Your Word is Truth pt 2

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NIV)


This is part two of a two-part post. In part one, we looked at the second have of John 17:17, “your word is truth.” In this part, we’ll look at the first half of the verse, “Sanctify them by the truth.”

Sanctify them by the truth

I recently watched Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey, a documentary about Billy Graham on Netflix. I didn’t know this, but in the 1940s, a few years into his preaching ministry after he’d already started to become famous, Dr. Graham had a minor crisis of faith. In those days, the progressive theologians, Bible scholars, and pastors who were up with the times were abandoning the truth of God’s Word. The popular opinion among many mainline Protestant church leaders was that the Bible really wasn’t “truth.” It was full of myth, legend, error, morality stories, etc., but it couldn’t be considered “God’s Word.”

Dr. Graham described how he began to doubt the authority and truth of the Bible, but then made a decision to accept it on faith. He said, “I got on my knees and told God, ‘Just as I accepted Jesus on faith, so now I accept the Bible as Your Word on faith.'” From that moment on, he said there was a power, an authority, and confidence in his ministry that hadn’t been there before.

God’s Word is powerful and effective. As Jesus said in John 17:17, God’s Word is truth. He didn’t say, “Your Word is true,” but rather, “Your Word is truth.” The Bible isn’t just a book of true statements, facts, and historical information. It certainly is true, but it is more than that. It is truth, and truth has the power to change lives. That’s what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Sanctify them by the truth…” (John 17:17a NIV). The word sanctify means “to make holy” or “to purify or free from sin.” God’s Word sanctifies us–it makes us holy, it purifies us, it sets us free from sin; it is the truth that changes our lives forever.

Here is just a sliver of the truth that God’s Word reveals. Accepting this as the defining truth of our lives will transform us and make us holy as we live according to it (over time, of course).

  • Every inclination of the human heart is evil, even from childhood. (Gen. 8:21)
  • There is no one on earth who never sins. (Eccl. 7:20)
  • Every human being is sinful and has committed sins. (1 John 1:8-10)

We have to acknowledge that we have a problem, namely, sin. Only then can we receive the Savior. Jesus doesn’t just save us from our hurts, our pain, and our sorrows. He saves us from our sin. Yet, so many today don’t want to confess their sin. The problem is, we can’t be sanctified by the truth unless we accept the truth–we are sinners. But God’s truth doesn’t end with revealing our sin. Jesus saves us from our sin in what has come to be known as the Great Exchange:

  • “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

The Bible teaches many things about how Jesus changes us. Believing these statements will transform our relationship with God, with ourselves, and with others. Here are just a few points:

  • I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
  • I belong to God. (1 Cor. 6:20)
  • God will complete the work He has begun in me. (Php. 1:6)
  • I am a citizen of Heaven. (Php. 3:20)
  • I am forgiven. (Eph. 1:8)
  • I have a purpose. (Eph. 1:9)
  • I have a hope. (Eph. 1:12)
  • God desires me to be fruitful. (John 15:5)
  • I am invited to be God’s co-worker. (2 Cor. 6:1)
  • I am a dwelling for the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 2:22)
  • I am not alone. (Heb. 13:5)
  • I am victorious. (1 John 5:4)
  • I am no longer condemned. (Rom. 8:1)
  • I have been chosen and appointed by Jesus. (John 15:16)

There are so many more things the Bible has to say about who we are, what happened to us when we accepted Christ, and what God wants for us. And there is even more truth about who God is, what He’s done, and what His plans are for the world! Allowing the truth to penetrate your heart and mind will change everything about you. For our church this next season, we are internalizing this truth:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20 NIV)

The life we live is Christ’s life. My prayer this week is that God will show us all where our lives are not aligned with His so that we can die to our false understanding of the world and come alive to the Truth in Christ.

Never Let Go

“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” (Proverbs 4:13, NIV).

As I sat down to read through Proverbs 4, I asked the Lord, “What do You have for me in this chapter this morning?” He replied directly (which is pretty rare for me), It’s not for you. Pray this for your sons.

I read through the chapter a couple times to get a sense for its flow and meaning and then prayed through each verse, putting in the names of Asher, Jack, Elliot, and Graham. What a beautiful prayer for my boys, and what a great lesson that God loves my children and has specific things He wants me to pray for them! Too often I get into a rut with my prayers for my family, and this was a reminder to use God’s words more often when I pray for them.

As I prayed through these verses, I noticed something I’d missed in previous readings (sometimes praying a passage brings new insight). Five times in this one chapter we’re instructed not to forget, forsake, or let go of wisdom, instruction, understanding, etc. I love to learn new things, have new experiences, go on new adventures, and explore new places. Sometimes in my passion for discovery, I get frustrated with rehashing what I “already know.”

But through directing me to pray for my boys, God also reminded me that sometimes I don’t need to learn something new, I need to hold onto what I already know. And, here’s the kicker, knowing is of no value if we don’t apply it to our lives. Maybe it’s not a fresh revelation I need; maybe I need to apply the revelation I already have received. It’s our fallen human nature to loosen our grip on God’s instruction over time, to lose our focus and stray to the right or to the left. Sometimes we need to be reminded to live according to the Word we’ve been given. My prayer for this week is that God will show you where you can you refocus your heart on His Word, and renew your commitment to live it out every day.


Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash

Light and Truth

“Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place. Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy.” (Psalm 43:3-4, HCSB)

How often do I pray this? How often do I ask for God’s light and His truth to guide me in the decisions I make day in and day out? I’ve found that when I’m faced with a large, life-changing decision (like whether to move my family to a new community and take on a new role as a lead pastor) I tend to ask for wisdom more often. But in those in-between-years, when life seems manageable and there are no world-altering decisions staring me in the face, my tendency is to run with my own ideas, thoughts, and plans without asking for light and truth from God first.

And, even when I do ask for wisdom from God, do I seek it? Do I ask God to just download light and truth into my brain like an app update, or do I ask God for guidance as I seek His light and His truth in His Word? Sometimes we ask God to speak or give us direction and wonder why He doesn’t answer when in reality, He put that wisdom just in front of us if we’ll look for it. Have your kids ever asked you for something, and you put it just out of their reach, so they’ll have to work to get it? Why do you do you that? Because when they work to get what you have given, it’s more meaningful; and sometimes it sticks more than if you just hand it to them.

God has given us tools to seek His wisdom. He has given us His Word. He has given us the ability to reason and think rationally. He allows us to have experiences that shape us and should teach us more about life. And, most importantly, He has given us His Holy Spirit who will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). But that truth doesn’t just come as an update or a new operating system. It’s not downloaded and installed in our brains while we sleep. When we pray for light and wisdom, we need to look for God’s answer using the tools, gifts, and opportunities He’s blessed us with. And as we seek Him, He will guide us into all truth.

My prayer for us this week as that God will send His light and His truth to lead us each day, and that we will have the discernment to see and hear His voice.

 


Photo by Himesh Kumar Behera on Unsplash

Hearing God​

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai… (Jonah 1:1).

This phrase, “the word of the Lord came to…” is repeated quite often throughout the Old Testament.  As a child, I remember praying and asking God for His Word to come to me as it did to Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so many other prophets in Scripture.  I wasn’t asking God if I could be a famous prophet, just asking Him to speak to me in a real way.  And, He did.  Now let me quickly caveat that by saying when God speaks personally to you or me, it doesn’t carry the same weight of authority as when He spoke to Jonah.  Jonah’s message was recorded in Scripture and is universally authoritative.  When God speaks personally to you or me, it’s not a message to be added to the Bible, and it’s not authoritative for all people at all times.  It is authoritative for you or me.

Having gotten that out of the way, I’m often surprised by the number of believers who’ve never heard God speak personally to them.  No, I don’t mean in an audible voice.  I’ve met a lot of Christians who’ve never had a personal interaction with God.  They can’t point to a time when they personally felt God’s presence or that gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit, or when they had two-way communication with God.

I think the reason for this is we often don’t recognize God’s voice when He speaks.  He speaks, but we don’t hear it as God talking to us.  We believe in God, but we don’t have a conversational relationship with Him.  Learning to recognize God’s voice is similar to learning to know anyone’s voice.  Remember those days before caller id?  I could tell who was on the other end of the phone just by the sound of their voice.  Why?  Because I spent time in conversation with them.  It’s the same with God.

I could write a whole book about this, but these blogs are supposed to be short enough to read in one minute, and I’m already over that!  Plus, a great book has already been written about this very subject.  It changed my prayer life and my relationship with God, and I recommend it highly.  It is Hearing God by Dallas Willard, and you can get it for $10 on Amazon.  If you use RightNow Media (free for all LakeView folks; contact the church office for more info), you can watch Dallas Willard teach through the book.

My prayer for us this week is that we’ll take a quiet moment to listen to God and that His Word will come to us as it did to Jonah.  When He speaks to you, make sure you heed what He says!

In Christ,
Pastor Andy