What do you hear as you read the Scriptures? We often assume that God is pleased in our having read His word or in at least in our knowing what the Bible says. In fact, the Bible itself tells us that the truth will set you free (John 8:32), the sum of Thy words is truth (Psa 119:160), and Thy word is truth (John 17:17). Christians are committed to God and the word of God’s grace that they might be built up and set apart in God’s holiness (Acts 20:32). Furthermore, Christians facing suffering (James 1:2–4) are told to humbly accept the word planted in them for salvation (James 1:21). There simply is no substitute for God’s own word in regard to salvation!
The problem for us comes when we put our focus on hearing the word, instead of its message about Jesus Christ, when faith in Jesus Christ comes from hearing the message of the word (John 17:20; Rom 10:17). People have for thousands of years heard and learned God’s written word without hearing its message ( Luke 24:25–27; John 5:45–47). Jesus told the Jewish leaders of His day, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life” (John 5:39–40).The problem the Jewish experts in the Law had was one of selfish-pride; they listened to the word and trusted in themselves! Jesus asked one such expert (Luke 10:26), “What is written in the Law, and how do you read it?” The expert’s problem was that he had been reading God’s word to justify himself (Luke 10:29) not to hear its message!
It takes more than hearing the word of God to please God (James 1:22); it takes faith in Christ to please God (Gal 2:16; 3:26 – 27; 2Tim 3:15; Heb 11:1, 6). The word of God is powerful to save us (Rom 1:16), if we will hear its message. The message of Scripture leads us to Jesus Christ (Gal 3:24), and it is to Him that we listen (Mark 9:7) and render our obedience (Rom 1:5; 16:26). If we want to live our lives by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself up for us (Gal 2:20), we must seek to hear the saving message of Scripture – Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1Cor 2:2). If the message we get from Scripture leaves us to face sin with only our own effort and devices, we are not hearing its saving message! What does the Bible say? How do YOU read it?
Peace (Eph 2:14),
(Luke 10:25–29 NIV)
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
(John 5:37– 40, 45– 47)
. . . And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
41 “I do not accept praise from men, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. . . . 45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”