Why Read the Bible?
Just as we learn anything in life, so it is with the spiritual - we must first learn about it and then practice it. Yes, we can walk by the spirit and have cosy, family fellowship with God, it is available, but first we have to learn about the gift of holy spirit, how to receive it, and how to energise it so that we can enjoy that fellowship with him.
Learning anything in life requires effort and commitment. The spiritual knowledge of how to have fellowship with God can only be found in his word, so if you want fellowship with him you must first learn how to read the bible.
I think we all want to live a life which is more abundant. We all want to live powerful lives, victorious lives, with each day an adventure in living. That kind of life is available. It says so in John 10:10.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Jesus Christ came so we could have an amazing life, but unfortunately there's a thief who comes only to steal, and to kill, and to destroy and that's why at times life can be anything but fun. This more abundant life then, isn't about strolling through some illusory paradise on earth - the proverbial bed of roses - it is about having the power to face up to the challenges of life and soundly defeat them. This is not make believe, it is available to live this way.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
This verse does not say we are more than conquerors by our own muscles or brain power, or by the amazing solutions we figure out all by ourselves, it says we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. This concurs with John where it said that the more abundant life was made available by Jesus Christ. Both of these verses are in harmony with Philippians.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
This verse does not say I can do all things, full stop, it says I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. This agrees with Romans and John. The more abundant life, therefore, is not something we make available, it is something God makes available through Jesus Christ. Note that the verse does not say God is going to do it all for us either. It says, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. In other words, this is not automatic. We have a part to play in this.
So, God through Jesus Christ makes an amazing life available, but we most definitely have something to do with achieving it as it is not automatic. This isn't so hard to understand. God went to a lot of trouble through the centuries to have the bible written for us - he made it available - but reading our bibles is something we do, it isn't something God does for us.
How then does Christ strengthen us? If God made this available, but isn't going to do this for us, how then does Christ strengthen me so I can do all things? We gain a clue in Ephesians.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power [Greek - dunamis] that worketh [energeō] in us,
God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. That is without question, but is that the end of the verse? No, it isn't. God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power, the dunamis, the inherent power that works in us. We get words like dynamo and dynamic from this Greek word dunamis. It is potential power, latent, inherent power. Worketh is the Greek word energeō, from which we get the words energy and energise. God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the potential power, the inherent power that is energised in us. This power, this dunamis, this inherent power, this potential power that we energise is the source of our power for abundant living.
What is this power and how is it energised? We read the bible to find out. The bible is the manual on how to energise this power and learn how to live the abundant life Jesus Christ came to make available. This power is what is referred to in Philippians 4:13 when it says I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. When this power is energised, it opens the door to God doing exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Of course, if this power is not energised it will do nothing, it will achieve nothing, even though it is there. Power accomplishes nothing unless it is energised. Having electricity in your house does nothing until you turn it on. The bible teaches us how to turn on the power. What is this power? Where does it come from? How do we get it? How do we energise it? These are good questions, and they are all answered in the bible. If you want answers, you have to learn how to read the bible and this class will teach you how to do just that.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed [metamorphoō] by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Transformed is metamorphoō in the Greek, from which we get the English word metamorphosis, describing the change from a caterpillar to a butterfly. As we read the bible and renew our minds, we change into beautiful butterflies which spread life by pollinating everywhere we go. We read our bibles and renew our minds to prove God's good, acceptable, and perfect will. God's will is good, acceptable, and perfect. That's true whether we renew our minds or not. God's will is always good, acceptable, and perfect, regardless of anything we do. The promise here is that we can prove it. This is a promise to us, it is something we get to do if we renew our minds. We can prove that God's will is good, acceptable, and perfect. What is God's will in a situation? If we renew our minds we get to see it, that's the promise.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
What is God's good, acceptable, and perfect will here? That we have life, and that we have it more abundantly. That is God's good, acceptable, and perfect will. But this doesn't happen automatically. The promise in Romans 12 is that if we renew our minds we get the opportunity to prove God's good, acceptable, and perfect will and enjoy a life which is more abundant. If we don't renew our minds and we don't realise this more abundant life, it is still God's will that we have it. It is always God's will for us to have an abundant life, and it will always be God's will that we have an abundant life. An abundant life will always be available. It is available right now. So how do you get it? The renewed mind is the key, and you renew your mind by reading the bible. In other words, if you read the bible and apply the principles, you get to enjoy an abundant life.
The thief, referred to in John 10:10, is the devil, the god of this world, and he pumps filth into the world through television, movies, newspapers, magazines, computer games, the internet, and a thousand other ways so he can steal, kill and destroy. He pumps a continuous diet of poisoned filth into the world that makes us mentally sick, that strips our souls of vitality and passion. We are to put it off by renewing our minds by reading our bibles. We change our mental diet. Instead of the world's filth, we feed our minds with a healthy, clean, vital, nutritious, delicious, strengthening diet of God's word.
Look, the world spews its poisons into homes, schools and universities, into politics and business, in hundreds of languages and dialects, in every country on the face of the planet, every minute of every day of the year. The world may have a fat slobbery mouth like Jabba the Hut, but no one forces you to turn on your television instead of reading your bible, do they? Does the world march in, twist your arm, chuck your bible into a closet, and force you to watch TV? No, it is a decision you make. If you want mental health and the power of God in your life, change your mental diet.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
This isn't about not having fun either. I enjoy Star Trek, especially the latest movies with their brilliant special effects. I enjoy the characters, the stories, the sets, the alien worlds, the battles, the drama, and the adventures. I really do enjoy it, but I'm not poisoned by the subversive propaganda laced through practically every episode. I'm not taken in with the 'Federation' and its United Nations bullshit programming us for one world governance. I don't fall for their cowardly garbage regarding what they call the 'prime directive'. I enjoy Star Trek, but I'm not poisoned by it. Why? I have a healthy daily diet of God's word, so my mind is strong and isn't poisoned by the world. Do you see it? This isn't about cutting off the world and having no fun, it is about having a healthy, sane mind so you can enjoy life. A healthy daily diet of the word brings deliverance and strength.
So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
Reading and understanding the bible isn't drudgery, pain and boredom, it is refreshing and invigorating. Understanding the word gives us life in all of its abundance. A healthy daily diet of God's word is the way of life for us today, just as it always has been. So if you want life, if you want strength to be more than a conqueror every day, make a decision to stuff your face with a healthy diet of God's word. The reason we can talk about reading and studying the bible in terms of physical food is because God uses that figure of speech in his word.
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
Did Jeremiah eat scrolls? No, this is a figure of speech emphasising that Jeremiah did more than just snack at God's word a couple of times a week. He ate it, he digested it, it provided the mental strength he needed to do his spiritual job, which was to walk by the spirit in his day and time.
Regarding figures of speech, is there a figure of speech God employs to illustrate this power we can energise? Let's see.
And when he had said this, he breathed on [in]
them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost [holy spirit]:
Jesus Christ was instructing his disciples on how to energise the power when it arrived. The word them is in italics and it should be deleted. This is an important key to understanding the bible when you read it. Whenever and wherever the King James translators added English words that were not in the Greek text, they left those words in italics so we would know they had been added. In other words, if you scratched out every italicised word in the King James bible, you would not touch God's word because those italicised words were not in the Greek text from which the King James was translated. Many times these italicised words are helpful to our understanding, but often they mislead or are just wrong. Always be wary of italicised words, and never use them as doctrine unless you're sure they were correctly supplied by the translators. This is why I recommend the King James version which has the italicised words. No other English translation has them so you don't know what's been added to their texts.
In this verse, them is misleading. Why would Jesus Christ breathe on his apostles? To see if his breath was clean? Breathing on people is rude and most folks don't like it. The italicised word them should be deleted. The word on is the Greek word en and should be translated in. Jesus Christ breathed in, and said, receive holy spirit. He took a deep breath, and told them that was how they were to receive the holy spirit when it eventually came. And that's exactly what the apostles did.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind [a heavy breathing], and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
The words as of a rushing mighty wind are as of a heavy breathing in the text. The twelve apostles did what they had been instructed to do, and they all took deep breaths to receive the gift of holy spirit. The heavy sound of their deep breathing filled the temple because of the superb acoustics. Those old temples didn't have state of the art sound systems, but they did have state of the art acoustics to ensure anyone sitting anywhere in the temple heard what was being said on the main stage. The heavy breathing of these twelve men filled the temple.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled wtih the Holy Ghost [holy spirit], and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Breathing is again used to illustrate the receiving and manifesting of the power in the gift of holy spirit.
2 Timothy 3:16
All scripture is given by inspiration of God [theopneustos], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
The five English words given by inspiration of God are translated from one Greek word, theopneustos. Theos is God, and pneustos is breathed. All scripture is God breathed, which is a reference to how we got the word, which was as holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the holy spirit, which was by revelation.
2 Peter 1:21
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Here, the God-breathed word is a figurative reference to revelation, which is how we got the word. God breathed his word into existence, and that is why it is the word of life, the God-breathed word. This is another figurative reference to breathing in relation to energising supernatural power. Think of your study of God's word, your renewing of your mind as your mental diet, and speaking in tongues as your spiritual breath, your spiritual breathing. As we breathe spiritually, as we speak in tongues, as we walk by the spirit, we have power for abundant living.
Who gave us our physical bodies? God did. Who is responsible to look after them, to feed them, to keep them healthy with proper diet and exercise? God? No, we are. God gave them, but what we do with them is our responsibility. God supplies our food, but he isn't going to cook it for us and spoon it down our throats. Who gave us our soul, our character, our mind? Who made us who we are? God did. Who is responsible to look after our mental diet and keep ourselves healthy and strong? God? No, we are. God gave it, but what we do with our minds is up to us. God does not possess us. Who gave us eternal life, the power from on high, the gift of holy spirit? God did. Who is responsible to energise it, to ensure we grow and mature, so we walk by the spirit and not by the senses? God? No, we are. God gave it, but what we do with that spirit is our business.
The more abundant life is here. The power is available. God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, but only according to the power that is energised in us. We really can do all things through Christ which strengthens us. No matter what the world does, we can be more than conquerors through him that loved us. If you want this more abundant life, get your bibles open and read.
Chapter 2 - The Way of Life