Does it work?

I love talking about the Bible. I guess you could say I am a fanatic for the Word.

There are many different reasons I am so passionate about the Bible. One of the big ones is because I believe the Word of God contains the answer to every spiritual problem you or I will ever face.

I agree with one old pastor who once wrote, “As a pastor for over forty years, I have found that nothing equals the power and help of God’s Word in ministering to human necessity. The unique contribution of the Bible in counseling is beyond my ability to adequately present. The Scriptures are a veritable fountain of life and healing. The Bible has no equal in its message to the human heart…”[1] Without a doubt, he’s one hundred percent right.

Yet in spite of that, every Sunday church buildings are filled with people who have come faithfully week after week to listen to God’s Word but whose lives aren’t very different from many of those who have never gone to church or ever heard a sermon at all. In fact, every Sunday our churches are filled with Bible carrying Christians who are struggling with the same problems as the typical non-Christian who doesn’t even own a Bible, and sometimes struggling even more.

Which leaves many people wondering: If the Bible is so powerful why are so many Christians so weak?

You have to admit, that’s a troubling question.

The good news is God doesn’t leave us guessing as to its answer. He speaks to this issue loud and clear.

One reason many professing Christians aren’t profiting from the Word is because many professing Christians aren’t studying it on a regular basis.

This book doesn’t do you any good sitting on the shelf. I like how my father once put it, “Suppose I had a disease and there were a medicine to cure that disease. Suppose also I didn’t faithfully use that medicine. Whose fault would it be if my disease was not cured? Obviously, the fault would not be with the medicine. The fault would be with me. The medicine might be the best remedy in the world for solving my physical problem, but it would do me no good if I didn’t use it. No one in his right mind would fault the medicine for not solving my problem. No one would have any justification for complaining that the claims of the developer and provider were untrue or even exaggerated. The fact is, even good medicine doesn’t work if it’s sitting in a bottle in a medicine cabinet. It works when it is used regularly. The same is true with the Scriptures. They only prepare us for every circumstance and occasion; they only thoroughly equip us when we use them. A Bible sitting on a shelf in a person’s home or even carried with him wherever he goes does a person no good until he picks it up and reads it and studies it regularly. Truth is, most professing Christian have Bibles; in fact, many of them have several Bibles and sometimes they have several versions of Bibles. Truth is, when it comes to regularly reading and studying Scripture, these same professing Christians who claim to believe the Bible to be the Word of God; these same people who would agree that the Bible is to be our standard in matters of faith and practice seldom, if ever, seriously read or study the Scriptures. Truth is, these same professing Christians are sometimes people who don’t attend a church where the Word of God is faithfully exposited and preached. They attend churches where they are entertained, but not edified; where the spiritual diet is not sound exegesis or solid theology, but cotton candy stuff with a little flavoring of Scripture. Or, if they do attend a church where the Bible is exposited and preached they are very sporadic in their attendance and thus they are not being consistently exposed to Biblical truth. Truth is that many professing Christians and churches are very flippant when it comes to their approach to the Scriptures. Whose fault is it that professing Christian are often not very well prepared and thoroughly equipped for every good work? The deficiency is not with the Bible; the deficiency is with the way people fail to use the Scriptures.”[2] That’s got to be reason number one on any top ten list of reasons many professing believers don’t profit from the Scriptures.

But we have to move on from there. Because the brutal truth is there are many who do study the Word but don’t profit from it. There are many who are in the Word every day, who can quote the Bible backwards and forwards, but who are no better for all their study. In fact, they are worse.

Over the next few days I want us to think about why.

[1] W.A. Criswell, Why I Preach the Bible is Literally True, Broadman and Holman Pub., Nashville, Tn., 1995, p.178.
[2] Wayne and Joshua Mack, The Twin Pillars of the Christian Life, Grace and Truth Books, Tulsa Ok., 2003, p.192,193.

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