The Bible Transforms
THE BIBLE TRANSFORMS
PREACHER: NIGEL JUCKES
Hebrews 4: 12, 13
5 June 2011
Early in this series I think it was Antonio who read from Psalm 19. I am going to read it again as we get into this last subject about how the Word of God transforms us:
vv 7 – 14 from v 12b – v 14 is our prayer.
Law, statute. precept, command, ordinance – all make it sound like we are going to have to keep a whole lot of rules.
And yes, the Word of God is about where God draws the line in terms of what is right and what is wrong. But the rules are there because he loves us as a Father and does not want us to destroy our lives – so ‘by them your servant is warned.’ They are commands not suggestions because he is passionate about us. ‘Do this and you will live’
I want to do two really simple things this evening – firstly talk about what God’s Word is, then about how it works to transform our lives.
A. WHAT IS GOD’S WORD?
Perhaps it might help if we did not think in terms of rules but in terms of God’s Torah – God’s words of love to us. He knows what wrong things do to us: how they damage and diminish us, and destroy who we are.
So better to think of God’s Word as his love letter to us – I am sure this will appeal more to the girls, though I guess most guys are also happy to have words of love in a text from their special girl.
So let’s open the Word every day as if we are about to receive a TEXT, an SMS from our Lover.
So – not rules, but love letter. Not a trite/banal text but full of depth – FULL OF GOD!
A.1 IT IS A POWERFUL WORD
All words are able to build or destroy others. God’s word can overturn hurt from a person’s word.
Hebrew 4: 11 The word of God is alive and active
Psalm 33: 6, 9 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth….For he spoke and it came to be; he commanded and it stood firm
Genesis 1: 3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24, 26 God said….and there was
Isaiah 55: 10, 11 As rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word which goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purposes for which I sent it.
This conveys a sense of God’s word carrying its own life. – it is not just dead letter on a page.
There is power in TRUTH.
And you can see the power of God’s word as Jesus speaks it:
To the sick: Be healed
To the leper: Be clean
To the wind: Peace! Be still!
To the demons: Come out of him
To the dead: Lazarus! Come out!
To the fig tree: May no one ever eat fruit from you again (Mark 11: 14)
Each word out of his mouth does it!
A.2 IT DRAWS A LINE
Hebrews 4: 12 The Word of God is …..sharper than any double edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Paul puts it like this in 2 Timothy 3: 16
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The word of God is like a plumb line which God puts against our lives and measures where we divert from him.
We can be right in our own eyes – but miles from where we are suppose to be. The prophetic word from Isaiah 55: 8 – My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.
If we are not convinced of this, we will continue to walk in our own light instead of the true light that gives light to everyone.
The Word’s light is able to divide soul (what is of me) from spirit (what God is asking of me).
It addresses my heart which has a great capacity to be deceived. The heart is corrupt. It needs the line to be drawn by God – this is OK, that is not OK. It is also crucial in renewing the mind (Romans 12) so that we change our minds to agree with what God shows us to be true. It is the truth by which all other words and behaviours must test themselves.
B. HOW DOES GOD’S WORD TRANSFORM?
B.1 GOD, THE WORD, LIVES IN US
We actually have the Living Word in us – Jesus.
Being a Christian is that I have died to self and live for and in him. Galatians 2: 20. I no longer live….
The great challenge is how to connect more with the life of Jesus in us, so that his life emerges in mine.
It will come in part from reading the written word. It is as if we are feeding the life of Jesus in us – opening ourselves up to hearing the same word by which his own life was defined. He too had studied Torah. He had not come to abolish that Word but to fulfil it. So as we read the OT to allow it to shape our lives as it did his – but we also read of him in the NT and it deepens his life in us.
The one who lives in us is the one in whom the promises of God are fulfilled.
So all that he has done, is done in us and for us.
All that he has won, is available to us.
Paul has this amazing picture that every ‘Yes’ which God has spoken is centred in Jesus.
For no matter how many promises God has made they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the Amen is spoken by us to the Glory of God
We essentially are saying ‘Yes’ to God for all that Jesus brings to us.
B.2THE WORD IS AT THE HEART OF OUR FAITH RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
I would say boldly: If scripture is not central to your prayer time – in time you will fail to connect with God.
Unless we introduce into our hearts and minds the Word of God we will always be limited to our own thoughts and insights. God needs to interrupt our lives with his Word to us.
As we read, so we engage with God.
God reveals himself through his Word – so it is God whom we encounter in his Word.
We listen for him – and we look to see him.
Open the eyes of our heart Lord!
Paul prays this prayer (Ephesians 1) : I pray that that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
His Word opens up the life God wants for us.
We speak back to him our response to what he is revealing.
At times our response will be worship.
At other times it will be thanksgiving
At other times it will be: Sorry Lord. I did not see that, I did not realise……
At other times it will be: Yes Lord – I will do as you say.
Let me read a section from 2 Cor 3, which speaks of the importance of encountering God in the Word. He contrasts how it was before Jesus, when the revelation was not complete. Now everything could be understood because of the full revelation in Jesus:
But the minds (of the Jews) were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom And we all, who with unveiled faces, contemplate the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his image with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit
Transformation is a natural by product of being with him.
It is a natural principle – we become like those we are with. Something deep within us makes us identify with those we are drawn to.
And in the case of God, something in him resonates with our true nature, calls into being parts of us that were hidden and submerged, They begin to stand in his light.
But it is provoked by his word. Here we see and hear God – and our hearts leap in response.
B.3 THE POWER OF GOD’S SPOKEN WORD IN US
The word preached can cut to the heart Acts 2
It can strengthen and encourage 1 Cor 14
Whether it is a preached word – or a word in ministry, especially a scripture.
All preachers know the power of the opening up of God’s word – as opposed to sharing our good ideas.
There is a spiritual authority in what He gives us to speak as we reflect on his word.
Reinhardt Bonnke : My words in your mouth are as powerful as my words in my mouth
B.4 THE POWER OF TAKING GOD’S WORDS SERIOUSLY
Journal – some kind of capturing so that we can take it and pray in into existence.