We’re in week #3 of a long series called This Is How We Roll. In this series, we’re exploring who God is calling us to be as followers of Jesus, both in our individual lives and families, and collectively as a church. And even though this is only the third week, God is blowing the roof off through this series. We’re talking about big stuff. We’re talking about bold vision. We’re listening intently as God speaks to us, and we’re following where He is leading.
That’s what this third message is all about. If you want to know how we roll here at Connect, you’ve got to know this.
We hunger for the Word of God.
Here at Connect, we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We believe it is true and without error.
Now, you might not believe that. And that’s okay. You’re welcome here, and you can bring your questions and your doubts with you. It doesn’t offend us. It doesn’t anger us. It doesn’t scare us.
If you don’t believe what you hear today, it’s okay. But I just want to ask you to do this. Be honest in your evaluation. I’m going to honestly present what we believe about the Bible. I’m going to be honest with you. All I ask is that you be honest with yourself. If you don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God, be honest about why. Is it because you really don’t believe it’s the truth, or is it because you don’t like what it says.
If you’re on a journey to seek the truth, begin by being truthful with yourself. You owe that to yourself.
If you’re not someone who follows Jesus, today is going to be challenging for you. Just be honest as you evaluate what you hear.
If you do follow Jesus, today is going to be challenging for you, too. Today, we’re going to challenge a lot of preconceptions that we have about the Bible.
So let’s start here. Let’s pray, and ask God to open our minds, our hearts, and our souls to hear what He has to say to us today. But we’re going to pray in a different way today. We’re going to pray through singing. This song is really a prayer. Don’t sing. Just listen to the words as Brian leads us in this prayer. Let’s ask God to speak to us through His Word today.
We’re in a war. And I’m not talking about a geopolitical war. I’m not talking about a war against an enemy state. I’m not talking about a war against terrorists. Obviously our world is burning in war all over the globe, but the war we’re talking about today is being fought in your life.
Here’s the way the Apostle Paul describes it in Ephesians 6. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this
dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13, NIV)
The battle is real. The enemy is real. Every time Scripture talks about Satan, it speaks of his reality. When Jesus talked about Satan, He referred to him as a real being. In fact, as we’re going to see a little later, Jesus and Satan had a real confrontation.
Satan and his demonic forces are not mythological creatures. They are very real, very dark, very powerful beings who have declared war on God and on all who follow Him.
That means they’re gunning for you and me. Satan wants to take us down. We are in a war.
Now, what does that have to do with the Bible? What does this war have to do with the Word of God? Everything.
The Word is our weapon. You can’t go to war without the right weaponry. The Word of God is our weapon in this war for our souls.
In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us who we’re fighting against. We’re fighting against Satan and his spiritual forces of darkness. But then, Paul goes on to tell us about how we arm ourselves for the fight.
Look at the next verses. Paul writes, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:14-17, NIV)
Now, we need to notice something here. When Paul tells us about all the different pieces of the armor of God, every piece of armor that he lists is defensive…except one. He talks about the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation. It’s all defensive. Every one of those pieces of armor are meant to fend off an attack.
But then, at the end of the passage, Paul says that we have to arm ourselves with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
A sword is an offensive weapon. Everything else in the armor of God is meant to defend yourself. But the sword of the Spirit…the word of God…is meant to attack. It is offensive. It is used to take the fight to the enemy.
The Word of God is how we go on offense in our lives. So many believers live with a defensive posture. As long as nothing bad happens on any given day, then that is a good day. It’s all defensive.
But instead of waking up each morning thinking, “I hope nothing bad happens today,” we should get out of bed saying, “I’m going on offense today. I’m going to inflict devastating pain on my enemy today. I’m going to put him on defense today.”
And we do it by the power of the Word of God. Living out the principles of the Word of God. Being shaped and molded and influenced and changed by the Word of God.
But for that happen, you’ve got to know the Word of God. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit, but if we don’t know the Word of God, we’re heading into battle with a sword that’s not ready for the fight.
I found this in Brock’s toybox this week. Now, as you can, it’s a sword. But let me ask you…is anybody intimidated by this? If I head into battle with this, am I going to strike fear into the heart of my enemy?
Now wait a minute. You haven’t seen it all, yet. It even lights up!
Seriously, is anybody in their right mind going to head into battle with a sword like that? No! It’s not sharp. It’s made of plastic. It’s not a weapon. It’s a toy!
Can I tell you something? This is how a lot of Christians treat the sword of the Spirit. This is how a lot of Christians treat the Word of God. They don’t treat it as a weapon that is essential to their survival. They treat as something they can toy around with.
When we’re not in the Word, when we don’t know the Word, we get up each day and head into battle with a toy sword. It’s hard to win a fight when this is your weapon.
But this is a different story. I’d go into battle with this. I’d get into a fight with this.
Here’s the deal…every one of us gets to choose which sword we carry into the fight. We get to choose between this and this. We get to choose between not knowing the Word of God and digging deep into the Word of God. It’s not that complicated. It’s actually a pretty simple choice.
But the problem is that a lot of us don’t even know where to begin. We got a great question back in our Q&A series a few weeks ago that dealt with this. Somebody asked where they should start reading the Bible. The Bible is pretty thick, and parts of it can be confusing and strange.
Brian and I both gave the same answer to that question. If you want to start reading the Bible, start with Jesus. Start with the books of the Bible that tell the story of Jesus. Start with the gospel of Mark or the gospel of John, for example. These books tell the story of Jesus.
And start at a pace that you can sustain. For example, think about this. The book of John has 21 chapters. If you commit to read 3 chapters a day, you’ll read the entire book of John in a week. That’s a commitment that anybody can handle.
I did a little experiment this week as I was working on this message. I wanted to know how much time this would take each day. If you wanted to read the gospel of John in a week, 3 chapters a day, how much time would that take everyday?
So I set my sermon aside, grabbed my Bible, and timed myself as I read the first three chapters of John. And I purposefully read at a slow, sustainable pace. You know how long it took me to read those three chapters? Just over 8 minutes.
So if I commit 8 minutes a day, I can read the entire book of John in 7 days. Let’s be honest…there is not one person in this room who couldn’t make that commitment. If you don’t have 8 minutes a day, something is seriously wrong with your schedule. You’re not THAT important. The world will keep turning if you set aside 8 minutes to read your Bible. I promise!
Now, for others of you, maybe you don’t think 8 minutes sounds like enough. The point is, if you’re not reading the Bible at all right now, you’ve got to start somewhere. And I think that 8 minutes a day in the book of John is a reasonable place to start.
If you’re not in the Word, you are heading into battle every single day with a weapon like this. You’re not going to win any fight with this.
There’s an incredible scene in the book of Matthew where Jesus is confronted by Satan.
In Matthew 4, starting in verse 1, Matthew writes, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:1-11, NIV)
This is an incredible scene. The Bible tells us of an actual conversation between Jesus and Satan. And when you look at this encounter between Jesus and Satan, what do you find?
Every time Satan tempted Him, Jesus responded, “It is written.”
Satan tempted Jesus three times, and three times Jesus responded, “It is written.” He was attacked three times, and responded with Scripture three times.
Jesus wielded the weapon of the Word to fight back for His spiritual life. You have to have an offensive strategy, and Scripture is your weapon. To the point where every time the devil opens his mouth, you open God’s Word and fight back. The Word is your weapon to win the war.
We need a much higher view of Scripture. We need a much higher view of the Bible. This isn’t Chicken Soup for the Soul. This isn’t just to make you feel better about yourself. This is how you take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
You are in a fight. It’s a fight for your life. It is a fight for your family. It is a fight for your very soul. And the Word of God is your only offensive weapon to win that fight.
Satan is coming after you. The Word is how you take the fight to him.
But it all comes back to this…you’ve got to know it. You’ve got to know the book. There is no substitute. There is no shortcut. If you don’t know the book, you are ripe for the picking. Satan will target you and take you down.
You’ve got to know the book, so that when Satan opens his mouth and starts telling you what you’re not, and what you can’t do, and who can’t be, and what you can’t have, you can show him in the book where God says you are, and God says you can, and God says you will! You’ve got to know the book!
When you have a problem in your life and it seems like no good can or ever will come from it, you’ve got to know the book so you can go to Romans 8:28 and claim the promise. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)
You’ve got to know the book!
You’ve got to know the book, so when you start feeling like there is no way that God can love you because of what you’ve done, you can go to Romans 8:1 and remember that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, NIV)
You’ve got to know the book!
Ladies, when you start feeling insecure about your physical appearance, you’ve got to know the book so you can use the promise from Psalm 139 that says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14, NIV)
You’ve got to know the book!
Men, when you feel completely inadequate, and you do way more often than you want to admit, you’ve got to know the book so you can go to 2 Corinthians 12:10 and hear, “for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10, NIV)
You’ve got to know the book!
Students, when you’re tempted to go the wrong way with the wrong people doing the wrong things, you’ve got to know the book so that you can go to 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV)
You’ve got to know the book!
When you feel alone, when you feel abandoned and betrayed by people, you’ve got to know the book so you can remember the promise in Deuteronomy 31:8. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV)
You’ve got to know the book!
When you’re in a valley, when things look dark and you don’t know what’s going to happen, you’ve got to know the book so you can find hope in Psalm 23. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:4-6, NIV 1984)
You’ve got to know the book!
When you feel powerless over your circumstances, you’ve got to know the book so you can go to Ephesians 3:20 and you can remember that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV)
You’ve got to know the book!
When you come face to face with the end of your life and eternity is on the horizon, you’ve got to know the book so you remember what Revelation 21 says about our eternity in Christ. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4, NIV)
You’ve got to know the book! There are not shortcuts. There are no quick fixes. There are no substitutes. You’ve got to know the book. It is your weapon to win the war for your life, for your family, and for your soul. You’ve got to know the book.
That’s why we are so laser-focused on the preaching of the Word of God here at Connect. That’s why we do everything we can to draw people in to the preaching of the Word. That’s why we do everything we can to limit distractions to people can focus on the Word.
It’s not because the church is all about me as the pastor. It’s not about who is preaching the Word. It’s about the Word that is being preached.
A preacher from the 1800s, Charles Spurgeon, said, “Life, death, hell, and worlds unknown may hang on the preaching and hearing of a sermon.”
Here at Connect, we actually believe that. We actually believe that God can use one sermon to change the trajectory of someone’s life and even their eternity. So we purposefully create an environment to eliminate distractions so the Word can be heard and received.
We have a Connect Team and a Security Team who are here to help us maintain that kind of distraction-free environment. There have been a few times where people have been offended by this. Very few times, but it has happened. But here’s the thing…we’ll risk offending one person in the room so we don’t offend every other person in the room. We are absolute committed to creating an environment where there are no distractions during the preaching of the Word of God.
Now, as a portable church, sometimes the distractions are beyond our control. That’s one of the reasons why the search is on for our next location. We’ve said all along that our location here at the hotel is not permanent. We are actively praying and seeking our next location. Our next location has to be a distraction-free environment that will allow us to grow even more. Because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re running out of room here. Praise God for that problem, but it’s still a problem.
And we have weeks here at the hotel where there are outside distractions that we can’t control. But we are absolutely confident that God is faithful and He will show us our next step in His time.
We are a church that is committed to the Word of God. We are committed to the preaching of the Word of God. Because we believe what Paul wrote in Romans 10.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?
And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10:13-15, 17, NIV)
There is power in this book. This book is the foundation of who we are as a church. This book is the key to our hope, because this book gives us the message of Jesus Christ. In fact, this book is all about Jesus.
If anyone claims to understand the Bible, but Jesus is not the Savior and Lord of their life, do not listen to them. Love them. Pray for them. Serve them. Be a good witness to them. But do NOT listen to them. If someone does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, if they do not worship the crucified Christ and the risen Savior, they don’t know jack about the Bible, because the Bible is all about Jesus.
In John 5, Jesus got into an argument with the religious leaders of His day. He told them, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40, NIV)
Jesus told them, “You think you know the Scriptures. You think you know what the Bible is all about, but the truth is you don’t know anything. You’ve completely missed the point of the Bible, because you don’t love Me. The Bible is all about Me.”
That’s why we’re all about the Bible here at Connect. Because the Bible is all about Jesus. Don’t let yourself be deceived.
If some well-meaning guys in white shirts and black ties show up at your door and want to talk with you about the Bible, just politely invite them to move on. They don’t worship Jesus as God Incarnate who died and rose again for our sin, which means they don’t have a single thing to teach you.
And that goes for anyone who would try to teach the Bible. Before you listen to a word that they say, get the answer to this question. What do they believe about Jesus? If they believe that Jesus is not God, if they believe that Jesus was not born of a virgin, if they believe that Jesus did not rise again but instead He’s buried in a hole somewhere in the Middle East, don’t listen to a word that they say about the Bible. They can’t teach you anything about the Bible, because they have missed the entire point of the Bible.
It’s all about Jesus. That is the first core value of our church, and it is the center point of the Bible. It’s all about Jesus.
The Bible shows us a God who loves us more than we could ever comprehend. It reveals a God who came into our world and lived the sinless life that we couldn’t live. And then He died the death we should have died. And His death is the full and final payment for our sin. Which means we are free.
We could never know that without this book. The Word of God reveals the Son of God. It’s all about Jesus.
In Isaiah 40, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8b, NLT)
The Word of God is eternal because it reveals Jesus to us. Jesus is eternal. His love is eternal. His power is eternal. His grace is eternal. His throne is eternal. His Kingdom is eternal. His forgiveness and mercy are eternal.
So today, we’re going to close by celebrating this truth. The Word of God is all about Jesus. The Word of God stands forever.
Do you believe that, church? God loved us enough to give His Word. His Word reveals His Son to us. It reveals how we can be saved and rescued and redeemed. It reveals a God who is with us. Who died and rose again for us. And Who wants to be with us for all eternity.
So let’s give God all the glory and the praise today. And let’s celebrate and worship Him now.