We have the happy privilege of spending our time in this special course and studying how to study the Bible. For any Christian, in fact, for every Christian, it’s really vital that you know how to study the Bible, that you be able to dig into God’s Word yourself, to glean and to gain all of the tremendous riches that are there. I often think of the words of Jeremiah, who in Jeremiah 15:16 said, “Thy words were found and I did eat them and Thy word was my source of joy and rejoicing.” The Word of God is a tremendous thing. No Christian should be handicapped in his own ability to study the Word or God for himself or herself.
And so in the four sessions that we have together we are going to be examining just how we study the Bible, but we want to get a little bit of a running start on that theme and so I want, first of all, that we should discuss why it is important to study the Bible. And I guess maybe I feel that this is kind of a motivator. You know, if you just flat out say, “Hey, we got to study the Bible and here’s how,” maybe you’re not too motivated. So I want to motivate you a little bit and in our first couple of sessions we’re going to talk about why it is important that we study the Bible. Then we’re going to turn the corner in the last two and really come to grips with just how to do it.
Walter Scott, a great Christian, was dying. He said to his secretary, “Bring me the Book.” His secretary looked at the library outside where he was and saw thousands of books and she came back in and said, “Dr. Scott, which book?” He said, “The Book. The Bible. The only book for a dying man.” And I would have to add to that the Bible is not just the only book for a dying man, but it’s the only book for a living man, because it is the Word of life as well as the hope in death.
And so we come to the Word of God with a tremendous sense of excitement and anticipation. Let me share with you to begin with in this session something about the authority of the Word of God. And this really covers the theme why it is important to study the Bible. First of all, let me say this. We state from the very beginning that the Scripture is the Word of God. It is not man’s opinion. It is not human philosophy. It is not somebody’s ideas. It is not a pulling of the best thoughts of the best men. It is the Word of God. And as such, there are several things that we need to realize about it.
Number one, it is infallible. In total, the Bible has no mistakes. In its original autographs, it is without error. In Psalm 19, in verse 7, the Bible says of itself, “The law of the Lord is perfect.” It is flawless. In fact, it has to be because it was authored by God, who is flawless. Recently, I was asked to write a research paper for a certain convention that’s going to be coming up in our country and they asked me to write the paper on the subject authority and inerrancy. And the real issue of the paper was this: if God wrote the Bible and if God is the ultimate authority and if God in His character is flawless, then the Bible is flawless and the Bible is the ultimate authority.
You see, the fact that God is perfect demands that the original autograph, the original giving of the Word of God must, in and of itself, also must be perfect. So we say to begin with, then, that the Bible is infallible and that’s the first reason to study it because it is the only book that never makes a mistake. Everything it says is the truth. And not only is it infallible in total, but there’s a second word we use to describe the Bible and that’s the word inerrant. Not only infallible in total, but inerrant in the parts. In Proverbs chapter 30, verses 5 and 6, it says this, “Every Word of God is pure. Add thou not unto his Words, lest he reprove thee and thou be found a liar.” Every Word of God is pure. Not only is the Bible in total the infallible Word of God, but in part to the degree that every Word is the truth of God.
I would add another term. The Bible is not only infallible and inerrant, but it is complete. There needs to be nothing added. Now, maybe that’s a surprise to some people. There are people today who believe that we need to add to the Bible or there is a certain existing sort of a philosophy theology combination known as Neo-orthodoxy. And they tell us that the Bible was simply a comment in its day on man’s spiritual experience and today man is having more spiritual experiences and he needs another comment. In fact, I was reading one writer recently who said that we need a Bible to be written today, just like we did when the Bible that we have in our hands was written, because we need somebody to comment on what God is doing now, so that the Bible is still being written. This same writer said when Tom or Mary stand up in your church and say, “Thus sayeth the Lord,” they are equally inspired with Isaiah and Jeremiah or any of the other prophets.
In other words, the Bible is not complete. That’s a current philosophical-theological thought, but at the end of the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, we read these words, “For I testify unto every man” - Revelation 22:18 - “if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this Book and if any man shall take away from the Words of the Book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and out of the holy city and from the things which are written in this book.” The Bible ends with a warning. It ends with a warning not to take away anything and not to add anything. That’s a testimony of its completeness. It is infallible in its total. It is inerrant in its parts. Never makes a mistake in its total presentation, in its most divisible presentation and it is complete.
Now, we would have to add a fourth word about the Bible. It is authoritative. If it is perfect and complete, then it is the last word. It is the final authority. Isaiah chapter 1, in verse 2, says this. “Hear, 0 heavens and give ear, 0 earth, for the Lord hath spoken.” When God speaks everybody listens because His is the final authority. The Bible demands obedience. The Bible is not a book for discussion and by that I don’t mean that we shouldn’t discuss its implications and applications and meanings. I mean by that we shouldn’t discuss whether it’s true or not. It is authoritative. It affirms and assumes that it is true. In John 8:31, you have a little incident here where Jesus is confronted by some of the Jewish leaders and as Jesus faces these leaders there’s a little dialogue going on and there of course are other people there and it says in the text here that “many believed on Him.” No doubt some of them were leaders. But said to them, “If you continue in My word, then are you My real disciple.” In other words, He demanded a response to His truth. He demanded a response to His Word. It is authoritative. In Galatians chapter 3, in verse 10, it says this, “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Amazing. Cursed is anyone who doesn’t continue in everything written in this Book. Tremendous claim to absolute authority. In James chapter 2, in verse 9, we read this, “If you have respect of persons, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one part is guilty of all.” In other words, to violate the Bible at one point is to break God’s law. It is authoritative in every part.
Well, infallible, inerrant, complete, authoritative. We ought to add another word. This is a great word. The Bible is sufficient. It is sufficient. For whatever it is in the heart of a man that is necessary, the Bible is sufficient. In 2 Timothy there’s a great word, chapter 3, in verse 15. And Paul here says to Timothy, “And that from a child” - Timothy – “thou hast known the holy scripture” - now watch - “which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Now first of all, it is sufficient for salvation. The Bible is able to make you wise unto salvation. You can ask yourself this question. What is more important than salvation? Nothing. The greatest reality in the universe and the Bible is that which makes you wise unto salvation. But more, verse 16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable” - now watch - “for doctrine” - that’s teaching, principles of wisdom, divine standards, divine truths - “for reproof” - that means that you’re able to go to somebody and say, “Hey, man, you’re out of line. You can’t behave like that. There’s a standard and you’re not making it with that standard.” It is also profitable for correction. That says to that person you’ve just reproved, “Now, don’t do that. Do this. This is the new path.” You teach. You reprove. You show a corrected way and further it is profitable “for instruction in righteousness.” Now, you point the new way and show them how to walk in it.
Fantastic book, the Bible. It can take somebody who doesn’t know God, who isn’t saved and then save them. And then it can teach them and then it will reprove them when they do wrong. It will point to them the right thing to do and show them how to walk in that right path. And then the result is verse 17, “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The incredible reality of the Bible is that it is sufficient to do the whole job. It is one product that does the whole job. The Bible is infallible, inerrant, complete, authoritative, and sufficient.
In Romans chapter 15 - and I can’t resist just adding this one text to the thought we’ve given you - In Romans 15 in verse 4, we read this, “For whatever things were written in earlier times” - and of course that has reference to the Bible. “For whatever things were written in earlier times were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort from the Scriptures might have hope.” The Bible, again, is the source of patience and comfort and ultimately giving us hope, now and forever. Incredible book. I think also of the 1st chapter of James and the 25th verse and this is a really tremendous text. It says, “Whosoever looketh into the perfect law of liberty” - and that’s the Scripture - “and continueth in it, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed.” Isn’t that great? You know, when you read it and you do it, you’re blessed. Now back in verse 21, James says that if we “receive with meekness the engrafted word,” it is “able to save our lives.” The Greek text literally means your life. In other words, it will save your life if you will receive the Word of God. And I think by that he means it will give you the fullest, abundant, abounding life imaginable. And it is possible, too, for a Christian who doesn’t obey the Word of God to lose his life, right?
First Corinthians 11. Some of those Christians in Corinth violated the Lord’s Table and He took them home. So he said, “Some of you are weak and sickly and some of you even sleep.” Ananias and Sapphira disobeyed God’s command and dropped dead in front of the whole church in Acts 5. And so James is saying, “Look, if you receive the engrafted Word and you obey it and you continue in it, it has an incredible way of perfecting you, of blessing you, of saving your life, even.” So, all these things are true of the Word of God.
Let me give you two more things. The Word of God is effective. The Word of God is effective. Listen to the words of Isaiah chapter 55, in verse 11. It says this, “So shall my word be” - this is the way my Word’s going to work, he says - “that goes forth out of my mouth. It shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please.” Isn’t that great? God’s Word is effective. You know, one of the incredible things about being a teacher of the Word of God is that you know it will do what it says it will do. You know, I often wonder about the door-to-door salesman who comes in and tries to demonstrate his product and it doesn’t work. You know, I always think about the lady who was living out in the country and the vacuum cleaner salesman came by and he got to the door and he was there with a high-pressure deal. And he says, “Hey, lady.” He says, “I’ve got the greatest product you’ve ever seen. This vacuum cleaner will eat up anything. In fact, if I don’t control it, it will suck up your carpet.” And before she could say anything, he says, “Lady, I want to give you a demonstration.” So he went into the fireplace and threw ashes in the middle of the carpet. He had a bag full of stuff he poured out on the carpet. He says, “Lady, I want you to watch this product. It will suck every bit of that up.” And she was there aghast! And finally he stopped long enough to say to her, “Lady, if it doesn’t suck up every bit of this, I’ll eat it all with a spoon.” And she looked him right in the eye and said, “Well, sir, start eating. We ain’t got no electricity.” Well, that’s a pretty tough situation, right? To be caught in a situation where your product isn’t going to work. That never happens with the Bible. It is always effective. It always does exactly what it says it’ll do. Tremendous reality about the Scripture.
In 1 Thessalonians chapter 1, in verse 5, we read this - and this is a great word about the effectiveness of the Scripture. “For our gospel came not unto you in word only” - boy, you know, when you hear the Word of God, it isn’t just words. He goes on to say - “but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance.” In other words, when the Word goes forth, it has power. It has the Holy Spirit and you can have the assurance that it will do what it says. A great truth.
So, what have we said then to start with? That the Word of God is infallible in total, inerrant in its parts, complete so that nothing is to be diminished or added to it, authoritative so that whatever it says is absolutely true and commands our obedience, sufficient so that it is able to do to us and for us everything we need and effective. It will do exactly what it says it will do. One last word, the Word of God, the Bible, is determinative. It is determinative. In other words, how you respond to the Word of God is the determiner of your life and your eternity, in fact. “He that is of God hears God’s Word.” Did you get that? He that is of God hears God’s Words. It’s in the plural there. “Ye therefore, hear them not” - Jesus said - “because ye are not of God.” In other words, it is a determiner of whether an individual is of God or not of God based on whether they listen to the Word of God.
In 1 Corinthians there is a very definitive text that points this out. First Corinthians chapter 2, in verse 9. It says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” Man could never know what God prepared. Man could never conceive of God’s dominion. Man could never conceive that he would be a part of it. Man could never conceive in his own humanness, in his own human mind, in his own patterns of logic all that God has prepared for him. But verse 10 says, “God has revealed them to us by His Spirit. For what man knoweth the things of a man, except the spirit of a man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is of God that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. But, the natural man” - says verse 14 - “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” Now you have two separate kinds of people. The people who receive the things of God, the people who do not. The people who can receive, the people who cannot. The unbelieving people, they can’t receive it. They don’t have the Holy Spirit. The human mind can’t handle it. The people who know God, they have the Holy Spirit. They receive the Word of God. You see, it is a determiner. Those people who receive the Word of God indicate by the very understanding of the Word of God that they possess the Holy Spirit and that proves them to be believers.
Riding on the airplane today I had an experience of talking to a man who continually admitted that he didn’t understand the Bible. I didn’t really say this to him in so many words, but I hinted at it that we didn’t expect him to understand the Bible. He didn’t have the one necessary thing to understand it - the life of God in his soul by the presence of the Holy Spirit. So, the Word of God then is presented to us just simply in terms of its beauty and its glory and its capabilities in these simple words. It is infallible, inerrant, complete, authoritative, sufficient, effective, and determinative. Now somebody might come along and say, “Well, that’s really great. I hear the Bible claiming that for itself. That’s super. And if it is all those things, man, I’ve got to get into it. I mean, if this is all really true, I’ve got to get into this thing. I’ve got to find out all about these inerrant, infallible, complete, sufficient realities and principles. But can I really be sure it’s true?”
You know, it’s funny. We live in a world where people really don’t respond to authority very well. In fact, our whole world kicks against authority. We want to deny the authority of the home. There’s a fight now to deny the authority of the man in our society and the women want to fight against that and maybe sometimes it has been oppressive and there needs to be a little more balance. There is a fight on the part of young people on junior high campuses, high school campuses, college university campuses to fight against those in administration. There is a sort of an anti-government feeling in some cases. There is even a sort of a kicking against the police and anything authoritative. We really kind of throw that off. It’s kind of rugged individualism. Everybody’s his own god. You know, we’re back to “Invictus”. “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul,” and all of this. And we don’t really like to respond to authority. So when you come along and say to somebody, “You know, I want to tell you the Bible is the absolute authority. It’s absolutely sufficient, and efficient, and all of these things.” They say, “Well, how do I know that? I mean, I’m not going to accept that unless you can show me how.”
So how do we really define or how do we determine that the Bible is true? Well, I’ve always thought - and this is just kind of a footnote for a minute – but I’ve always thought there are basically five areas of proof. And, of course, ultimately you can’t really prove the Bible is true because you can’t crawl outside our little world and meet God face to face and say, “Hey, God, give me the straight scoop. I now see you. I behold you. Just tell me, is it true?” You’ve got to take it by faith ultimately, but there sure are some convincing things that make our faith sane. And there are five basic areas of proof. Number one is experience. One of the first reasons that I believe the Bible is true is because it gives us the experience that it claims it will give us. For example, the Bible says that God will forgive your sin. I believe that. I accepted His forgiveness and you know what? He did it. You say, “How do you know that?” I have a sense of freedom from guilt. I have a sense of forgiveness. You know, the Bible says that if any man be in Christ he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things become new. I came to Jesus Christ one day and you know what happened? Old things passed away and all things became new and I experienced it. The Bible really changes lives. Somebody said a Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to somebody who isn’t. And I guess that’s true because the Bible can put lives together. Millions of people all over the world are living proof that the Bible is true. They’ve experienced it. Tough to argue, but you know something? Although that’s a great argument in some sense, it’s a weak one in another sense because, you know, if you start basing everything on experience, you’re going to run into some people who have had some pretty wild experiences. You know, the drunk who sees the pink elephants, but really doesn’t and the Muslim and the Buddhist and the guy in Hare Krishna and the guy who sits under a tree and contemplates his naval and whoever else? They’re going to get an experience. And if you base it all on experience, you’re in trouble. So I say that there is one - that’s just one way and of the five it’s probably the poorest way, but it’s still evidence for some.
I think a second thing that proves the validity of the Bible is science. People say, “Well, the Bible, you know, it’s not a book of science and it’s scientifically incorrect. The Bible doesn’t use scientific language.” But, you know, people often say that. They say, “What about when The Old Testament says, ‘And the sun stood still’?” Now we know the sun didn’t stand still. What happened, if anything happened is that the earth stopped revolving and it appeared that the sun stood still. They say, “Well, you see, in those old times they thought the sun was going around the earth, instead of visa versa, so that’s just a typical Biblical faux pas.” Yeah, but, you see, the problem with that is that those people were analyzing it scientifically. Now, they were not doing that. They were looking and seeing what appeared to happen. You do the same thing. You get up in the morning. You look at the east. You don’t say, “Oh my. What a lovely earth revolving.” That’s not an earth revolving, that’s a sunrise. You understand what you’re saying. You look to the west and you say, “What a lovely earth revolving.” No, that’s a sunset. Somebody said you could say it this way. When somebody asks you if you’d like another helping of dinner, you could say, “Well, gastronomical satiety admonishes me that I have arrived at a state of deglutition consistent with dietetic integrity.” Or you could say, “No thanks. I’ve had enough.” You see, you don’t always need a scientific answer for everything. Sometimes just pure observation is sufficient. The Bible says some things that are from the viewpoint of human observation, but on the other hand, whenever the Bible speaks about a scientific principle, it is dead accurate. It is right on. It is exacting.
In the 55th chapter of Isaiah - and in this particular course, this is only an introductory thought so we can’t develop the whole concept - but in Isaiah 55th chapter of the 10th verse, listen to this. “For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven and returneth not there, before it watereth the earth and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater.” Did you hear that? This is Isaiah, centuries before the hydrological cycle was ever discovered, saying that the rain and the snow comes down and doesn’t return again until it has watered the earth. You know, it’s only in modern times that hydrology has been understood? And what happens is the rain falls down on the land. It falls into the land. The snow falls into the land. It waters the land. It runs off into the streams, down to the rivers, into the sea and from the sea it returns again to the clouds and is taken over the land and dropped again. The ever constant hydrological cycle, Isaiah 55 verse 10 laid it out. You say, “A pig could find a – a blind pig could find the slop once in a while. Maybe Isaiah just got a lucky guess.” Well, that might be a possibility if it weren’t for the fact that the same thing is discussed in several other portions of the Bible, the very same hydrological cycle. I was thinking of Jeremiah – pardon me, Job chapter 36, in verse 27. “For He maketh small the drops of water. They pour down rain according to their vapor, which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly. Can any understand the spreadings of the clouds or the noise of His tabernacle?” Here again, the discussion of the rain. You can compare that again with Psalm 135 and we’re just looking at some samples of it in verse 7. “He causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightnings for the rain and brings the wind out of His treasuries.” Here again, a discussion of this wonderful sequence of rain and the ascending vapors from the sea to plant the water again in the clouds. The Bible discusses the fixed orbits of the heavenly bodies. In Jeremiah chapter 31, it talks about that. In Psalm 19 it talks about that. And I really feel that as you get into the Bible, you find incredible things about science that tell us the Bible is true. You don’t ever need to be ashamed of the Bible. You’re never going to run into a problem in the Bible which you can’t solve one of two ways: by looking through the rest of the Bible, by understanding how to interpret it or by realizing that you’ll never going to understand it until you meet God, because there are some things we don’t understand and we don’t know. But the truth is here. You’re not going to run into an error in the Scripture, not even scientifically.
There is within the science of geology, for example, a study called isostasy, which is kind of interesting, pretty new really. It’s the study of the balance of the earth, and the idea says that equal weights are necessary to support equal weights, so that land mass must be supported equally by water mass. But they haven’t really discovered anything that’s too new, because if you go back to good old Isaiah again, who was no scientist at all, but simply a prophet of God, in the 40th of Isaiah, in the 12th verse, it says God has “measured the waters in the hollow of His hand.” He has “measured out heaven with His span.” He has “measured the dust of the earth in a measure.” He has “weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance.” God knows all about isostasy. He knows all about those kinds of things. It’s an incredible thing when you get to the Bible and you start to study it, even scientifically. I think about Herbert Spencer, who died in 1903. They said, “Well, Herbert Spencer discovered the greatest thing about the categorizing of all the things that exist in the environment of the universe. He said everything could fall into these categories: time, force, action, space, matter.” Five classic scientific categories: time, force, action, space, matter. Herbert Spencer said, “Everything fits into those.” And the world hailed him as a great scientist, a great man of discovery. Do you want to know something? All five of those are in the first verse of the Bible. In the beginning, that’s time; God, that’s force; created, that’s action; the heavens; that’s space; and the earth, that’s matter. The Bible when it speaks, speaks accurately. So science is a good way to show the authority and the validity of Scripture.
There’s a third one in our little five. First experience, then science and then Christ. The very life of Christ is a tremendous evidence of the truth of the Bible. And I say that for a lot of reasons, but just one that I’ll suggest to you for now, and that is this: Jesus believed in the authority of the Bible. Jesus said, “Not one jot and not one tittle shall be removed from this law until every bit of it be fulfilled.”
There’s a fourth area of proof when you look at the Bible and that’s the area of miracles. I say that the Bible is a divine book because it has miracles and that’s the proof that God is involved in it. It’s got to be a supernatural book because of all the supernatural activity. You say, “Well, how do you know all the miracles are true?” Well, they’re all evidenced here. There’s all supportive information here. For example, when Jesus rose from the dead, over 500 people saw Him risen from the dead. That’s enough to convince any jury. The very miraculous nature of the Bible speaks of God. So experience and science and the testimony of Christ and the miracles of the Bible and then fifthly, prophesy. There is no way to explain the fact that the Bible predicts things that are going to happen historically unless we see God as the author. I think about Peter Stoner in his little book, Science Speaks, he says, “Just take a few prophesies” - and he selects about three or four prophesies out of The Old Testament and he says – he says he’s a scientist dealing in the science of mathematical probability - and he says, “If I just add up the probabilities that these three or four things could come to pass by accident, it would be one chance in two-quintillion, that such an accident could happen and yet every detail has come to pass.” He said, “One chance in two-quintillion would be like this. It would be like filling the state of Texas 35 feet deep in silver dollars, putting an X on one of them and giving a blind man one pick. He’d have one chance in two-quintillion in picking the one with the X on it.” That’s how much chance there is, according to the mathematics of probability of these four prophesies with their specific details ever coming to pass by accident. It’s incredible. When the Bible speaks prophetically it is right. Literally hundreds of fulfilled prophesies.
This is God’s Holy Word, a tremendous thing, and the Christian who never approaches it with an intense commitment to study is forfeiting a tremendous blessing. I have to tell you, as far as my life goes - and I have a lot of happy things in my life. I have a wonderful wife that I love very dearly. I have four super kids who are less than perfect and that’s maybe why I like them so much. They don’t intimidate me a whole lot. And we have a great time and my life is rich. I have a great church where I’m able to minister and precious people that I love very much and all that stuff is rich and rewarding and fun. But the thing I love most about life is the Word of God. You know, it just takes me right into the presence of God and that’s a thrill. And, you know, the deeper I study the Word of God, the more excited I get.
Now, I want to give you some thoughts. I want to give you six areas that appear as major benefits of Bible study and you’ve got to understand these to start with, because these are the things that are going to become your motivation. Before I get into showing you how to study, I want to show you why you need to and I hope by the time we get done with this you can hardly stand it until this lecture gets over so you can get home and study your Bible. But let me give you six areas. We’ll get a running start on it in our study this time. First of all, we should study the Bible because the Bible is the source of truth, okay? The Bible is the source of truth. John 17:17, Jesus said, praying to the Father, “Thy Word is truth.” A great statement. “Thy Word is truth.” People, do you realize what it is to have the truth? I have people say to me all the time as I confront them about Jesus Christ, as I talk to them, “Well, you know, I don’t know what the truth is.” Pilate came to the place in his life, he looked at Jesus and he said, “What is truth?” He was a cynic. “What is truth? Don’t give me that truth nonsense. I’ve been chasing that stuff too long. What is truth?” I read that nearly 3,000 new pages of material are printed every 60 seconds in our society. We are cranking it out, information, tons of it. Do you know that we can’t - books don’t work anymore. You know, I mean – it’s too big. We can’t even house the information we’ve got now. And so now we have microfilm and microfiche and they put stuff on little tiny things. In fact, I’ve seen a little tiny chip that has the entire 66 books of the Bible, every single word in the Bible on it and it’s just a little tiny thing. And we’re working on those kinds of things, because we got to reduce storage of factors, so we can hold all this information. I’m not too sure we ought to bother to hold most of it, but that’s what we have to do. But that’s too much. In fact, I was reading that some people were saying microfilm was too big. Can you imagine the whole Bible on a thing that big and that’s too big? We can’t store it? And so they’re developing laser storage and I saw a demonstration of it. They store information somehow in tiny, tiny fashion on a crystal and every facet of the crystal has some information and they shoot a laser beam at the crystal at just the point they want it and it flashes the words they want up on a screen, so that they can store it on crystals. That’s also too bulky and they’ve now developed what is known as molecular storage and they tell us that soon they’re going to be able to store the entire library of the Library of Congress on an object the size of a sugar cube. Incredible. Now that’s a lot of information. And we’re not hurting for information, folks. We’ve got a lot of information and a lot more misinformation.
To the writing of books, the Bible says there is no end. There is no end. Books, books and more books and even the Bible even says men are constantly learning, but the problem is they are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Isn’t that terrible? Do you know what it’s like? I remember when I was in algebra class. I was in junior high school and I thought algebra was really hard and I had a terrible time with algebra and you know I’d go home and work one of those silly algebra problems when I was in the 7th grade and I would work on that thing for hours. And I’d go back the next day without the answer. I’d ask my dad, but he was hopeless. He didn’t know any more about it than I did. So I never could get an answer. That was the most frustrating thing in the world to me. Well, you know, you’ve had that problem. You’ve worked on something and never can solve it. You never get the answer. That’s the way it is with people in the world. They read and they study and they think and they reason and they listen and they talk and they interact and they never get the truth and they never settle on anything and the frustration is overwhelming.
I remember talking to a guy who had just kind of left society altogether. He just bailed out and got on drugs. He graduated from the Boston University and I said to him, “Whatever made you do this?” He was living in the woods, sleeping in a pup tent. It was really a sad thing and he was all spaced out on drugs. And I said to him, “What are you doing?” He said, “Well, you know,” he says, “I searched for the answer so long.” He said, “I finally decided to blow my mind on drugs and at least now I don’t even have to ask the questions.” Now that’s the despair of never knowing the truth. You know, Kafka was writing about education. He had a great illustration. He pictured a bombed out city where it was all rubble, just totally bombed out and in the middle of this bombed out city, of course, everywhere was bleeding people and dying people and smoke and smoldering fire and it was a total rubble and in the middle of the city was an ivory tower piercing the sky, pristine white, not touched by the bomb and this solitary figure is winding his way through the rubble. And he gets to this big, tall building, and he goes in and he goes up to the top story and goes down into the hall and way at the end of the hall is a little light. And he follows the darkness until he comes to the light and he makes a right turn and he walks in a bathroom. And he goes in the bathroom and there sitting in the bathroom is a guy with a fishing pole and he’s fishing in the bathtub. And the solitary stranger says to him, “Hey, man, what are you doing?” He says, “I’m fishing.” He looks in the bathtub and says, “There’s no fish in the bathtub and there’s no water in the bathtub.” And the guy says, “I know.” And keeps on fishing. And Kafka said, “That is higher education.” You see, man has lost the truth. He’s lost it. And you know something, it’s a fantastic thing to realize and I think we forget it sometimes, that every time you pick up this Book, you pick up the truth. Boy, what a legacy. What a legacy. And we can’t take it for granted and we certainly can’t just let it sit around.
The first reason I believe we need to study the Word of God is because it is the source of truth. Jesus said, “My Word is the key. If you continue in My word” - John 8:31 - “you will know the truth and the truth will” - what? - “set you free.” What did He mean by that? Well, just like the guy working on the math problem, as soon as he gets the answer he’s free. He can go. Just like the scientist in the lab pouring all the stuff into the test tubes. He stays with it until he says, “Eureka! I found it,” and he’s free. And man will search and struggle and grope and grapple for the truth until he gets to the place where he finds it and he’s free. And I’ll tell you, one reason to study the Bible is the truth is there. The truth about God, the truth about man, the truth about life, the truth about death, the truth about you and me, the truth about men, women, children, the truth about husbands, wives, dads, mothers, the truth about friends, enemies, the truth about how you ought to be at work, how you ought to be at home, even the truth about how you ought to eat and drink and how you ought to live, how you ought to think. The truth is all there. What a resource. Cherish it.
Let me give you a second reason that I think that you want to study the Bible is not only is it the source of truth, but it is the source of - can I use this word? – happiness? Maybe you like joy better or maybe you like blessing better, but happiness says it. The truth is there and it brings us joy. Let me show you some things in the Scripture. We’ve got to use the Scripture to extol the Scripture. In Psalm 19, in verse 8, listen to this, “The statutes of the Lord” - and it’s just talking about the principles of the Scripture – “are right,” – listen to this line – “rejoicing the heart.” Isn’t that a great thought? “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” Well, when you begin to study the Bible and you learn these great truths you get so excited. I’ll tell you I study the Bible a lot because I’m constantly teaching and preaching the Word and I study it on my own because I love it so much and I have never found in my life a diminishing of the exhilaration that comes to me in the discovery of great truth in the Word of God. I’ll tell you, you talk about thrills - and I’ve had a lot of thrills in my lifetime. I look backwards and all the wonderful and exciting things that happened to me as a child and then through my athletic career, you know, all of the honors and all of those things that you get in athletics and all the thrills of participating in a collegiate career and all that stuff and you look through all of those kinds of things and all of the thrills you had - I’ll tell you something. The greatest thrill I’ve known in my life is the tremendous exhilaration that comes to my heart when I have cracked open the shell of an incredible truth of the Word of God. It’s an exhilarating and joyous experience.
Psalm 19:8 says it. “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” In fact, in Proverbs 8:34, it says, “Happy is the man who hears Me.” “Happy is the man who hears Me.” Listen to Luke 11:28 - and these are the words of Jesus – Luke 11:28. “Blessed” - or happy - “are they who hear the Word of God and obey it.” Want to be a happy person? Obey it. It’s amazing to me how many people know what the Bible teaches. They don’t obey it. They forfeit the happiness. You know, people say to me, “Well, the book of Revelation is so hard to understand. You know, we really study all the other stuff, but I don’t want to get into Revelation. I don’t want to get involved in that.”
Well, listen, even the book of Revelation, which may seem so difficult, listen to what it says in verse 3 of chapter 1. “Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy.” And the word blessed means happy. You want to be happy? Read Revelation. You want to be happy? Read any part of the Word of God and respond to it. When we began I quoted Jeremiah 15:16. “Thy words were found and I did eat them and Thy Word was the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” 1 John 1:4 - I love this verse. “These things write I unto you, that your joy may be” - what? - “full.” Isn’t that great? Full joy. There is a wonderful statement made by our Lord in that magnificent 15th chapter of John, the chapter where He presents himself as the vine. And in the 15th chapter in the 11th verse, he says this, “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full.” Oh, what a tremendous thought. Joy from the Scripture.
Now I want to illustrate it and then we’ll be done. But let me illustrate it from Luke chapter 24, verse 24. You remember Jesus had risen from the dead and He was on His way to Emmaus with those two disciples who didn’t know who He was. And as they were going along we find this. “Certain of those who were with us went to the sepulcher and found it even as the woman had said, but Him they saw not. Then said He unto them, ‘O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” And now Christ is talking to them, but they don’t know who He is. “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and enter into His glory?” Now He brings up the subject of Christ. They don’t know who He is because we find that after His resurrection nobody knew who He was until He revealed it to them. So He keeps Himself veiled in some way and He starts to talk about Christ, about Himself. “And He begins at Moses, all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
And here He is teaching them the Scripture, reading through the Scripture, giving them the Scripture and they’re listening. Finally they arrive. They have their meal and all of a sudden the light dawns - verse 31 - “their eyes were opened and they recognize Him and He vanished out of their sight.” And then - I love this - “And they said one to another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us along the way and while He opened to us the Scriptures?’” Isn’t that great? When He opened to them the Scriptures, their heart 1iterally burned within them.
You see, there’s joy in the Word of God. There’s joy in the truth of God. Now, that is if you obey it. If you don’t keep these words, there’s no joy and I would hasten to add that God is gracious. He doesn’t expect that you’re going to keep every single principle and never waver, but it’s a matter of where your heart attitude is. If your heart is committed to obey the Word, He’ll fill your life with joy. There’s no excuse for us not knowing the truth and not living lives literally filled with exhilaration and joy. It’s right here available in the Word of God. Now, we’ve learned we’re to study the Bible, because it is the only source of truth and the greatest source of joy. We have a little more to say on that and four more principles for next time.
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