“Why we need to read and memorize Scripture”
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
So we’ve seen the context and understand that Jesus explained to the Pharisees that they were actually believing their father, Satan and his lies because they were not believing truth that He was telling them. We know this is the pattern going back to Genesis 3 when Satan first tried to undermine God’s Word by saying “did God actually say?”. Paul confirmed this point to the Corinthian’s in 1Corinthians 1:18 ” For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The “word of the Cross” is His Word, the Bible. Thus all fall into one of two categories: a) the Bible is foolishness and we are perishing or b) the Bible is the power of God and we are being saved.
I mentioned last week that I would talk more about “abide in my word”. This has much more significance than first glance allow. The word for abide in the greek is meno which is to remain, abide, dwell or live. To get a more accurate picture we want to bring in John 15 where Jesus is describing Himself as the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser (vs 1). His explanation of the relationship between the vine and the branches says it all.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5)
This is very relevant to our current memory verse. Not the “being thrown away for not bearing fruit part” but how you abide. Since the charge (imperative-command…not a suggestion) to abide is on us, how do we abide? Since He said “apart from Him we can do nothing” we know that our finding sustenance from the vine was His intended direction. So how do we abide in His word…by finding our sustenance in His word. Think about when he was tempted by the devil (Matt 4:4 and Luke 4:4) His response of “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” explains this point perfectly. So how do we abide in His Word, by finding our sustenance in it, by feeding on it, by living by it. I mentioned last week about the wise builder in Matt 7:24-27 and Luke 6:46-49 who not only heard God’s Word but did it…this is how we abide in it. Not just hearing it but by doing it…by abiding in it…by trusting it.
There are 2 more substantial points about this verse that I want to make (I think I could go many more weeks but I’ll try and be brief). First for those who have heard me ramble about Greek 3rd class conditional sentences, you got it, this is another one. To refresh your memories there is a specific set of words in the Greek language that introduce a specific condition. In this case it is a 3rd class condition with an evidence – inference relationship where specific tenses have specific evidence and infer a specific meaning. The active stance of being His disciple is proven by abiding in His Word. The long and the short of it is Jesus is claiming that if you are not abiding in His Word, you are not His disciple, as the Pharisees proved, that’s why He called them liars. So by abiding in His word we are proving to be His disciples. Keep track of the flow here, we are not getting to be His disciples by abiding in His Word, we are revealing we are His disciples by abiding in His Word.
The second and last point is brought together with the same pattern in His parable of the seeds in Matthew 13. As you look at the parable you’ll notice Jesus describes the parable in Matthew 13:3-9 and explains it in 18-23. Go through and read this for yourselves but the jest of it is the first three seeds the Word of God (the seeds) fell on soil that had bad composition and thus did not produce a crop. Only the fourth seed went on good soil and produced a crop. Jesus explains the reason the word (seed) failed on the first three plantings was the condition of the soils. The first was sown along the path and the hearers did not understand it so the enemy snatched and it produced no crop. The second was sown on rocky ground and he explains this one received it with joy initially but because of persecution on account of the word (seed) it didn’t produce a crop either. The third fell on the thorny soil and he explains that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth again did not allow for a crop to be produced. The point is that only the fourth seed fell on good soil and went down deep and produced a crop. Only Luke (see Luke 4:10ff, and Mark 8:9ff) makes the point specifically that the seed on the path was not saved but most contend that the first three seeds were not saved on account of similar explanations of not bearing fruit and being thrown away in the fire (John 15:1-17). To distill this down to the meat of the memory verse if you’re not taking in God’s Word and it’s not going down deep and producing a crop…which seed do you think that falls under? This crop could be just spiritual maturity (Gal. 5:22) or it could be making disciples (Matt 28) but regardless the Word is doing as it was intended. If we’re not understanding because we don’t have the Holy Spirit (1Cor 2:14), or we are not acting on the Word because of persecution on account of the Word, or maybe the worries of this world or chasing after money don’t allow time for God’s Word to be even read let alone applied, these conditions all fall under the first 3 seeds. Only the 4th seed received the Word and produced a crop. Hard words, but accurate none the less. As always don’t believe a word I have to say but if Scripture says it you can take it to the bank.
So to answer the question “why do we need to read and memorize Scripture?”, because it reveals we are His and it produces a crop (more on that later).