What Really Matters Part 2
By Benjamin Raven Pressley
So, how do you really get to know God intimately anyhow? I mean you can’t really look Him in the eye or feel His touch can you? I believe you can. Not in a literal, physical sense but in much deeper terms than you can ever experience in any human relationship. Even on the human level aren’t there certain people that their touch goes beyond the physical contact of their touch? Aren’t there some people that when they look into your eyes seem to be looking much deeper than just the surface sensory experience that you feel normally when someone looks at you? Ok, then ponder that, make that thought connect with what I am about to say. Pray for understanding of what I said in the previous study and as we continue on in this study. I really want to do all I can with God’s help to help you connect with a true and living God. He is real. He is a person but a person far beyond anything we have experienced in this physical realm. He is pure Spirit. He is THE Creator. He has always been and always will be. He is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. AND, HE LOVES YOU. Don’t be afraid as you begin to open up to Him and feel His presence, perhaps for the first time. The relationship you are about to enter into is so deep that it will touch places deep down in your emotional core. You may laugh…. you may cry. It is OK. At the same time it is so real and simple that even a child can experience the presence of God that I am writing about. Take time, every day if possible, to just release yourself and call upon Him to come. Then trust Him and allow Him to just love you, embrace you and bring peace to you as only He can. He is ever present but you must learn to embrace and practice His presence to fully benefit from what He has to offer. Learn of Him. Get to know who He is deep down in your heart (spirit) in a way that words cannot express.
The next thing I want to share with you on what really matters goes right along with and is just another extension of what I have already discussed and that is getting to know God by experiencing His Word. In order to experience and truly walk this walk with Christ you will HAVE TO BE A STUDENT OF THE WORD. God’s Word is THE HOLY BIBLE. Accept no substitutes. And don’t be turned off by that word ‘study’. Studying the Word is not like your studies in school where you were made to do homework and learn something you weren’t really that interested in. The Bible is THE WORD OF GOD. It is like looking into a window or a portal or something where you can get a glimpse of who God really is. It is in His Word that you will learn His character, His ways in a way that will connect with you on a level like nothing else can. It is hard to explain in words because it is only something that can be understood in your spirit. It is kind of like trying to describe love. It just can and cannot be explained all at the same time. It is absolutely essential that you get into this book that is more than a book. It is a book that will speak to you on a level that is beyond anything you can experience in any other way.
My friend Jay Parkman, a Pastor, a teacher and student of the Word that I highly respect and benefit from puts it this way:
“I would have to say that it is essential to the health and growth of a believer to be a constant student of the Scriptures.
“I was going over the birth of the Church and reflected upon the fact that one of the first things the new believers did after baptism was “…continued steadfastly in the Apostle’s doctrine.” (Acts 2:42). The fact that this is listed before fellowship, communion, etc. seems to be an indication that the Holy Spirit didn’t want believers just to socialize or be entertained, He wanted them to be learning what was important all the time.
“Later on in Acts 5:18 the Apostles were put in prison for teaching about Jesus. Then they were threatened by the High Priest and the Council. The problem? “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine…” The same issue occurs in Acts 8:26-35 with Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in that knowing the Scriptures was the essential need for salvation. The same repeats all over the book of Acts (Acts 13:12, 17:19). Later it is the theme of the Epistles (Rom 6:17, 16:17, Col 1:23, 1 Tim 1:3, 1:10, 4:6, 5:17, 2 Tim 3:10, 3:16, Titus 1:9, 2John 1:9-10, etc.) and finally some of the last instructions the Apostle Paul had for the next generation of believers (2 Tim 4:2-3).
“I guess this is what I’m trying to say here: Before the churches began to split over their views, there was a commonly understood and accepted doctrine for believers that Jesus delivered to the Apostles. Historically, these were transmitted from the early fathers as well and we didn’t get off track too much until the middle of the 3rd century. For a believer to know this doctrine (and come to understand from study why other theologies do not fit) would be the best thing I think. To me, it’s like understanding the mechanics of driving and how the car goes before you get behind the wheel.
“Once a person branches out from the essential doctrine, they find themselves gravitating into a particular theology. From that theology they choose their denomination. Once they lock into that, then it’s “bye-bye” to the student of the Scriptures… 🙂
“Hope that makes some sense as to where I see it… As always, 2 Tim 2:7.”
Well put and I hope my readers will take time to look up all the scriptures Jay referenced. I did and they each have something to say that will hit home and you will benefit from.
The Bible is a living book. It cannot be approached like any other book. You have to open it and anticipate being drawn into an experience like you have never had before. You have to open it and be prepared for your understanding to be opened on a level you have never experienced. If you don’t approach it that way you will receive nothing from it. It will just be another tedious book to read. The Bible is the ONLY book you can experience on this level. And as Jay brought out above it is the ONLY place we can get our “essential doctrine” from. People these days don’t like absolutes. We are living in a world of social and moral relativism. It is all a lie and only leads to chaos and confusion ultimately. Think about it. If there are no absolutes like the Bible then everyone can just make up the rules as they go. You think that sounds good? What if you are Hitler and you decide Jews should be wiped off the face of the Earth? See what I mean. Our justice system and morality in this country is a mess because the Bible has not been upheld as the standard in this country. The courts are nothing more than a contest of who has the best lawyer that can find the most loopholes. You have groups rallying for support because they think molesting children should be made legal. I am told that the tour of the capitol building when they get to the statue of Moses holding the ten commandments that people are being told he is holding the Bill of Rights. It is crazy out of control! We have got to get back to the basics. But, more than likely that isn’t going to happen in this country or in the church in general. But that should not discourage the true believer. The true church is still alive. There is a remnant left of people who know the Lord is their God. Don’t be discouraged though it seems you are standing alone. You are not alone. You are reading this study because you want to know the truth, because you do want to know and connect with the true and living God. So, read on.
How to approach the Bible is probably one of the most important things you will ever need to know. The Bible is a living, breathing book. It is THE Word of God. If you don’t approach it right, it won’t change you, it won’t strengthen you. James 1:22-25 speaks of how most people approach the Word of God. He says it is like looking into a mirror and seeing something that needs changing but doesn’t do anything about it. You can’t just read this book like any other book. You have to let it speak to you and then you have to do something about it.
Let me see if I can explain what is meant by the Bible being THE Word of God. Well, it is inspired by God. Did God tell its authors word for word what to write? No, but God made sure the human authors, using their own individual personalities and even their writing styles, composed and recorded His word without error. The Bible is His revelation to man in the words He wanted written. The Scripture is ‘God-breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:15-17). We read in Scripture that truth is an attribute of God (Jeremiah 10:10; John 1:14; 14:6; 17:3), and that God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Titus 1:2; Romans 3:3-4). The Word of God, then, is true (John 17:14,17; Psalm 119:142; 151; 160; Revelation 21:5; 22:6). There are some who would have you believe that the Bible is in error and contradicts itself. Think about this. Do you not think that the almighty God who created all things is not able to protect the translation of His Word to man knowing that an entire people will be depending on an accurate word from Him that will determine where they will spend eternity? Of course He is! The Word of God is THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. HIS WORD IS FOR ALL PEOPLE FOR ALL TIME.
Hebrews 4:12 says: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” I have heard it said all my life that the Bible is your sword. But I have news for you. It isn’t. Let me explain. It is no more than words on a page if you don’t approach it right. It is no more than words on a page if you don’t let it get deep down inside of you and speak to you in your innermost being. The devil isn’t scared of you carrying around a Bible. You can carry around the biggest family sized Bible you can get and he still isn’t scared. What scares him is when you start reading it and studying it and believing it. Then it becomes a powerful two-edged sword. David said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalms 119:11). It wasn’t until he ‘hid’ it in his heart that it had an effect. So, the written Bible in itself is not a sword. It is more like a storehouse for the swords. The swords are in there. They are sharp and powerful. But you have to draw them out. So, how do you do that?
I am no Greek scholar but there are two very important Greek words that you need to understand before we continue. They are Rhema and Logos. Logos is the written word. Rhema is the God breathed, God revealed word. The understanding derived from ‘reading between the lines’ so-to-speak. Rhema is when you are reading the Bible and it just sort of jumps out at you. It speaks directly to you in your spirit. Rhema is when it becomes a sword!
So, how do we get this Rhema? How do we really approach the Word of God? Well, first some basics. The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek. The most well-known English translation was written in the 16th century, known as the King James version (For a comparison of versions check out these websites– http://www.holybible.com/resources/version_comparison_chart.htm
And also http://www.1john57.com/ ). The King James Version was written in the common language of the day of that time. The English language falls short though in so many ways. For example, we say we ‘love’ God, we ‘love’ our mother and we ‘love’ ice cream. All the same word, but expressing totally different expressions of love. In the Greek language the word for the God kind of love is Agape. Love for a friend is Phileo. Physical love is Eros. Storge means natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring. Thelema means the desire to do something, to be occupied, to be in prominence. My point being, you are going to have to learn to dig a little deeper than just reading the Bible like any other book if you truly want to grow and understand it. You are probably thinking I am saying you have to understand Greek. Not necessarily. In this modern day and time there are some good resources that are easy to use. One book in particular that is well worth the money is Strong’s Concordance. You can look up any word in English and it will reference you to the Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek literal meaning of the word and will give you some deeper insights into the meaning of the passage you are reading. It is also available on line for free at http://www.eliyah.com/lexicon.html.
Another important thing to know about the Bible is that it is 66 books in one. Therefore it doesn’t necessarily have to be read from front to back like other books. In fact, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be read that way. It is fine if you want to read the Bible through in a year but make that is extra reading to when you really read the Bible, otherwise you are going to miss something. I tell people you are better off reading 3 or 4 verses and understanding them than to read 10 chapters and not even know what you read. So many people start in Genesis and get bogged down in the begats and levitical law and don’t go any farther. Don’t get me wrong. Every book of the Bible is important but you have to learn to walk before you can run. The main thing to keep in mind is the Bible is all about Jesus. The Old Testament points to Jesus coming to earth. And the New Testament fulfills Him coming to earth. The Bible tells us what that means to humankind and how to apply it to our lives and what our purpose here on earth is.
So, how do you approach the Word of God? First, PRAY. Consider what I have said above. Familiarize yourself with some study methods (Request the study Bible Study Methods for more ideas on how to study.). Then pray for the Holy Spirit to open up the Word to you, to speak to you from His Word. Jesus taught His disciples while on Earth with them. He also told them that when He leaves He would send the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is your helper. He will teach you. Depend on Him. Next, ask Him where you should read. If you do not feel Him leading you to a particular passage then approach your study systematically believing He will guide you as you get into His Word. And, listen for His voice. You may even be lead where to study from a preacher’s sermon or a lesson taught by a teacher. There have been times that I have came home from church and I just ‘had’ to dig a little deeper into a passage preached on and it became Rhema to me. The Word of God is exciting and so dynamic!
There is so much more I could say in this study. Take what I have given you. Consider it. Ponder it. Let God make it work for you. You will never understand it all, but, God will give you what you need day by day as you need it. Like David said, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. “ (Psalms 119:105). Have you ever walked down a dark trail with a flashlight or a lantern? Did it light up the whole path? No, but it did light just enough in front of you so you could see the way, didn’t it? That is the way God’s Word is. Don’t get too far ahead of Him. Let him light your path day by day and you will get where you are going. He won’t let you down.