It was 1971. The little house on 13th Avenue in Anchorage, Alaska, was filled with young Christians hungry to be taught God’s Word. Our senior pastor had asked me to join him in doing a Bible study for these on-fire, mostly new Christians. It was a joy to me to see the genuine hunger these young people had to learn more about God in order to serve Him well.
This spiritual hunger for the Bible had taken root in many churches in America in the 1970s. My wife and I were attending Abbott Loop Community Chapel in Anchorage. The appetite to learn God’s Word was so strong in the congregation that the church's elders decided to begin a fulltime, daytime Bible School. They did so, and I am very thankful to the Lord and to the church leadership that I was invited to join the teaching faculty of that new venture.
God saw the congregation's hunger for the Scriptures and blessed them mightily. The Bible School’s attendance grew from 25 adults that first year to 50 the second year, then 100 the third year, and 300 the fourth year! I cannot emphasize strongly enough how powerfully the Lord’s people were pursuing God and His Word. Sadly, I do not see that hunger nearly so strong in the American Church today. Let’s look at this in the Scriptures and trust God to bring to America a new revival of hunger and thirst for His holy Word, the Scriptures of the Bible.
The prophet was warning about those who would lead God's people astray by looking to other sources rather than "inquiring of their God" (vs. 19). Isaiah exhorted them rather to look to the Word of God ("the law"). And he declared that those who do not speak according to God's Word have no light in them.
I often read our newspaper’s Letters to the Editor. In our world today, it seems that everybody has an opinion, often strongly held and vehemently voiced! Here’s the problem: many of those letters to the editor are nonsense. Why? Because they are inconsistent with, and very often contradictory to, God’s Word. The increasing renunciation by American culture of “God’s instructions” has led to a widespread calling evil good and calling good evil (Isaiah 5:20).
For example, gay marriage and transgenderism have become widely accepted, even glorified, in our nation. By contrast, those of us opposing these things from God’s Word are openly berated and considered bigoted and unloving. Yet issues like these would be so easily settled if our nation would turn again to the Word of the Lord as definitive. They would see Jesus clarifying God’s position on these things in a few short words: “…the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife’” (Matthew 19:4-5). The Scriptures make it very easy to define God’s standards on marriage and gender. “The Creator made them male and female … a man … [and] his wife.” God’s Word says that He determines our gender and that marriage from the Garden of Eden on is to follow His pattern: male and female, a man and his wife.
The prophet Amos spoke these words more than 2,700 years ago. It has characterized many nations from that day to this, and it accurately describes America today. In tens of thousands of American churches, what proceeds from the pulpit is man’s philosophies, high-sounding rhetoric, and sometimes watered-down Scripture, often chosen so as not to offend the hearers. But those congregations are in the minority whose preachers follow the apostle Paul’s commendable practice — “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27, KJV) and “I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:19).
The apostle Paul wrote to Pastor Timothy to preach God’s Word and take heed to teaching good doctrine. Church leaders who are not doing this are seriously disobeying God. Over the years, when I was a young Christian, many times I heard my pastor declare as he entered the pulpit to preach: “I solicit your undivided attention. This preaching of God’s Word is the single most important thing I do in the work of the Lord.” Amen! My pastor at that time — Richard C. “Dick” Benjamin — over the years instilled in thousands of us that intense love for God’s Word that characterized his life. And the long-term fruit of Pastor Benjamin’s Christ-centered, Word-of-God-based ministry was sending out from that church 1,300 dedicated men, women, and children on teams that planted 80 churches in America and overseas. Preach and teach God’s Word and it bears fruit!
How important is it that we be well versed in God’s Word? Consider Jesus’ desert trials. The devil presented great temptations to the Lord. In each case Jesus resisted them and overcame Satan by quoting Scripture (“It is written”). Can we do that today? Yes! God’s Word is a powerful tool in resisting the devil and his temptations. The Psalm tells us: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11, ESV).
Fill your heart and mind with God’s Word, speak it aloud in times of temptation, and watch how God gives you the victory, even as Jesus demonstrated in His desert temptations. The apostle Paul, in Ephesians 6:10-18, listed some of our powerful weaponry in the ongoing spiritual warfare against the devil. Among those weapons God furnishes us with is (vs. 17) “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” God’s Word is a Holy-Spirit-empowered weapon for you to swing victoriously in spiritual battle.
The NIV translation reads: “All Scripture is God-breathed.” God has breathed irresistible life into His Word. Jesus His divine Son said the same: “It is the Spirit who gives life… The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63, KJV).
Read God’s Word. Listen to it preached and taught at a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching, Christ-honoring local church. It is given by the very inspiration of God Himself. And as such, the Word is profitable for you. It will teach you God’s ways. It will reprove and correct you when you are out of the path. And it will instruct you in righteousness, all of this to help you fulfill the high goal of the Scripture that says we are “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
Determine with all your heart that you will seek God in His Word regularly. That holy Word, heard and received and put into practice (Matthew 7:24) will build into you an unshakable foundation for a life that is pleasing to God. “It is written” will become a victorious weapon for you in your spiritual warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
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©2018, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and
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Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.