In this chapter we want to deal with what is perhaps the most foundational question one can answer. The question is “What is the authority for your life?” To ask the question another way, “Where do you get your beliefs, priorities, truth?”
If my authority is my own opinion, or the beliefs of my friends, or what the majority thinks or feels, my spiritual life is in a lot of trouble. My opinions are always changing, my friends don’t seem to have a clue what they believe most of the time, and the majority is so frequently wrong! I need an unchanging, reliable, trustworthy source for my total life. And that should be the Word of God, the Bible.
And here is the problem for a lot of Christians. For many they see God’s Word as part of their Sunday go-to-meeting outfit, a necessary accessory to their ensemble. They carry a big Bible, preferably black, under their arm as they attend church. Or, for many today, it’s simple an app on their phone which they can pull up to follow the preacher (or check their email when the sermon drags).
But in our heart of hearts we know the Bible is much more than a religious rabbit’s foot. And reading the Bible should be much more than checking what amounts to some to be a daily holy horoscope. We need to see the Bible for what it truly is: God’s instruction book for the believer. It tells us how to live, what to avoid, how to think, where to spend our time, what our mission is, how to deal with temptation and sin, when to engage others with the gospel (and when to walk away), why there is suffering and why this (whatever catastrophe I’m going through at the moment) is happening to me now, etc.
We Christians must repent of our poor views of the Scriptures and wash our minds with the truths of Psalm 119 about the cruciality of the Word of God. We have been deluded into thinking that the Bible is there only to comfort us at funerals or to provide an encouraging verse when we send a birthday gift to a nephew or to crochet or decoupage or frame a biblical statement for display in our home. We read in Hebrews 4 that “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (v. 12 KJV)
When we mentally shelve the Word of God, turning to it only in dire emergencies, we are doing great harm to ourselves. God’s Word is meant to be studied, meditated on, and carefully applied to every experience we face this day. We assume that a surgeon doesn’t need to run to his anatomy textbook so he can find and do surgery on one’s appendix. That knowledge should be innate with him, second nature.
But that’s not the case with the believer and his Bible. It needs to be our constant reference, our daily sourcebook for wisdom and insight, our road map for how we are to navigate our today.
Of course, there are some strong reasons why the believer might want to avoid God’s Word. We don’t naturally want our lives to be cut up by truth, to be pierced by the One who knows our hearts, to have our thoughts and intentions read by God Himself (Heb. 4:12). But we know that that is exactly what we need if we want to follow the Lord with a whole heart.
God’s Word convicts us of sin. It will cause us to face our temptations and either plead with the Lord for strength to resist them or cowardly give in to the promptings of our own evil desires or the enticements of our supernatural enemy.
The Bible will require of us our most diligent mental, emotional, and volitional engagement. Far from being an easy-to-read book, the Bible will insist that we work hard to quarry its meaning. Do you think that you are no longer a student simply because you’ve earned a high school or college or graduate degree? Think again. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you have become a life-long pupil in God’s school — and there is a world of homework to get done!
1. Read Chapter Two “The Believer’s Authority” in m book DocWALK. Take notes on both wrong views of the Bible and correct ones.
2. Carefully go through all of Psalm 119 this month. It’s the longest chapter in the Bible, but gives us amazing statements about the Word of God.
3. Begin an email Bible reading program with several friends. I’ve been doing this for years and it has been a great encouragement in my life. Choose a book (for example, Ephesians) and read chapter one this week each day. On Sunday send a brief thought to the group of something the Lord gave you from that chapter. Then on Monday begin reading chapter two. And so on.
Tags: authority, Bible study, God's Word, the Christian life
Friends: My Bible reading friend Frank and I are going through the Psalms together. This week we’re in Psalm 34. I’m going to take several posts to think with you some of the amazing truths in this Psalm. Below is the Psalm with some of my highlights. The outline to the right will be discussed over several posts. Comments welcome!
Tags: Bible study, Psalm 34
A group of my friends recently completed going through my book DocTALK! We had some great discussions on the doctrines of the Christian faith. We spent just one hour going over the chapter and talking about whatever issues the chapter raised. And you missed it! That might not be the worst decision you’ve ever made in 2021, but, hey! 2022’s a whole brand spanking new year!
Well . . . Want to join us in discussing the next book in that series, DocWALK? [You don’t have to have read DocTALK to go through DocWALK with us]. It is subtitled: Putting into Practice What You Say You Believe. Very easy to read chapters. A touch of humor tossed in. We meet via Zoom and we don’t keep attendance or have any quizzes!
If so, I’ll send you a copy for a mere $10.00! Or you can buy it on Amazon. If you order from me, send me a check for $10 (Dr. Larry Dixon, 117 Norse Way, Columbia, SC 29229) or pay me through PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org). But you should order quick like a bunny!
Our 1st discussion will be February 6th and we will meet the first Sunday night at 8 pm of each month. If you choose to join us, please let me know, especially if you need a book (email@example.com).
Tags: Bible study, CHRISTIAN LIVING, sanctification, theology
My friend “Mike” (not his real name) is unsaved, but he’s helping me become more aware of what I have as a believer and what he doesn’t yet have. This list is not given in any sense of gloating, for I grieve for what my friend doesn’t have.
In our previous posts, we’ve seen that (according to Scripture) my unsaved friends — (1) don’t have an authoritative source for what they believe; (2) don’t have the assurance that their sins are forgiven; (3) don’t have a life-long, satisfying mission in life, (4) don’t have somewhere (beyond this world) to go with their guilt, (5) don’t have a community (being built by Jesus) where they can be trained to do God’s work, and (6) don’t have a longing to know God through studying His Word!
Let’s consider a seventh benefit of the believer as we recognize a truth about our unbelieving friends. And it is that —
7. THEY DON’T HAVE THE SPIRIT OF GOD TO HELP THEM UNDERSTAND AND APPLY GOD’S WORD!
The Bible is clear about the Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Third Member of the Godhead is personal and divine and we can have a relationship with Him. I’m working on a book specifically challenging believers to grow in their connection with the Holy Spirit and to do so by recognizing His ministries in their lives. One primary ministry is that of helping us understand and apply the Word of God to our daily lives (see John 16:13; I Corinthians 2:14-15).
The person who has not yet trusted Christ does not have the Spirit of God. He or she may read the Bible, but they are not yet open to the One whose primary tool in teaching us spiritual truth is the Word of God!
How do I pray for my unsaved friend? I can pray that he would trust Christ and be brought by the Spirit of God into God’s family. Then he can begin to understand — and warmly embrace — the truths of God’s Word. (to be continued)
“If you’re not confident in the authority of the Scriptures, you will be a slave to what sounds right.”
Tags: benefits of being a believer, Bible study, student, the Bible, The Holy Spirit
1. My sickness can be for God’s glory (v. 4).
2. A delayed or denied healing does not mean God loves us less (v. 6).
3. There is something far more important than preventing one of Jesus’ followers from dying (v. 6).
4. Jesus allows the dying process to reach its conclusion, knowing it was a temporary condition (v. 6).
5. Jesus has the power to wake up the dead! (v. 11).
6. Metaphors can sometimes muddle the message (v. 12).
7. Jesus was glad that He was not there to prevent His friend Lazarus’ death (v. 15). “Boy, I’m glad I wasn’t there to keep my friend from stepping in front of a bus!”
8. Lazarus’ death provides strong evidence that ought to lead to belief in Jesus (v. 15).
9. Going “with” Jesus might entail dying with Him (v. 16).
10. What’s the Jewish significance of being in the grave four days? (v. 17)
11. Jesus’ delay was not due to geography (Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem) (v. 18).
11. The different actions of Martha & Mary here (Martha going out to meet Jesus; Mary staying at home) remind us of Lk. 10:41 (v. 20).
12. Martha’s despairing declaration (v. 21). Great faith in Jesus!
13. Martha’s hopeful expression (v. 22).
14. Jesus’ transition from an event (the resurrection) to a Person (Himself: “I am the resurrection and the life”) (vv. 24-26).
15. There is more than one meaning to the term “die” (v. 25).
Living by believing in Jesus = never dying! (v. 26).
16. Martha’s declaration of faith (v. 27).
17. We should assume that Martha isn’t lying when she says that Jesus is asking for Mary. She is doing what He requested (v. 28).
18. Why has Jesus not yet entered the village? His purpose — or He didn’t have the chance to? (v. 30)
19. Mary’s declaration (“Lord, if you had been here . . .”) is almost identical to Martha’s (v. 32). The only difference is in word order and the tense of the verb ἀποθνῄσκω. Mary uses the 2nd Aorist. Some Greek versions have ἐτεθνήκει; others have απεθανεν for Martha’s statement? This verb ἐτεθνήκει is a pluperfect!!!
20. Jesus sees our tears — and weeps with us! (vv. 33-35).
21. Our weeping shows our love (v. 36).
22. There is always room for the doubters of our love and our actions (v. 37).
23. Real love, they thought, would have keep Lazarus from dying! (v. 37).
24. Jesus is “once more deeply moved” (v. 38). The 1st time was with their weeping. This time by the tragedy of death?
25. The refreshing candor of the Bible: “Lord, by this time he stinketh!” (v. 39).
26. We believe what Jesus says even when life STINKS! (v. 40). 27. And believing Him in those circumstances will allow us to see THE GLORY OF GOD! (v. 40).
28. Jesus had an active prayer life with the Father, showing His genuine humanity (v. 41).
29. The Father had already answered His prayer (v. 41)?
30. All of this — Lazarus dying, Jesus delaying coming, Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead — was for the purpose of people believing that the Father sent the Son (v. 42).
31. Jesus calls Lazarus out by name! Some suggest that if He hadn’t, all the dead would have come forth (v. 43)!
32. Can’t you see Lazarus hopping out of the tomb? (v. 44)
33. Imagine being one of those whose job it was to unwrap Lazarus! (v. 44)
34. This miracle directly led to many of the Jews believing in Jesus (v. 45).
35 But the opposition to Jesus grows among the leaders (vv. 46-48).
36 Caiaphas, the high priest, prophesies that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation and “for the scattered children of God” (vv. 49-52). Here is a use of “children of God” that is not a reference to salvation.
37. Jesus has to take steps to withdraw for His own safety (vv. 53-54).
38. The plot to execute Jesus grows (vv. 55-57).
Tags: Bible study, John 11
Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter. Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 14.
We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, and to practice hospitality! A lot of work!
The fifteenth critical imperative is —15. Believers are to BLESS THOSE WHO PERSECUTE THEM (v. 14)!
I know very little about persecution. I have never been threatened for my faith, never been assaulted for my beliefs, never been discriminated against for my convictions. My heart goes out to the many believers in the world who do face physical danger in their culture for following Jesus.
It’s quite possible that some Western Christians are passed over for job promotions or ignored or ridiculed for their faith. And with our part of the world becoming more anti-Christian, perhaps persecution is just around the corner for us.
But right now, we are to bless those who persecute us. What does “bless” them mean here? It’s certainly the opposite of “curse” those who persecute us. We are not to pray imprecatory prayers against those who make life difficult for us as individuals. We are not to retaliate in kind toward those who mock our faith. We are to “bless” them. That doesn’t mean we agree with their opposition, but that we don’t respond in an ungodly way to their harsh treatment of us. And that takes God’s power, doesn’t it?
Today’s Challenge: Can you think of anyone in your acquaintance who in some way or another is “persecuting” you? Then pray for them today. And ask God to show you how you can “bless” them.
Tags: Bible study, bless, blessing, persecution, Romans 12, sharing
Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter. Let’s continue our multipart study by looking again at verse 13.
We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, and to share with the Lord’s people who are in need! Challenging!
The fourteenth critical imperative is —14. Believers are to PRACTICE HOSPITALITY (v. 13)!
I live in the South where people traditionally built houses with large, wraparound front porches so the neighbors could come by and sit for a spell, drinking wonderfully sugared iced tea! Sadly, those porches seem to have fallen into disuse. It seems money is no longer wasted on such luxuries when few are inclined to get to know their neighbors, much less invite them over for a spell.
But what have we lost? Our homes have been transformed into our castles, apparently with a moat around them stocked with alligators and a drawbridge that is only lowered for relatives who visit! The believer can choose to be counter-cultural in becoming more neighbor-friendly, don’t you think?
It is possible that the Apostle Paul here is referring to believers’ showing hospitality to other believers. This is a needed challenge, especially in a Covid or post-Covid world where we choose to become “socially distanced” even when we don’t have to!
But our unsaved friends and neighbors need to see inside our homes! They need to be invited over for a game night, to watch a good movie together, to simply spend time getting to know one another, to be part of an evangelistic Bible study! And those efforts involve . . . HOSPITALITY!
Today’s Challenge: How would you rate yourself and your family on the hospitality scale? What is one practical step you can take to become more hospitable with your home?
Tags: Bible study, friendliness, hospitable, hospitality, need, neighbors, Romans 12, sharing