My wife and I teach Sunday School for boys and girls grades 4-6. While researching Bible commentaries, I came across a section in one publication from John MacArthur, What Should Be My Response to God’s Word? Here is what I found:
Believe it (John 6:68-69)
Honor it (Job 23:12)
Love it (Psalms 119:97)
Obey it (1 John 2:5)
Guard it (1 Timothy 6:20)
Fight for it (Jude 3)
Preach it (2 Timothy 4:2)
Study it (Ezra 7:10)
I shared this information with my wife, and we decided to make a lesson out of that material. The verses may be different depending on your translation, but the overall message, I think, applies to people of all ages.
According to the Bible study software e-Sword, there are 131 verses with the word “believe” or some variation of it. Numbers 14:11 is one example, and in that instance, God asks Moses how long it will be before the Israelites believe Him for all the signs He has shown them. Meanwhile, Jesus says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Sure, someone might say, “I believe in Jesus, but I don’t believe the Bible.” However, Jesus’ ministry, death, burial, and resurrection make no sense if you don’t believe the Bible. What was His purpose of coming to this earth, telling us to repent and to believe in Him to have everlasting life, if we are not sinners separated from God? God’s Word makes it clear that is the case, and I believe it.
“Honor” is defined as respect that is given to someone who is admired. Certainly, God’s Word is not to be taken lightly. It is, after all, God’s Word and was given for all people (2 Timothy 3:16). That shows God’s desire to be known and reveals His desire to have a relationship with us on Earth. God also wants us to honor our mothers and fathers (Exodus 20:12) and, seeing as how God is our heavenly Father, shouldn’t we honor Him and His Word?
John 3:16 tells us God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten son. In other words, God loved us first, and we should love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). If you back up a few verses in that same chapter, you will see that God is love (1 John 4:8) and even while God gives us faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these gifts is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Like many words, “obey” appears numerous times in Scripture, including Deuteronomy 11:27 when God notifies the Israelites He will give them a curse and a blessing, the latter coming if they obey the commandments of the Lord. While it’s from a song and not the Bible, the John H. Sammis hymnal Trust and Obey says, “there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.”
Having a desire to guard Scripture comes naturally if we believe, honor, love, and obey it at this point. It is our responsibility to watch and protect God’s word at a time when so many are changing it to meet their standards or worldview. Visit any bookstore and you can easily find a host of Bible translations and commentaries from former presidents, pet lovers, and environmental groups. There’s even a Queen James Bible, a gay-friendly Bible.
If you are guarding, there may come a time where you must fight for it. Different individuals and groups throughout history have wanted to change, twist, or destroy Scripture for a variety of reasons. Ephesians 6:11-18 instructs believers to put on the whole armor of God because we wrestle against many things, including spiritual wickedness in high places. Meanwhile, fighting for something can make people aware of the issue at hand. If we don’t fight for God’s word, some will not hear the gospel because of our inaction.
Paul, through the Holy Spirit, instructed Timothy to preach in 2 Timothy 4:2. In fact, Paul said for Timothy to be instant in season and out while reproving, rebuking and exhorting with all long-suffering and doctrine. Believers today, both in the pulpit and out, have the same command.
But before any preaching takes place, we have to study the Scriptures. Paul says 2 Timothy 2:15 to study to show ourselves approved unto God. This is not a cursory reading between laying down and falling asleep. This is an intense study, wrestling with a text, praying for God to show us what He wants us to know. Never neglect good commentaries by trusted authors who love Jesus and have studied to show themselves approved to get an idea of how people see different pieces of Scripture and their subjects.
Turning all this into an acronym made it easier for my Sunday School class to remember it. It also helped my wife and me. While doing these are great, if we miss the idea behind it all, we miss the point. Scripture is important and worth much more than having a lofty place on the shelf to look pretty while collecting dust. Reading the Bible requires focus, intentionality, and purpose. Next time you begin to look into the Bible, remember to BHLOG FIPS.