A Book of Better Things - A Better Education

Sermon Summary

This message begins with a transitional discussion from last weeks message. One of the spiritual heart conditions that sometimes keep a person from entering into God's rest is an ignorant heart. The fix for this is an educated mind. For this to happen we need to know and study God's Word and learn His ways. However, we must never forget that we do so not to earn our salvation. Salvation is a gift that could never be earned, deserved or bought! However, once we receive salvation we are to live lives of gratitude and obedience because of the amazing gift we've received! The Word of God is living, active, sharp, and penetrating in order to remove the things that are unhealthy from our lives and to lead us to that personal relationship with God He wants each of us to have. However, some people have forgotten the intent of the law and have allowed a preoccupation with the letter of the law turn into a burdensome thing God never intended. Join us in this study to see how God's Word gives us a better education when it comes to knowing God and His will for our lives!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Memorizing Scripture is a good and helpful thing we should all do more. What are some of your personal challenges to learning Scripture?

Psa 119:10  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
Psa 119:11  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psa 119:12  Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.

2. So memorizing Scripture is a good thing, but we must remember that knowing the teachings of Christ, but not holding to the teachings of Christ is to be avoided. In other words if we memorize word for word, along with the numerical address, but miss the meaning and intent of His teaching we are making the same mistake the religious leaders of Jesus' day made. What are some things we can do to ensure we don't make that mistake? The following verses from Jesus might help with your answer...

Mat 22:34  Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.
Mat 22:35  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
Mat 22:36  "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Mat 22:37  Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
Mat 22:38  This is the first and greatest commandment.
Mat 22:39  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
Mat 22:40  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

3. God's Word is living and active! It is not outdated or irrelevant! It still has application in our modern or post-modern world. Would you share some specific ways in which God's Word has been relevant and helpful to you in real life?

Psa 119:35  Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
Psa 119:36  Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.
Psa 119:37  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

4. God's Word is sharp and penetrating! The sharpness is not intended to hurt us, but to give us clear and concise direction. In that regard it cuts through things like sin, falsehood, deception, pride, wickedness, ignorance, religious hypocrisy, hatred, unforgiveness, etc! It is designed to penetrate all the way down to our heart and soul and attitudes! Why is it so important that we allow Scripture to help us with our thoughts and attitudes?

Psa 139:23  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psa 139:24  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Rom 12:2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Full Sermon Notes

A Book of Better Things - A Better Education

What motivates you? What sustains you? What informs your heart and mind as you go about your day? Is your relationship with Jesus the wind in your sails, your anchor in the waves, the fire inside your veins? Today we're going to talk about the better education we can have because God has given us His Word in this book we call the Bible. Let's pray and ask God to teach us by way of His Holy Spirit today. PRAYER.

So we've talked about how Jesus brought us a better revelation, a better salvation, a better mediation, and a better relaxation. Today, it's a better education! I told you last week this was coming. Remember?

Condition #4
Ignorant Heart

The Hebrew people did not know His ways! You can't enter into His rest and relaxation if you don't know His ways. His ways are the way to peace, rest and relaxation so it stands to reason we need to learn His ways!

The Fix:
An Educated Mind

How do we learn His ways and get an educated mind? What does this better education look like? For starters I have to remind you of the first message in this series: A better revelation. Jesus came in the flesh and lived a perfect life in order to give us a better revelation of God. The Israelites had come to a place where they had elevated the revealed laws of God above God Himself! How does one do that? It happens when a person looks at the letter of the law and forgets the intent of the law! God gave the people His Holy Word in order to point people to a personal relationship with Him. But they got caught up in legalism. People still do that today. I love the Bible and cherish the scripture I find in its pages. I respect the book, but I don't worship the book! If I drop my Bible, I haven't dropped God on the floor and He's not going to strike me down. Again, I respect my Bible, as we should! I love this precious book, and thank God that I have multiple copies. Although I have my favorite one I've been preaching from since it was given to me October 7, 1990. It's about to fall apart and several pages have come loose from the binding. Dr. Bo Henderson, one of my mentors, once said: "If your Bible is falling apart your life probably is not!" Many people in our world only dream of having a copy of God's Word! But, while it is divinely inspired and these pages contain the very words of God, the Bible itself is not God! Listen to what John said in John 1:1-4…

John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:2  He was with God in the beginning.
John 1:3  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
John 1:4  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

When John said all of this, and specifically, "In the beginning was the Word," He was talking about Jesus being the embodiment of God's truth, wisdom and word! Jesus was the living revelation of God's Word to humankind so we are to respect the word of God, but we are to worship God! We get a better education about God when we interpret Scripture through the life and teachings of Jesus! That's one of the things Jesus came to do was to correct the misunderstandings that had developed concerning God. The religious leaders of Jesus' day had exalted the law above God. They had this erroneous belief that if they followed the letter of the law, they would be just fine even if they ignored the intent of the law. In fact Jesus once healed a man on the Sabbath and the religious leaders began persecuting Him about working on the Sabbath and began trying to kill Him. Jesus preached a really powerful message to them.

Here's a small part of that message from John's Gospel...

John 5:37  And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
John 5:38  nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
John 5:39  You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,
John 5:40  yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

And let me remind you of what Jesus told His disciples, which we read last week, because it is the key to having a better education and a better understanding of the real life God wants you to have...

Mat 11:28  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Mat 11:30  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

So we must remember, because Jesus was the living revelation of God in the flesh we interpret the Bible through and by the things we know about Jesus! Jesus was the very embodiment of God's Word, His principles, His truth! Jesus said "come to me, take my yoke upon you, and learn from me!" And remember, His yoke is easy and His burden is light! Some folks have an almost OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, issue when it comes to Scripture. We are to love God's Word and desire to learn it, but God never intended the Word of God to become a burden so heavy that we cannot carry it. He intended His Word to free us from a life of bondage to sin, and disobedience.

In fact, Paul said it beautifully in his letter to the Corinthian Church...

2 Cor 3:3  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
2 Cor 3:4  Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.
2 Cor 3:5  Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
2 Cor 3:6  He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

And Jesus put it this way...

John 8:36  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

One of the reasons we love the Word of God so much is that it points us to Jesus and His salvation, His forgiveness, His mercy, and His freedom. It's good to memorize Scripture, but if you're like me and stink at memorization, don't fret! If you get the intent, the meaning, the principle, that's what matters! If you remember the lesson, but forget the verse number...don't fret! You've got what matters most, the lesson, the truth. And by the way, Jesus also said this...

John 8:31  To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
John 8:32  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Notice, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples, then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!" He didn't say if you know my teaching, He said if you hold to my teaching. You see the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the teachers of the law, had memorized the first five books of the Bible known as the Torah! But they had missed the intent of the law and the relationship with God and with their fellow human beings the law was designed to help them have. Jesus pointed this out in one of His interactions with those people...

Mat 22:34  Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.
Mat 22:35  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
Mat 22:36  "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Mat 22:37  Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
Mat 22:38  This is the first and greatest commandment.
Mat 22:39  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
Mat 22:40  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

You see, it's a wonderful thing to know the teachings of God's Word, even to memorize them, but if you only know the teaching and do not hold to the teaching you've missed the whole point! And just how does one hold to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible? By applying the principles and intent of the law when it comes to our relationship with God and with our fellow human beings! Don't just know it, live it! And that statement takes us right into the one verse in Hebrews chapter 4 that we didn't have time for last week, are you ready? The book of better things, Hebrews 4:12...

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

This one verse gives us several ways in which God's Word brings us a better education when it comes to knowing God and His will for our lives. Let's check them out.

God's Word is Living!

For the word of God is living...

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

What does this mean? God's Word is not some irrelevant old document that has no application for us today! It was relevant when it was written, it is relevant for today and will be until this world is no more! Some people think God's Word is outdated, old fashioned, and has no place in our modern or post-modern world! Nothing could be further from the truth. The principles of God's Word transcend time, culture, popular opinion, and political correctness! The underlying truths of God's Word never change and have application whether etched in stone or displayed on the screen of a smart phone! Amen? The Psalmist put it this way in a passage that you'll hear again in our next series!

Psa 119:40  How I long for your precepts! Preserve my life in your righteousness.
Psa 119:41  May your unfailing love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise;
Psa 119:42  then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word.
Psa 119:43  Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.
Psa 119:44  I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.
Psa 119:45  I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

Here's another way in which God's Word gives us a better education when it comes to knowing God and His will for our lives...

God's Word is Active!

For the word of God is living and active...

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

God's Word is not dormant! It is quite active. Have you ever noticed how you can read a verse of Scripture and it will apply to your situation perfectly and six months later, in a different situation, the same verse will speak to you in a brand new way? God's word is active! It teaches, it encourages, it challenges, it cleans, it convicts, it guides, it reproves, it reminds, and it works. So in one situation it challenged, in another it encouraged! Listen...

xIsa 55:10  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
Isa 55:11  so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Can you see why I get so excited about God's Word? And if you look closely at the context of the verses I've read, you'll find God's greatest purpose in His Word is that you and I are led to a personal relationship with Him! And the writers of the New Testament understood this and knew that God's Word is active in a person's life if they allow it to be! Paul wrote the following words to the Thessalonians...

1 Th 2:11  For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,
1 Th 2:12  encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
1 Th 2:13  And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

Did you heart that? God's word is at work in those who believe! And what is that work? Remember, Jesus said the Scriptures testify about Him and were designed to bring people to life in Christ! And when Paul encouraged, comforted, and urged the Thessalonians to live lives worthy of God, he wasn't telling them they had to earn their salvation! He said God had called them into his kingdom and glory. They had accepted the message of Jesus and His grace, mercy and forgiveness so the word of God was at work in them because they had believed! They were now free from the power of sin and could live lives for God's Glory! But there is yet another way in which God's Word gives us a better education when it comes to knowing God and His will for our lives...

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

God's Word is Sharp!

God's Word is like a surgeon's scalpel! It quickly cuts through the mess on the surface of our lives. It cuts through sin, falsehood, deception, pride, wickedness, ignorance, religious hypocrisy, hatred, unforgiveness, etc! If your in this room and you don't think you have any issues with that stuff, you're about to get cut! And before you think this is a negative thing, let me remind you how many lives have been saved because of a surgeon's knife! God's Word is sharp on purpose. It is designed to save lives! And God is an amazing spiritual surgeon and wants to use His Word as a tool to help you and to heal you spiritually! God’s Word will bring conviction to your heart if you are living in sin! This is not God trying to make you feel condemned, and unloved, but God trying to move you from the sin that breeds destruction to the righteous things that breed life! God's Word is also sharp because it is the only offensive weapon listed in the passage about the full armor of God! It is sharp because it is the sword of the Spirit! The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to defeat our enemy! Our men had a prayer meeting Friday night and it was great. Several of our men spoke on Ephesians 6 where it talks about putting on this full armor of God and how the word of God is the Sword of the Spirit! So part of the purpose God has for His Word is that it is a spiritual surgical tool which God The Holy Spirit uses powerfully in our lives. The Psalmist also speaks powerfully concerning God's Word and its purpose...

Psa 119:25  I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.
Psa 119:26  I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.
Psa 119:27  Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.
Psa 119:28  My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

God's Word brings us a better education concerning God's desire for us to know Him and His will for our lives because...

God's Word is Penetrating!

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

God's Word not only cuts through the surface issues we have in our lives, it penetrates all the way down to our soul, our spirit our thoughts and attitudes! God wants to get beyond small talk, and superficial religious activity! In other words, God wants to know your heart, and He wants you to know your heart! It's so important for you to know the real condition of your spiritual heart! The word of God can penetrate deep down to your heart of hearts. The word of God judges the thoughts and attitudes of our heats! Some of us need to be educated as to why thoughts and attitudes are so important! What's on the inside will eventually come outside! If you are motivated and filled with the things of God that's what will come out. If you are allowing the Word of God to educate you on the things of God then those things will surface! On the other hand...If ugly, mean-spirited, selfish wickedness is inside, that will surface, and that's never pretty! God can use His word to surgically remove those things, but let me remind you of this very important truth! How many of you have ever had surgery? Do you remember what you had to do before the Surgeon would operate? Yep, you had to sign the consent forms! The same is true with God! He will not operate without your permission. Way back in the Old Testament the Psalmist gave God permission to do spiritual surgery on him and also asked Him to educate him by leading him in the way everlasting! So beautiful...

Psa 139:23  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psa 139:24  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Are you giving God permission to do a work in your heart and life through His Word? Are you willing to read His Word, and even meditate on it, so that it can be a living, active, sharp and penetrating educator for your heart, your mind, your soul, your spirit? And never forget, this most important lesson…

1 Pet 1:18  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,
1 Pet 1:19  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Pet 1:20  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
1 Pet 1:21  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
1 Pet 1:22  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
1 Pet 1:23  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Pet 1:24  For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,
1 Pet 1:25  but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.

Let's pray!