A message for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Sunday, October 16, 2022.
For the “Live in Church” audio version of this message, click here.
A number of years ago, I took a Greyhound bus from Cleveland to Cincinnati, Ohio. I lived in the Cincinnati area for about a year for work. I was in my twenties and I had a car that was in need of repair, but I wanted to go home for a holiday weekend, so I took the bus to Cleveland and then made the return trip.
Upon my return, I discovered that the closest bus stop to where I lived in Springdale, a northern suburb of Cincinnati, was in Sharonville, just off of Route 42 near I-71. Sharonville is 10 miles away from Springdale. I didn’t know that many people in the area who I could call to get a ride home, and if I did, I would have had to use a payphone. I didn’t have a cell phone. I didn’t want to take a taxi; therefore, I wound up walking 10 miles—one hour and 30 minutes to get to my apartment. That was, by far, the longest walk I have ever experienced. I knew where I had to go as I was pretty good with directions, but if you’re not used to walking a long distance, you’ll feel it later, and I did—but I finally made it home.
When you’re walking for an hour and a half…alone…you’ve got a lot of time to yourself. You’re on a journey to a specific destination, and even when you know where you’re going, you’re still likely to encounter opportunities and obstacles along the way.
Today, if you are able, let’s go on a journey together. It will not be a physical walk of any length. It is a spiritual journey. The journey is about following a path to a greater love for Jesus Christ. Every Sunday, our desire—and our prayer—is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who don’t know who He is, and to reinforce the goodness of Jesus to those who do. This is our journey. It’s your personal journey of faith and trust in Jesus, and our church and every Bible-teaching church all over the world is also part of the journey.
I’m sharing this with you because my path, as I learn more about my call to service for Jesus, involves some Scripture memorization and topical relevance to those Scriptures. Of course, it starts with a regular practice of reading the Bible each day, but memorization requires a little more effort, of course.
I’m a lifetime student of the Bible. As you learn more about the Lord Jesus Christ, you will find that you, too, will also be a lifetime Bible student. It would be that if you don’t stay in the Word, you’d feel as though you were missing out. It’s because you WANT to do it. It’s because you LOVE to do it. You love Jesus and want more and more of Him in your life.
May your love for Jesus develop to a place where not reading and studying His Word will urge you to make the time for Him and the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit.
You will love the Lord more and more, and you will be eager to learn more about Him as you go. You’ll be a lifetime student of the Bible with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit as your Teacher.
Today, we will look at how God shows us that His Word is authentic and true. That’s an issue of credibility when we undertake the study of God and why your faith and trust in Jesus is meaningful and fulfilling. Our study today will be on the Word of God.
The Word of God is a good place to start on our journey because it sets the foundation for our walk of faith in Jesus. It all goes directly to who Jesus is.
John 1:1-5 NLT
1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
In verse 4, giving “life to everything that was created” refers to how nothing that was created was created except through Him, and that includes all of us here. The Word gave life to everything.
This Word, that John is referring to, is none other than Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word. When we speak of eternity, He has always existed.
There are three areas of focus that we are going to explore pertaining to the Word of God: Inspiration, Inerrancy and Illumination.1
Some of these points are going to be highly applicable to our recently completed 25-week study on Biblical inerrancy.
The words of Scripture are God-breathed and God’s Spirit carried along human authors to write down what God wanted to reveal to us.
Let’s look at a verse that represents this view in four different Bible versions:
2 Timothy 3:16 NIV
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
2 Timothy 3:16 CSB
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.
2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
I’m showing you four different versions of this popular verse to point out, when looking at memorization of Scripture, in my opinion, you are best served to settle on one version as you go through your studies. I learned that lesson as I moved along and found that encountering just a few small word changes from version to version can slow your progress. There is no right or wrong way to do this, of course, but if you want to memorize Scripture consistently and effectively, you should pick one Bible version and stick to it. The best method of memorization is to continue to study the verse and keep it at the forefront where it will eventually stick. It’s also a good plan to ask the Lord for help as you go. The Spirit will enable you to capture the words and intent of the verse.
Here’s another passage pertaining to inspiration:
2 Peter 1:20-21 CSB
20 Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Notice the role of the Holy Spirit, who relayed God’s wisdom to the writers of Scripture.
Hebrews 4:12 CSB
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The key phrase of this verse is the comparison of God’s Word to a double-edged sword, one of the sharpest blades you can imagine. The Word has the power to change your life. It is a powerful, living, active Word that distinguishes between those who trust in Jesus and those who would rather live in unrighteousness. The Word discerns the heart of man, just as Jesus reminds us in John 2:24-25 that “He knew all people” and that “He himself knew what was in man.” He knows all about our human nature. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” The question here is rhetorical, of course. Our flesh cannot comprehend it…only Jesus can.
The words of Scripture are without error in the original manuscripts. God’s Word does not affirm anything contrary to fact, and every word is perfect, trustworthy and true.
Notice the descriptions that follow in these passages that refer to truth, purity and perfection:
Psalm 12:6 CSB
The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in an earthen furnace,
purified seven times.
Psalm 18:30 CSB
God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord is pure.
He is a shield to all who take refuge in him.
Psalm 19:7 CSB
The instruction of the Lord is perfect,
renewing one’s life;
the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,
making the inexperienced wise.
Psalm 119:142 CSB
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
and your instruction is true.
John 17:17 CSB
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
God’s Word is truth. Jesus shares in John 14:6 that He is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” That statement by Jesus requires a believer to stand on this truth, and that everything spoken of Jesus in the Bible supports this truth. Psalm 119:160 declares that “the sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” His Word of truth is eternal. It has always existed.
Through the aid of the Holy Spirit, believers are able to understand Scripture and are reminded of that which Jesus uttered.
John 14:26 CSB
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.
Other versions may use the word “Helper” or “Advocate” instead of Counselor, but each of those references accurately depict the role of the Holy Spirit. You may have your own ways to describe the Holy Spirit. It might be a good time, as you continue to learn more from Jesus and receive His sanctifying power, to find your own words to define the nature and character of His presence in your life. Draw your answers from how Jesus describes the Spirit and go from there. 1 John 4:8 reminds us that “God is love.”
John 16:13-15 CSB
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. 15 Everything the Father has is mine. This is why I told you that he takes from what is mine and will declare it to you.
1 Corinthians 2:11-16 CSB
11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. 15 The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. 16 For
who has known the Lord’s mind,
that he may instruct him? (Isaiah 40:13)
But we have the mind of Christ.
Now, I want to point out that as these verses get longer and the sentences increase, you should be more concerned about capturing where you can locate the passage according to the subject matter. For example, when reviewing this category of illumination, you should try to memorize the references to these verses and learn their relevance to the category in order to convey its truth to others. In other words, always keep your Bible handy and, as stated in 1 Peter 3:15, “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
There are similar verses that you can refer to pertaining to the Word of God and its inspiration, inerrancy and illumination, but the verses we just covered will propel you towards increasing your knowledge of God and standing firm in His goodness. You will be prepared to learn from Jesus as you share His gospel with others…which we are all called to do.
Matthew 28:18-20 CSB
18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Luke 11:27-28 ESV
27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him (Jesus), “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Isaiah 40:8 ESV
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
The study of the Word of God will prayerfully take you to a place where you want to seek the Word on your own. And that’s the key to developing your relationship with Jesus. Growing a relationship requires effort. Growing a love relationship with Jesus involves passion. Always remember what Jesus did for you on the cross, and you will understand that His passion for you has always been there. Let’s meet Him where He is.
If you’re willing, please join me on this journey. The great thing about this is that Jesus is coming along with us.
Copyright © 2022 Melvin Gaines
1 Scripture Memorization: Accreditation; Resources & forms. Central District Christian and Missionary Alliance. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2022, from http://cdcma.org/resources-forms