Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Worth The Reading

This is part one of two posts by John Piper at the Crossway Blog: - 10 Benefits of Reading the Bible
The All-Surpassing Worth of God’s Word
Consider with me just ten of the benefits [of reading Scripture], and as you read them, ask God to give you eyes to see the worth of Scripture and to waken in you an unyielding desire for the Word of God. This is a fight for joy, and the weapon is a fresh sight of how the worth of God’s Word surpasses all things on this earth.
1. The Word of God Awakens and Strengthens Faith
The Holy Spirit does not awaken and strengthen faith apart from the Word of God. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). The reason for this is that the Spirit has been sent into the world to glorify Christ. But Christ would not be glorified if the Spirit wakened faith in the absence of the revelation of the glory of Christ in the gospel.
“When the Spirit of truth comes,” Jesus said, “he will glorify me” (John 16:13-14). If the Spirit brought us to faith in the absence of the proclamation of Christ in his Word, our faith would not be in Christ, and he would not be honored. Therefore the Spirit binds his faithwakening ministry to the Christ-exalting Word. Which means that when we go to the Word of Christ, we put ourselves in the path of the Spirit’s willingness to reveal Christ to us and strengthen our faith. And in this faith is the taste and the seed of all our joy. Therefore, the Word that wakens our faith works for our joy.
2. Through Hearing the Word, God Supplies the Holy Spirit
The Spirit of God produces both a subconscious influence bringing us to faith, and a conscious experience of power and personal fellowship that come through that very faith. This explains two things: 1) This is why the Bible can speak of the Spirit blowing where he wills and having merciful effects in our lives before we were able to choose them (John 3:6-8; 6:36, 44, 65). In other words, by his unconscious influence he works in us to enable us to hear and welcome the Word. And 2) this is also why the Bible speaks of the Spirit coming through our hearing the Word of God. In other words, conscious fellowship with the Spirit is given when we hear the Word of God with faith.
3. The Word of God Creates and Sustains Life
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). To that end he taught many things, and then gave his life so that we might have life, eternal and abundant. We are born again into new life by the Word of God. “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. . . . And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:23-25). God makes the preaching of the gospel the occasion for creating new life in the soul of man. “The words that I have spoken to you,” Jesus said, “are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Therefore when John had finished recording the words and works of Jesus in his Gospel he said, “These are written so that you may . . . have life in his name” (John 20:31). The words of John’s Gospel—and all the Scriptures—lead to life.
Oh, how easily we are deceived into thinking that better life, or more life, comes from things that lure us from the Word. But, in fact, it is the Word itself that gives us life abundantly. The life we get from bread is fragile and short. The life we get from the Word is firm and lasts forever.
4. The Word of God Gives Hope
In more ways than we can imagine the Word of God gives and strengthens our hope. We get a glimpse of how many ways the Bible gives hope when we hear Paul’s astonishing assessment of the Old Testament alone: “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). Not just part of the Old Testament, but all of it—“whatever was written in former days”— was written with the divine design to give us hope.
One of the things this teaches us is that we have not begun to know all the ways it is possible to get hope. We have very small experience in life compared to God’s wisdom.
Sometimes what we need from the Bible is not the fulfillment of our dream, but the swallowing up of our failed dream in the all-satisfying glory of Christ. We do not always know the path of deepest joy. But all Scripture is inspired by God to take us there. Therefore Scripture is worth more than all this world can offer.
5. The Word of God Leads Us to Freedom
Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The truth of God’s Word works freedom in many ways and brings joy in all of them. But Jesus signals his focus in verse 34: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” The freedom he has in mind here is freedom from the enslaving, destructive effect of sin. The truth sets us free from this. So Jesus turns this truth into a prayer in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Sanctify means to make holy, or free from sin.
The guilt of sin would bring down the wrath of God on us if the truth of the gospel did not set us free from condemnation through the blood and righteousness of Christ.
This excerpt was adapted from When I Don't Desire God: How To Fight For Joy by John Piper.