What About the Word of God?
How are you guys doing this morning? Awesome. We got one doing well, everyone else is just ready to zone out for the rest of the sermon. I get it. I get it. It’s me. It’s not Nathaniel. Hopefully, I don’t drop that Corona again, and hopefully, my hope is that we learn something today that transforms our hearts and minds. To begin, I want to ask you guys a question. The message is going to be on the word of God, obviously. If you’ve guessed that already, you’re pretty smart. You’re ahead of the game, but how many of you had ever read the Bible from front to back? Raise of hands? All right, we got a few. Awesome.
Well, when I was a kid, I was challenged to read my Bible every day. For some reason, I was a super undisciplined kid growing up. All I wanted to do was go outside, run in the woods, and get muddy and dirty. My mom called me Pig-Pen from Charlie Brown because I was just constantly dirty all the time and never did anything, but for some reason, I took this challenge really important because the guy who told me was at a camp and he was like, “This book can transform your life. It can teach you how to live, and it can teach you what is true.” I was like “You know what? I want to know how to live. I want to know the truth, so I’m going to read my Bible every day.
When I first started, I opened up my Bible and was just flipped open to my whatever page, and was like, “Holy Spirit, guide me,” did this mystical … Just flipped open the pages and see what would come of it. I did that for a little while, but as I got older, I started thinking, “You know what? If this is my faith, if this is something that I’m going to have as a foundation for my life, I want to know what’s inside, because if I don’t know what’s inside of it, how could I really say it’s what I believe in?” I didn’t want glimpses anymore. I wanted the full picture.
I was like 11, 12, I opened the Bible to Genesis 1:1, and I started reading those beautiful lines of “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness, He called night, and there was evening and there was morning, one day.”
The song of creation begins, and if you were to continue to listen or read the rest of the book, the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, you would find this repetition, this song of creation of God’s word coming and speaking something into being which is usually light or life, and that coming forth, and then God saying that it is good. When He comes to man, He breathes into man, which is this intimate act of being close to someone. If you’ve ever been close enough to feel someone’s breath, you’re usually pretty close or it’s a pretty awkward game of chicken, either one.
This idea of God speaking into being and these things coming out of light, God creating the stars, creating the moon, creating the sun. He creates light, and then He creates life. He creates the birds. He creates the creepy-crawlies, the things on the ground. He creates us. He creates all these things with His word. I always thought that that was kind of weird because if I was writing the book of Scriptures, I probably would’ve said, “God crafted everything. He made it with His hands,” because, usually, when I make something, I make something with my hands. Right? God chiseled away the earth and made mountains and stuff. I thought that would be pretty cool.
I also thought it would be pretty cool if God just thought all these things into existence, like He just thinks it, and then it comes into being, but there is something very special and something very important that the writer of Genesis is getting at when he keeps talking about the word of God, speaking and light and life coming in into existence. 11 and 12-year-old Lincoln had no idea that this was important. I had no idea until many years later that this chapter, Genesis 1, was not just something periphery. It wasn’t just a story of how the earth was made, but I was something central to the idea and central to the theme of Scripture and the theme of what the word of God is. It’s essential for mine and yours existence.
What do I mean by this? Well, who is familiar with the idea of foreshadowing? If you’re, not, it’s okay. I’ll try to explain it. Foreshadowing is something that’s done in film or in a book, and what it is, it’s a signal or a clue or a hint to what’s going to happen the rest of the story. Why I love this so much is because when someone does it, when someone uses foreshadowing super well, you can tell that they put a lot of thought and effort, and they planned everything out beforehand. It’s not just something that’s thrown together, mumbo jumbo, random, just happens, but it’s something that is designed.
My favorite director is Christopher Nolan. I don’t know if you guys know who that is, but he’s done some of my favorite films. He’s done Inception, Interstellar, The Dark Knight trilogy, and a bunch of other films. I’m not necessarily saying you have to see them but I love them because he really uses the idea of foreshadowing super well in his films. They’re really well thought out. My favorite of The Dark Knight trilogy, I know most of you will say The Dark Knight, but Batman Begins is my favorite. I think it’s objectively better, just saying, personally.
I mean, maybe you guys have a different idea, but if you can think back to 2005, rewind back there, some of you may not have been alive then, or one or two years old, but think back. George W. Bush was still in the middle of his presidency. Lincoln, he was entering into middle school. I think, I don’t know if I want to think about this anymore, but we’ll stay there. You’re watching Batman Begins and Bruce and Rachel are playing hide and go seek. They’re running around, looking for each other, and Bruce goes and he hides on top of this well, and there’s these really old boards, and he ends up falling through the boards.
He lands in this well, in this scary dark well, and he breaks his arm, and I think he breaks his leg. He’s looking down this tunnel that he can’t see because it’s just dark, and then bats come, and they traumatize him. You can see that he’s very scared. He’s frightened. Then his dad comes. He saves him, and he brings him up and starts … He’s a doctor, so he starts bringing him into the house and he’s going to fix him. Before he does that, he says, “Why do we fall, Bruce? So that we can learn to pick ourselves back up again.” That’s what happens. That’s the first scene in the movie, and that is what sets up the rest of the movie. Right?
It’s Bruce keeps falling and he learns to pick himself back up again, and he becomes stronger through that. What doesn’t kill him makes him stronger. His parents die. He wants to kill the person who killed them. He becomes a thief to live and all these things eventually make him who he is. He’s Batman. Right? When he loses everything, when the city is about to be destroyed, he falls his hardest, and then he remembers who he is. He’s like, “You know what? I’ve learned to pick myself up again,” and he goes and saves the day and that’s the movie hero type thing, superhero type thing.
What I love about that. Is that it’s this consistent theme that is foreshadowed in the very first scene of the movie, and that is exactly what is happening here in Genesis 1. I think, first of all, that God, the author of Scripture, the author of life, Christopher Nolan doesn’t hold a candle to what God does in Scripture. No writer, whether that’s Charles Dickens or whoever you can think, they don’t hold a candle to the beautiful writing and the beautiful authorship of God. We discover that truth when we open and read His word.
Some of you guys might be going, “Okay, foreshadowing, Genesis 1, what does this have to do with me, or why is this important?” Well, how many of you guys are parents or who have had parents? Everyone could raise their hand. You don’t really need. If you care about someone, or if they care about you, you repeat things over and over to them so that they can know what is important. Right? For me, it was always school and grades. Partially, you repeat things because they don’t listen, but another part is that it’s important. If you say something over and over again, it has the idea of this is important and it carries weight, and they desire for us to know the truth. That’s why it’s repeated.
If there’s essential theme that is brought up time and time again in Scripture foreshadowed in the first chapter, then it has weight, it has an importance for us as His people to understand, but not just to understand, but to act upon. What is this foreshadowed idea? It’s that the word of God is the true source, the only source of light and life. The word of God is the only source for light and life. If you desire to be filled with light and life, the word of God is essential for you to know.
Okay, that makes sense when talking about Genesis 1, Lincoln, I understand that God spoke and everything came into existence. That makes sense, but for this to be what I said it to be, it has to be true throughout all of God’s word. What happens after Genesis 1? Well, Adam and Eve get deceived by Satan, the snake, and he twists the words of God and he’s like, “You know what? Did God really say that?” Then Eve takes the bite, and then Adam is like, “Oh, well, that looks good. I’ll try that.” Right? He does that. Idiot. I would’ve done the same thing, so I don’t know why I’m calling him an idiot.
Anyways, anyways, Cain and Abel happens, and Cain kills his brother. The Bible describes this time as being so wicked, so evil that it says that the thoughts of all people where evil continuously, and that the violence of the times where so great that it filled the whole earth. God, the one who created light and life, Who breathed men into existence sees men killing each other, the sacred thing that He made in His image, and they’re killing each other, and darkness is overfilling the whole earth. The whole earth is filled with darkness and death.
God goes to Noah, and He’s like, “You’re going to build an ark. You’re going to save your family. You’re going to save the creatures that I created, and there’s going to be a new world.” God gives him this truth to guide Noah and to save the lives of his family and the animals. If you read the Old Testament, if you read from front to back of the Old Testament, you’d detect this pattern. It’s like in the days of such-and-such a prophet, whether that be Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Abraham, Isaac, Jeremiah, whoever it is, and then it describes what happened.
What happens usually is that the word of God comes, and it transforms lives. It changes the landscape of everything, and miraculous things come into being because of that, whether that’s Abraham who is called by God to leave his family, leave all he has and go to the Promised Land, from Ur to the Promised Land. When him and his wife, Sarah, are over a hundred years old and almost dead, God brings life from which there was death so that he would be the father of many nations and eventually, the Messiah, the seed would come to bless all the nations of the earth.
The years of the Lord’s silence in between Joseph and Moses, where the word of God didn’t come, and the people of God end up being slaves in Egypt and are oppressed, and are in a land where all they do is work for the pharaoh. The word of God comes to Moses through a burning bush. God comes in there miraculously and leads His people out of the land of Egypt and into the Promised Land, delivering them from the oppression of slavery into the hope of living in freedom in the land of their own.
When Moses receives the law, he gets in on Mount Sinai, and we kind of have this idea of the law, which it’s restrictive and not what we want for our lives, or that’s the Old Testament stuff. Jesus fulfilled the law, but he even says that he doesn’t come to abolish the law. He comes to fulfill the law. Law was something which was so important to the Jewish people because before then all they were was they lived in slavery. They had no idea how to govern a nation. They had no idea how to live in freedom. They had no idea how to interact with one another.
God gives them this law in which it’s given to direct them to live in a just way with one another, to save one another from killing other people or taking other people’s stuff. It’s this idea of directing their lives so that justice would prevail in their midst and that they would be a light to the nations around them, that other nations would see how the Israelites, these people of God would live.
The psalmist writes in 119:97 through 105, and he describes what the law of God was meant to be to the people of Israel and what it meant for him. It says, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged because I have observed Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
After God gives them the law, Deuteronomy chapter 7:12 through 15 reveals what will come if they choose to follow this light, this direction. It says, “Then it shall come about because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, and the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there will be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle. The Lord will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all who hate you.”
What is promised is life abundant. Now, we lack the time to cover Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Gideon, and all the rest of the heroes, the prophets of the Bible. Maybe you guys are going, “Thank goodness, that was a weird history lesson of the Old Testament,” but we lack the time so you guys are good. They highlight the centrality of this idea of the importance and power of the word of God to bring forth light of which there was darkness, and to bring forth life of which there was death.
It’s important that we understand the centrality of the word of God when we read the Bible. That sounds a little oxymoronic, does it not? We’re reading the word of God, of course, it’s important. It’s important, and it’s not just the language that we use when we’re talking about it. It’s something very significant about saying the word of God. I think that’s because someone’s word is something personal, and it’s something important. If you can trust someone’s word, or you can’t trust someone’s word, that means a lot. The reason why is because your word isn’t just something you say. It’s a revelation of your heart. It is a revealing of who you are when you speak.
Jesus says that out of the heart, the mouth speaks. That’s what the word of God is. It is the revealing of who God is. That God is the one Who brings life, Who brings light. We see that in Genesis 1. We see that throughout the Old Testament. Just another way, I think how words are so important and they reveal who you are. Say, you’re sitting at a wedding. Maybe you’re going, and you’re just going by yourself, and you sit with a bunch of strangers at a table. Okay? You don’t speak to any of the strangers because maybe you’re shy, and maybe they all know each other and you’re like, “I don’t know if I want to talk to them or anything.”
Maybe you hear their names being told across the table, or maybe you even pick up on some of their mannerisms, maybe you even see who they are. You can tell who they are, but if someone asked you, “Do you know them,” you’d go, “No, I don’t know them. I didn’t talk to them. I didn’t get to know them,” as opposed to … Is pen pal still a thing, or maybe AIM buddies? Okay. It’s not 2005. Maybe I missed it, but when you talk to someone through pen pals or email, you can get an understanding of who they are, and you can get a really close relationship with that person without ever even seeing them or experiencing anything with them or knowing them as opposed to doing stuff with them, but you can know who they are even though you never physically met them.
It’s not necessarily the people that you spend the most time with that you’re closest to, in my opinion, it’s the people that you’re most comfortable bearing your heart to, the people that you’re most willing to have the deep, honest, meaningful conversation with. When God reveals His word, He isn’t just giving a lecture. He isn’t just saying, “Okay, here’s how it is. You need to do that.” No, He’s revealing His heart. He’s revealing who He is, but there’s something that can be missed over texting conversation, or pen pals or whatever it is, the subtleties of interacting face to face are important. There can be confusion if there isn’t.
I think God knows that, and in John 1, we find this, the foreshadowing of what was going to happen. In John 1:1 it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not comprehend it.”
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying that “Was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; and grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten of God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
I’ve come to know through reading that the message of the Bible is consistent from front to back, which is truly amazing considering that was written over 1,500 years with 40 different authors and three different languages on three different continents. It’s a book about the word of God coming into the status quo and absolutely destroying it and shining into darkness, and bringing life of which death reigned. The ultimate revelation of the word of God is His son. He came to give what the word of God can give alone, life and light.
All right, question, who … You guys don’t have to raise your hand. You guys can just do this mentally, but question, how many of you guys want life and light? I presume that all of you guys would raise your hand if that would be the case, but it also has the idea of something being bigger than light and life because, honestly, I could sit on that chair for the rest of my life looking at that light, and that’s not what you mean. Right? That’s not what I mean. That’s not what God means.
When you’re talking about light and life in the Bible, it’s something far greater than just light and light. It means more. Light has the idea of truth. That’s not very hard to understand. Light and truth go together. If we turned off all the lights and maybe just sat here quietly, and you couldn’t see anything. Maybe you hear a growl, and you’re like, “Oh, goodness, there’s a tiger in this room,” and then we turn on the lights. No, it wasn’t a tiger, it was just my stomach. There is a revelation of truth when it comes to light. Light guides and directs.
I don’t know about you guys, but I think most people have a desire to know truth. I mean, this is one of the reasons why we have schools and why we have colleges and universities, and people spend how many years of their life getting PhDs and master degrees and all that, and why I spend an insane amount of numbers listening to podcasts and YouTube videos and reading books, the number I don’t even want to tell you because I have a desire to know what is real and what is not. I have a desire to know truth.
In the same way, we desire a life. We desire a life, but not just life as in going every day, but we desire a meaningful life, a full life, a good life. This is why people dedicate their lives to careers or having a family, or whatever it is. You want a full life, a meaningful life, and we pursue that because God designs us in such a way in which we truly desire to know what is true and to experience the fullness of life. When Jesus came to the earth, he said in Genesis 8:12, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but he will have the light of life.”
Jesus in John 10 says, “I have come so that they may have life and have it abundantly.” When talking to the woman at the well who had had five different marriages and have tried to find her life in these marriages, Jesus tells her, “Whoever drinks of this water,” the water at the well, “will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water which I will give shall never thirst, but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water, springing up to eternal life.”
John 6, when Jesus is talking to the crowd after he feeds the 5,000 says, “I am the bread of life.” Not that bread. That’s my quotations. “He who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst.” What is the life that Jesus offers? It’s a life of meaning. It’s a life of satisfaction. It’s a life of fullness, not of want. How can Jesus say that he can give this to us? It’s because he is the word of God made flesh, the very word of God that created everything, who created light and life, and created you and I and everything that we know and see. He desires to bring it into our lives to transform it.
Question, where are we looking for truth? Where are we looking for light? Where are you … Where am I looking for life? Where are we looking for fullness of life? Where is that getting you? I don’t know how you answer that. It takes some self-reflection to think and time to think about that. When I think about that, it’s super convicting to me. I know that, but the Bible is quite clear, and I know from experience that the only source of light and life, of fullness and of truth is the word of God, who is Jesus Christ. The amazing thing is that he has invited you and I to experience that light and that life.
When Paul writes to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 4 and possibly one of my favorite chapters, maybe my favorite chapter of the Bible. In verse 6, he says, “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”