What’s the most important thing about a church? Its website? Its facilities and programs? How about the general “vibe” on a Sunday morning? In this message from 2 Timothy 4:1–4, David Platt points to preaching and teaching as the fundamental mark of a healthy church. If we don’t believe God’s Word, or if we value the wisdom of man over the wisdom of God, then we are putting ourselves in a dangerous position. We desperately need to hear God speak to us through the preaching and teaching of Scripture. This is the beginning of a series in which we will identify twelve biblical traits that should characterize a church.
- What is Saturating our Minds?
- Why do we need Biblical Preaching and Teaching?
You Need Biblical Preaching and Teaching
Well, if you have a Bible, and I hope you or somebody around you does that you can look on with, let me invite you to open with me to second Timothy Chapter four. Second Timothy Chapter four, feel free to use the table of contents if you need to, it’s near the end of the Bible, Second Timothy chapter four. And as returning, I want to welcome all of you in Arlington, and Montgo, and Loudoun, and Prince William, as well as others online, it’s good to gather together around God’s word.
Our lives are shaped by words, from the very beginning. So as I shared a few weeks ago, I have a beautiful seven-month-old baby girl, here’s the latest picture on the screen of Mercy, and we are teaching her every day through the words we use, who is mama and dadda. We sing and pray words over her. We use words that one day, Lord willing, will help her to speak, and crawl, and walk, and do a thousand other things that come about through words of encouragement, instruction, and at times, correction. And the more she grows, the more others will speak words into her life that will shape her. Peers, other adults, friends, family members will teach her all sorts of things with their words.
And one of my biggest concerns for her is one day when she gets one of these, at which time she will be bombarded with words, with messages from all kinds of places in this world. I trust we realize that most every one of our lives is being shaped every day by words that come through these devices. Did you know that on average, we spend over two hours a day on social media alone in our culture? As students, who whether we realize it or not, are being taught, as companies spend hundreds of billions of dollars to get their messages to us in front of you and me, as the creators of Instagram, and Snapchat, and Twitter, and Facebook, and TikTok, and YouTube sell us to advertisers as their product.
Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, describes how from the start they designed it asking, “How do we consume as much of people’s time and conscious attention as possible?” That was their aim, and they are working to achieve it every day. And for Gen Zers who have nothing to do with Facebook, Snap, TikTok, and others have only taken that philosophy to entirely new levels. They all make money off using our time to pay attention to their messages. Edward Tuft said, “There are only two industries in the world that call their customers users: Illegal drugs and software.”
There are people we don’t even know who we blindly trust to give us the news they have decided we need to hear, the messages they deem worthy to interrupt our days, the ideas that will hook us in and keep us scrolling and coming back for more and more, and the more controversial, sensational, polarizing, or just plain harmful, the words are, the better chance they have to hook us in. Our lives are being shaped every day by messages and words in ways that we all know, so study after study shows a clear connection between these messages and these mediums and anxiety, loneliness, depression, lack of attention, decreased, disrupted, and delayed sleep, memory loss, and a host of physical struggles including self-harm. God help us to open our eyes to the words we are letting shape us, to the media and messages filled with words that are forming our lives.
And the question I want to ask you today is what words are most worthy of your trust? Or maybe another way to put it, what words are most worthy of your time?
Why You Need a Biblical Church
And I don’t want to just ask the question. I want to humbly extend to you a challenge to stop spending so much time on words that are least worthy of your trust, and start spending a lot more time on words that are most worthy of your trust and your time. So today we’re starting a new series entitled, “Why You Need a Biblical Church.” This series is actually very similar to one of the first series I ever preached here almost five years ago, which we called, “12 traits of a Biblical Church.” It was a foundational series then, and five years later, after walking through much of what we have walked through as a church over the last couple of years, we need to revisit these foundations now.
And as we do, we need to be willing to make any changes that are needed for our church to be more biblical. But on a more personal level, during this series, we want to say to every single person who is listening, you, as in you right where you are sitting right now in this room, in other locations, online, wherever and whenever you are watching or listening to this, you, and you, whether you’re a Christian, a follower of Jesus, and have been for years, maybe for decades, or maybe you’re exploring Christianity, or maybe you’re listening because someone invited you, or maybe you’re a student and your parent made you come, regardless of where you are or who you are, we want to say as clearly and as carefully as we can, you need a biblical church that you are a meaningful part of, and we want to spend the next 12 weeks showing you why that’s true for you.
I want to show you that the God who designed you knows what he’s doing when he designed the church. That God, your creator, loves you and has designed you to experience life in relationship with him. That God wants your good right where you are sitting and God knows exactly how you are wired better than you know yourself, and God knows what you need better than you know yourself, and God has designed the church specifically for what you need. And not just any church, a biblical church. So there are a lot of things you may think of when it comes to church that are not in the Bible. A lot of things you may think of when it comes to church that make you think, “That is not good for me.”
I know that some, even many of us have experienced hurt and even harm at the hands of a church, but we want to show you that any hurt or any harm, anything that is not good, is a result of either that church or your activity in it not being biblical. We want to show you that God has told us in the Bible what a church is and does, and if we will be a church according to what God says a church is, if we will do as a church what God says a church does, then we will experience life to the full in relationship with God.
That’s a big statement, let me make it one more time. If you are, just to make it personal, a faithful member of a biblical church, a church that is and does what the Bible says a church is and does, then you’ll experience life to the full.
Not meaning everything will go perfect in your life or that you won’t have struggle, but that’s just it, God has designed the church for you even amidst the struggles of this life to experience a peace, and strength, and wisdom, and joy, and true prosperity that transcends this world that you are wired to want and need. And then I would turn this statement around to say that if you are not a faithful member of a biblical church, then you will miss out on life to the full in relationship with God. You need a biblical church, I need a biblical church, we are all wired by our creator to need a biblical church.
A Definition of Church
In fact, let me go ahead and give you that definition of a church because this is in essence what a church is. It’s a group of people who commit together to be and do all that God says a church is and does. And over the next 12 weeks, I want to invite you, wherever you are, whoever you are, to go on this journey and see how God has designed church for your good in 12 ways that you may not even realize you need.
We want to show you that all God says a church is and does is good for you in a way that I hope you will find yourself committed in the end to either this group of people or some other group of people that is and does all that God says a church is and does. For some of you, you may be thinking you’re already committed to a church, even this church, and I just want to encourage you to ask over the course of this journey, “Are there ways God is calling you to go deeper into what it means to be a part of a biblical church for your good and for his glory?”
Others of you honestly have grown pretty convenient or comfortable with attending church online, or at the very least, having a pretty casual relationship with the church. Kind of in Sunday morning, out at the end, move on with life. Come back and do it next Sunday maybe? Not a commitment to be and do all that God says the church is and does, and if that’s you, I want to encourage you to honestly ask, “Is that what God tells you to do?” “Is that best for you?” Or does God in his love for you call you to a commitment that you are stopping short of? Just to ask the question. Others of you intentionally keep some distance from the church for any number of reasons, some of you’re skeptical of the church for good reason, my hope is that you’ll go on this journey with us over the next 12 weeks, and by the end, find yourself saying, “I need and want to commit to being a meaningful part of a church.” Again, either here or somewhere else.
And then for those of you who are not yet followers of Jesus, I know it’s an odd ask for you to explore what a church is and does, but maybe just look at it this way, churches have been around for 2000 years. Isn’t it worth 12 weeks of your life just to learn about what a church is and does, and along the way to merely ask, “Is it possible that there is a God who has designed a certain kind of community for my good?”
Just honestly ask, “Do I need this or not?” See what happens. Each week we’ll walk through one trait or characteristic of a biblical church that we are all wired by God to need in our lives, and the first trait today is the most foundational of them all, you need biblical preaching and teaching. You need a church that preaches and teaches the Bible.
A People Who Listen to God
Now I know that as soon as I say that you might think, “Of course you’d say that, that’s your job. You’re a preacher, are you kidding me? You’re going to tell me I need something in my life, and the first thing I need is to listen to you, this is absurd.” Well, the answer to that question is absolutely not, the greatest need in your life is not to listen to me, I don’t even enjoy listening to me, but you need to listen to, to hear from God, and that’s the first thing that makes a church a church, it’s a people who listen to God.
Let me show you this in the Bible, from the very beginning of time, so we’re going to spend most of our time today on a tour through the Bible to show you how prominent this is. You may or may not have time to turn to all these places, feel free to try in your Bible, but I’ll have them all on the screen, you can write them down, but it all starts with how you and I and the entire world were made.
Genesis chapter one, the very first verses in the Bible, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.” In other words, one day there was nothing but darkness, until what happened? God spoke. God said, “Let there be light.” He just spoke those words, and there was light. Alexa didn’t do that. God just spoke, and all of a sudden light came by the word of God.
And verse five says, “God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” If you keep reading through Genesis one, you see this refrain over and over again 13 different times in the first chapter in the Bible, God speaks and he calls things into being by his mere word.
Culminating in verse 26 when God said, “‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’
So God created man in his own image. In the image of God, he created him: male and female, he created them” How? By his word. God spoke and people were created, and then listen to the first thing God did once he created them, verse 28, “God blessed them, and God said to them,” he spoke to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” The first thing God does with man and woman is he speaks to them.
And this continues in the next chapter, listen to what God does in Chapter two verse 16, “The Lord God commanded man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” In other words, don’t miss it, God is speaking words to people telling them how to have life and not die. God is lovingly warning them about what will happen to them if they don’t listen to and obey his word, if they ignore his word. Which, if you know the Bible, is exactly what happens in the next chapter.
Chapter three of Genesis verse one says, “The serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, you’ll be like God, knowing good and evil.”” Did you catch this? The very first temptation in the world was to question God’s word. “Did God actually say that?” “You don’t need to listen to God.” “You know better than God, you won’t die.” “God is keeping you from what you want.”
Ladies and gentlemen, bring this into your lap right now because this is the exact temptation you and I face in our lives every single day. We are all tempted every day to trust our ways over God’s word, to think that you and I know better than God what is good for our lives. It’s exactly how the first man and woman were tempted, and it’s exactly what they did. They ignored God’s word, and as a result, the sin, and suffering, and death that we are all familiar with entered the world. It all started with not listening to and obeying the word of God.
Now it’s interesting, from there, we won’t have time to even put all these examples on the screen, but from Genesis three on, everything, and I mean everything in the Bible from this point hinges on, revolves around whether or not people listen to God’s word and do what he says, everything. Just a few chapters after this, we’d read stories about a flood over the whole earth and people scattered throughout the earth with different languages unable to communicate with each other, all because they didn’t listen to and obey God’s word, they missed out on life.
Yet God and his patience and love initiates a relationship with a man named Abraham, who Genesis chapter 12 God speaks to and Abraham listens and obeys God’s word, trusts God’s word, and that begins the people of God in the Old Testament. That story continues in the book of Exodus, where another man named Moses listens to and obey God’s word, starting in the burning bush, and he eventually leads God’s people out of slavery in Egypt, and they come to a mountain where God does, guess what? He speaks and gives them his word.
Exodus chapter 20, the 10 commandments, in addition to other commands and laws for God’s people to experience life. Which then leads to Exodus chapter 24, look at this one with me, Moses receives God’s word, then watch what he does, “Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the Lord has spoken, we will do.’
Gather to Listen to God’s Word
And this scene becomes a pattern throughout the rest of the Bible and throughout history. For thousands of years since this day, God’s people have gathered together to listen to God’s words. Listen to this passage from Deuteronomy chapter four, as Moses is speaking God’s word to God’s people, he says, “Now, Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I’m teaching you, and do them, that you may live. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.” Then you get down to verse five, it says, “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me.” So Moses received God’s word. He’s passing it on to all the people.
“That you should do them in the land that you’re entering to take possession of them. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’
For what great nation is there that has a God so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there that has statutes and rules, so righteous, so good, as all this law that I set before you today.?” Did you catch that? This would be the mark of God’s people among all the peoples of the world, they hear the words of God and they have the wisdom of God, they have a life according to God. Which is why Deuteronomy chapter six says, “These words that I command you shall be on your heart, you shall teach them diligently to your children, talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
God says, “Put my word everywhere so you can experience life. Listen to it, talk about it all the time.” But God’s people don’t do this, as soon as they enter into the promised land, they do the exact opposite. They ignore God’s word, disobey it, and plunge into all kinds of evil and wickedness. Just read the book of judges, it is horrible. So God raises up people called prophets who will remind God’s people of his word. Listen to the story of the prophet Samuel, starting in One Samuel chapter three, verse one, “The boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli, and the word of the Lord was rare in those days, there was no frequent vision.” Meaning people weren’t listening to God’s word. So God speaks to Samuel, and Samuel responds to God’s voice, and by the end of the chapter, listen to this, verse 21 says, “The Lord appeared again at Shiloh or the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.”
So God is speaking now to a prophet, and through a prophet, that word is coming to his people. But God’s people don’t listen to the prophets, Samuel and others in the days to come, and a dark story plays out amidst kings throughout the Old Testament as God’s people turn to all kinds of immorality and idolatry. Every once in a while though, we see a light like King Josiah, when guess what happens? Again, everything hinges.
Watch this, Second Chronicles chapter 34, Josiah’s repairing and restoring the temple that had been neglected, and watch this, “While they were bringing out the money they had been brought in the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the book of the Law of the Lord given through Moses. Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan, ‘I have found the book of the Law in the house of the Lord.’ Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and Shaphan the secretary told the king, ‘Hilkiah, the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read from it before the king. When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes and the king commanded these guys saying, ‘Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for those who are left in Israel and Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that has poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.'”
What happens after this? Josiah gathers together the leaders, eventually the people, they listen to God’s word, and it leads to great reform and prosperity. Again, everything hinges on whether people are listening to and obeying God’s word. Let me show you one more example in the Old Testament among many, but this is probably the best one in my opinion, because God’s people again after Josiah turn aside from God’s word, and eventually Jerusalem is destroyed, the temple is destroyed, God’s people are taken into exile, if you’re following along in the church Bible reading plan, this is what’s happening in the book of Ezekiel, and eventually God brings them back to rebuild Jerusalem.
And when they come back, guess what’s the first thing they do? Nehemiah chapter eight verse one, “All the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra, the priest, brought the law before the whole assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard on the first day of the seventh month, and he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday.” That’s a long sermon, and he just read it. “In the presence of the men and women and those who could understand, and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the Law.” They just listened to the word.
“Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform they had made for the purpose.”
Beside him stood a bunch of guys, we can’t pronounce their names, “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people…” Watch this, “For he was above all the people, as he opened it, all the people stood. Ezra blessed the Lord the great God, all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen.’ Lifting up their hands, they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” All he’d done was open the book. And they’re shouting, and they’re bowing down, worshiping.
Also, all these guys helped the people to understand the law while the people remain in their places. “They read from the book, from the Law of God clearly, and they gave the sense so the people understood the reading.” Are you getting the picture here? We just walked through a tour of centuries through the first two thirds of the Bible and the mark of God’s people from the very beginning, what it means to be God’s people and what it means to experience life is to listen to and obey the one who made you. So it makes sense then when you turn the pages of history into the New Testament of the Bible, you see Jesus come on the scene.
How is he described? John chapter one, verse one. “In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, the word was God. And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus is called the word of God in the flesh. And what does he come doing? We saw this as soon as we started studying the book of Mark, what did Jesus come to do? Mark one verse 38, “Jesus said to them, ‘Let’s go into the next towns that I may,'” do what? “‘Preach there. That’s why I came.’ He went through all Galilee preaching in their synagogues.” Jesus came to preach, it’s why he came, to preach the word of God, to speak God’s word, and then to die on a cross for all who disobey God’s word and put their trust in him.
And after that, he rises from the grave, ascends into heaven, sends his Holy Spirit down on all who trust in him, and what is the first thing they do once they receive the spirit of Jesus? They start speaking the word of God. Acts chapter two, Peter stands preaches God’s word, listen to Acts 2:41. “Those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about 3000 souls.” The church. Now the people of the God in New Testament begins when people receive, when they listen to and obey the word of God that’s spoken, which is why the verse right after this, verse 42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” The teaching of God’s word, which then leads to what unfolds in the rest of the New Testament.
The book of Acts tells the story of the church in the first century, it all revolves around guess what? Listening to and responding to the word of God. Acts chapter four, verse four, “Many of those who heard the word believed, and the number of men came to about 5,000.” Acts chapter six, verse seven, “The word of God continued to increase and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem.” Acts chapter eight, verse four, “Those who were scattered from Jerusalem went about preaching the word.” Acts chapter 10, verse 44, as the gospel goes beyond just the Jewish people to the nations, Peter was saying these things to people, to Gentiles, “The Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.” Acts chapter 12 verse 24, this should say, “The word of God increased and multiplied.” Acts chapter 13, verse 48. “When the Gentiles, the nations, heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many who were appointed to eternal life.” The word is leading to eternal life for all who hear it and believe it, “And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.”
In Acts chapter 18, Paul stayed in Corinth a year and six months teaching the word of God among them. And after this, Acts chapter 19, “This continued for two years so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” Such that Acts chapter 19, verse 20 says, “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” In the next chapter, Acts chapter 20, teaching of the word in the church goes so late into one night that a kid falls asleep in the sermon and plunges out of a window to his death. The lesson is clear, do not fall asleep in the sermon.
I’m just kidding, we’ve all done it, we’ve all done it. But in Acts chapter 20, so follow this, The kid’s brought back to life, and you know what they do? They keep teaching, and preaching, and listening to the word. You’d think like people falling asleep and dying, it’s like, “Let’s call it a night.” No, you can’t stop God’s word from being taught in the church. All the way to the verses you have in front of you, so here in Two Timothy four is Paul, a leader in the church in prison because he was preaching God’s word, saying to Timothy, a younger pastor, he’s saying, “Timothy, no matter what it costs you,” follow along with me.
Second Timothy chapter four verse one, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom, preach the word. Be ready in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great complete patience and teaching, for the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
What Is God’s Word?
God says, “Preach my word.” And what is his word? You go just a couple verses before this. Two Timothy chapter three, verse 16, “All scripture that is breathed out by God, which is profitable for teaching reproof, for correction, training, and righteousness, that the man of God, the woman of God, that a person might be complete, equipped for every good work.” Every good thing. This whole book, what Acts chapter 20 calls the whole council of God.
Now, I know some people say, “Well, how do you know this book is the word of God?” And I wish I had a whole nother sermon with the time to preach on this right now. I’ve done this before, you can look it up, scripture and authority in an age of skepticism, but the consistency, historicity, veracity, reliability, authority, and infallibility of this book make clear, there is no book like it. It is supernatural from God, but that’s just it, can I remind you, you spend hours every day listening to messages that come most times from people you don’t even know.
Is this not the definition of foolishness, to saturate our minds with so many messages from this world while relatively ignoring the word of God? And this, this, fundamentally first and foremost, this is what it means to be the church. It means to rise every morning in our individual eyes and to listen to the word of God so we can live according to what it says. If you do not have a regular routine of listening to God’s word each day in your life, here God is saying to you right now, “Do this, listen and live. Listen and live.”
You can go to McLean bible.org/biblereading, you’ll find the Bible reading plan we use as a church. Just pick up with us today, tomorrow morning, you’ll find resources like Pray the Word Podcast that will help you in that. This is what it means to be the church, it means we listen to the word of God in our daily lives. It means when we’re having meals together, we’re riding in cars, we’re going on walks, Deuteronomy chapter six, we’re maybe gathering in a home or gathering with a church group, the word of God is at the center of our conversation, talk about it all the time. It’s what it means to be the church, and then it means when we assemble together every week, which we prioritize, this is more important to us than sports, than extra sleep, than extra work.
The church prioritizes assembling together in the presence of God and not sharing our opinions, but listening to someone or some people speak the word of God. This is what God’s people have done for literally thousands of years. Think Nehemiah [inaudible 00:39:28] worshiping God as we listen to and align with God’s word, which is why I’m putting verses up here on the screen, and I’m circling different things, and underlining different things. Because I want you to see, this is coming not from me, but from his word, and not every pastor necessarily uses a screen in the same way, but don’t believe anything I am saying or they are saying if they are not showing it to you in this word. In our lives, and our families, and our friendships, and our church groups, and when we gather together as the church, we want the book.
Give us the book, we want to listen to and respond to God’s word. This is what a church does according to God, and you need this. In a world where you are bombarded by so many messages coming at you from so many directions, you need the word of your creator to lead you to life and to keep you from death. You need biblical teaching and preaching in your life. I’ve just like totally messed this thing up. You need reproof, correction, you need training and righteousness. What did second Timothy four say? “You need reproof, rebuke, and exhortation.” You do not need to figure things out on your own, and you do not need to listen to an echo chamber of people telling you what you want to hear.
Fueled by algorithms that are designed to get you listening to more messages. I turn off Fox News, and CNBC, and YouTube, turn off the phone, the tablet, put away the laptop, make room in your mind for the word of God. Take inventory today. How much time are you spending on these mediums receiving messages from the world compared to how much time you’re spending listening to the word of your God? And we need this, the church family, we need to listen to and take whatever steps our best to align this church more with the word of God, whatever that means. Whatever steps we need to take, changes we need to make, we must align with God’s word. Why? Why is this so important for us as a church?
Because Jesus, our judge who has come once is coming back again, and as his people, we are accountable for listening to and aligning with His word.
Why Do You Need Biblical Teaching and Preaching?
And get this for your life, why do you need biblical teaching and preaching in your life? Why do you need to wake up in the morning, open this word, listen to it, gather together each week with the people of God to hear from his word as it’s taught and proclaimed, even when it’s not easy to hear, even when it goes totally against the grain of this world, and even when it’s not scratching your itching ears? You need this because one day, hear the word of God to you today, one day you are going to stand before God, the God of this word, and your life today, and on that day, and for all of eternity hinges on whether or not you have listened to and obeyed the word of God.
Let’s pray. As we bow our heads all across this room and other places, the Bible is clear, not one of us can fully obey the word of God, we’ve all fallen short. But this is the good news of the Bible is that God loves us anyway. God has made a way for you and me to be forgiven for all our falling short through trust in Jesus, who died on a cross to pay the price for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have never put your trust in Jesus as the word of God in the flesh, as the only one who can save you from your sin, I invite you even in your heart right now to say, “God, I know I have sinned against your word, but I believe that Jesus died to pay the price for my sin. Today, I put my faith and my trust in him. Please forgive me of my sin. I say to you today, I want to live, listening to, and obeying your word. By the power of your Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit in me.”
When you put your faith in Jesus like that, God does, he forgives you of your sin, puts his spirit in you, draws you into life forever in relationship with him. And for all who have put your faith in Jesus, can we just pray that in our individual lives we would be constantly listening to God’s Word and aligning our lives, and our marriages, our families, and our work, everything we are and everything we do with it. We just pray that God would form us as a church and lead us to do whatever we need to do to best align with his word.
I actually want to put a prayer up here on the screen so as you open your eyes, I want to invite you to pray this prayer with me. It’s based on lyrics from a song called “Speak O Lord” and I just want us to pray it together and let this be our response to what we have seen in God’s word today. So let’s pray this out loud together. Speak O Lord, as we come to you to receive the food of your holy Word. Take your truth, plant it deep in us. Shape and fashion us in your likeness, that the light of Christ might be seen in our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak O Lord, and fulfill in us all your purposes for your glory. Teach us Lord, full obedience, holy reverence, true humility. Test our thoughts and our attitudes in the radiance of your purity. Cause our faith to rise, cause our eyes to see. Your majestic love and authority, words of power that can never fail. Let their truth prevail over unbelief. Speak O Lord and renew our minds, help us grasp the heights of your plans for us. Truths unchanged from the dawn of time that will echo down through eternity, and by grace we’ll stand on your promises, and by faith will walk as you walk with us. Speak O Lord, till your church is built and the earth is filled with your glory. May it be so in our lives and in this church, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.