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!
- inspiration – think ‘authored by God’ not ‘inspired by an artist.’
- inerrancy – think ‘a trustworthy message’ not ‘a scientific journal.’
- sufficiency – think ‘a Dundee knife’ not ‘a Swiss Army knife.’
- authority – think ‘the King’s voice’ not ‘the King’s advisor.’
- 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.
- How are the righteous described? (verses 1-3, 6)
- 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.
- What words does he use as synonyms for scripture?
- What does the psalmist claim to gain from meditating on God’s word?
- 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)?
- How do verses 105-120 enhance our understanding of verse 104?
- What ways can we meditate on God’s word?
2 Timothy 3:15-17.
- How many ways are the scriptures useful?
- 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
- What key point does both of these passages make?
- How does Jesus describe eternal life?
- Has Paul fallen in love with a philosophy? a book? a religion? a fresh perspective? or a person?
- What is the point of reading the bible? To study a book or to know life with our Maker and Saviour?
- What have you learned over these 5 weeks of studying the topic of the bible?
- What will you do now as a result?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.