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TEXT: Psalm 119:140

SUBJECT: Love the Bible

Christians love the Bible. The author of this Psalm was a devout man. And his devotion betrayed itself in this masterful tribute to God's Word. 176 verses are spent in its praise. Its structure suggests, moreover, that is was intended to be memorized. By it, he hoped to instill the same love in others.

EXAMPLES OF BIBLE-LOVERS

But this affection for the Bible was not peculiar to that man. Others have shared in it as well. The First Psalm, for example, is a depiction of the truly "Happy Man". And where does he find his pleasure? "His delight is in the law of the LORD and in His law doth he meditate day and night".

Job was the holiest man of his age. God called him "My servant...a man who fears God and eschews evil". And what was his chief delight? "I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food".

I think of two missionaries, savagely whipped just hours before, now chained in a dark cell. "But at midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God..." These hymns were no doubt Scriptures put to music. What better way to spend the lonely hours of their confinement than meditating on God's Word and "exhorting one another with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs"?

The great eras of the Church were all marked by a renewed enthusiasm for the Bible. The Reformation, for example, found the people of God fleeing the muddy waters of human tradition to drink from "the fountain of life". The Puritans, it was said, were "Men of One Book". This does not indicate ignorance or provincialism, for their leading men were "mighty in all the wisdom of the Egyptians"--multilingual, bred on the Classics, trained in logic, etc. They were "Men of One Book", not because they never read anything else, but because,

"The Law of God's mouth was better to them

than thousands of silver and gold".

Christian hymnology reflects the same disposition toward Scripture. From our own hymnal, we find, for example, the following paens:

"A glory gilds the sacred page,

Majestic, like the sun:

It gives a light to every age;

It gives, but borrows none".

"Father of mercies, in thy Word

What endless glories shine;

Forever be thy name adored

For these celestial lines"

"The heavens declare thy glory, Lord;

In every star thy wisdom shines;

But when our eyes behold thy Word,

We read thy name in fairer lines".

"How precious is the Book Divine,

By inspiration given;

Bright as a lamp its doctrines shine,

To guide our souls to heaven".

"O Word of God Incarnate,

O Wisdom from on high,

O Truth unchanged, unchanging,

O light of our dark sky;

We praise thee for the radiance

that from the hallowed page,

A lantern to our footsteps,

shines on from age to age".

And so, the holiest men of old loved God's Word with a fervent love. But, of course, their lives, as commendable as they were, are not binding on us. We can admire men of other ages without imitating them. But there is Another, whose example is binding and whose imitation ought to be our highest goal. About Him it was written,

"Lo, I come, in the volume of the Book

it is written of Me;

I delight to do Thy will, O God,

Yea, Thy Law is within my heart".

Thus, my opening premise is true: "Christians love the Bible". And if you think me wrong, prove it. Name a Christian who doesn't!

THE REASON WE LOVE THE BIBLE

But why do Christians love the Bible? Our verse tells us. "You word is very pure; therefore your servant loves it". The purity of the Bible is one of its most attractive features:

1.Pure in its origin. "No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation; for prophecy never came by the will of man; but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit".

a.The best books are affected by their age; even the "timeless" authors are, to some degree or another, "timebound". Plato, for example was a man of rare genius. But living in a society that despised women, Plato thought no woman should go to school, because--to him--it was obvious than the smartest female was incapable of serious thought.

b.But never the Bible. Although written in time, it is unaffected by time. For its Author is "infinite, eternal, and unchangable".

c.And so, the Bible is "pure" in its origin. Men wrote it to be sure, and used their own words, but only under the infallible supervision of God.

2.Pure in its doctrine. "Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; for I give you good doctrine".

a.The theoretical teaching of the Bible is true; not just plausible, useful, or "yet to be disproven", but true--absolute, fixed, final truth.

b.Thus, when we "make captive our thoughts to the obedience of Christ" we think truly. No other book can make this claim. The most learned and coherent works are still flawed by inconsistency and contradiction.

c.But not so the Bible. It is, like the coat of Jesus, seamless.

3.Pure in morals. "Be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy".

a.It commands the highest standards of religion and ethics. It leaves no compartment of life untouched. It shows, not only the duty of right living, but also its way.

b.And here too, it is vastly superior to other writings. Even the best Christian writers advocate or allow for sins. For the saintliest men have blind spots.

c.But not the Bible. Only it urges an unmixed purity of life.

4.Pure in its aim.

a.Even the man of integrity is somewhat affected by self-interest. A little bit of selfishness is mixed in with his altruism. He has "aims".

b.But the Scripture has only one aim, the glory of God. Thus its every word--commandment, promise, threat, exhortation--is designed to bring glory to its Heavenly Author. And does. And so if we share in that goal, we cannot but love the Bible.

5.Pure in its power.

a.Nebuchadnezzar's colossal image had "feet of clay". And so does every man and every book.

b.Every book, that is, but the Bible. For it, not only can, but shall, accomplish its eternal purpose. "So shall my word be that goes out of my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it".

c.It is meant to harden one man--and it does. It is meant to save another--and, that too, it does. "It is the power of God unto salvation".

  1. Pure in its witness to Christ.
  1. One reason people don't love the Bible is because they don't know what it is. Most think of it as a book of rules-strict and unreasonable rules. Some have called God 'a cosmic meanie', and so His Book is as harsh and unpleasant as He is.
  2. But is this a true assessment of God? Is He a mean tyrant, taking pleasure in the unhappiness of His people? Or is He what the Bible says He is-'love'-a loving Father who gives us His Word for our good? And not only for teaching us how to live, but, mostly, by revealing His great love for us in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die the death we deserve so that we can have Life?
  3. The Pharisees, who supposedly love the Bible more than anyone, in fact, turned it into an image of themselves: narrow, petty, and more ready to criticize and condemn than to comfort. To these so-called 'lovers of the Bible', Jesus said-Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, but it is they that testify to Me.

And so, it is no wonder that "Your servant loves it". For "Your Word is very pure".

And so, we now know a couple of things: (1) The Christian loves the Bible; and (2) He loves it because it is pure.

But now comes the question, "Do you love the Bible?" Not everyone enjoys reading or reads well, and so we have to make allowances for this. Mothers of young children are so busy all day and tired at night that they can't read as much, let's say, as I can. But recognizing our differences, I still have to ask, 'Do you love the Bible? You ought to--and you know that. It is worthy of your love--and you know that too. But do you?

I'll close with some encouragements to love the Bible

1. If you want to love the Bible more, read it more often.

a.What would you think of me if I told you, "You're my oldest and best friend, I can't live without you, you mean more to me than all the world besides...and I hope to see you at least once a year!" You'd think that my limited interest in seeing you suggested that maybe I don't love you as much as I say.

b.The same can be said of your relationship to the Bible. If you can read, and have a Bible, but don't read it (or at least not often or eagerly), it implies that your love for it is pretty pathetic.

c.Regular and eager Bible reading, moreover, is not the evidence of Christian maturity, but of the new birth: "As new born babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby".

2.If you want to love the Bible more, discuss it more often.

a."Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks".

b.Not (as is sometimes true) for the purpose of showing people how smart you are, or to win arguments, or to exceed your calling, but because you are so filled with it that just "bubbles out".

c.Oh, how our conversations need upgrading! "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good, for necessary edifying, that it might minister grace in the hearts of the hearers". Or, "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so".

3.If you want to love the Bible more, seek to obey it more.

a.The truth is, you want the things that you love--be they good or bad.

b.Thus, if you love the Scripture, its moral content and ethical dictates, you will make a serious effort to keep it.

4.If you want to love the Bible more, share it more often with others.

a."I have not hidden your righteousness within my heart; I have declared your faithfulness and salvation; I have not concealed your lovingkindness and your truth from the great congregation".

5.If you want to love the Bible more, do what you can to bequeath it to your family.

a.Let your children see you reading the Bible...often.

b.Discuss the Bible with them in family worship and in casual conversation. When my boys and I go out at night, I sometimes point to a star in the east and ask them about it. Who saw the star? What did it mean? Did they find Christ? What did they do? Do you worship Him? Or, more controversially, whenever we drive by a Catholic Church, I ask them, "Who do they worship?" "Idols!" is the uniform answer. "Do you worship idols?" "Nooo!" "Who do you worship?" "God".

c.But don't imitate me. Obey God. "These words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up".

d.Discuss the Bible with your husband/wife. Don't let them think that "the Bible is kid-stuff". For as they grow older, they will begin to discard it along with their tricycles and dolls.

e.Give the appearance that you actually enjoy reading or discussing the Bible. Don't twist your face and furrow your brow at its mention. "I rejoice in Your Word as one that finds great spoil".

f.When you come home from church, praise the sermon (even if it wasn't very good). Don't infect them with a critical spirit toward the preaching of God's Word. Don't lie, of course. But as the old song goes, "Accentuate the positive".

g.Pray for them. For unless the LORD instills this love in them, they'll never get it on their own.

And so, I exhort you to a greater love for God's Word. For the men who wrote "aforetime, were for our example", and no better example could we follow than this: "Your Word is very pure; therefore, your servant loves it".

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