So far we’ve seen that we need to understand the context in which we follow Jesus so we discern the things it teaches us so we can see how different that is to following Jesus. Secondly we’ve seen that we need to be convinced of the truth and abiding relevance of God’s word so we continue to learn from it an listen to God speak to us. But Paul’s not done their.
We’re great at devaluing things aren’t we? What did you really want for Christmas in 2019? Can you remember? How precious it was when you got it? How you didn’t let anything scratch it or leave it lying around. But now, if we can remember it, it’s just another thing. We can do that with anything. We even do it with relationships, that and a a lack of grace and forgiveness are often the roots of marriage problems. What we initially cherish we become used to, only noticing it when it’s not there.
There’s a danger that happens with God’s word. Paul reminds Timothy of the sheer wonder of what he, and we, have in our hands.
God’s word reveals salvation to us. The Bible isn’t just another religious book. It makes “you wise for salvation through faith in Christ.” The Bible isn’t a how to book. It’s not an instruction manual on how to earn God’s favour. It shows us the only way of salvation. It reveals the nature of the chasm between us and God caused by sin. That we can never earn salvation. And yet it tells us that, though the problem is worse than we could ever imagine, God’s love is so much greater. As God the Son becomes man, lives righteously and dies for our sin providing atonement for us and reconciling us to God. We can’t earn salvation but by faith in him Jesus gives us salvation. The Bible makes us wise to salvation, it shows us how we respond rightly to God’s salvation plan, by faith in Jesus.
God’s word is God speaking to us. 66 books, 40 authors, yet all “God breathed”. When we read the Bible we’re reading God’s word to us. God almighty speaks to us every time we pick it up and read it or listen to it read. We’re thinking God’s thoughts after him, seeing his actions, learning of his character, and hearing his plans and purposes. That ought to amaze us! All of it from Genesis to Revelation is God speaking directly to us, all discipling us.
God’s word is God’s means of changing us. “is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” God’s purpose in speaking to us isn’t just that we listen. Listening itself won’t mean that we grow as disciples in our learning, leaving and loving. But as we listen we’re taught about God’s character, the world, ourselves and our hearts, God’s actions and purposes. We’re shown God in order that we might glorify him and love him.
It rebukes us where we think wrongly about God or are living in rebellion against him. It reforms us as it corrects us and shows us God’s will. And it trains us in righteousness as it shows us how to live like Jesus – knowing and enjoying God in any and every circumstance. But that means we need to listen and put it into practice, to be hearers and doers.
God’s word equips us to love and serve others. God’s purpose in his word is to reveal himself to us and shape his people. As we read of him we grow in amazement at, and love for, him and so we want to live lives that please him. We learn to follow Jesus as we serve, as we’re shaped, made completely fitted for every good work God has for us to do. We listen to God’s word and it trains us to be doers of God’s word not slavishly but out of love.
Look at your Bible, whether it’s on your lap or on your phone. It’s not just another book, another app, it’s the very word of the living God. God wants to speak to you. He wants you to know him, to see his love for you, to grow in your love for him, and to put what you hear into practice.
Disciples are hearers and doers of God’s word because they are lovers of the God, who Father, Son and Spirit has loved and does love them.
Disciples listen to God’s word. Are we listening? I’m aware that many of us will feel guilty. We know we’ve let this slip. That we’ve let other things crowd our time. But be encouraged you’re not saved by your record of reading the Bible. You’re saved by Jesus. But do you see the glorious invitation of God. The God who loved you and saved you wants you to get to know him better, to know more of his glory, his plans and purposes, to reshape you to reflect his glory and love. And he wants to do so by speaking to you. That’s what he’s inviting you to, to listen to him, know him and grow.
As you read the Bible yourself, as you come along on Sunday morning, as you engage in Gospel Group and take other opportunities to hear from God.
Maybe for others of us that challenge is to really listen. To not just read the Bible but to be taught, rebuked, corrected and trained. That’s a challenge isn’t it? This isn’t the 5 minute devotional this is a call to something more, something more reflective, to go deeper.
Here’s something I’ve found really helpful in doing that. ITCP.
I is instruction – what is God teaching about his character the world, his plans and purposes, his people, our hearts?
T – what is there to thank God for?
C – What is there here for me to confess my failure to understand or live out, or even my opposition to?
P – What is there here for me to pray about? What will it look like to put this into practice, to hear and do? To be trained, rebuked and corrected by?
Will we not just read or listen but really listen to God’s word, and be shaped and trained and corrected and formed by it?
That’s true when we gather too. One of the things I’ve missed most throughout the pandemic is the discussion of the passage after the service over coffee. To see people praying together, discussion about what it looks like to live this out, where it’s challenging and help to think about how to do so better. And we long for that to be the case again. If we do we need to cultivate that now, so our one another muscles don’t atrophy. Why not arrange to walk with someone and chat about today’s sermon and share how God is training and shaping you? Or pray for him to do so?
How do we grow as disciples? Disciples listen to God speak to them, they are amazed by his word and his love for them and they love him in return, Father, Son and Spirit. And out of that love flows discipleship, following Jesus, treasuring his word, and a desire to be equipped and trained and instructed and rebuked so that we glorify the God we love as we grow more like our righteous saviour.