By Ed Barnett
Psalm 119 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Over and over, as you go through this chapter, you can see the importance of God’s Word. Early Adventists were known as the people of the Word. These days I get nervous because I don’t believe that statement would hold true any longer.
Notice some of the truths we can find in Psalm 119:
Verse 9: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
Verse 42: “For I trust in Your word.”
Verse 50: “For Your word has given me life.”
Verse 67: “But now I keep Your word.”
Verse 105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Verse 130: “The entrance of Your words gives light.”
Verse 133: “Direct my steps by Your word.”
Verse 160: “The entirety of Your word is truth.”
Reading through Psalm 119, you can’t help but see the value the psalmist places on God’s Word. Our theology, our way of life should all come out of what the Word of the Lord says. It should be our lifeline. Could it be that when we get away from God’s Word, as God’s people study the Scriptures less and less, we get ourselves into all kinds of trouble?
It’s quite amazing that people all too often like to study what people say about the Word instead of actually studying the Word. I find all kinds of fanciful statements and ideas thrown around today by numerous pseudo-scholars who are taking and sharing statements from the numerous pages of the Internet and trying to make a theology out of them. Brothers and sisters, may I simply state that it is time for God’s people to get serious about God’s Word. All too often the church people—leaders and members—add their own limitations to the power and primacy of the Word of God. Our Christian beliefs must be built only on what the Word says, and not what we think it says.
Similarly, when we are sharing God’s Word, we must not be tempted to make people wrong when they share their views that differ from ours. We must refrain from bashing others with the Word, but open it, read it, and talk about what it says to us. As I studied Adventist church history, one particular image became apparent—a table, an open Bible, and a respectful exchange of views as to what the Scriptures said. These early Adventists discovered how Scripture explains itself as they compared what the Old and New Testaments presented. Adventist beliefs were solidified as the biblical text was prayerfully read and shared with an openness of views that was also open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It was the discovery of Jesus and His teaching that became the foundation of our faith as believers in the “shortness of time.”
The church becomes strong as the Word of God is read and studied, rather than reading and studying what human views and opinions make it out to be.
We are living in the end of time and, if ever, now is the time we should become diligent students of the Word. In recent weeks, it was my privilege to help present an evangelistic series in Sterling, Colorado. Night after night, as we went through the simple biblical truths that our church is known for, I was encouraged to see how the presented messages took effect on the attendees. It became obvious to me that a biblical message doesn’t need to be so complicated that you have to have a Ph.D. to understand it. Among the participants was a family of four sitting at the front table. I watched as their two teenagers grasped the great truths in God’s Word. When that family came up for a call to commit their lives to God’s Church, I couldn’t have been more excited.
We all know that Satan is doing everything he can to distract from God’s Word. In my experience as a pastor, I have discovered again and again that God’s Word is the only place to go for the truth and the light that will lead you to Jesus and to life eternal.
In the the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we’re told:
“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 were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (verses 1-3 and 14). Jesus is the Word and His Word will lead you to Him! RMC
Ed Barnett is RMC president. Email him at: [email protected]