01 Sep Quarter Two Lesson Two
The Power of the Word
Welcome back to the Second Quarter lessons on gospel growth.
In our last lesson we looked at the fact that Christians are supposed to grow and mature. We go from being “little children” when we first believe on Jesus, to becoming “young men” who are strong in the Lord, to “fathers” who have a deep relationship with the Father and have gone on to reproduce by sharing the gospel with others and seeing them come to new life in Jesus Christ.
In this present lesson, we want to see the value of God’s Word as that which causes us to grow and mature. We remember this verse from our last lesson:
“I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 1 John 2:14 (ESV)
We can see from the above verse that the Word of God living in the young man is what has caused him to grow, to become strong, and to overcome the evil one. This is the power of God’s Word (see Matthew 22:29).
We grow strong and gain maturity through reading and studying God’s Word, the Bible. In the Scriptures we have that which can turn our weaknesses into strengths (Hebrews 11:34), that which can make us bold and courageous (Joshua 1:8-9), and that can give us victory over Satan (1 John 2:12-14). As we believe God’s Word our lives truly begin to change. As we study the Scriptures we experience God’s power that works in our hearts to set us apart from sin, and make us look (act) more and more like Jesus.
Please read the following Scriptures and provide your thoughts and answers below:
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17 (ESV)
Question 1. According to the above Scriptures, what does God’s Word accomplish in the life of a believer? Are you beginning to experience this power for yourself? Please share your thoughts:
Yes, God uses His Word to sanctify us (set us apart from sin). This is truly an amazing experience that believers have. As they study God’s Word and believe it they find this supernatural power at work within them, and this power starts changing their thoughts, their attitude, and their actions.
This, then, is how we grow in the Lord. It is how we mature. How we go from “little children” to “young men”. How we become strong and overcome the evil one. And oh my, is it ever exciting to experience this growth. As we grow in our understanding of God’s Word we only become hungrier for more and more of God’s Word much like a teen might eat more and more as he grows rapidly into a man.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. 11 “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. Psalm 81:10-11 (NIV)
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
Question 2. According to Psalm 81:10-11 above, what does God tell us to do?
The picture in Psalm 81:10-11 is that of baby birds in a nest, and when their mother comes with food they all open wide their mouths to receive the food. They are hungry to take what she has for them. Similarly believers are to eagerly desire to listen to God, to hear His Word and to feed on it (see Luke 10:39).
But notice from the above passage that God’s people would not listen to Him, would not submit to Him. This is because we all have a sinful nature, Adam’s nature, and that nature does not want to submit to God. We discover this nature when at times we don’t want to read the Bible, or do what it says.
The person who is maturing in the Lord has learned to push past this natural resistance to Scripture, to open God’s Word and begin to read it. They have practiced overcoming their natural opposition to God’s Word and have learned the value of immersing themselves in it often (1 Timothy 4:15). If they do not feel like reading the Bible they do it anyway. If they sit down to read and suddenly thinks of five things that need to be done, they make a note to do those things later and open God’s Word first. If they are sleepy they push through and read. This is how they grow into a young person of faith (no matter their age), a strong young person who overcomes the evil one.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,” 1 Peter 2:2 (NIV)
If you have ever seen a newborn baby turn their head sideways, open their mouth and root around; you have witnessed someone eagerly craving milk. It is an innate desire of the newborn to desire the milk that it needs for life. And Peter uses this example of a newborn babe to tell us the way to grow is by eagerly desiring the pure milk of the Word. This is how we grow and mature, by studying the Bible and feasting on its good news.
However, there is actually a wrong way to read the Bible. We want to share with you the following examples to illustrate this problem:
A man in Waco, Texas began to read the Bible and then to teach the Bible to people, and his focus was on the last days, the second coming of the Messiah, who he interpreted to be himself. David Koresh taught that he and his followers, the Branch Davidians, were God’s special people on earth. He taught his followers that they would have to show their allegiance to him in order to be found faithful. The majority of his followers died in a fire while proving their allegiance to this false Messiah.
A young woman in Texas began listening to a preacher and following his teachings of the Bible. As she listened and studied she became more and more convinced that her children were “stumbling”, and that she was “Jezebel” whose children would die because of her wickedness. One day Andrea Yates drowned all five of her children in the bathtub in her home, believing that was the only way to “save” them from their “stumbling” so they could have eternal life.
Numerous other examples could be given, such as Harold Camping who repeatedly used the Scriptures to “predict” the time of the second coming of Jesus Christ. Many people were led astray from the gospel of Jesus Christ and were wrongly focused on the timing of the second coming.
What is the problem with these false teachers? Why has studying the Bible been so destructive to them and their followers?
The answer is pretty simple to understand, and is true of every single false teacher and false religion that has ever existed: they did not understand and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NIV)
Question 3. According to 2 Corinthians 4:4, to what does the god of this world (the devil) blind the minds of unbelievers?
Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel. They cannot see that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). They do not see this truth nor focus on it, nor preach it.
Oh they can see lots of other things from the Bible: they can see God’s laws, they enjoy “explaining” prophetical writings, they appear to have deep insight into the mysteries and visions of the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel, and they can explain Jewish customs and the timing and events of the second coming. But they are blind to the gospel. The gospel just seems to have very little importance to them. In other words, they have missed the main truth of the Bible. And if they miss the main truth of the Bible, they should not be trusted with other truths either.
Please examine the following passage of Scripture and answer the questions below:
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24:13-27 (NIV)
Question 4. As these two disciples walked along the road, who were they “blind” to? In other words, who did they not recognize?
These two men were walking right along with Jesus, yet they did not recognize Him. They probably looked right at Him, but somehow did not see Him for Who He was; they did not understand that He was Jesus the Messiah.
And Jesus did this for a reason. He kept them from recognizing Him (verse 16) so that this whole story might be an object lesson for them, and for us: Just as they were looking right at Him but could not recognize Him, so they had been looking right into their Bibles, but not seeing Jesus in their reading. These two men had been “blinded to the light of the gospel”, even though they had no doubt read their Old Testament Bibles repeatedly and could likely quote large sections of it.
Question 5. From the above passage, how did Jesus teach these two men the gospel?
From verse 26 above Jesus asked the question, “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things, and then enter His glory?” Here is the gospel. Jesus suffered on the cross to pay for our sins, then He died and was buried, and on the third day He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. It is good news to all who believe.
Question 6. Where did Jesus take these two men in the Scriptures to show them this gospel?
Jesus then took these men through a Bible study. He started at the beginning with the first writer of the Bible, Moses, then He went to “all the prophets” and then “all the Scriptures”.
Question 7. According to verse 27, of Whom do “all the Scriptures” teach us?
Through this story, Jesus was teaching these two men (and us) how to read our Bibles correctly: by seeing Jesus in them. Jesus said that “all the Scriptures” were “concerning Himself”, and specially His “suffering and then entering glory”. In other words, all the Scriptures are about the gospel.
So then we can use Jesus’ teaching here to test the teaching of all other people. Are they using the Scriptures as Jesus did, to give us good news? Are they pointing out the gospel in every passage they teach?
Now let’s notice the end of this story:
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:30-32 (NIV)
Notice that Jesus “opened the Scriptures” to them. This means that He explained the Scriptures to them. He did this by showing them, in each passage He took them to, how that particular passage revealed the gospel (the “sufferings” and “glory” of Jesus). And remember, He took them to “all the Scriptures”. These “Scriptures” were what we have today as the Old Testament, and Jesus said the whole Old Testament pointed to Himself:
If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” John 5:46-47 (NIV)
Question 8. In Luke 24 above, what effect did Jesus’ Bible study have on these two men?
Here is the effect of truly understanding the Bible; that is, of seeing the good news for us: our eyes are opened and our hearts burn. This means that we finally have true understanding and that we worship. We “get it”, we see the truth; we understand the Bible. And when we really understand it we can do nothing other than worship God for how good He has been to us. Our hearts burn as we come to understand how Jesus removed our sin and made us acceptable to God, how He took our punishment so that we could have peace with God, and how He died our death so that we could live forever with God.
Question 9. Are you understanding, from Luke 24 above, what the main teaching of the Bible is? Please describe this main teaching in your own words:
So let us now summarize what we have studied today: first, we understand that God’s Word is that which causes us to grow and mature in faith. We see that it has sanctifying power, setting us apart from sin. We see that we are to open wide our mouths, eagerly desiring the Scriptures.
But then we saw, also, that there is a danger of reading the Bible without the proper focus: the danger is to miss Jesus in it, to not see the gospel in it. If we miss Jesus and the gospel in the Bible, then we have missed the main point.
And so in all our reading of the Bible we are to carefully look for Jesus. We should pray and ask God to “open our eyes” so that we can see Him. And we know when we see Him, as our hearts burn in worship and love and devotion to Him. We finally see Him as the One Who loved us so much that He laid down His life so we could live with Him forever, and it just causes our heart to burn with love for Him. We see Him and we savor Him.
Question 10. From our teaching today, how can we grow and become strong young men and women? Do you feel that you are growing? Please explain: