In 2017, let’s consume the Word and diet everything else

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The average American spends 50 minutes of their time each day on Facebook’s platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger). That is one-sixteenth of the average American’s waking time.

Facebook, the web, ESPN, and news networks are built to engage and grab us (except perhaps CSPAN). There is a lot riding on whether or not we spend five or fifty minutes on Facebook. There is a lot invested to make us scroll, click, share… There are people fighting for our fascination and time. There are specialists employed and there are algorithms designed to grab our attention.

Of course, I am not the social media police, this is not 1984 or Fahrenheit 451. You can be on social media. I am. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Messenger… However, let’s consider the way we plan to spend our time in 2017. 

D.A. Carson has said,

“The challenge [to reading Scripture] has become increasingly severe in recent years, owing to several factors. All of us must confront the regular sins of laziness… The sheer pace of life… The constant sensory input from all sides is gently addictive—we become used to being entertained and diverted, and it is difficult to carve out the space and silence necessary for serious and thoughtful reading of Scripture.”[1]

Carson said that in a book published in 1998—18 years ago!—before the iPhone and before dial-up was replaced! Things have changed since 1998.

Whether it’s basket weaving or basketball or Bugs Bunny we live in a world of “constant sensory input.” Truly, we deal each day with unprecedented distraction. If you’re like me you’ve caught yourself mindlessly mining media for no apparent reason. This happens at home with our kids, on dates, etc. My smartphone has a lot of things in its arsenal to capture me.

However, the Bible does not have that stuff. No flashy design. No funny dog videos. No psychologists employed to know how to grab our attention. So, we need to remember why we need to log off and look at the Word; stop scrolling and look at the Scroll.

I need to realize the utter importance of being in the Word or I won’t. I’ll be endlessly distracted by all sorts of gadgets and gizmos.

So, why read the Word?  Let’s look at what Peter has to say (1 Pet. 1:22-2:3). Peter shows the huge contrast between the Word of God and humanity and humanities glory. The glitter and pomp of Rome, Washington, DC, and this world is a fading flower but the Word of the Lord remains forever (1 Pet. 1:22-24). Rome’s glory has faded and DC and New York’s will one day too, but the Word of the LORD remains. Scripture, as the Word of God, transcends time and culture.

So, in the day of Facebook and fast thrills, why read the Word? Because it is…
1. Living (1:23)
The Word acts on us. The Word is not dormant. The Word has the distinct ability to pierce the depths of our heart.

The Word can perform open heart surgery on us. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). God’s Word can cut to our core.

The Bible is living and active and can perform surgery on us because “when the Bible speaks, God speaks.”[2]

However, not only is God’s Word living it is also…
2. Abiding (1:23-25)
The Word does not move or change. It is trans-temporal and trans-cultural. This often makes Scripture unpopular or out of step with culture. However, it is not because Scripture is wrong, it is because Scripture is a firm foundation in the shifting sands of society. Timothy Keller says,

“For the sake of argument, let’s imagine that Christianity is not the product of any one culture but is actually the transcultural truth of God. If that were the case we would expect that it would contradict and offend every human culture at some point, because human cultures are ever-changing and imperfect. If Christianity were the truth it would have to be offending and correcting your thinking at some place” (Keller, The Reason for God, 74).

Since God’s Word is abiding and unshakable it makes sense that there are elements about it that are unpopular. However, that does not mean the Bible is not true, actually, it lends creditability to the Bible. We also see that because the Bible is abiding we have a solid bedrock for morality.

In contrast to Snapchat, God’s Word is…
3. Forever (1:23-25)
God does not go back on His Word. His Word stands. It will not change. It is forever, imperishable.

Peter is reminding his audience that God—the God that names the stars and counts the nations as dust on the scales—will keep His promises.[3] His Word is forever.

Peter in quoting from Isaiah 40 said something that many of the recipients of the letter already knew. However, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t need to be reminded. Scripture reminds us of what is true, even if it is not new. We need to be reminded! We are “prone to wander.” Do you feel it? I do. In the book of Deuteronomy there are four times where it says, take care, lest you forget the LORD (see Deut. 4:9, 23; 6:12; 8:11).

We are prone to leave the God we love. We need to keep His truth before us. We too need to take care, lest we forget the LORD. Reading God’s Word is one very important way that God takes our hearts and seals them for His courts above.

Why read the Word? Because it…
4. Saves (1:23 cf. 1:3)
God causes us to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3, 23) but notice it is “through the… Word of God.” New birth does not happen apart from the Word of God. We see this in James 1:18 as well: “Of His own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

The Word is so amazing that it brings us from death to life, from darkness to light, from sons and daughters of Satan to sons and daughters of God. The Word of God changes our eternal destinies. We shouldn’t disregard something so amazing.

To illustrate this point, imagine you are at war; the situation is life or death. The officer in charge of you orders a command that saves your life. What will you think of him and his commands after that? You will have a new found respect for him and his commands. His command saved your life.

It should be the same way for us with Scripture. We’re brought to eternal life through the Word of God so we should cherish the Word of God.

 Why read the Word? Because it…
5. Sanctifies (2:2)
Peter says we are like newborn infants but he doesn’t say it in the derogatory sense. He says we are like newborn infants in that we need “milk.” Actually, he tells us to long for the pure spiritual milk. He is not giving us an option (“Long” in this verse is an imperative).

Sometimes I don’t want to read the Word, that is true. And I am sure you can relate to that feeling as well. But Peter is telling us to want to. He says crave the Word! What Peter is saying can seem harsh and unhelpful but it really makes sense when we understand what he’s saying.

Newborn infants need milk! Peter is saying we are newborn infants so he is saying we need milk! Not only that, but if we’re healthy we will crave milk.

When Peter tells us to crave pure spiritual milk it’s not a harsh or unhelpful thing, it is actually quite loving. Milk is the very sustenance of life; we desperately need it.

We also desperately need the Word of God. Food and water are not always amazing, it’s not always super. We don’t always eat at the best restaurants, sometimes we eat sardines in a can, Beanie Weenees, or MREs. So, just because each feeding is not memorable does not mean we don’t need it.

Why read the Word? Because it…
6. Satisfies (2:3)
Peter here is quoting from Psalm 34 and telling us that we should long for the pure spiritual milk if we have tasted it, and tasted that the Lord is good through it. I love what Peter says here. Peter shows us that our experiences are important. He is actually appealing to our experience.[4]

We also see here that we not only need to know of the beauty, wonder, and sweetness of the Lord but we need to taste and see that He is good. Jonathan Edwards famously said that there is a difference between knowing honey is sweet and tasting its sweetness… We do not need mere intellectual consent but we want to experientially know—taste!—that the Lord is good. And I don’t know about you, but once I’ve tasted something that’s good I want more of it!!!

“The logic… is straightforward: ‘Crave spiritual milk, since you have [already] tasted that the Lord is good.”[5] If we have tasted then we should crave it! It’s just natural. My wife made some amazing desert for my birthday and it was super good. I tasted it and consumed it, and then got seconds… So, if we have tasted that the Lord is good in makes sense for us to “get seconds” and feast in the Word.

Brothers and sisters, it is through the Word that we come to understand the sweetness of the incarnation and of Jesus being sent as the Messiah. O’ brothers and sisters, you have tasted of the sweetness of Christ through the Scriptures so continue! Continue to crave the pure spiritual milk.

Conclusion
Why do we read the Word? Because Scripture, as the Word of God, is living, abiding, eternal, and it saves, sanctifies, and satisfies. We read Scripture because…

Scripture is a light (Ps. 119:105,130), a sword (Eph. 6:17), a hammer (Jer. 23:29), and a surgeon (Heb. 4:12). Scripture is more essential than bread (Deut. 8:3; Job. 23:12; Matt. 4:4), better than gold (Ps. 19:10; 119:72), and we need it to live (Ps. 119:144). Scripture is perfect (Ps. 19:7), true (Ps. 19:9), pure (Ps. 19:8), and eternal (1 Pet. 1:25). Scripture contains the words of life (Jn. 6:68) and the words that are breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16). Scripture gives joy (Ps. 119:111; Jer. 15:16), makes wise (Ps. 19:7), equips (2 Tim. 3:17), guards (Ps. 119:9), guides (Ps. 73:24; 119:105), saves (1 Pet. 1:23), sanctifies (Ps. 119:9,11; Jn. 17:17), and satisfies because by it we taste of the goodness of God (1 Pet. 2:3).

So, brothers and sisters, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation; that by it you may taste of the sweetness of God our Father; that by it you may see and savor Jesus Christ, that by it you may provide the Holy Spirit fuel to set you ablaze in passionate worship.

Discussion Questions
1. What distractions and problems do you face that are likely to keep you from regularly being in God’s Word?

2. What are some characteristics about the Bible that help you to see the importance of consistently spending time in it?

3. Do you see the utter importance of being in God’s Word on a regular basis? Why is it important? And what ways are you tempted to think it’s not that important?

4. What do you think about Peter’s command to “crave the pure spiritual milk”?

5. What resources can you utilize in your quest to taste of the goodness of God through the Word?

6. In what ways have you tasted that the Lord is good through Scripture in the past?

7. Do you have any habits that you have cultivated in the past that have helped you spend consistent time in God’s Word?

_______________

[1] D.A. Carson, For the Love of God vol. 1, ix.

[2] Mohler, Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy, 29, 58.

[3] “Almost certainly [Peter] expects them to pick up on all of Isa. 40, not just the two verses that he actually cites, and to detect the parallels in their own situation” (Beale and Carson, 1023).

[4] Peter “appeals to the experience of his readers as a kind of ground for his appeal for them to press on” (Beale and Carson, 1023).

[5] Beale and Carson, 1023.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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