Word of God – Usefulness

The final topic in our series on The Word of God is on the usefulness of scripture. We’ll begin again by recalling what we’ve covered so far and it’s worth noticing how the different topics overlap – sufficiency, authority and usefulness all share the same basic premise: if God has spoken a truthful and good word to us, then it must be worth listening to and we’d be fools not to!

  1. inspiration – think ‘authored by God’ not ‘inspired by an artist.’
  2. inerrancy – think ‘a trustworthy message’ not ‘a scientific journal.’
  3. sufficiency – think ‘a Dundee knife’ not ‘a Swiss Army knife.’
  4. authority – think ‘the King’s voice’ not ‘the King’s advisor.’
  5. usefulness – think ‘knowing God’ not ‘reading a book.’

You might want to improve those memory hooks with something you or the group come up with. Finally: The Word of God – think ‘truth’ not ‘fiction nor non-fiction.’


What things do you find useful in your life? What do you use daily? What do you use rarely but are so glad that you have it?

In todays lesson, I want to look at four passages, so we won’t be digging too deep but observing some key points from each of them. We’ll contrast those who are righteous from those who are wicked. We’ll contrast two sources of learning. We’ll note what the bible is useful for. Lastly, we’ll ask Paul what he regards as the most profitable thing for him to do.

Psalm 1

  1. How are the righteous described? (verses 1-3, 6)
  2. How are the wicked described? (verses 4-6)

Verse 2 describes the delight and meditation on the law of the LORD (the ‘law of the LORD’ is one way of describing the word of God – not to be understood as simply the laws that God gave to Moses).  Let’s look at Psalm 119 to compare the meditation on God’s word with other ways of learning.

Psalm 119:97-104

  1. What words does he use as synonyms for scripture?
  2. What does the psalmist claim to gain from meditating on God’s word?
  3. The enemy in this passage is not necessarily a physical threat (teachers and elders). They are merely guides who do not use the word of God for wisdom. What examples in your life would represent enemies, teachers and elders who direct us onto ‘wrong path[s]’ (v104)?
  4. How do verses 105-120 enhance our understanding of verse 104?
  5. What ways can we meditate on God’s word?

2 Timothy 3:15-17.

  1. How many ways are the scriptures useful?
  2. Describe the usefulness of the bible in your own memorable ways? Can you come up with a rhyme or an acronym or something else to recall all the ways?

John 17:3 and Philippians 3:7-11

  1. What key point does both of these passages make?
  2. How does Jesus describe eternal life?
  3. Has Paul fallen in love with a philosophy? a book? a religion? a fresh perspective? or a person?


  1. What is the point of reading the bible? To study a book or to know life with our Maker and Saviour?
  2. What have you learned over these 5 weeks of studying the topic of the bible?
  3. What will you do now as a result?
  4. Here is a list of ways you can get the most out of your bible. Can you add more? Which would you like to give a go?
    1. Read the whole bible by using a one-year bible plan. This is the birds-eye view of the bible that helps build your knowledge of context.
    2. Read small sections and reflect/meditate on those. You can use the COMA method in your own study or make use of some devotional material.
    3. Memorising scripture. This is such an awesome thing to do because it’s not about having things memorised, it’s about the process of memorising it. Details in the passage are picked up when you try to put a whole story or chapter into memory. Try it before you reject it!
    4. Growth Groups! Preaching to the choir, I know. But don’t neglect gathering together to read from the bible and encourage one another. Skills in bible reading are grown in this environment.
    5. One-to-One discipleship. This is something we could all look at doing. Find one or even two other people who you’d like to encourage or be encouraged by and meet regularly to read a small piece of the bible and discuss what you’ve read. Meet weekly, or fortnightly or monthly. Time is spent reading the bible as well as sharing your lives and praying for one another. Who could you start a One-to-One meeting with?
    6. Listen to the Word of God! Use a bible app on your smart phone to have the bible read to you. This is great for getting through large sections of the bible efficiently. Make sure you are paying attention! What images are coming to mind as you hear the bible read to you?
    7. For those who have time (sometimes we get moments in life when we DO have time on our hands – uni students! or maybe you are tied up in bed due to illness) try reading a small book of the bible and reading every verse for all it’s worth! Read it, memorise it, ask what each word is there for. Look up the cross-references in your bible and see if they shed any light on what you are reading. Once you’ve exhausted all your thoughts on that first verse, open up a commentary and see what someone else says about it. Write down all of your thoughts in a journal. You might just take 20 minutes a day and don’t move onto the next verse until you have completely run out of things that you can think of. Sound crazy? Well, I know it has been done and can be very useful.
    8. Discover the time of day that reading the bible works for you. Do you catch a train regularly? Perfect! Don’t read anything else or play any games on your phone until you have meditated on God’s word! Do you drive to work? Get yourself an audio bible and listen to the word. Do you have a place you can sit at before you start the rest of your day? Use it. 15 minutes may feel like too long when you’ve got a mountain of things to do but it’s such a small investment toward eternal life – get to know the God who made you and this world before you go rushing into your day.
    9. ________________
    10. ________________

Word of God – Authority

This is week four of five on the topic of God’s word. Our discussion today focuses on the authority of the bible. We want to discuss the place of the Word of God in our daily lives. We’ll consider what types of things influence our lives and the way we make decisions and read how God’s word plays a part in this. What authority does the Word of God have over us today? To do this, it is important to remember the significant things we’ve covered so far.


Week 1: Inspiration – Think ‘the invisible work of the Holy Spirit, not  ‘an inspired piece of art’.

Week 2: Inerrancy – Think ‘a deliberate and faultless message’, not ‘a documentary of events’.

Week 3: Sufficiency – Think ‘one word from one God on one salvation’ not ‘one piece of a puzzle’.

Week 4: Authority – Think ‘the king’s voice’ not ‘the king’s advisor.’

Summary: The one true God has orchestrated the writing of a book about universal and eternal truths which has culminated in the life and work of Jesus Christ. It is a book from God to us with a grand vision of the future. God has spoken to our world.


What type of decisions do we face in life? examples: where to live, what job to be employed in, whether to marry, who to marry, the type of car to drive, what to wear (generally and daily), what to have for lunch, how many hours to work, things to buy, holidays to go on, movies to watch, price to sell your car for, to turn left or right at this intersection, be buried or cremated, do you baptise your child, should you go to bed now, will you knock on your neighbour’s door or call the police…

How do you go about making decisions? List as many influences you can on your decision making.

Let’s consider four influences on decision making and lifestyle choice. Perhaps your ideas fit somewhere under these categories?

  1. Tradition. This is about how things are just done – like they’ve always been done. Things like Christmas carols, going to church on Sunday, ANZAC day, sleeping in on Saturday, whatever Grandma taught you… what else can you think of?
  2. Logic/reason. This covers an argument that you have with yourself to decide which way to go. Something might seem right because of the obvious outcome. Examples of this include deciding to stay unmarried because it’s less complicated, to stop at three children because the car will only fit so many. These are logical arguments to reason how to make a decision.
  3. Experience. This takes in the data you have gathered from your life and making decisions based on what you know and have observed in the past. This could be a decision to stop praying because it doesn’t seem that God is answering your prayers. It could be to always carry an umbrella because it rains 50% of the time in the afternoons where you live.
  4. Feelings. It may seem silly but this tends to be the most influential decision maker we have. ‘I won’t go to that thing because I feel too tired’. ‘I know that this is the right thing to do because it just feels right’. ‘I know when I’ve made a good and right decision because I feel at peace with it’. ‘I feel that God would want this for me because he loves me and wants me to be happy’.

Each of these influences have their rightful place in our lives. Can you list the pros and the cons of these things?

Pros Cons


What does the bible say?

Let’s now consider how or where the bible fits with those four areas.

Read Proverbs 18:13

What wisdom does this have for our lives?

Now apply this same proverb to your relationship with God and his world – it would be foolish to speak/answer/make decisions/act before first listening to what God has to say. Since God, our creator and judge, has spoken, it would be foolish not to listen to him.

Read Matthew 7:24-27

What does this parable teach us about wise people and fools?

Note that Jesus has salvation in mind as he tells this parable but the greater context is about those who are known as his versus those who appear to do all the right things but are actually not a part of Jesus’ kingdom because they don’t obey his words.

Read John 10:27 and Luke 8:21

What is the key feature of a Christian? Do you think this just applies to salvation or all of life? Why or why not?

Read James 1:22-25

What is this passage saying in your own words?

Stop and consider the sum of all these passages. The bible is God’s word to us about salvation but we have been saved from a life apart from God. We have been called out of darkness and into his marvelous light! Colossians 3 and Philippians 3 are excellent chapters on desiring to know God and being part of his new creation now!

The Principle

The four influences discussed above do still have their place. But the bible ought to have primary influence as well as the final say.

Tradition is corrected by the bible; reason and logic is informed by the bible; experiences and feelings are interpreted by the bible.

I’d like to picture it like this…Word of God shapes our thinking and has the final wordBibleAuthority03

“[The] Bible should not only be the starting point for working things out, it should also have the final say about what to believe and how to behave, even if tradition, reason and experience would suggest otherwise.” (from The Little Black Book: The Bible).

STOP AGAIN AND DISCUSS. This is the principle of the Word of God being authoritative. It doesn’t sit second chair to any other authority. Learning how to apply the bible to our lives is a very valuable discipline for a Christian. It requires reading the bible carefully with regard to context and meaning. The Start Living course and the God’s Big Picture course are excellent places to begin learning how to do this. An excellent book to read on Christian ethics is one called ‘A Joined Up Life’ by Andrew Cameron.

If you have time, you may like to look at one or two of the below topics with your group.

…how will the bible shape our thinking on these topics?

Tradition Reason Experience Feelings Word of God

when someone or something goes
against us.

James 1:19-21

desiring more than we need.

Colossians 3:5

being less than honest.

Colossians 3:9

how to use it when
we get it.

Matthew 6:19-34


Romans 1:26-27#
divorce and


1 Corinthians 7:10-11; Matthew 19:9##

how to think about
living beside other cultures.

Acts 2:11; Philippians 2:5-11; Revelation 7:9-10
many religions

how should we view
them and should we impose our beliefs

John 3:16; John 14:6

what it is, how we practice it, who is it for etc.

Luke 3:7-9, 16, 21-22; 12:49-51

#Romans 1:26-27 – look at the greater context as well to see that this is just one outworking of mankind turning their backs on God.)
##1 Corinthians 7:10-11; Matthew 19:9 – note that this is not as black and white as it sounds and anyone wanting to go deeper into this should ask one of the ministry staff – note also the ten commandments are quite clear on adultery.

A final note…

The bible is crystal clear on many topics and less clear on others. Where something is unclear, this allows us to look deeper into the scriptures and consider God’s bigger message on the topic. Our job is not to look for grey areas or loop holes in the bible where we can indulge in sin but to allow the bible to uncover shady areas in our life so that we can let the bible shape us and mould us. Christians can have different views on baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Christian worship, the age of the earth – these happen when the bible allows a range of conclusions. Christians will, unfortunately, find other areas to dispute in the bible as if it is a grey area when, in fact, they ought to be looking at their own sinful hearts and trembling at the word of God. The ultimate guideline comes from Matthew 6:33: “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” If it is not being done in Jesus’ name and for the priority of his kingdom then it may be an area you need to repent of.

Prayer for the week…

Father God, we thank you once again for your final word on salvation. Please help us to seek first your kingdom and righteousness and to become so familiar with your words that we will see more clearly how we are to live. Forgive us for our slowness to listen to you in your word and help us to grow in our confidence of it day by day. Amen.

The Word of God – Sufficiency

This third week in the series about The Word of God we look at the principle that the bible is sufficient. As with the previous weeks and every week after this one, there is so much to say and read and discuss – it is impossible to cram them into individual lessons. So we get a taste of each statement about scripture.

Below is one way to look at this doctrine. It is not the only way and it doesn’t cover every facet of the discussion. If you have any questions remaining about this topic or anything in this series, feel free to leave a comment or shoot the ministry staff an email with your question(s).


God has spoken and communicated effectively but has he stopped? In how many ways has God spoken and is perhaps still speaking do you think?

It is not a new idea to question the sufficiency of Scripture for today. Is it really a book that applies today? Hasn’t the world outgrown the primitive ideas of the bible? Churches need to keep relevant and bring a message to the world that is more in sync with it. If the church expects to stay alive, let alone grow, it needs to present a more relevant and up to date message.


Week one – The Inspiration of The Word of God = God authored it (2 Peter 1:21)

Week two – The Inerrancy of The Word of God = God is sovereign and has directed his word to come to us through human history doing exactly what it is intended to do. They are the words of men and the word of God.

This week: The Sufficiency of The Word of God = We don’t need and needn’t want for God to add or subtract from his word.

What ‘sufficiency’ means:

To say that the bible is sufficient is to acknowledge that it supplies us with everything we need to hear from God and we have no need for a continuing and expanding message. We just need the bible and it’s message. We don’t need the bible plus continuing prophecy; nor bible and bible version 2; nor bible and the changing perspective or laws of a church; nor the bible and anything else. There are no accessories, add-ons, plug-ins or expansion packs to the word of God!

On the one side, this doctrine teaches us that with the scriptures, we have all that is necessary from God and there is no need for more. The flip side is that without the scriptures we do not have what we need. This doctrine doesn’t mean that the bible gives us everything we could ever want (like knowing if there’s life on another planet or not) – but scripture gives us all that we need – and tells us how much we need it.

In this lesson

In the bible, we find that God has finished speaking exactly what he needed to say and we need to hear – a word that is 1) complete, 2) for all of humanity and 3) for all of time.

1) God has said what is needed – and it is awesome!

Read Deuteronomy 29:29

What does this verse say in your own words?


How would you describe the ‘things’ that God has kept secret?


Where could we go to find the answers to these ‘secret things’?



God has spoken the non-secret things – who are they for and who needs them?


Read Hebrews 1:1-4

What does this paragraph say in your own words?


What has changed that might have brought God speaking to an end?


Does Hebrews imply that God intends to keep speaking through various prophets and in different ways? What does it imply?


Read 2 Peter 1:3-4

What is the meaning in your own words? Note that the ‘promises’ in verse 4 refer to the scriptures – his word. Note also the phrase ‘knowledge of him’ in verse 3 and the greater context of this chapter which states ‘the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord’ and of the ‘prophecy of scripture’ which is found in verse 20-21.



Note the three things that this passage promises we can have from the scriptures and discuss:

  1. knowledge of him


  1. godly life


  1. escape from corruption.


You may choose to read Romans 15:4-6

What is Paul’s description of why the scriptures were written?

God gives endurance and encouragement taught to us in the scriptures. It is the same endurance and encouragement that is demonstrated by Jesus Christ. Jesus is the pinnacle of scripture. The bible’s conclusion has been reached in Christ. We are to live by his pattern of teaching and through his atoning sacrifice.

2) God has spoken to all nations – and continues to do so!


Read Matthew 28:16-19

What is this saying in your own words?


Jesus is speaking to the eleven disciples (Judas had killed himself) and telling them to ‘go and make more disciples’. What does this mean?


How far are they to go to make disciples? i.e., Where in the world should the message of Jesus not be taken?


What time frame does Jesus have in mind for this ministry to go on for?


Read Romans 15:20-24

Does Paul seek to learn a new message to pass on to everyone? No!


Does he seek to take the message of the gospel of Jesus as far as he can? Yes!


The scriptures culminate in the work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ and they are for everybody to hear and understand.

3) God has all of human history in mind – and wants to include us all in it!

Read Ephesians 1:7-10

Is God still making known the mystery or secret of his will? Or has he made it known?


What is the will of God for everything according to this passage?


What is the central feature of God’s will and purpose? Clue: it’s a person!


Note that the word ‘mystery’ would be better understood as ‘secret’ – that is, it’s not something mysterious and strange but something that is something of a hidden treasure but God has now revealed it in Christ Jesus. Does this remind you a little of Deuteronomy 29:29 – the secret things verses the things that have been revealed?


Read Philippians 2:5-11

According to verses 9-11, what is the plan and vision of God for this world?


How do verses 5-8 relate to us today?


Is this a timeless message or a message only for 1st century Israel?


  • Perhaps there are things that you would love to know that God has not contained in the bible – it is not an encyclopaedia or comprehensive dictionary on how everything works.
  • Perhaps there are specific situations in your life that you wish the bible had a chapter and verse to cover and help you with. The bible is not written to give you a commandment for every decision you will face in life.
  • But the bible contains everything needed for knowledge of God – a growing knowledge in God.
  • And the bible contains everything we need to be taught, trained, rebuked and corrected for a life of godliness.
  • The bible contains everything we need to know God and to know life that is found in nobody else other than the person of Jesus Christ. He has paid the price for our sins and bought us life. He has shown us the way and demonstrated the timeless worth of faith, hope and love.
  • The bible may be difficult to understand and needs our attention and effort to learn but it is truly worth it! Every last bit of it is sufficient for knowledge of God, escaping death, and pursuing righteousness (2 Peter 1).
  • There are plenty of books that provide earthly wisdom, smart strategies and help in specific ares of life – but only one book that has been provided by our maker to make sense of life itself. Next week we will examine whether the bible is on par with these other books or if it is in a class of it’s own.

There is nowhere else we need to go – nor should we want to. 

Prayer for the week

Almighty God and Father, thank you for speaking to us in your word. Your word reminds us that you have prepared eternity for us and yet we are so bound to the limits of this life that we depart from your word to solve our own problems. Help us to trust you in both this life and the life to come. Thank you for the eternal word who came to meet us and pay for our sins. Please help us to take your word – your revealed truth – into all the world. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.