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1st June 2014
We find, in the book of Exodus, the Israelites encountering God powerfully in two incredible but different ways. Firstly, in Exodus 19:16-18 and 20:18-21, would have been terrifying – imagine what a mountain trembling looks and feels like! This encounter was defined by fear, distance, holiness, thunder, lightning, smoke, thick darkness, and God descending in fire!
The experience of the Israelites was very different to ours. Why is this? Has God changed? No. It’s not because we are better than they were or because God is no longer holy. It’s because we have a beautiful, spotless, perfect Saviour: Jesus Christ! God hasn’t changed, but I have a mediator, a substitute. The Israelites couldn’t even touch the base of the mountain, but we can know God and have His Spirit living within us.
The other way in which God met with the Israelites is through His Word (Exodus 20:1-17). He gave them the Ten Commandments, revealing Himself to them through the Law. Throughout all of Church history, this has been the experience of God’s people – that they encounter Him in both Spirit and Word. And just like the Israelites, we encounter God in both ways today.
If the message of Jesus isn’t proclaimed, how will people understand it and turn to Him? We find right the way through the book of Acts that the gospel advance was connected to the spreading of the Word.
The world is living under a lie. The way to handle a lie is with the truth. If we want to know how to be happy, we turn to God’s Word. If we want to know what happens when we die, we turn to God’s Word. If we want to know how we can know God and what He is like, we turn to God’s Word. The Word – the Bible – is God’s gift to us. It is life to us.
You may have a thousand books at home, but none compares to this one. It gets planted in your life and grows. We live in a day of headlines and adverts – soundbites designed to get our attention quickly and cause an emotional response. But that’s not enough when it comes to the Bible, which needs to be the foundation of every healthy church and healthy Christian. We can all have good ideas about God (and bad ones). As J I Packer writes: “People have got into the way of following private religious hunches rather than learning about God from His Word.”
Do we hold onto soundbites or do we know what the Bible actually says? God has revealed Himself through the Bible. How serious are you about getting to know God? Don’t gather crumbs from soundbites or a one-meal-a-week diet from Sunday preaching. We can read the Bible in a year, work through a commentary/devotional book (such as those by Phil Moore, available from Resources on Sundays), read the blogs posted on the church website each week, follow Adrian Pursglove’s daily Bible reading blog.
Whichever way you do it, be students of the Word of God – take the Bible seriously, and get to know God through it!
Download the sermon audio and life application questions here.
Posted by Paul Mann