Man must not live on bread alone...
Jesus quotes an old testament verse as he answers the Devils temptation with a scripture, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 (CSB)
And yet, most Christians try to do just that every day. They try to live without the bread of life, God’s word. They try every kind of answer someone will tell them on the internet, but not read the Bible.
I’m always amazed at Christians who say that they don’t understand the Bible so they don’t read it. And I ask, “have you read it?” And the answer is usually something like this. “Yes, sure. I’ve read it. '' And then I ask, “really, like you have read the entire Bible, the whole book? You’ve studied it?” And they usually say something like, “I’ve read parts of it, you know, a part here and a part there, but no, I haven’t really read it all the way through.”
People tell me all the time about the good books they’ve read. And if you asked them, “Did you read a sentence at the end and a couple in the middle and then give up because it was too confusing?” And most of the time people laugh. They get the point. You must read a book from start to finish before you know the story. And yet so few people read the Bible completely.
I’ve had a few people say, “the Bible is so long, but I should read it someday.” And then I ask, “Did you read any of the Harry Potter books? And they will say, “Oh yes, I have read them all.” Let’s do the math, there are over a million words in the Harry Potter series. There are about 780,000 to 800,000 in the average English translation of the Bible. And herein lies the rub for me. Harry Potter is a good story, but it’s just that, a story. With all my heart, I’ve got to tell you that I believe the Bible to be true. It is God’s word. I contain life. Why not read it? The entire thing.
That’s why it drives me bonkers when someone then says, “Yes, I need to read the Bible. Reading the Bible is on my Bucket list before I die. And I say something like, it better be, because it's the stuff you need to understand BEFORE you die.
Now, I know that I’m a Christian, and a pastor and all that stuff. And you might say, “well, you have to read the Bible and believe it to be true because you’re a pastor.” I understand that thought, but here’s what I want you to know. I’m a pastor BECAUSE I have read and studied the entire Bible. And I’ve got to tell you that I read it over and over every year and I study it. I do that, not because I think I have it all together, but because it’s where I find life. I find that it feeds the spiritual hunger I have to know who I am, why I am here on earth, how I fit into all of this craziness, and most importantly, who God is. And the strange thing is the more I read the Bible, and study and know it, the more I need to read and know it. And the more of God I realize, there is still so much that I don’t know. It’s hard for me to quantify that sense. It’s kind of like, the more I learn about God and my relationship with him, the Bigger God gets and the smaller I get. It’s not that I know less after I read the Bible, it’s just that God becomes so much bigger. I find serious comfort in that.
What’s happening is that God is revealing himself to me. His character, his personality, what he likes and dislikes and I know you may think I’m kidding, but even his sense of humor.
When Christ Jesus rebuffs the Devils temptation it’s not that Jesus is against bread, no. He’s saying, the true supply of our needs really comes from God alone, “every word that comes from the mouth of God”. And here’s the big question, how do we know what God is saying to us? The Bible. I think I saw a meme this year that said something like, “If you want to hear God’s voice in your head, read the Bible. And if you want to hear God’s voice audibly, read the Bible out loud.” That’s actually good advice.
And here’s the big question, how do we know what God is saying to us?
God reveals himself, to us, his character, his traits, even his plans us in a personal way through the Bible. It is one book, in that it is the story of God, who he is, what he has done and what he is going to do. And yet, the Bible is made up of sixty-six books, thirty-nine in the old testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament.
I know this will freak many of my readers out, but the Bible even has you in it. I mean that you are in the Bible because it talks about the future and specifically the return of Christ and the end of this world. And I can hear some of the comments already. “Paul, you’re crazy. You’ve drunk the cool-aide.” And I guess I would have to say, yes, I have. I believe the Bible totally and have devoted my life to understanding it and teaching the truth of scripture.
But here’s my point, even if you think that’s all rubbish, wouldn’t you read it and study it, just in case? I mean, Jesus claims that life comes from “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” That is the Bible. Because the Bible is claiming that your eternity hangs in the balance.
The word scriptures mean “writings”. These writings came through human writers but we believe them to be God inspired. And I would also add they are without errors in the original manuscripts.
Jesus viewed the Old Testament as his heavenly Father’s words. His instructions to live by. Paul tells us that the Old Testament scriptures are totally “God-breathed”. If you think about it, that’s just like all of the earth, and really all of the universe. The Apostle Peter and the author of Hebrews agree with the Apostle Paul.
But it’s not just the Old Testament. Jesus words and the apostles teaching is also considered God’s revelation. Scripture. The books of the apostles complete what we call the canon of scripture. In short, “The Bible”.
Why this is so important is that God is telling us about himself and in turn, it tells us how we must relate to him. And let’s be honest, the clock is ticking. You don’t know how much time you have left. You could finish reading this and a satellite fall from space and crush you into a grease spot. Sorry to be so blunt, but the truth is we don’t know how long we have before we die. And on top of that, for Christians, a core belief we hold is that Christ Jesus is coming again soon. And we are to live our lives as if his return will happen today. Now that may be a thousand years, but it also maybe before you finish reading this. I made you gulp, didn’t I? And rightfully so. The point is, how long do we have on this earth? Who can tell? And yet we have eternity on the other side of death. That’s an eternity in Heaven with all the believers and God. Or in Hell, separated from all others in eternal, conscious punishment. Either way, it’s eternal.
At Christmas time, we sing Christmas Carols that talk about Immanuel. The Baby Jesus being born. God comes himself as a man. Fully God and yet fully man. We say it, God incarnate. Meaning that God came to be and live with us on earth. The Bible is the same. Fully human and yet fully divine. God’s instruction, all of it.
What blows my mind, maybe more than anything, is that God is all powerful, infinite, perfect and yet he chooses to speak to us, in our, incompleteness, and finite little world. When we talk about the words of God being life, it is the truth. And if that’s the case, why would we not consume those words every day of our lives. To feast on them. If we did, I think we would see our lives change in ways we have never thought they would.