I'd like to speak with you about the Bible, and I'd like for you to open your Bible to Second Timothy, chapter 3. Second Timothy 3:16. And this begins with the word 'All' in my Bible. It says, "All Scripture is God-breathed," or inspired, "and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God," the woman of God, "may be thoroughly equipped for" most good works. No. "Every good work." There's a lot of difference between 'every' and 'most'.
There are 7 point 5 billion Bibles in the world. That's more than enough for one for each living human being on the face of the earth, because our population is about 6 or 6 point 1 billion. This does not include digital versions of the Bible on computers, PDA’s, Blackberries and iPhones. The electronic Bibles would add up to be a large number. But despite all that, less than 10% of professed Christians ever read their Bible from cover to cover. Less than 10% of all of those Bibles. Of those professing to be Christians. They just haven't read it much. And what that basically means is that we as Christians are biblically illiterate. We are. We don't know the Bible.
How many of you have read the owner's manual to your car all the way through? Raise your hands. One. How many of you have read your owner's manual all the way through? Raise your hand. I'm going to be encouraging you to read it through this year, because that needs to be done and it only takes like 80 or 90 hours to do it. The reason we don't do it is because we're lazy. Now you can disagree with that, but I guarantee you that you will spend 80 or 90 hours this year watching television. You will spend 80 or 90 hours this year sitting in front of the monitor to your computer. You will do that. So why can't we put this first. That's what needs to happen.
Amos, chapter 8. I want to read verse 11. It says, "The days are coming declares the sovereign Lord, when I will send a famine through the land. Not a famine of food or a thirst for water but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord." Are we in that today? Is there a famine for the Bible today? Today the world abounds in Bibles. You go over here to the Book and Bible house, the A.B.C. and they have more Bibles than you could read in a lifetime. So where is the famine? Is there a famine? Does this apply only to the old days of communism or the dark ages, maybe? What does the verse actually say? It says there will be a famine for what? Hearing the word of the Lord. Okay, that's different than owning Bibles. Hearing the word of the Lord. There's going to be a famine of that type. Billions of Bibles, but is the Bible being preached? Is it being heard? Ezekiel condemns pastors who do not feed their flock. Shepherds who won't feed the sheep. You need to be fed. When you come to this church, I will guarantee you we will use the Bible. That's why we're here.
There was a visitor who came to our church one time when I was pastoring in Carolina. She shocked me by saying that in her church they don't use the Bible. They never refer to it. It's not central. She said basically it is so refreshing to be in your church and hear the Bible preached. That's what needs to happen. People want to hear the Bible because this is where the power is. The power is not in what the preacher says, but in what God says. People today want to hear the Bible. Churches that are growing the fastest today are the churches that are back to the Bible and preaching the Bible. That's what we want to be.
There is a beautiful island that is about 14 miles off of the northwest coast of Venezuela. Have you ever been there? It's called Aruba. I've never been to it but I understand it's very, very nice. It has perfect weather. It has perfect beaches. It has perfect sand. It's a great place to go. So the people that build big hotels have built big hotels on Aruba. Thousands of tourists go there and enjoy the beaches. But there's a problem, because the island of Aruba is surrounded with sharks. It's a very, very much shark infested place. It's dangerous to swim with sharks. I have been told that. But people go out on the beaches of Aruba with no danger at all. Surrounded with sharks and they're safe. Do you know why? Why are they not bothered? Because every morning when the light is just coming up, the sun is just beginning to get light, they tow a garbage barge to the other side of the island. All the hotels are built on this corner of the island and the garbage barge goes to the other side of the island and they feed sharks over there all day. The sharks go where the food is. Smart sharks.
God's people will come if you will feed them. If you preach the Bible from the pulpit, the people will come. That's what needs to happen. We want to tell you, here in the Seventh-day Adventist church, bring your Bible. Bring your Bible. The churches that pass out the best food will grow the fastest.
When you're choosing a restaurant, never choose a restaurant with two cars parked there. That's bad food. You want to go to the restaurant and say, "Where are we going to park? There's no parking here." You get inside. "Well, there's a 15 minute wait, sir." That's where you need to be. You need to go to a place that's growing and they're growing because there's food there.
Look at John in your Bible. John 12:32. Jesus makes a statement, and when Jesus speaks I want to listen. When you're reading the Bible, you're listening to Jesus. John 12:32. He says, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw" what? "Will draw all men unto Myself." If we lift up the Bible, the truth, and the truth is Jesus, from the pulpit, the people will come.
Now today, there is a famine of the hearing of the words of the Lord. The word of the Bible. The real Bible. There are so many crazy Bibles out there. So many paraphrases and translations that are way off base. I try to preach from the N.I.V., the King James, the New King James, these are reliable translations. Get a Bible that you trust and read it.
Second Timothy 3:15. Paul writes to Timothy and he says, "From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures." Do you teach you the Scriptures to your children? You must do that if they're going to continue in the church.
We as Seventh-day Adventists used to always be known as the people of the Book. We had missionaries who went over to the island of Okinawa, and when they got there they did their work, and one day a native said, "You know, if you really want to know what the Bible says, find a Seventh-day Adventist." And there was a Kiwanis club in Texas. They were meeting and they said, "You know, the signs of the times, we're in serious conditions here." They said, "Well if you really want to know what's going on, get an Adventist minister to come." We are known as a people of the book. Are we still a people of the book? I guess that's not the main question. The main question is, "Are you a person of the book?" Are you yourself personally reading the Bible? Studying the Bible? Memorizing the Bible? You must. It has to happen.
David Turner, our adult Sabbath School superintendent, has kindly put in your bulletin a Bible reading guide. This has been in for the past couple of weeks. If you will follow this McDonald Road Bible reading plan in the year 2010 you will have read the entire Bible through this year. It's a worthwhile goal. I want to urge you to do it. If the holy Bible were read and studied and loved as it ought to be, every church member would be a giant of spiritual growth, a powerhouse of strength, zealous for the Lord. We would be changed. We need that change. I need that change in my life.
Let me read you something from Sister White, volume 8. "Its instruction," speaking of the Bible, "would be to us as the leaves of the tree of life." You can't reach the tree of life. There is no fountain of youth, but these leaves are like the leaves of the tree of life. Eat them. Study them. What if, in a few months from now, when you get to heaven, that your mansion is near the tree of life, and you don't take time to eat of the fruits of the tree of life, how long will you last? You say, "Well, I don't have time. I'm too busy asking Adam, 'Why didn't you just avoid the apple? He would have gotten you another wife.' I'm too busy visiting the galaxies. I don't have time to eat of the tree of life."
And you may say, "You know, I don't have time to read the Bible all the way through." Let me tell you, you have time to do what you want to do. Whatever you want to do, you can do it. If we don't have the time or desire to either the leaves of the tree of life here, how are we ever going to do it when we get up there? Brother Saint, Sister Saint, if you don't have time for the Bible here, then what are you going to do up there? You won't be there. We have time to watch TV. Did you know that 12% of teenagers do read the Bible, according to the survey I'm quoting here, but 99% of teenagers watch TV every day. 12% read the Bible every day. I think that may be a little high, but it ought not to be.
Look at John eight in your Bible. John eight, verse 31 and 32. Here's a text that has the word 'if' in it. "If you will do something." John eight, 31 and 32. "If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples, and indeed you shall know the truth and the truth shall" do what for you? "Shall set you free." So there's three steps here. If you will continue in my word every day. Number two, if you will know the truth. Then number three, the truth will make you free. That's the three step process. So do that. Time is short. I urge you, I beg you, to continue in the word and you will get to know Jesus on a personal basis. We're living on the wire edge of time. We don't have much longer. The only way to prepare for our finals is to study the Bible.
Look at Psalm 119. I think David had it right when he wrote many of these Psalms. In Psalm 119 verse 11, he tells a secret. He says, "Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not," what? "Sin against Thee." If you hide the word in your heart, it diminishes sin. Sin will not be a factor. Eventually you will overcome that. I think David did not hide the Bible in his heart at the beginning of his life like he should have, or he would've been looking at something else other than what he was looking at. He got into some problems, and I think later, he did repent and I think we will see David in the kingdom of God. If we don't have time to hide the Bible in our heart what's going to happen to us? There is a famine for the hearing of the Words.
I think one factor that is limiting the use of the Bible in the world today is that we have a new power coming to the front. Terrorism. The underwear bombers or whatever you want to call them. They are doing everything they can to terrorize people. This religion from which most of these people come is doing its best to prohibit the publication and the practice of Bible truth. They have their own bible. So if you have yours and you follow it and you try to preach it, your hands could be cut off, your head could be cut off. It's very serious. There's a famine for the hearing of the word in many of these places.
There are many reasons why there's a shortage of the Bible, of hearing the word today. I'm thankful to belong to a church that I don't get letters from the General Conference saying, "You can preach on anything in the Bible, but avoid that, or avoid that. Don't preach on that." I don't get letters like that. I have the freedom to preach on every verse in the Bible because in the Seventh-day Adventist church we believe in the entire book. We don't just focus on the New Testament. We focus on the entire package. I like that.
But, Matthew 24 verse five says that many will come in my name in the last days and will deceive many. They will come in the name of God, but they will deceive people.
Let me mention one thing to you. I was very concerned when I was reading volume 2 of the new Catholic Encyclopedia. Can I be just a little bit plain here? Page 283, it says about my Bible. Now listen to this. "The Bible is a record of progressive revelation and it is the fruit of long oral and written tradition in which early texts are reinterpreted, glossed over, reorganized, before reaching us in the state in which we read them today,". And in this encyclopedia it says that the story of Adam and Eve and I quote, "is really not history." It didn't happen. "Noah and the ark is an imaginative literary creation and not a historical fact." Many of the stories of the Bible, they claim, are fiction. Exaggerations. Such is the talking snake of Genesis three verse two. Jonah and the whale is just a fish story. Interesting, but it didn't really happen.
And so what does this mean? To me it means there's a famine for the hearing of the true word of God, because in the Seventh-day Adventist church we believe in the word of God, the whole thing from cover to cover. It's all inspired by God. I urge you to get into the Bible.
Isaiah chapter 40 and verse eight. "The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God shall stand forever." If you want to stand forever, get some forever stuff in your stomach. By the way, this is good food. This is organic. This is true powerful nutrition. Right here. Put it in your heart. I urge you as you begin to invest the time that has been allocated to you in 2010 to study the Bible.
One day in 2009, last year, I had the opportunity, I parked my car and took a hike. I like to hike. I have backpacked about 100 miles last year, and I got myself ready, and I decided to go up to see The Chimneys. Have you ever been to The Chimneys? It's a moderately uphill, steep type trail and eventually when you get on up there it's really exciting. I did make it all the way to the top. But I got going and was enjoying it. It was a hot summer day going up the trail and the sun was just beating down and I thought, "Wow, it's hot. I'll get a drink." And the water bottle was not in my day pack. It wasn't there. And I thought, "Oh my, I'm almost clear up here, I don't want to turn around and go back. I won't have time to come on back up. What should I do?" So I kept going and I was thinking of thirst, the whole time. I thought, "Maybe I could buy some water from one of these people who are coming down the hill." You know, they don't want to carry it. I need it. I reached for my billfold and I left it in the car. I dug down in my pocket, and I had two quarters. I thought well maybe I could buy a half a bottle of water. But that's already been used. How could I be so senseless? I leaned against a tree and a hiker came down and saw me there and said, "You need anything?" I said, "I'm thirsty." "Well here. We've got an extra one. Just take this." "I'll pay you when I get back to the car." "Well, just take it." So I got a drink and I was so thrilled for that, and now I try to carry two bottles in my pack. One to share and one for me.
The Bible contains God's living water and we live in a world that is dehydrated. We need to keep ourselves hydrated and you can't get a drink just once a day. How many of you made a resolution this year that you're going to eat this year? You made a New Year's resolution to do that? I didn't. We do that automatically. We feed our bodies. Let me tell you folks, the most important thing to feed is your soul. So please, how many of you this year would like to get into the Bible every day and read the Bible through? Anybody here like that? Put your hand up if you want to do this. I see your hands. Do it! Read the Bible through. We're living in the last days. By the way don't think that your personal Bible is dry on the inside just because it's dusty on the outside. It's not. Get into it and it will change you. It will change you. Make sure that your home is a place that is saturated with the truth of God's Word.
Let's sing our closing hymn. Give Me The Bible.
Thank you, dear Father, for a brand-new year. We intend on being brand-new people, but we can't do that in the same old way, so we pray that we will saturate ourselves this year with Your water, Your nutrition, Your Bible. Dismiss us with Jesus in our hearts and our lives and our homes, we pray in His name, amen.
Hymn of Praise: #230, All Glory, Laud, and Honor Scripture: Amos 8:11-12 Hymn of Response: #272, Give Me the Bible Sermon Notes: Sermon notes available as PDF
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 1/30/10