The Bible and the New Year: Christmas Study Guide (Part 10)

In this lesson we look to the new year ahead and consider the tremendous changes we might experience through a fresh commitment to the Word of God.

Outline

As we begin to think about the new year ahead, we are reminded again of what the Bible really does for us as God’s people. The Bible has a unique ministry in all of our lives, and there would be no better plan for the next 365 days than to make a fresh commitment to read, study, and apply the Word of God.

  1. What the Bible Is for You
a.   It Is a Sword

b.   It Is a Mirror

c.   It Is a Hammer

d.   It Is Water

e.   It Is Seed

f.    It Is Silver

 

g.   It Is Fire

h.   It Is a Lamp

i.    It Is Bread

j.    It Is Honey

k.   It Is Milk

l.    It Is Gold

 

 

  1. What the Bible Will Do for You
  2. Produce Spiritual Growth
  3. Provide Cleansing
  4. Prevent You from Sinning
  5. Protect You from Satan
  6. Protect You from Discouragement
  7. Promote Success in Whatever You Do
  8. Prepare You for Powerful Praying
  9. Point the Way to Salvation

Overview

What the Bible Is for You

In order to convey to us what the Bible does in a believer’s life, the writers of the Word of God, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, used a number of beautiful metaphors.

The Word of God Is a Sword

The Word of God is called a sword because of its piercing ability, operating with equal effectiveness upon Sinners, Saints, and Satan!

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

The Word of God Is a Mirror

The Word is called a mirror because it reflects the mind of God and the true condition of man:

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (James 1:23–25).

The Word of God Is a Hammer

How many of us have been “hammered” by the Word of God? It drives home and breaks up the stony hearts that we have. The Scriptures say: “Is not My word like … a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29). The Word of God is referred to as a hammer because of its ability both to tear down and to build up!

The Word of God Is Water

The Word of God is called water because of its cleansing, quenching, and refreshing qualities—“That He might sanctify and cleanse [the church] with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).

The Word of God Is Seed

The Word of God is called seed because, once properly planted, it brings forth life, growth, and fruit: “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).

The Word of God Is Silver

The Word is like silver because of its desirability, its preciousness, its beauty, and its value: “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6).

The Word of God Is Fire

The Word of God is called fire because of its judging, purifying, and consuming abilities: “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire …” (Jeremiah 20:9).

The Word of God Is a Lamp

The Word is called a lamp because it shows us where we are now, it guides us to the next step, and it keeps us from falling: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

The Word of God Is Bread

The Word is like bread that gives everlasting satisfaction to all who are hungry: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

The Word of God Is Honey

The Word of God is like honey bringing the sweet comfort of God’s love to all who taste: “More to be desired are they than gold … sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).

The Word of God Is Milk

The Word is like milk, nourishing the soul to spiritual growth: “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).

The Word of God Is Gold

The Word of God is like gold because of its desirability, beauty, and value: “Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!” (Psalm 119:127).

Those are just a few of the pictures of the Bible in the Scripture. There are many more. But all of those metaphors are to help us understand the value and the preciousness and the importance of God’s wonderful word in our lives.

What the Bible Will Do for You

Today, however, we have lost much of that. We have taken the Bible out of the public life of American culture, and look what has happened to us. Look where we are today because God’s Word has been removed from the fabric of our society.

But far more disastrous than that, the Word of God has seemed to drop out of the lives of many of the people who claim to be God’s people. Therefore at this time of year it would be good for us to examine a number of reasons why we should read the Word of God.

If we begin to understand how this Book can change our lives, it will continue to change our lives even today. Even this week. The Word of God is a powerful tool, a change agent in the life of anyone who will take it seriously. So I would like to offer my top eight reasons why we should read the Word of God.

It Will Produce Spiritual Growth

Every year at this time, I take a little inventory and ask myself, “Have I grown in the Lord this year? Has there been growth in my life?”

There is absolutely no human way we will ever grow in our faith apart from a personal, disciplined reading and studying of the Word of God. There is no other means of growth. Consider what the Word of God says:

“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

Look at that verse and see how the Word of God helps you grow. First, the Word of God is profitable for doctrine—it shows you the right way to go.

And then it is profitable for reproof—to convict you when you get off that path.

And then it is profitable for correction—to show you how to get back on the path you left.

And then it is profitable for instruction in righteousness—to show you, in a positive way, how to stay on that path in the future.

That’s how we grow. That’s a great reason to read the Word of God.

It Will Provide Cleansing for Your Life

How many of us know that we live in a toxic environment? Not just physically toxic, but spiritually toxic. Everywhere we go somebody is trying to put something into our hearts, something into our lives, that’s going to begin to erode our spiritual walk with the Lord. How do we cleanse our lives from that? How do we keep our lives from being overwhelmed by the toxicity of the world in which we live?

“That He [Christ] might sanctify and cleanse it [the Church] with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).

Jesus, speaking to His disciples, says, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3).

The Word of God cleanses our hearts! If we bring the Word of God in, it pushes out the toxicity that we have gathered through the world, cleansing our hearts and making us clean.

Listen to what David said in Psalm 119:9: “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.”

In John 17:17, the Lord Jesus prayed that this would be true in our lives in His high-priestly prayer: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”

It Will Prevent You from Sinning

If you get into the Word of God, you won’t sin nearly as much as if you don’t. The Word of God will prevent you from sinning. That’s what David meant again when he said, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

The more you are in the Word of God, the more sensitive you become to those things which can lead you astray. It is awfully difficult to spend an hour or two in the Word of God in the morning, and then walk away from that and begin to violate principles that you know are a part of God’s truth. The Word of God empowers you to do the right thing, so you don’t end up violating what you know to be true.

“Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me” (Psalm 119:133).

“The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide” (Psalm 37:31).

The more you get into the Word of God and study it, the more it will help you to stay away from things that will ultimately destroy you.

It Will Protect You from Satan

The Word of God is the greatest protection you have. Of course, someone might say, “I don’t believe in Satan.”

That, however, doesn’t make any difference. He is real anyway. Satan is alive and well, and we are in a daily warfare against the enemy of our souls. Satan goes around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He wants to take you and drown any influence you have. He wants to ruin you for anything you ever want to do for the Lord.

So how do you protect yourself against Satan? Let’s look at the Lord Jesus Christ, who was taken to the desert and was tempted. How did the Lord meet the temptation?

In Matthew 4:4–10, Jesus fought the enemy with the Word of God. If you know God’s Word and you are in the Word of God, you put Satan at a disadvantage because you have the power of God’s Word working in your life.

It Will Protect You from Discouragement

There were two disciples on one occasion who left Jerusalem after the Crucifixion. They were depressed and discouraged because they thought it was “all over.” Christ had died, and they did not know that He was resurrected. They were walking toward Emmaus talking about their hopelessness and they were sad and depressed and discouraged about the situation they saw. Then all of a sudden Jesus came alongside and began to talk with them. And after Jesus had encouraged them, they said, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).

When you get to the point where you’re discouraged and don’t know what to do, go to the Friend that sticks closer than a brother, and listen to His Word. If you will discipline yourself to do that, you will discover like these disciples that your heart will begin to burn within you. God’s Word will come in, dissipate those discouraging thoughts, take away the things that would drive you down, and begin to lift you up. God’s Word has the power to protect you from discouragement.

It Will Promote Success in Whatever You Do

Being in the Word of God gives you the opportunity to be more successful than you would ever be otherwise.

In fact, Psalm 1:1–3 tells us:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

Whenever you are in the Word of God, you are in a position to be successful in what you do. And if we use the Word of God’s definition of success, we can really see how that works. The Word of God promises us that when we make it the substance of our life, it will help us to succeed in what we do.

It Will Prepare You for Powerful Praying

Consider John 15:7: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

How does that work? It helps you to know what to ask for. When you read the Word of God, you get a sense of God’s will, and when you ask in God’s will, He gives it to you. So it will prepare you for how you are to pray.

It Will Point the Way to Salvation

That’s what this Book is all about. Paul wrote to young Timothy, “… as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14–15).

How does a person become a Christian? Through this Book. The plan of salvation is in this Book. Christ died for you and for your sin, and He paid the penalty that you should have paid, and He died on the cross for you. That message is in this Book.

Are you in the Word? If not, start now reading the Word of God. Find some time in the morning to spend a few moments with God and his Word.

Now, if you are not a Christian, you won’t have the motivation to do that. Further, you won’t understand a word of it when you read it. If you aren’t a Christian, you don’t have the ability to comprehend the Word of God as He meant it to be understood. The first step in understanding the Word of God is knowing the God of the Word. And you can’t know Him unless you put your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

You can do that through a simple prayer. Say, “Lord God, I come to You on this first Sunday of the New Year to give my heart to You. I ask You to forgive my sin and cleanse my life, and I accept Your free gift of eternal life which You died to provide for me.”

Christ will come into your life if you will let Him, if you will ask Him. As we begin to think about the New Year ahead, we are reminded again of what the Bible really does for us as God’s people. The Bible has a unique ministry in all of our lives. And the Bible will come alive for you.

Application

  1. If the Bible is everything mentioned in this lesson, why do you think Christians tend to neglect it? Name as many reasons as you can think of.
  2. What do the following passages indicate about the connection between God and His Word, or between knowing God and knowing His Word:
  3. John 1:1–2, 14
  4. John 17:17
  5. 1 John 5:7
  6. Revelation 19:13
  7. Read Mark 12:30, then read Psalm 119:97; 119:113; 119:163. Why is the Psalmist not guilty of idolatry (for loving the Word)?
  8. What is the means of spiritual growth and maturity, according to:
  9. Hebrews 5:12–14
  10. 1 Peter 2:2
  11. What do you think Paul is admonishing Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 2:15? Is this something only for select Christians, or for all Christians?
  12. Turn to Psalm 119 and, taking no more than five minutes for each, find:
  13. As many different names for the Word of God as you can.
  14. As many benefits of the Word of God as you can.
  15. Briefly write out, for your eyes only, your personal desires and goals for the coming year, in relation to God’s Word and your commitment to it. Tape it inside your Bible where you can find it easily, and read it at least once per week for the coming year.

Did You Know?

Until publication of the King James Bible in the early 1500s, it was unusual for anyone to possess the Scriptures in the common language. Even then, initial publication was one Bible per official (state-approved) church, kept either under lock and key, or permanently attached to an immovable pulpit. It would be another 200 years or so before individually printed Bibles would begin making their way into the hands and homes of “everyday” Christians—and then largely for the rich alone.

Of course, with the colonization of America, Bibles began making their way to the New World, but only sparsely until printing houses were established and Bibles became an affordable commodity.

That means that the availability of personal Bibles is, in the grand scheme of church history, a fairly recent phenomenon. Even more recent is the phenomenon of multiple personal Bibles—which sit on shelves, collecting dust, and remaining largely unread and unstudied.

It’s hard to believe that only 500 years or so in the past, Christians died for proposing the right to personal study of the Scriptures; and today Christians are effectively dead for a lack of it.

May it not be so in the year ahead![1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (1999). Celebrate his love: Study guide (pp. 124–138). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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