THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 6-22-03
LESSON TITLE: LEARNING TO DRAW NEAR TO GOD: "WHY IS STUDYING GOD'S WORD IMPORTANT?"
Welcome to the Living Word program on this wondrous Lord's Day. What a privilege it is to have you with us today, as we together give this time to God. I know that we will all be encouraged and uplifted by our time together this morning. So, let's give our best to God so that He may be pleased with our offering. Furthermore, let's do all things according to His will - so that our worship will be received by Him in a good and perfect way. Now, let's approach His throne in prayer!
Sometimes it is difficult to decide the right way to go or to determine what we should do. Let me suggest this morning that there is a way that we can always make the right choice. Our first song of the day shows us the clear answer to the question when we are looking for the right path in life. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together the song, "Thou Art The Way!"
(SONG # 1)
In James chapter 4, verse 8, we read a beautiful thought from this inspired writer of God. The first part of this verse says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Wow, what an encouraging and great statement this is to those who love God and want to do His Will.
This statement says so much to the true follower of God. It tells me that the more I love God and do for Him the more He loves me and does for me. The more I live for Him and stand in His promises, the more He helps me to be what I need to be. The more I give to Him and commit my life to Him, the more He blesses and blesses. What a great incentive and motivation we have to respond to the wondrous love God has already shown us and draw nearer to Him.
I also wanted to look at the same text and see what part of our duty is in drawing near to God. First as you look at the second half of the verse we read earlier, it says, "Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." So drawing near to God is all about putting away that which is contrary to Him. Staying away from sin and darkness and completely turning our lives over to Him, as we strive for righteousness. Yes, following and serving God is all about being in the light where He is, not about being of the world or controlled by those things contrary to His Will.
Finally, look with me in the same passage, but one verse back - verse 7. There we again find an important part we must play in our drawing nearer to God. Furthermore, we are told of the great results when we are able to fulfill this command of God. There it says, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." There we have it, submit to God - learn His Will, find what He wants, and do it His way. Now notice the results of this action toward God. When we submit to God and draw nearer to Him, we will automatically resist the things of Satan, and thus the devil will leave us alone! What a wondrous promise this is to the one who chooses to submit themselves totally to God.
With these things in mind, we are going to begin a new series of study today that is based on this very idea of drawing nearer to God. Together we will explore many Biblical teaching that are a part of "drawing nearer to God," as well as becoming what He would have us to be. I look forward to this important study from God's Word.
Today, it's great to have Jerry Sullins with us as our guest speaker. In a few minutes brother Sullins will return and lead our lesson thoughts of the day, as we consider our new series entitled, "Learning to Draw Near to God." Our specific lesson of the day will answer the question, "Why is Studying God's Word Important?" So, we hope you will stay with us for this important study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second song of the morning. Won't you join in with the congregation as we sing the hymn, "Redeemed."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Jerry Sullins
It's a pleasure to be with you this morning. Before we enter into the lesson for today, I would like to make an announcement concerning a new school that is beginning on August 25th, 2003 and that is the Bible Institute of Missouri right here in Springfield, Missouri. Actually what we're establishing is a preacher's training school. It's a four year collegiate level program. Actually, although it is a four year program, it is squeezed into two years of studies, a very intense Bible study. At present we have eight students who are going to be coming to school full time. We want to make this known to the community especially to the churches of Christ that we have a preacher's training program that is comparable to any preacher's training school that you would go to anywhere in the United States of America. And so if you would be interested in finding out more information about this school, please contact us at the addresses and phone numbers that will be given at the close of this program.
A very interesting study we're going to be involved in the next few weeks is learning how to draw near to God. And actually that's one thing that all of us want to do is to get closer to our Father in heaven, for we know many things about Him that are revealed to us in His Holy Word. In reference to this subject as we consider it itself, in order to learn how to draw near to God we must study His Word. For it is only within the pages of God's Word, the book that we call the Bible that we can learn of Him. The scripture itself says that the apostle Paul in Roman's 10, verse 17 says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."
And then Paul admonished the young preacher Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 15 to "study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed handling a right the word of truth."
And then in that same book, chapter 3, verses 15-16, Paul emphasizes to this young preacher, Timothy, that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction and righteousness that the man of God might be complete, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
We know as Peter said in 2 Peter 1, verses 20-21 that "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." But actually what happened is holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit and not only did that happen in Old Testament times when the Holy Spirit indwelled men and brought to them God's eternal Word, but it happened in the New Testament times even with the Lord Jesus Himself.
Yes, we need to learn more about the Bible because there are many things that we are told in the Bible that cannot be found anywhere else and so it's important that we study God's Word. For how can we have any relationship with God unless we know His Word? Have you ever considered this fact that we only know the true story about our origin, that is the origin of man, as is revealed to us in the record of God's book? Some people give many theories about how man was created. Have you noticed that? Time after time we read about how man was created and how many theories are proposed about how man was created, the theory of evolution and some people who claim to be Christians claim that God did create all things through the evolutionary process and they call themselves "theistic evolutionists," because they don't want to drop that theory of man. But now friends, that's just exactly what it is. It's a theory of man. But the Bible tells us how man was created in the very first book. In Genesis chapter 1, verse 26, the Bible says, "Then God said, 'Let us make men in our image according to our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image. In the image of God, He created him.
In chapter 2, verse 7 it says, "The Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and He breathed into the nostrils of man the breath of life and man became a living soul," and in the original language that actually means he became a living being.
So who created us? I have no doubt as to who created us. It was the Father above. The only legitimate record we have, the only true record we have of our creation is found within this book that we refer to as the Bible which we know is God's Word.
But there are other things the Bible reveals that we need to know. One of those is do you realize that we would never know of our lost state if it were not for the Bible, that we are lost in sin? As Paul says in Romans 5, verse 12, "Therefore just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin so that death has passed upon all men in that all have sinned." All have what? All have sinned. He restated that in Romans 3, verse 23 where it says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."
Do you remember what was stated in 1 John 5:19 by the apostle John? He made this statement that "the whole world lieth in wickedness."
And even Isaiah of old in Isaiah 59:1-2, the prophet said several thousand years ago that "what has separated us from God would be our sins and our iniquities." We are lost because of our sin. We would not know that unless the Bible would tell us. Would the world tell us that? No, the world would not venture to tell us that. Only God in His love and mercy would tell us that we are lost in our sin and He has done that to us, or told us that in His eternal Word.
But also my friend, we need to study the Bible even more because not only does the Bible tell us that we are lost in sin, but the Bible tells us what God has done for us. In Romans chapter 5, verses 8-9, there the Bible clearly says that "God has loved us enough that He commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Now we know the verse that even most all Christian children know, John 3:16, that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Paul again said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief."
What does the Bible reveal to us? What God has done. Through whom? Jesus Christ the son of God.
Remember what Paul said in the book of Titus and I want us to read that this morning. In the book of Titus chapter 2, verses 11, we'll go through verse 14. Paul said, "For the grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lust we should live righteously, soberly and godly in this present age looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for Himself His own special people," the King James Version says, "peculiar people, zealous of good works."
And so, what did God do for us? He gave His only begotten son so that we, through our obedience to His Will, might have opportunity to relieve ourselves of our sin spiritually. Now we would not know that my friend if it were not for the Bible, and how could we draw near to God at all if we did not know this wonderful and great principle. But also the Bible reveals to us what we must do in order to take advantage of salvation. Not only does the Bible say we are condemned because of our sin, but God in His loving mercy revealed to us in His eternal Word what we must do as individuals to be saved. Now what we're going to be hearing in the next few moments are not the words of some man or some religious organization but they are the words of Jesus Christ and the inspired apostle and answered to one of the most important questions if not the most important question that you would ever entertain. That question is "what must I do to be saved?" Yes, there is a man. That man is Jesus Christ and through Him we can be saved, but He had a plan for our salvation and He exercised that plan or put that plan into effect by His death on the cross and the shedding of His blood. Do you realize that my friend? So in response to that who would we ask "what we must do to be saved?" Would we ask some man? Well, we would ask a man if he claims to be a preacher and he's following God's Word but we would also ask him, when he tells us what we must do to be saved, "where did you get this information? Where is the proof for what you are saying?" Well that is found in God's eternal Word.
So what must one do to be saved? Jesus said that "except you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." So true, everyone believes that one must believe in order to be saved. Jesus said, "Unless you repent you will perish." In fact, He commanded people to repent through His preaching. That was the main message of His repentance or of His preaching and that was repentance. And so Jesus desires that we repent. In fact, He even said in Luke 13:3, "Unless you repent you will perish." Repentance means turning away from sin, dying to sin, deciding within your mind that spiritually that you are no longer going to be a servant of righteousness. Now this happens before one puts on Christ and has the remission of his or her sins. Now when does that take place? Well there's still other things that one must do because Paul said in Romans 10, verse 9-10 that "confession is made with the mouth unto salvation." Jesus said, "If you confess me before men, I will confess you before our Father who is in heaven."
So how do we get into Christ? Galatians 3:27 tells us that "we are baptized into Christ." Romans 6:3-4, "we are buried with Him by baptism into His death." "We are washed from our own sins in His own blood," Revelation 1, verse 5. So God has not just left us in our sin with no knowledge of what we must do to be saved from our sins. My friend, what we must do is the same thing everyone has had to do since the very beginning of time and that is to believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Confess that belief before men. Repent of his or her sins. That is to turn away from sin. And to be baptized into Christ for the remission of those sins. That's what the Bible teaches.
And Peter in that great sermon in Acts chapter 2, verse 38 said these precious words to those people who realized that they had crucified the son of God. He said in Acts 2, verse 38, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. What a blessed truth that is. And my friends, we would not know that unless we study God's Word. That's why we must study to show ourselves approved unto God.
One other important thing to consider this morning that we really need to consider is this, that some day, according to God's eternal Word, "there is going to be a judgment coming. God is going to judge us for we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged according to what we've done in our bodies whether it is good or bad," 2 Corinthians 5, verse 10.
Hebrews chapter 9, verse 7, "It's appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment."
Jesus is coming again someday. He's going to appear in the clouds. Those who are faithful as the writers say in the New Testament, the inspired writers in the New Testament. "Those who are faithful will be called up together with Him in the clouds and go and forever be with the Lord in the air." Yes, that judgment day is coming. Jesus gave a picture of that great scene in Matthew 25 when He said, "All of the nations of the earth were gathered before Him and He would separate them, that is the sheep from the goats." Those who are righteous on one hand and those who are not righteous on the other hand. We must consider these eternal truths.
f I want to be near to God, I need to understand that God is taking care of me. He has revealed to me that truth that I need to understand in order to do His Holy Will. And all we need to do is study His Word. It's not wrong to study with friends and to study with religious people because most people try to honor His Word, but the way we honor His Word is by believing His Word. The way we trutly honor His Word is by practicing His Word. So we must understand how much God loves us and wants us to really do His Will and we can find His Will in His Word. There's going to come a day when Jesus will come again with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May God bless you this morning.
(SONG # 3 - "Our God, He is Alive!")
Thanks for putting God first and choosing to be with us this morning. I hope you have benefited from our time together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God.
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Thanks be to God for His precious Word that we are able to study and grow by, so that every day we may become more and more what He would have us to be, according to His Will!