Cultivating a Passion for God’s Word

January 3, 2021 ()

Bible Text: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 |

Cultivating a Passion for God's Word | 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Jamie Woods | January 3, 2021

Good morning and happy new year! If you would, please stand with me this morning. We’ll start the new year with a reading of God’s word. We’ll be in 2 Timothy 3:10-17. Hear the word of the Lord.

“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Thank you; please be seated.

As we start the new year, Pastor Brian requested that I address you this morning and encourage you to have passion for reading your Bible during the year 2021. Indeed, during 2021 it’s the desire of the elders here at the church that you read your Bible and that you read it not out of just some sense of a mere obligation, but you read it so you can more fully commune with and know the Creator of the universe. I’m reminded of the words of the late R.C. Sproul; he said, “The most important thing that we do is try to deepen our understanding of the character of God.”

Here’s a road map for where we’re going to go today. The key text we will be in are the last two verses that we just read, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. We will see three things this morning from the text that should inspire us to have a passion for Scripture. These three things are:

1. All Scripture Is Breathed Out by God
2. All Scripture Is Profitable
3. The Word of God Alone Makes Us Complete

As part of this, we will dive into God’s word, we’ll look at the thoughts of some great Christian thinkers on these topics, and I’ll give you some application at the end. I will certainly try to stay on task, but please do give me some grace. As an attorney, there’s a rumor that we are by nature long-winded and boisterous, and I’ll confirm that that rumor is indeed true, but I will certainly try to stay on task this morning.

Regardless, encouraging you to be passionate about the Bible shouldn’t be a big lift for me this morning, because from hanging around this place I’ve figured out that you guys are a very passionate people. There are diverse passions here in this church. I look at Josh, and he’s passionate about hunting. I know many of our families here are passionate about homeschooling. I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with Pastor Ashton; I know he’s very passionate about our youth and their Christian education.

I noticed that many of you are very passionate about Marvel movies, about superheroes, people from comic books that I used to read when I was a boy. That was somewhat foreign to me. It became even more foreign when I started assisting Pastor Ashton with the youth, so I had to watch some Marvel movies, and I had to get up to speed on the lingo that they were talking about so I could communicate with these young men. That was a big adjustment for me.

I’ve also noticed from hanging around here that our passions are sometimes driven by where we’re born. I’ve noticed that some of you were born down around Texas, or a generation removed from the state of Texas, and I’ve noticed that these Texans, these Texas transplants, have certain things that they’re passionate about. That became very evident to me right before Thanksgiving this year, when I heard the words of Stephen Hedges on the news.

Stephen works for Matt Messer, who’s a brother in Christ here, and Matt owns a business called Cotton Gin Smokers. Right before Thanksgiving this year, ABC News did a news story setting forth and promoting Matt’s business. One of Matt’s spokespersons was our brother in Christ, Stephen Hedges. I want to read the words of Stephen Hedges, because I think they’ll help us understand passion. (These are the words of Stephen; these are not mine.)

Stephen started by saying, “Yankees don’t know how to do barbecue.” So I’m assuming the Yankees are us born north of the Mason-Dixon line and not the New York Yankees. Here we go. He says, “Yankees don’t know how to do barbecue; that’s known by the Texans.” So, not only is it known by Texans, it’s known by the Texans. That always makes me laugh, when people put “the” in front of something like that. We have Stephen here saying Yankees don’t know how to do barbecue, but that’s known by the Texans. “So we want to introduce something new to the area, and it’s something that we’re passionate about.” See, the Texans are passionate about barbecue, and it’s something us Yankees don’t know anything about.

I’ll have to admit, after eating some of Matt’s barbecue from Texas, he’s right. It’s something us Yankees don’t know about. But we can at least be passionate about eating barbecue, so we’re thankful for that!

All that brings us back to where we’re going to go today, the last two verses that we’ll be looking at most closely this morning to help us have a passion. As Christians here in this church, we all share a common passion. If we’re in Christ, we all have one common, unified passion, and that’s a passion for God’s word. It’s what Christians turn to, it’s what we’ve communed with for thousands of years, being able to turn to the Scriptures. So we hope that 2021 will develop this passion for you if you don’t have it, and I’m certainly aware that many of you have walked with God a long time; you’ve had this passion for decades. 2021 is just another year for you to continue to cultivate your field, plant those seeds of God’s word that have been planted in your heart for many, many years now.

Let’s go back to the text, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

1. All Scripture is Breathed Out by God

The first thing we see here is that all Scripture is breathed out by God. We should have a passion for the word because it’s breathed out by our Creator.

Now, it’s common in the church and in society to misunderstand what Paul is saying here, as if he’s simply saying that the Scripture exist on a slightly higher plane than the writings of others, or any other wise words of men. But that’s not what is taught here by Paul, and that’s not what it means. When we undertake an examination of the text, we see the Bible is talking about something much greater. We see that Paul used the Greek term theopneustos in verse 16, which means “God-breathed” or “breathed out by God.” This tells us that the very Scriptures themselves are the creation of God, reflecting his breath, God’s very speaking.

Some of this confusion may exist because theopneustos is only used one time in the Bible. The ESV and the NIV rightfully define these words as “breathed out by God” or “God-breathed” as the meaning for theopneustos. Other still reliable translations of the Bible use the words “inspired by God” or “given by the inspiration of God,” and you’ll see that in the NASB, the KJV, the NKJV.

Now, regardless of which translation you use, what I want you to see this morning and what Paul is saying is that the Scriptures did not come in to existence because of extraordinary efforts of men. It wasn’t because of the efforts of Moses or Isaiah or Peter or Paul or whoever you believe wrote the book of Hebrews or any other men who are identified in the Scriptures that brought the word about. No amount of mere human wisdom or human ingenuity or human creativity resulted in the books that we have in the Bible.

In confirmation of this truth, it’s helpful to look at the book of 2 Peter, specifically 2 Peter 1:19-20. We see in 2 Peter that Peter states as follows: “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

We see from 2 Peter two important truths. One, the Bible does not come from someone’s own interpretation; and two, no Scripture was produced by the will of man. Now, we don’t have time this morning to fully examine how the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of these men of God to bring us the Scriptures, but I will give you this illustration I’ve heard Dr. John MacArthur use, and I think we can find it helpful.

The Holy Spirit was not such that it was like water in a well or a cistern that the authors of the Bible could draw at at any moment in time. It was not static, just lying there. The Holy Spirit was something different in the lives of these men; it was dynamic, it was as if it was the wind in the sails of a ship that blew at certain times and moved them along. In certain seasons, at times dictated by God, the authors were moved along and carried along and at certain times they wrote the books that we have.

Because there is one use of theopneustos, there could be some confusion. But there’s a second reason that there’s some confusion, and that’s a more nefarious reason. It’s because sometimes there’s a deliberate attack on the Scripture of God.

We see that this is the case in 2 Timothy. We see that Paul is warning Timothy. Paul’s second epistle to Timothy is likely the last thing he ever wrote that’s included in the Bible. He knew his branch was getting short and he was going to be killed soon. He was encouraging his co-laborer in Christ, his beloved Timothy, to stay strong upon what he was taught from the Scriptures that God brought us in eternity past.

Now, some of the greatest works defending the inspiration of the Bible as something distinct from the will of men was done by B.B. Warfield—Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield, who has to have the greatest name in the history of Christian theology. B.B. Warfield, who served as the last principal of the theological seminary at Princeton from the late 1800s to 1902, spent most of his ministry defending the Bible. He spent most of his ministry defending the Bible in large part from the false teachings that flowed from Charles Finney that had corrupted the church. Many of these teachings are things that we deny here today, such as the denial of imputed righteousness, the denial of the depravity of man—indeed, Finney was a pelagianist—and the denial of parts of Scripture and the doctrines of grace we hold dear, such as God’s sovereignty in salvation and the perseverance of the saints. Indeed, Finney, also advocated for sinless perfection as opposed to the biblical doctrine where man is justified, yet remains sinning, or simil justis et peccator.

We see that during his tenure, the primary thrust of Vinier’s ministry was to promote the authoritative view of the Bible. Warfield believed that the emerging views of the Bible and theology were problematic, since they relied upon the thoughts of the biblical interpreter rather than upon the divine author of Scripture. Warfield therefore preached and believed the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, that the Bible is God’s inspired word and is sufficient for the Christian to live his or her faith. Indeed, much of Warfield’s work centered upon the Bible being breathed out by God and combatting against the growing influence of modernist theology in the church, which denied that the Bible was entirely inspired and sufficient for the Christian. It sounds a lot like many of the issues the Christian church is facing today.

In examining what God-breathed means, Warfield helpfully defined theopneustos for us. Warfield stated that theopneustos is primarily expressive of the origination of Scripture. It’s where Scripture comes from. Back to the text from Warfield, “Scripture is not of its nature, and much less of its effects, what we’re concerned about.” We’re concerned about the origination. Warfield goes on, “What is theopneustos? It is God-breathed, produced by the creative breath of the Almighty. What it affirms is that the Scriptures owe their origin and activity to the Holy Ghost and are in the highest and truest sense only his creation. It is on this foundation of divine origin that all the high attributes of Scripture are built.”

Warfield’s work has influenced many theologians, has influenced many Christians over the years. In examining Warfield’s work on this subject, modern theologian and preeminent apologist Dr. James White agreed with Warfield when he wrote that “Warfield rightfully concluded that the term translated ‘God-breathed’ is speaking only of the origin of the Scriptures. They are not first and foremost, in a primary sense, human in their origination. A solid view of the Bible begins with the recognition that God is its principle author, the origin and source of its very essence.”

Dr. White, much like Warfield and the apostle Paul, also noted that heresy begins to creep into the church when we step away from viewing the Bible as sufficient. Dr. White writes, “All sub-Christian systems must, by definition, attack God’s word at this very point, for the survival of their unbiblical teachings and views of authority is dependent on overthrowing this precise truth.”

We see that the word of Christ is unique and set apart from any work of man. It’s stood the test of time and attack from within and without the church. This should inspire a passion for us to study it.

Now, one side topic I would like to address with you shortly is, how do we know that our book, our Christian Bible, is different from any other claimed book that is inspired by a god or by a human that’s divine? As we look at this issue, it will become readily clear our Bible’s something different from any other books that claim divine authorship. We need to know that even though the words are truly breathed out by God, there is a mystery here; a supernatural tension, if you will, exists—namely, Is the Bible just the dictation of God to authors, that they wrote down word for word, as I would when I dictate in my office, or as an automaton or a mechanical device, as the Koran claims it is inspired? Or did the mind, soul, and personality of the Christian authors play a role here? What makes the inspiration of the Christian Bible different from these other religious books?

One simple question we may ask ourselves is who wrote the Bible, God or man? But when we go to answer that question, we figure out it’s a challenging topic. But when we examine it closely, we can find inspiration in that the Bible requires something greater than a simple binary answer.

Here’s a balanced approach to this issue, that will help you, from Dr. MacArthur. MacArthur writes, “The Bible knows nothing, technically, of inspired men, only of inspired words, of God-breathed words. No writer was inspired as a person so he could write any Scripture any time he wanted to. No, there were only very special moments in their lives when they were given directly from God his word to write, and the rest of the time what they wrote was their own. Men were not inspired, but the Scripture is. God breathed into them, and they wrote it down, word by word, what God breathed into them.”

But MacArthur continues, recognizing the tension that exists here, and gives us an idea on how to process it. He says, “Yet it was more than dictation. They weren’t just listening to some voice and mechanically writing down every word. It was flowing through their hearts and their souls and their minds and their emotions and their experiences; but it came out that every word is the word of God. As God breathed into them the message and they were carried along by the Spirit, they said it, and some of them wrote it down. It’s miraculous, supernatural, inexplicable, a process that yields to us the word of God.”

What we see is that our Bible is not rote, it is not mechanical, it is not cold or dull; it’s so much more. In reality, every time you read the Bible as a believer you’re reading a book that originated in eternity past. It’s as if you’re hearing directly from your Creator, who breathed out every word as men of God were carried along by the Holy Spirit. We see this great work, this work between God the Father and the Holy Spirit, jointly working in the lives of holy men of God. It’s unlike anything else we could ever read or study.

This should stir a passion in us to read God’s word. The question we need to look at is, Do we have that passion to study these words that God lovingly breathed out to us? Let me share an illustration that might help us in this regard.

There was a soldier that went away to war, but before he left he sat down with the woman that he loved and told her, “I’ll write you every time I get a chance.” He did. He went off to war, he went to a far-off place, and he fought his battles. In between the battles, he would always write the woman that he loved. Upon his return from battles, he came back to the States and he sat down with this girl that he loved. He said, “Did you get all the letters that I wrote you?”

She said, “Yes, I got all the letters that you wrote me; but I didn’t read them. I just put them in this desk drawer, where I kept them.”

Do you think this man that loved the girl would think the girl loved him? The obvious answer to that question is no. The question we need to look at is, is that how we treat God’s word? Do some of us put God’s word in a drawer where we keep it and not read it? We should have a passion to pull out that Bible and read it.

2. All Scripture is Profitable

That brings us to our next point: All Scripture is profitable. While we all may have our favorite Bible verses and chapters or Scriptures and specific texts, and that’s fine, all Scripture is profitable, but we can’t treat it like it’s our favorite lunch buffet, where we go and we pull certain items off like it’s a la carte, foregoing what the others state. This will be elementary for most of you, but this is something that really helped me understand the Bible and develop a passion for it.

When we examine the Bible as a whole, we see that it is indeed a unified story about God’s redemption of a particular people through his Son, Jesus Christ. I know that a passion for the Bible was stirred in me when I heard one of my favorite Christian commentators, Todd Freel, explain that we know that all Scripture is profitable and all Scripture is supernatural because it contains a scarlet thread that runs throughout all of Scripture that points supernaturally to Jesus. We see that the Bible is entirely a supernatural story.

Here’s what the Bible says: God created Adam and Eve. He put two vegetarians in a garden with a river and two trees. They sinned lickety-split, and they tried to cover their own sin and shame with fig leaves. God had to spill blood for the very first time because humans can’t cover our sin and shame; God has to do it.

The Bible goes on; we see the story of Cain and Abel. What was the problem? Cain gave an offering of vegetables, it wasn’t a pleasing sacrifice to God. God desires a sacrifice of blood.

We see the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham and Isaac are going up on Mount Moriah, Isaac has the wood for the sacrifice on his back. We all know what he asked his dad: “Father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham responds, “The Lord will provide.” Just as Abraham is about to kill his son, the Father says, “Stop!” The next time we see that mount, Mount Moriah, it’s where our Savior’s being crucified, and that time the Father’s hand does not stop.

When you read the Mosaic law about Passover, you see that an unblemished lamb had to dwell with the people for a short amount of time. Why? So it could be slaughtered to make covering for sins. We see that with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement; a covering of sacrifice, of blood, for sins.

We see the prophet Isaiah describe the man that was so beaten and afflicted we thought he was being led like a lamb to the slaughter for his own sins, but he was dying for the sins of his people. Seven hundred years later, John the Baptist points at Jesus Christ and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world!”

All these bloody lamb sacrifice stories are a scarlet thread running throughout the Bible pointing to the better sacrifice to come in Jesus Christ. The Old Testament keeps going.

When God saw that everybody was sinning, he said, “I’m going to destroy this world with a flood,” but he offered an ark of salvation. Peter tells us that ark is Jesus Christ, so when we run through the door of the ark (that ark had one door, and that door is Christ), we run into the ark of salvation, we see that Jesus is indeed the door. We run through him to avoid the flood and to join the ark of our salvation.

There’s a story where the Israelites are wandering in the desert; they’re being very rebellious, they’re being very sinful. God sends serpents to bite them. God tells Moses to fashion a serpent and lift it up on a pole, and if the people look at the serpent in response to their sins, they will not die.

We see later on Jesus says, “Just as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so too must the Son of Man be lifted up.” When we look upon Jesus, the bite of death does not take hold of us.

All of these stories in the Old Testament point to Jesus. The Old Testament goes on.

In the Old Testament, they used to have a tabernacle where God met with his people and where God dwelt, but in the New Testament God tabernacles with us. We see that Jesus is the ladder that we see in Jacob’s ladder, in the book of John 1:51, where it says angels are descending up and down on him. He is our surety, he is our city of refuge, he is our kinsman redeemer.

That story of Boaz and Ruth, where Boaz redeems Ruth, they are the lineal grandparents of Jesus Christ. There’s one lineage in the Bible, and it follows the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Now, here’s what the Bible says in the end. God’s going to return, and this time he’s not coming back as a weak lamb, he’s coming back as a roaring lion who’s going to redeem his elect, those that were predestined to be saved in eternity past. He’s going to crush those that do not repent and trust in him, and put them under his feet. Then everyone will cry out for the mountains to fall on them and crush them instead of facing the wrath of the Lamb. He’s going to redeem his people and restore the earth, and we see in Revelation 21-22 there’s going to be a garden, there’s going to be a river, and there’s going to be two trees, and God is going to dwell with his people.

When we see those bookends of the Bible, how can we not think that every bit of it is profitable for us, all the way from Genesis to Revelation?

Now, that story I shared was written over 1400 years by 40 different authors in three different continents in three different languages. It is indeed something that could never have been concocted by man. It’s greater and more miraculous than any Marvel movie or any story that has ever been written. The question we need to ask ourselves is, Do we view the Bible with that type of supernatural view, or are we content to look at the created things as more magical things as more magical and majestic than the Creator?

3. The Word of God Makes Us Complete

That brings us to our last point: the word of God makes us complete. We should have a passion for the word of God because it is all that we need; it completes us and equips us. I was first inclined to say that we need the word of God because of 2020, but I’m fearful that that’s become cliche and has become a joke; it’s become an Internet meme. 2020 was a hard year for so many of us, myself included; it was a year that was full of loss. Many of us experienced the loss of loved ones. Some had illness, others had family struggles relating to loss of employment or prodigal children. In these times that have been hard for so many, it should drive us to the word of God.

We see the reason for this when we return to the text that we’re looking at, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

The thing we need to take away from this is we’re not complete by ourselves, and we can’t equip ourselves. Those of us old enough to remember when cars were advertised and were marketed as “fully equipped”—that used to have a meaning. Now all cars have enough creature comforts I don’t think they use that as much. But I remember when I was a little boy, if a car was fully equipped it meant it had an AM/FM radio and a cassette player and maybe power windows. That’s changed over the years, but one thing has not changed, and that is that the word of God has fully equipped us since it has existed.

What we see from Scripture is that the Bible is the way that Jesus has chosen to communicate with us. We notice this when we look at Hebrews 1:1-2, where the writer states, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world…”

Now, we see from these two texts, 2 Timothy and Hebrews 1, that the word of God makes us complete, it equips us for every work, and in these last days it is through Jesus that he spoke in the Bible. That’s why we believe in Sola Scriptura! For those of us looking for a definition of Sola Scriptura, let me offer one from Dr. James White.

Dr. White explains it as follows: “The Bible claims to be the sole and sufficient rule of faith for the Christian church. The Scriptures are not in need of any supplement; their authority comes from their nature as God-breathed revelation. Their authority is not dependent upon man or church or council. The Scriptures are self-consistent, self-interpreting, and self-authenticating. The Christian church looks at the Scriptures as the only and sufficient rule of faith, and the church is always subject to the word and is constantly reformed thereby.”

Now, I’m not going to get into this morning whether God is still communicating through prophetic ministries, through dreams, through visions, through audible conversations, nudges, or any other means outside of Scripture. Instead, I want to encourage you with this one truth from Scripture: You are entirely complete without them. Everything that is required for a Christian to be complete and to be fully equipped is contained in the Bible.

In 2020, we saw this truth at work in many of the lives of the people that sit here today. We saw that you had hidden the word in your heart, and when the tough times came you were able to draw upon the well of the word that you had. However, I want to share two examples with you, one old and one new, of why we should rely upon Scripture alone.

We see in Matthew 4:3-10 the old familiar story. Jesus is in the wilderness for 40 days. He’s brought back and he’s led out in temptation from the tempter, Satan. We see that in response to each and every temptation and lie of Satan, Jesus responded with these three words: “It is written.” We see three times that Satan either lies or tries to tempt Jesus, and three times Jesus says, “It is written,” drawing from the text of old, twice drawing from Deuteronomy 6 and once drawing from Deuteronomy 8. Our Savior, in refuting the temptations and lies of Satan, did not turn to anything other than God’s revealed word. This should drive us to the Bible alone, also.

I do want to share a more recent example, one that’s taking place right now. We’re going to bring up a picture here of Tim Challies and his family. Many of you know Tim. He’s a Christian blogger, pastor, and author from Canada. This is a picture of his family. He’s on the right; his son, Nick, 20 years old there, is on the left-hand side of the picture.

They’ve been an inspiration, Tim has; his work’s been very inspirational to my family over the years, and we’ve learned much from him. On November 3rd of this year, Nick, his son, at the age of 20, while a seminary student in Louisville, collapsed and tragically died while playing a game with his sister and fiance.

Since the death of his son, Tim’s not ceased blogging, but through the deepest despair has continued to share his life. Two of his recent posts are relevant to us this morning. The first is a post from December 13th from Tim. Tim writes, “On the evening of November 3rd, we received the news that our son had collapsed and died. Much of the next few hours have been mercifully erased from my mind, but I do have a few vivid memories, and among them is grabbing ahold of my wife, looking her in the eyes, and rehearsing together what we knew to be true. We spoke of our rock-solid convictions that God is good, so he had done no wrong; that God is sovereign, so had missed no opportunity to intervene; that God’s will is better than ours, even when the two seem to clash so sharply and so painfully.” Pay attention to this. Tim writes, “In that moment, we subjugated our feelings to our doctrine. We allowed what we knew to interpret what we felt.”

We see in this writing from Tim that instead of turning to their emotions, which could have carried them a thousand different directions in that time, through the deepness of despair and despondency, they turned to the word of God. They subjugated their feelings and emotions to their doctrine. Indeed, the Bible is what they clung to.

Here’s another post, this one from December 23rd, a few days before Christmas. Tim writes, “I expect it’s going to prove to be a difficult holiday in the Challies home. Christmas is usually our favorite day of the year, one of the few holidays for which we’ve developed distinct family traditions. We get up early so the kids can sort through the trinkets in their stockings, then we pause for a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and croissants. Then we open the gifts, then we relax for awhile before beginning to prepare a feast. We’ve developed this tradition over 22 years of marriage and 21 years of parenting. We look forward to it every time it rolls around.

“But this year, of course, one of us will be missing. There will be two stockings by the fire and not three. There will be four plates on the table, not five.” Tim goes on, “The birth of my Savior has everything to do with the death of my son, for it’s only because of Christ’s birth that I can have hope in Nick’s death. Because Jesus lived and lives, I can have confidence that Nick lives and will live. Christmas does not take away all my pain, but it does give me hope, it does give me confident assurance that there is joy beyond the sorrow, gain beyond the loss, light beyond the darkness.” Here’s what you should pay attention to. “The light that cut through the darkness on that Christmas night is the light that cuts through my darkness this Christmas night. ‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.’ It has not overcome it, it will not overcome, it cannot overcome it; for this light is the light of life. This light is Christ himself.”

All of us familiar with the Bible know that Tim Challies and his family turned to John 1:5, that says, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

What can we learn from the words of Tim Challies? After the greatest of human loss, after the greatest of sorrows, it is the revealed attributes, nature, and character of our sovereign God as he revealed himself to us in the Scripture alone that what we should cling to, and the Bible in and of itself is enough.

Friends, we need a passion for the Bible, so we certainly may be complete in times of joy, but more importantly, complete and equipped to handle the hardest things that life will throw at us.

Here’s an application this morning for you. There are three things.

(1) First, if you’ve been lacking in passion for the Bible, you need to repent. As Christians, we’re not called to be navel-gazers, but we do need to examine ourselves to make sure that we are in this faith. So examine yourself.

I also encourage you to be brave. Find a mentor, find somebody that’s a mature Christian, tell him the struggles that you’re having; have him help you. You will make a decision you will not regret.

(2) Secondly, for my fellow dads and fathers out there, if you’re a father or if you’re a husband, it’s your responsibility to be the pastor in your home. We’re blessed to have a very good pastor here, an excellent pastor, and excellent elders that can fill the pulpit. That doesn’t relieve us as fathers and as husbands of our duty to be the pastor in our home. That includes being the primary source your family hears the word of God from.

Men, we need to ask ourselves, Are you the pastor to your wife and children? Women, you need to ask yourselves, “Am I willing to let my husband be the pastor of my home?”

(3) Third, get a Bible reading plan for a year. I heard this yesterday; this is a sure-fire perfect year-in-a-Bible reading plan. It won’t cost you a thing. Just open up your Bible and read it. There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. If you read four a day each day of the week, you’d get it done in a year. If you read six days a week, four to five chapters, you’ll get it done in a year. At five days a week, if you read five chapters a day, you’ll get through the Bible in a year. There’s your Bible reading plan.

I will make one suggestion. You might find a plan that allows you to read both from the Old Testament and New Testament daily. An example of that would be in the back of any MacArthur study Bible, but there are also such resources available online.

Thank you for listening to me this morning. It’s certainly the hope of the church that as we move into 2021 it will be a time to renew your desire for God’s word. If you’ve marched with God a long time, it’s just another year for you to continue on that path until you’re called to glory.

If you would, please pray with me this morning.

God, we do thank you for this day, and we do thank you for your word. Lord, it would be a fearful thing to have a God that we couldn’t know anything about, a God who we couldn’t understand. God, we are so grateful to you for revealing yourself in your Scriptures, for using holy men of God to bring about the words that we have in our Bible. We’re grateful to you; it’s unlike anything else that’s ever been written.

We pray for everybody here, that the Bible would be our desire in 2021, that it would be used to strengthen the saints, and if there’s anybody out there that’s unsaved it would cut into the hearts of men and women and regenerate them. We’re just so grateful to have such a good Savior in your Son, Jesus Christ. We just praise you, we thank you. We pray this all in your Son’s name, Amen.