Knowing Jesus Through the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15)

Knowing Jesus through the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15)
This will be a sermon on the importance of in depth Bible study.
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Bible is a very large book isn’t it? Sometimes I think this is what keeps us from reading and studying the Bible. We are intimidated by its size. Well imagine the Bible without divisions.

The first division of the Bible into chapters and verses is attributed to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury in the late 12th century.

Cardinal Hugo, in the middle of the 13th century, divided the Old Testament into chapters as they stand in our translation.

In 1661, Athias, a Jew of Amsterdam, divided the section of Hugo into verses. And in 1561, a French painter divided the New Testament into verses as they are now. [1]

I recently read about a Bible scholar who was on a mission trip overseas. He realized that the church over there was quite immoral. Lying and stealing were okay even for Christians. But then he realized why they were so immoral, most of them did not own Bibles. Even the pastor did not have access to a Bible. Now think of our situation. We have lots of Bibles. In fact, Some wag remarked that the worst dust storm in history would happen if all church members who were neglecting their Bibles dusted them off simultaneously.[2] We have open access to the Bible.

I am in a sermon series about knowing Jesus. I want to submit to you that we know Jesus through His Word.

Today, my theme is:

Knowing Jesus through the Scriptures.

Today my application is:

Make time for devotional reading and Bible study.

Let’s read 2 Timothy 2:15:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

  1. Look with me at this verse.
    1. Paul says “be diligent.” The KJV translated this as “study.” However, it really means to “be diligent.”
    2. This includes studying but not only that. This is about our whole life.
    3. So, we are to “be diligent,” “work hard” in order to present ourselves to God. We are presenting ourselves to God. We are presenting ourselves as one who doesn’t need to be ashamed.
    4. “Ashamed.” This means that we are to live our lives as men of God, women of God.
    5. We would be ashamed of our sin. Our shame comes by standing in front of a holy God, but also by being seen by the world as hypocrites.
    6. But that is not the end. Paul says, correctly handles the “Word of Truth.”
    7. So, Paul is telling young Timothy (and us) to work hard, be diligent to live a holy life and also to know the Scriptures. Paul is about to die and these are his final words. He died soon after writing this.
      1. This is where we fail, big time.
      2. Today we have more availability to know the Scriptures than ever before, but we don’t know them.
  • Most of the time we don’t even care about the Scriptures.
  1. Even in most churches, the pastor might rather quote a psychologist than the Bible. I have listened to youth messages with hardly any Bible. I have listened to Sunday morning sermons with hardly any Bible. How sad.
  1. When solving problems, how often do you consider the Bible’s words?
  2. Now, I agree, as an engineer the Bible may not speak to your equation.
  3. But the Bible will speak to many of life’s problems. Just read Proverbs, there is so much financial management instruction in Proverbs. There is also so much family wisdom in Proverbs.
  4. Even if you are a non-Christian the Bible will help you out in life.
  5. As a church, in our leadership meetings, we must consult and think about Biblical wisdom? Intentionally. There may be times when our church will face heavy decisions and the best thing to do will be to pray and fast for a week and then come together to decide. We must pray, we must also consult God’s Word.
    1. We as Christians must get into the Scriptures more and more.
    2. We must not compromise the Bible. We must believe it in faith.
  • We must live it. It is not enough to believe the Bible, we must live the Bible.
  1. We must study the Scriptures so that we “correctly handle the Word of Truth” as Paul said.
  1. Listen, read and study the Scriptures.
    1. Listen to the Scriptures.
    2. Through most of human history they listened to the Bible as many could not read or did not have access.
      1. You can listen to the Bible through a Bible app or CD or other method.
      2. You can also listen to parts of the Bible by listening to sermons. Sermons should be filled with Scripture. Sermons should be based on 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
    3. If you are not a reader or have trouble reading the Bible I encourage you to listen to the Scriptures. I post chapters that I read through on podcasts, Facebook and the website. There are many many ways to have free access to audio Bibles.
    4. Also, there are many ways to access Bible studies and sermons from good resources on youtube, podcasts or Christian radio. Talk to me, I want to help you.
    5. Check out Moody Radio: 103.3 or 90.1.
    6. Check out oneplace.com for other good messages.
    7. If you are on the web or Facebook or Youtube check out: Francis Chan, David Platt, Chuck Swindoll, Chip Ingram, John Piper among other resources.
    8. Now, there are two ways to read or listen to the Scriptures:
      1. Devotionally: this means you just read or just listen to the text. You may meditate or think deeply about it, but not in-depth study.
        1. Start and end with prayer.
        2. Make sure you reflect on what you read or listened to and make an application.
      2. In-depth Bible study.
        1. Again, if you struggle with reading try just listening to deep sermons or Bible study.
        2. You can also get this through Sunday School. But I encourage you as much as possible to try your own Bible study.
      3. Donald Whitney shares in his book “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.”

How often should we read it? British preacher John Blanchard, in his book How to Enjoy Your Bible, writes,

Surely we only have to be realistic and honest with ourselves to know how regularly we need to turn to the Bible. How often do we face problems, temptation and pressure? Every day! Then how often do we need instruction, guidance and greater encouragement? Every day! To catch all these felt needs up into an even greater issue, how often do we need to see God’s face, hear his voice, feel his touch, know his power? The answer to all these questions is the same: every day! As the American evangelist D. L. Moody put it, “A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God’s boundless store of grace from day to day as we need it.”5[3]

Whitney continues:

Jesus often asked questions about people’s understanding of the Scriptures, beginning with the words, “Have you not read …?” He assumed that those claiming to be the people of God would have read the Word of God. When He said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), surely He intended at the very least for us to read “every word.”

Here are the three most practical suggestions for consistent success in Bible reading.

First, find the time. Discipline yourself to find the time. Try to make it the same time every day.

Second, find a Bible-reading plan. It’s no wonder that those who simply open the Bible at random each day soon drop the discipline. Inexpensive Bible reading plans are available in all Christian bookstores and in the back of some Bibles. Or you may obtain a reading plan from your church.

Third, find at least one word, phrase, or verse to meditate on each time you read. Take at least one thing you’ve read and think deeply about it for a few moments. Your insight into Scripture will deepen and you’ll better understand how it applies to your life.

  • How do you study the Bible?

Donald Whitney again shares:

If reading the Bible can be compared to cruising the width of a clear, sparkling lake in a motorboat, studying the Bible is like slowly crossing that same lake in a glass-bottomed boat. The motorboat crossing provides an overview of the lake and a swift, passing view of its depths. The glass-bottomed boat of study, however, takes you beneath the surface of Scripture for an unhurried look of clarity and detail that’s normally missed by those who simply read the text.

Why do so many Christians neglect the study of God’s Word? R. C. Sproul said it painfully well:

Here then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.3

  1. First you read the Scriptures.
  2. You can’t study the Scriptures when your Bible stays on the shelf.
  3. Get the Bible off the shelf and read it. We think it is a difficult thing to do but we never try. Read the Scriptures.
  4. If you read about 90 verses a day you will complete the Bible in one year. Read 45 verses a day and you will complete the Bible in two years.
  5. If you don’t have a good Bible with a modern translation let me know and I will give one to you. By modern translation I mean New International Version or New American Standard Version and there are several other good translations. [4]
  6. There are other Bible translations known as paraphrases like the Message and the New Living Translation, they have their place but not as your main Bible.
  7. By the way, Eugene Peterson is the author of the He did a good job in what he set out to do which was render the Bible in a very contemporary format. He didn’t intend for it to take the place of our main translation.
  8. You should also have a good study Bible. In a study Bible there is a section at the bottom of each page that has commentary on the text. This will help you apply it and understand it.
  9. I can help you with this if you contact me during the week.
  10. I encourage you to set aside an hour or so each week for in depth study of the Bible.
  11. During this time you open your Bible and spend time studying one chapter or one small section.
  12. So, read the section to study and then divide it in smaller units.
  13. For example, read Mark chapter 1.
    1. Read through the chapter a couple times.
    2. Then divide the chapter into paragraphs.
  • Give each paragraph a title.
  1. Then take each paragraph and write it in your own words.
  2. Also, think about any cross references to those verses. A cross reference is another Bible passage that is stating something similar. Most Bibles list cross references in the inside column or along the right or the left. Scripture interprets Scripture, so those cross references are important.
  3. Meditate and pray for God’s wisdom in applying the passage and understanding the passage.
  • If you have questions about this contact me. In this format it is hard to teach this, but it is still important and that is why I am explaining this.
  1. The Bible is important. We need to learn the Bible.

Close: 

I like what one person shares:

This is from a helpful booklet, Reading the Bible, by a Welsh pastor named Geoffrey Thomas. Whenever he writes of reading the Bible, also think of hearing and studying it as well.

Do not expect to master the Bible in a day, or a month, or a year. Rather expect often to be puzzled by its contents. It is not all equally clear. Great men of God often feel like absolute novices when they read the Word. The apostle Peter said that there were some things hard to understand in the epistles of Paul (2 Peter 3:16). I am glad he wrote those words because I have felt that often. So do not expect always to get an emotional charge or a feeling of quiet peace when you read the Bible. By the grace of God you may expect that to be a frequent experience, but often you will get no emotional response at all. Let the Word break over your heart and mind again and again as the years go by, and imperceptibly there will come great changes in your attitude and outlook and conduct. You will probably be the last to recognize these. Often you will feel very, very small, because increasingly the God of the Bible will become to you wonderfully great. So go on reading it until you can read no longer, and then you will not need the Bible any more, because when your eyes close for the last time in death, and never again read the Word of God in Scripture you will open them to the Word of God in the flesh, that same Jesus of the Bible whom you have known for so long, standing before you to take you for ever to His eternal home.9[5]

Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit

 

Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

[1]Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers (Garland TX: Bible Communications, 1996, c1979).

[2] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 28.

5 John Blanchard, How to Enjoy Your Bible (Colchester, England: Evangelical Press, 1984), page 104.

[3] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 33.

3 R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977), page 17.

[4] The NRSV, the ESV, the HCSB, etc

9 Geoffrey Thomas, Reading the Bible (Edinburgh, Scotland: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1980), page 22.

[5] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 38–39.

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