word, given its great value, requires a valuable response of effort, of reading, of study, of seeking.
The diamonds are buried to be searched for. The meaning of Scripture requires your effort to find it. Look at 2 Timothy chapter 2. You see, a lazy man has no claim on understanding God's Word.
An indifferent woman who cares not to crack open the Scripture should not expect the blessings and the understanding that God promises in His Word to be made to them. 2 Timothy chapter 2 verse 15 says, Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. Diligence.
Handling it accurately. It assumes that there's mental effort and there's time to be invested into it. And so we embrace that. And the thing that I would say to you, that God doesn't just dump understanding on us, God doesn't give profound insight into His Word irrespective of the condition of your heart or the effort that you make for it. Understanding is there for the taking.
But you have to reach out and pursue it with diligence to find it. And so, that's part of the preparation for Scripture. There's a spiritual dimension of sanctification, and there's this dimension also of realizing that, okay, this is going to take some time and effort for me to do. And you say, I'm up for it. I'm up for it. If a man can hire a ship to go out and look for a chest of gold buried in the ocean, the least that I can do is orient my time so that somewhere in my life there is a section cut out so that God's Word can be pursued by me.
That would only be right. If I say with my mouth that God's Word is more valuable than earthly treasure, which it is, then we say then somewhere in my life there's a corresponding effort to seek it out. Your presence here today is a mark of the fact that, yes, you want to make the effort to understand Scripture. That's why you're here. Well, let me just affirm that and encourage you to pursue the impulses, the desires that brought you here.
Feed them. Multiply them so that this treasure would be yours. The last thing in this preparation for Scripture. You must turn from sin. You must work for God's Word. Finally, you must look to God's Spirit. You must look to God's Spirit.
Desire and effort are necessary, but we approach Scripture in a spirit of dependence, and we should humbly ask for the Spirit's help. And with the Spirit dwelling within us, we don't act independently of that. We're mindful that the Spirit gave us this Word. We hold it outside ourselves, and we have the Spirit within, and we say, oh Spirit of God, be my teacher.
Help me and lead me as I read, as I study. We humbly ask Him for help. Look at Psalm 119. Psalm 119, and this is our final text here for this session. Psalm 119.
This great ode to the Word of God has embedded in it a prayerful Spirit asking for God's help to understand it. And I'm just going to walk you through four or five verses just to give you a sense of the Spirit of it all. Psalm 119 verse 12 says, Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes. God, I come to Your Word, teach me as I do. Verse 18, open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law. Verse 33, teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding that I may observe Your law. Verse 73, Your hands made me and fashioned me. Give me understanding that I may learn Your commandments. And finally, verse 125, that was in coordination with me. Think about it later, you'll laugh.
Say, you know, I think about that later, that was funny. Verse 125, I am Your servant. Give me understanding that I may know Your testimonies. Notice that as the psalmist is writing about the glories of God's Word, woven throughout is this silver thread that says, God, help me. God, give me understanding. God, take me beyond my natural ability and impart understanding to me so that I can know Your Word more deeply than if You didn't help me. And so there is this humble spirit of dependence that marks the one who's truly studying God's Word. Knowledge is good, but knowledge puffs up. One of the ways that you avoid that puffing up is that you come with, you approach Scripture with a consistently prayerful spirit that says, God, I'm weak, mortal, weak flesh. And Your Word is high and lofty. There are profound things here that I want to know and see, but Lord, I'm just, you know, I have no special training for this.
I realize that men dispute over these things, but I want to know, I want to understand, God, help me. God, be gracious to me so that I could grasp these things and know them and respond to them and respond to you in a deeper sense of worship. You see, core, at the very, very core of the one who would understand Scripture.
Is that you? You want to understand and know God's Word? Understand that what Scripture models for you is someone who takes the position, consciously adopts the attitude of a humble learner, not a critic of God's Word. Say, God, I respect You. I revere You. I fear You.
I love Your Word. I want to understand it. God, would You please help me? What's the Lord's response to that? Ask and it'll be given to you. Seek and you'll find.
Knock and the door will be opened to you. Jesus there, as He's promising those kinds of things in Matthew 7, not talking about earthly blessings at all. Look, if God wrote His Word to be understood, and He did, if He saved you to become like Christ, and if you're a Christian, He did, and He put His Spirit inside you so that you could understand, and He did, then what is He going to do?
I mean, God has made His purpose clear in those things. What is He going to do in response to the earnest, sincere, humble prayer of you as a Christian? And you come and say, God, I really want to know this Word. Whatever it costs me, I want this Word inside me. I want this to be a part of the fabric of my being. God, help me.
Give me understanding that I might know your testimonies. What's God going to do with a prayer like that? You know what He's going to do? He's going to answer it. He's going to give you understanding.
I know some men in different parts of the country. To talk with them is incredible. Their depth of understanding of Scripture is profound, and they never set foot in a seminary classroom. They've never had formal training, but they can discuss the attributes of God and the doctrines of grace with clarity and with insight.
Why? Because this is what God gives to His people. This is what God imparts to those who love His Word over time and seek it humbly as a learner, serious about sanctification in their lives, taking the time, arranging life around God's Word.
You see, beloved, here's the thing. God gives understanding to the humble as a gift, not to the proud as an entitlement. God's Word is open to you if you'll seek its treasure. Great blessing awaits going forward, no matter what your past experience has been like. Scripture shows us that going forward, you can be a man, a woman of the Word.
Everything is there for that to take place. Great blessing awaits. Won't you be that kind of Christian? That's Don Green with another powerful lesson from God's Word here on The Truth Pulpit. If you'd like to find out more about this ministry, we invite you to go to thetruthpulpit.com. There you'll find today's message as well as this entire series called Effective Bible Study as well as a variety of other study resources. Again, that's all at thetruthpulpit.com. Well, friend, we're out of time for today. I'm Bill Wright, hoping you'll join us again next time on The Truth Pulpit, where Don Green teaches God's people God's Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-30 05:10:54 / 2023-03-30 05:19:16 / 8