Thursday, December 18, 2014

Worth the Reading (Part 2)

In follow up to this post yesterday, here's part two of "10 Benefits of Reading the Bible" by John Piper:
6. The Word of God Is the Key to Answered Prayer
The Word of God that wakens desire to read and ponder and memorize Scripture is the role it plays in answered prayer.
Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). The words of Jesus must abide in us if our prayers are to be effective.The best way to see what it means for the words of Jesus to abide in us is to look at what Jesus says about abiding a few verses earlier. In verse 5 he says, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.” Letting the words of Jesus abide in us means letting Jesus himself abide in us, to us. It means that we welcome Jesus into our lives and make room for him to live, not as a silent guest with no opinions or commands, but as an authoritative guest whose words and priorities and principles and promises matter more to us than anything does.
The reason the abiding of Christ’s words in us results in answered prayer is that it changes us into the kind of people who love what he loves, so that we ask for things according to his will. This is not absolute. It is progressive. The more we know the living Christ by communion with him in his Word, the more our desires become spiritual like his desires, instead of just worldly. This is what David meant when he said in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The desires of the heart cease to be merely natural desires when the heart delights above all else in the Lord. Delighting in the Lord—in the hallowing of his name and the seeking of his kingdom and the doing of his will—transforms all natural desires into God-related desires. That is what happens when the Word of Christ abides in us.
7. The Word of God Is the Source of Wisdom
It is a great advantage to be wise. Wisdom is different from the mere knowledge of facts. Some very wise people have little formal education. And some very educated people, who know many facts, are not wise. Wisdom is the insight and sense of how to live in a way that accomplishes the goals for which we were made: the glory of God and the good of man. And since glorifying God involves delighting in God, and the good of man involves sharing our joy in God, therefore wisdom is the only path to deep and lasting joy.
8. The Word of God Gives Us Crucial Warnings
If we had perfect sight of what is wrong and right, and if we could know the future and the consequences of all behavior and all events, then perhaps we would need no warnings. But we are blind to many things and do not know the future, as God does. We need to be warned often that the step we are about to take is folly. Oh, how many joy killing choices we are spared when we heed the warnings of the Bible! Mercifully God has given us a book that not only points us to the right path but sounds warnings when we are about to take the wrong one.
9. The Word of God Enables Us to Defeat the Devil
The devil is real and terrible. He is much stronger than we are, and he aims to deceive and destroy. Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Yet he has been decisively defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Bible teaches that Christ took on himself human nature so “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). The destruction was decisive, though not final. Because of Christ’s shed blood for our sins, the devil cannot destroy those who are in Christ. The reason is that his accusations are no longer valid. The only thing that could sentence us to eternal destruction is unforgiven sin. But the cross obtained complete forgiveness. Therefore, the devil can only kill us, but not damn us.
10. The Word of God Is the Source of Great and Lasting Joy
We have seen at least nine reasons why this is so. Now we see that God, in the Bible, simply says it is so. The wise and godly man turns away from the counsel of the wicked with all their promises of pleasure and finds that “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Ps. 1:2-3). The lovers of God’s Word praise the preciousness of the Bible and the pleasures it brings. They say that it surpasses the most valuable earthly things, gold and silver; and they say its taste on the tongue of the mind and heart is sweeter than honey, and that its richness is like the finest food.
The great conclusion is: “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97).
*This excerpt was adapted from *When I Don't Desire God: How To Fight For Joy by John Piper.