Captives Of The WordSeries: Fruit Of The Spirit
CAPTIVES OF THE WORD
Sermon By Terry Siverd / July 09, 2023 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
The preeminence of the written Word of God is established in both the Old Testament and New Testament.
Deut.5:1 prefaces the second giving of the Ten Commandments with these comments:
Then Moses summoned all Israel, and said to them, 'HEAR, O Israel, the statues and the ordinances
which I am speaking today in your hearing, that you may LEARN them and OBSERVE them carefully.'
The opening verses of the book of Joshua (Josh.1:1-8) records Jehovah God's directive to Moses' co-worker Joshua:
Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you...Be strong and very courageous;
be careful to DO ACCORDING TO THE LAW which Moses My servant commanded you; DO NOT TURN FROM IT
to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart
from your mouth, but you shall MEDITATE ON IT day and night, so that you may be careful to do according
to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
King David wrote extensively about this very same subject. His longest psalm reiterates the priority of God's Word.
Ps.119:11 / They word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.
He affirms in Ps.119:47-48 / I shall delight in Thy commandments, which I love. And I shall
lift up my hands to Thy commandments, which I love; And I will meditate on Thy statutes.
In Ps.119:97 & 105, David underscores: O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day...Thy word is a lamp
unto my feet and a light unto my. I have sworn, and I will confirm it, that I will keep Thy righteous ordinances.
In the New Testament the apostle Paul speaks of the Word as THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT (Eph.6:17).
He notes in Heb.4:12 that the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, and
piercing as far as the division of the soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able
to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is not creature hidden from
His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
Inherent within the power of the word of God is this ability to PIERCE our hearts.
This happened on Pentecost when Peter preached God's word and 3,000 arose to be baptized (Acts 2:37-41).
This piercing also happens on a regular basis when we read the Scriptures.
Life tempts us daily to conform to this world, but Paul urges us to be transformed by the RENEWING OF OUR MIND.
This renewing of our mind comes every time we delve into the word of God.
This morning I want to speak about a topic that is both a Christian discipline and a Christian grace: studiousness.
The study of the word of God is not reserved for just those who are super smart.
In fact, sometimes our smartness out-smarts us. Some very intelligence people are not very wise.
One does not need to be a scholar, a savant or a genius to be keen on the word of God.
You don't have to be a “brainiac” to be a disciple of Christ.
You might be surprised to discover that the word disciple (mathetes) means learner or student.
When Jesus chose the original Twelve apostles, they were not well-read, bookish academics. cf. Mt.4:18-22.
The Jewish leaders noted that Peter and John were uneducated and untrained or unlearned (Acts 4:13).
They were, however, earnest and diligent and reflective: key ingredients to studiousness.
Lk.10:38f tells the story of two sisters, one named Mary and the other named Martha.
When Jesus came to visit in their home, Martha became distracted with all her preparations (fixing a meal).
She even asked Jesus to “rebuke” Mary for not helping, but Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the good part.
Lk.10:39 says of Mary - - that she seated at the Jesus' feet, listening to the Lord's word.
We humans are created beings designed by our Creator who gives direction to our lives.
In a real sense, we are captives of the word.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan (if you are the Son of God, command these stones to turn to bread), He answered saying: It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Mt.4:4).
We are told in the Bible to be diligent to present (ourselves) approved to God as a workman
who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth (2Tim.2:15).
The Scriptures are inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for training in righteousness (2Tim.3:16).
Long before it appeared popular in the academic realms and a wide variety of employment situations,
the call for continuing education was heralded throughout Scripture.
To be a true disciple is to be a lifelong learner, a “career” student.
The study of God's word is not to be done for a day, but daily.
When Paul & Silas visited with the Jewish believers in the synagogue they applauded them for their
devotion to the word of God, noting that they received the (spoken) word with great eagerness,
searching the Scriptures daily to see if these things were in accord with the written word (Acts 17:11).
One final word of caution.
It is a good thing to read the word of God. It is also good (maybe even better) to memorize Scripture.
Meditation, contemplation and rumination are also important - - all three qualify as a supremely good usage of time.
But application and obedience must not be overlooked or left out.
The writer of the book of James was noted for being a prayer warrior (“camel-knees” was his nickname).
In Js.1:22, James implored his readers to be DOERS OF THE WORD.
Prayer is not a substitute for Bible study, but rather a complement to it.
Diligent study yoked together with fervent prayer puts a genuine one-two punch into discipleship.
Bible study is a Christian discipline, but it is more than that - - it is also a Christian virtue or fruit of the Spirit.
James Montgomery Boice states,
“Bible study is the most essential ingredient in the believer's spiritual life - - because it is only
in the study of the Bible...that Christians hear Christ and discover what it means to follow Him.”