Successful Christian Living, Pt. 2 – Knowing the Bible

(Greek words can be viewed using the Symbol font)

Sermon Study Sheets

 Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

September 23, 2001

Successful Christian Living, Part 2

Knowing the Bible


As I stated a couple of weeks ago, I, like many pastors, am greatly concerned about the many that profess to be Christians, but their lives demonstrate that they are not successfully living the Christian life. They struggle along on in life and make little if any impact in this world for the cause of Christ. Their seems to be little difference between their lives and those of non-Christians.

The events since September 11 have only increased the importance of this subject. The difference between the Christian and non-Christian in responding the terrorism that has struck our nation should be very clear. While others may live in fear of what could happen, the Christian’s eternal hope is a present reality that brings peace. Even in difficult circumstances we can have joy while others have depression. We can extend grace and mercy even though others are controlled by anger and revenge. We can have triumph in the midst of tragedy.

A successful Christian is a person who has been saved from their sins by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and, as an adopted child of God, is bringing glory to His name by being conformed into the image of Jesus by submitting themselves to the will of God in faithfully pursuing holiness and blamelessness along with serving the Lord in doing the good works He has prepared before hand.

Does this definition fit your life? If not, why not? One of the fundamental reasons that Christians do not live the Christian life successfully is that they do not know God very well and you cannot know God well without knowing His revelation of Himself – the Bible. Contrary to popular claim that God can be experienced in a variety of ways which range from mystical practices to enjoying nature, the only way to really know Him is to know what He has said about Himself. Are there some aspects of God and can be known through Creation? Yes, Romans 1:20 tells us “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 2:5 tells us that the kindness of God, which would include His forbearance and patience with us as well as His supplying us with the needs for daily life (Ps. 136:25, 145:15, etc.), should lead to repentance.

But Creation cannot tell you about God’s many other attributes including His justice, holiness, love, grace and mercy. Creation cannot tell you about God’s laws, the penalty for breaking those laws or the means by which you can be forgiven for your sin. Creation cannot tell you about the promises God makes to those that love Him. God has revealed all those things in the Bible, so unless you know the Bible, you cannot know them.

The sad truth is that there are so many who profess to know God and be followers of Jesus that are basically ignorant of the Bible. They view their Christian life as an experience. They judge their worship of God on a Sunday morning by how they feel. They judge the depth of their relationship with God by the emotional closeness they may or may not have with Him. While emotions are important, they are not the source of truth. They often are deceptive and based in lies. In addition, evaluating your walk with God by how you feel is totally self-centered approach to the relationship. If you want to use emotions to evaluate your relationship with God, then base it on His emotions. How does He feel toward you in light of your behavior and attitudes? The Christian life must be evaluated by truth, not self-centered emotions, and that truth can only be found in the Bible.

It is also imperative to understand that you cannot know what you are supposed to do or how you should respond without the Bible. Even as I pointed out last Sunday, there are a variety of ways that people are responding to the terrorist attacks we suffered September 11 including shock, denial, fear, anger, blaming God, bargaining with God, depression or despondency. While the Christian’s emotions may range through all these too, he can still respond with peace, mercy, grace, resistance to evil and triumph. The reason that we can respond in a godly manner is because of what God has told us in the Bible.

David’s Response to the Word

King David understood the importance of the Scriptures in his daily life and he expressed that in many of the Psalms. In Psalm 19 David speaks of the Scriptures character, effects and value.

Psalm 19:7-11 form a brief but instructive Hexapla containing 6 descriptive titles of the word, 6 characteristics of the word, and 6 divine effects or qualities of the word which is followed by a recognition of the supreme value of the Scriptures.

The law of the LORD is perfect converting the soul

The testimony of the LORD is sure making wise the simple

The statutes of the LORD are right rejoicing the heart

The commandments of the LORD are pure enlightening the eyes

The fear of the LORD is clean enduring forever

The judgments of the LORD are true they are righteous altogether

They are to be desired more than Gold, yea, than much fine Gold; They are sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is Thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great reward.

There are six titles or functions of the Word given. It is law, testimony, statutes, commandments, fear, and judgments. There are six characteristic qualities of the Word given. It is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. And there are six summary statements given which tell of a divine effect or quality of the Word. It converts or restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eye, endures forever, and they are righteous. To this is added that Scripture is a warning to God’s servants which brings about great reward when it is heeded.

But notice that the key characteristic of this section is the repetition of the phrase “of the LORD.” This is Yahweh, the covenant keeping God who has revealed Himself to men through the special revelation of His word. The emphasis is not upon Scripture itself, but on the LORD who has given Scripture to man.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul.

Scripture is the law, or “torah,” of God. It is a set of regulations made of statutes, ordinances, precepts, commandments and testimonies. It is the general word for Scripture under which the specifics in the rest of the Psalm fall. It is the revelation of His will.

This law is perfect, complete, whole, literally “all sided.” Nothing needs to be added, and nothing should be taken away. If you add to the Law, you add the foolishness of men. If you take away from the Law, you remove part of God’s direction. This Law is perfect. You cannot improve it, only follow it.

The effect of the law is to convert or restore the soul. This word is used to signify repentance in the sense a beneficial reviving effect that permeates the very life and soul of a child of God. It speaks as much or more to those already saved as to those still lost.

The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

The root meaning of testimony is “to bear witness.” The law of God is His testimony because it is His own affirmation relative to His very person and purpose. The testimony of the Lord is God’s authentication or confirmation of the Law.

This testimony is sure, absolutely certain. There is no variation. When God wanted to show the sureness of His covenant with Abraham he swore by Himself (Heb. 6:13). This is the firm foundation upon which you can build your life.

This testimony makes the simple wise. Simple does not mean foolish, but “open.” The simple are ignorant, but want to know. They give attention to wisdom and incline their ears to understanding. They are the opposite of Proverbs 17:28 which says, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.” The testimony of the LORD will give Godly wisdom to the one who is open to receiving it. The foolish will receive no such instruction.

The Statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.

Statutes or precepts is a general term for the responsibility that God places on His people by the authority of His uttered word. These are the general principles by which the LORD wants us to live.

These statutes are right, moral, fitting, proper. They are founded upon the righteousness of God and not on the vain philosophies and wisdom of men. They map out a straight course for a man to be guided by. Is it any wonder then that they cause the heart to rejoice?

The commandments of the LORD are pure, enlightening the eyes.

Commandments are the specifics of the general principles contained in the statutes/precepts of the Lord. These commandments are pure, without defilement, no mixture of error, no sin stain pollutes it. The NIV translates it as “radiant” in trying to express this purity. So pure it shines.

The effect of it is an enlightenment of the eyes. Spiritual perception is diminished or non existent when it is surrounded by the darkness of sin. But the commandments of the LORD brings light to the subject so that you can see clearly.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever.

The fear of the LORD is wholesome reverence for the will of the LORD. It is a response of submission to God’s authority and majesty. Proverbs says that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and understanding, and it is a fountain of life (Prov. 1:7, 14:27).

This is a proper fear, and it is clean. The Hebrew word for clean here refers to purified metals. The fear of the LORD purifies us from the dross (impurities) of life. When a person is confronted by the Lord, there is a proper fear that will purify.

The fear of the LORD is clean, and it endures forever because its value never diminishes, and it imparts life. For believers, there will always be a proper fear or reverence of the Lord. For unbelievers, the fear of the Lord will come from the punishment they endure for eternity in Hell. In either case, the fear of the Lord endures forever.

The Judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

There is no corruption in God’s court, for His judgments are true. To judge in this sense is to decide between right and wrong and pronounce guilt or innocence. No evidence is overlooked. Everything is examined.

There is a strong emphasis in this passage upon this word “true.” It is the only noun among the corresponding adjectives and it implies utter dependability. God is judge over the lives of men and the verdicts He gives are true. Rev.20:12 says that God will judge from the things written in the books, according to their deeds. God’s pronouncements are always accurate. Man will receive what he deserves. Gal. 6:7 “do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

All of these together are summarized as righteous. They are correct, holy. There can be no claim of injustice laid against God. He has given the Scriptures so that we might know Him and the path He wants us to walk. He has given us general principles and specific commandments. These are to change our lives; to cause us to repent; to make us wise; to bring joy to our hearts; to enlighten our eyes and bring us into a personal relationship with Him forever. God is righteous. His Word is righteous. David understood the Word of God to be something uniquely valuable.

Vs. 10 They are more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold. Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honey comb. Moreover by them is Thy servant warned, in keeping them there is great reward.

The word of God was more precious to David than gold or any other material thing. Mark 8:36 asks the question “What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? The answer of course is nothing, and David recognized the worth of the Scriptures to be above all else. David also found the Word to be sweet as honey, which was the sweetest, most pleasant food that was available at that time. David regarded the Scriptures that palatable and pleasant. He knew that they were a warning to him of how God wanted him to live and the dangers of going down his own path, and so he also knew that by keeping the Scriptures, hiding them in his heart and obeying them, there would be great rewards.

David did not view Scripture as just some set of rules and regulations to follow or some great literary work that should be studied for its intellectual content. David loved the Word because it reveals God, His attributes and His love for man. I Sam. 13:14 says that the LORD had searched out for Himself a man after His own heart, and that man was David, and David’s heart after God is revealed to us most clearly in his love for the things God had set forth in Scripture. If we want a relationship with God, then part of that must be approaching Scripture as David did. We must develop a love for the Word because it reveals God to us, and that changes us.

The effect of the Scripture on David’s life is seen in verses 12-14. This should be the effect of Scripture in our own lives.

David asks, “Who can discern his errors?” Because David had been confronted with the reality of God, he recognized his true position and state. The revelation of God in creation tells us that we are only creatures made by an awesome and marvelous God, but it is the Bible that reveals even more of this wonderful God and how He wants us to live. David recognized his own sin and requested mercy from the Lord. He asks God to “Acquit me of hidden faults.” He prays for pardon for those sins he has done in ignorance. Bible study will lead to conviction and confession of sin for those seeking God.

But David does not stop here and neither should we. He goes on knowing that he could fall into other types of sin as well, so he prays, “Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.” David wants the Lord to keep him from falling into the sins of pride and arrogance that result in willful sin. Such willful defiant sin is mentioned in Num. 15:30 and the penalty was being cut off from the congregation. This type of sin would be the great transgression. David wants to be kept far from such wickedness. He desires to be blameless. Do you share that same desire?

David goes on further. He also desires an on-going relationship with God. This is brought out in verse 14. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” David has a relationship with God, for He calls Him his rock and Redeemer, and David wants to be pleasing to the LORD in every way including the words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart.

David’s observance of God’s wonderful work of creation caused him to recognize his own place as a creature of God. But it was through his knowledge of the Scriptures that David recognized his own sin and sought God for cleansing. It was the Scriptures that removed his ignorance of God and brought Him joy in a new relationship with his Creator. David’s love for God’s word was born out of the changes it made in him which caused him to be a true worshiper of God. This is the worth of God’s word and why God called David a man after His own heart.

The Apostle’s Doctrine Concerning the Word

The New Testament also has much about the importance of the Scriptures in the daily life of the believer. In 2 Timothy 3:16,17 the Apostle Paul tells the origin, benefit and purpose of the Bible. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

“Inspired” here is not motivation like a poet who is inspired to write poetry, it literally means “God breathed.” The Bible is God revealing Himself through a human author in such a way that He says exactly what He wants to say, yet with the individual characteristics of that particular author. 2 Peter 1:21 explains further that “no prophecy was every made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” The Bible is not a collection of human religious thought. It is what God Himself has communicated to man. To ignore the Bible either in part or whole is to ignore God, and that cannot be done without serious negative consequences.

Teaching puts the person on the path of godliness. The third part of the great commission in Matt. 28 is “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” Teaching lets people know how to live the Christian life in walking in a manner worthy of their calling (Eph. 4:1). Only the Bible contains God’s commands and precepts for living a holy life.

Reproof is telling someone that they have gone off the path of righteousness. It is letting them know their error. We are to speak the truth in love, but we must speak the truth and confront sin (Eph. 4:15). Only the Bible contains the standard of truth by which to judge a person’s error. Using a standard different from the Bible results in a false spiritualism and usually also in legalism.

Correction is getting the person back on the path of righteousness. Only in the Bible do we find God’s method of being made right with Him. We are to confess our sins to Him, and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Only the Bible has God’s sets of standards by which we are to navigate our lives.

Instruction in righteousness keeps the person on the path of godliness. The Bible not only sets the standards for life, but instructs in how to live according to those standards.

Teachings puts the person on the path of righteousness. Reproof lets them know when they have strayed off it. Correction puts them back on the path, and instruction in righteousness keeps them on the path. The purpose of all this is so that the individual will be adequately equipped for every good work. Remember that I pointed out Ephesians 2:10 a couple of weeks ago that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Paul told Timothy to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly [and] empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness.” I fear that most present day American Christians are more marked by worldly and empty chatter than knowledge of God’s word. That is why they live defeated lives and accomplish little if anything for God.

We cannot live the Christian life without God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible. 2 Peter 1:3,4 tells us that God’s “divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of [the] divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” You cannot know or live by God’s precious and magnificent promises without knowing the Bible.

The only way to know God and have a true relationship with Him is to know the Bible, believe it and then obey it. If we are to call ourselves Christians, “Christ ones,” then we have no option but to follow Scripture. Jesus Himself believed the Scriptures and prayed for us that the Father would “sanctify [us] in the truth; Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). We cannot allow our emotions or our own foolish desires to disrupt our commitment to follow God’s Word. Either I bend my will to what God says in the Bible, or I had better quit claiming to follow Him. God will not accept ignorance of His word as an excuse for disobeying it.

Knowing the Word

How can you get to know the word? There are five basic aspects to knowing the Bible. The hand is a good illustration of them.

The first finger is hearing the Word. That is what you are doing here this morning as I explain passages of Scripture to you. Romans10:17 states, “So faith [comes] from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” This is a starting point, but you cannot live on one small meal or even a couple a week. Neither can your soul grow on one or even a few sermons a week. As helpful as coming to Sunday School or going to a mid-week Bible fellowship might be, you must still go beyond just hearing. You cannot grow as a Christian if you remain passive. You must become active is seeking out a knowledge of God’s word.

The next finger is reading the Word. This gives you an overall understanding of God, His will and His work throughout history. A good habit is daily reading in a program that will take you through the Bible systematically. There are many such programs available. We have a fairly simple program in the rack in back to help you read through the Bible in several different ways. Or a more detailed guide such as “The Daily Walk” can be very helpful.

The middle finger is studying the Bible. This requires research to answer questions that arise as you read, comparing one Scripture with others, and making sure you understand it correctly in its context. Paul commended the Bereans for being more noble minded than the Thessalonians because “they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, [to see] whether these things were so.” Without studying the Bible for yourself, you will be easy prey for false teachers and will be tossed about by every wind of doctrine. If this is an area you need to improve, pick up a Bible Study Reference sheet from the back rack, see Pastor Harris or join one of our periodic classes on how to study the Bible.

The index finger is making sure that the scriptures are a part of your life. It is memorizing Scripture. Psalm 119:9-11 asks, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping [it] according to Thy word. 10 With all my heart I have sought Thee; Do not let me wander from Thy commandments. 11 Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.” The more Scripture you know, the easier it is to apply it to your life. A simple way to improve your Scripture memory is to help in AWANA and learn them with the kids, or get the Topical Memory System.

The last finger is the thumb. You need to meditate on the Word. Psalm 1:1-3 tells us, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 And he will be like a tree [firmly] planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”

Meditation is prayerful reflection for the purpose of understanding and applying God’s word to your life. This is to be applied with all the previous aspects of knowing God’s word so that knowledge can be applied. Much like the thumb makes all other fingers more useful. Meditation takes time to think and consider. We will be dealing with specific ways to improve this in your life in future messages.

The Challenge

The reality is this. If you do not know the Bible, you cannot successfully live the Christian life. There are many people, programs and study guides to help you, but unless you actively pursue knowing God’s word, the help available will not do you any good and you will not be able to do anyone else much good.

Have you been a Christian for a year or more? Do you know enough to give a basic defense of your own belief? Do you know enough to give a simple gospel presentation? If not, shame on you for not pursuing the knowledge of God as you should. It is time to get with it and start fulfilling the purpose that God created and saved you.

Have you been a Christian for five years or more? People in our nation are reacting to the terrorist attacks. What answers can you give them? When they want to curse God for allowing it to happen, can you explain God’s nature and character enough to show that this was a sinful act of man which God will judge and then transition to the gospel? When they are living in fear of another attack, what hope can you give them that will bring peace for the present and for eternity? When someone seemingly ignores what has occurred or complains about the inconveniences to themselves, what warning will you give them? Can you explain the reality of good and evil, heaven and hell and the eternal nature of the soul? If you cannot, then shame on you for not taking advantage of all that is available to you to learn the Bible so that you could answer these basic questions. It is time to get with it and start fulfilling the purpose that God created and saved you.

Examine your use of time and compare your time spent in the worship of God and seeking to understand the Bible with how much time you spend watching TV or movies, or keeping up with sports, or pursuing some recreational activity, or making your house just the way you want it, or working overtime so that you have more money available to spend. None of those things are wrong in themselves. The question here is one of self evaluation to see if your priorities match those of God. How much time are you actually giving to Him?

A successful Christian is a person who has been saved from their sins by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and as an adopted child of God is bringing glory to His name by being conformed into the image of Jesus by submitting themselves to the will of God in faithfully pursuing holiness and blamelessness along with serving the Lord in doing the good works He has prepared before hand.

Pursuing this kind of success will require you to lay aside not only sin, but also what is good, for what is best, even as Hebrews 12:1,2 tells us – “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Sermon Study Sheets


Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) How many times is the word “Bible,” “Scripture” or “Word of God” is mentioned? 2) Talk with your parents about the importance of knowing the Bible.


Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is a “successful Christian?” What can be learned about God from the Creation? Why isn’t Creation enough to bring you into a relationship with God? Why are personal experience and emotion inadequate to bring you into a personal relationship with God? Why did King David value the Scriptures so much? Describe in your own words the meaning and importance of each line in Psalm 19:7-9. How would you describe your love for the Bible compared to David’s description in vs. 10? Read Psalm 119. What effect is the Bible to have in your life? How do people resist that effect? What does it mean that all Scripture is “inspired” by God? Who wrote the Bible? Describe the meaning of each of these words from 2 Tim. 3:16 – teaching, reproof, correction, instruction. What is the purpose of the Bible? Can the Christian life be lived successfully without the Bible? Describe what you do to increase your Biblical knowledge and wisdom. What else do you need to do? Do your priorities match God’s priorities?

Sermon Notes – 9/23/2001 A.M.

Successful Christian Living: Knowing God’s Word – Selected Scripture



David’s Response to the Word (Psalm 19)

The character and effect of the Scriptures (vs. 7-9)

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul

The testimony of the LORD is sure making wise the simple

The statutes of the LORD are right rejoicing the heart

The commandments of the LORD are pure enlightening the eyes

The fear of the LORD is clean enduring forever

The judgments of the LORD are true they are righteous altogether

His Desire for the Scriptures (vs. 10)

The Effect of the Scriptures (vs. 11-14)

The Apostles’ Doctrine Concerning the Word

2 Timothy 3:16,17

Inspiration (2 Pet. 1:21)





Equipped (Eph. 2:10)

2 Peter 1:3,4

Knowing the Word






The Challenge – Heb. 12:1,2

A successful Christian is a person who has been saved from their sins by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and as an adopted child of God is bringing glory to His name by being conformed into the image of Jesus by submitting themselves to the will of God in faithfully pursuing holiness and blamelessness along with serving the Lord in doing the good works He has prepared before hand.

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