1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. 4 They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
6 The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show His servants the things that must soon take place.”
7 “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”
8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”
10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. 11 Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”
12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The Bible is and will always be central in the Christian Church. It is the yardstick against which everything the Church does needs to be tested. One of the reasons we place an open Bible near the pulpit in our congregation is to remind us that Scripture must be central in our worship and teaching.
In Isaiah 55:8-11 God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
So what is that purpose? Why has God given us the Bible? It’s a question we can hardly do justice to in 20 or so minutes, but today were going to consider just a few of the reasons we have this precious gift we know as God’s Word – the Holy Bible.
One of the first things we learn from the Bible is that without God, we are lost.
Had the Lord not given us the Bible, we would not know about heaven, hell or sin. We are lost, and we need to be rescued. Our greatest need is our need for a Saviour. Every effort to save ourselves has been and will continue to be futile until we recognise we are lost and need a Saviour outside of ourselves.
When someone has a physical illness, he knows he is in need of medical attention, and in much the same way the sinner must know of his spiritual sickness and see his need for salvation.
Until we recognise that we need to be saved from our lost condition, we will never make the necessary changes to put God’s plan of salvation into practice in our own lives.
Sin dooms us to be lost, but this was not part of God’s original plan for us. He created us in His image. God is pure and holy, and this is how we were created. The problem we have though is that when we sinned and disobeyed God, we were separated from Him. Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God,” and the apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:12 “at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.”
One of the central messages of the Bible is that the human race, because of our sin, is lost and doomed to eternal death – separation from God in the place of eternal punishment. How would we have known this if God had not given us the Bible? So yes, there is some bad news in the Bible, and it is clearly spelled out for us.
But there is good news too. The Bible also tells us about God’s desire for us to be saved. He could have walked away and left us to our own devices, but because of His great love for us He wants us to be saved.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 says “God our Saviour wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” And 2 Peter 3:9, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
In Jesus’ great prayer in John 17 He prays “Sanctify them by the truth; your Word is truth.” When we receive salvation we begin the process of sanctification. And what sanctifies us? God’s truth – His Word – the Bible. Scripture proclaims the means of salvation to us. God’s truth has the power to free us from sin, and as we read the words of the Bible God reveals to us all we need to know about how to be saved, and how to live these new lives He gives us through Jesus.
It’s in the pages of the Bible where we learn about the wonderful love that God has for us, despite the way that sin has corrupted us so badly. Not only does He love us, but He sent Jesus to die as a sacrifice for us. The Bible tells us about God’s desire for the salvation of every soul. It teaches us that Jesus established His Church to be the voice that is to speak about the love of God and His plan of salvation to those who are still lost.
The third thing the Bible does is explain in great detail just how and what God has done in order to make our salvation possible.
God created us as intelligent beings. We are able to reason, study and understand, and as we study the Bible we begin to understand the way of salvation.
It’s revealed to us in the Old Testament. Abraham was chosen as the father of a nation of people, and God guided and taught that nation for hundreds of years. He told them that through them He would bring Jesus the Saviour into the world. He blessed them when they were obedient but they were also punished when they strayed away from Him. The Old Testament clearly points us to the promised Messiah. There are prophecies and promises throughout the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the New Testament.
In the New Testament we read and learn about the sacrificial death, the victorious resurrection and the glorious coronation of Jesus Christ as King over His kingdom. It is the message the Church continues to proclaim in the world today. The reason we are here is to be encouraged and equipped to take the Good News of Jesus into the world.
The Bible has been given to us to serve as the infallible guide in our lives. If you want to know how to live your life and what God requires of you, look no further than the pages of Scripture.
We’ve already looked at how the Bible reveals our need for salvation, and it also defines salvation for us. But there are actually many people who misunderstand or only partially understand the subject of salvation, and so through His Word, God clearly spells out just what it means to be saved. One of the most important things to learn about our salvation is that when we turn to Jesus in faith, all our sins are forgiven, never to be remembered by God. In the words of Psalm 103:12, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
There’s a wonderful story you may have heard before about Billy Graham. Many years ago he was preaching in front of a huge crowd, when he boldly said, “I can do something God can’t do.” There were gasps of shock and dismay. When the crowd finally went quiet, he had a little smile on his face as he said, “I can remember my sin.” Your forgiveness through Jesus is total, and it is complete. If you have put your faith in Jesus, you don’t have to hope that you’re going to heaven when you die. The Bible teaches that your eternal salvation is secure.
The Bible explains to us that our salvation ensures us of an eternal home in heaven and a crown of life, and of course, it speaks about the exclusivity of the means of salvation. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It doesn’t matter what you believe, just so long as you’re sincere is not enough to save you. Heaven is exclusively a place for Bible believing Christians. Of course, making such a statement in this all-inclusive world is guaranteed to get you into trouble, but this is what the Bible teaches. Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation. Anyone who claims to be a Christian who says that Jesus is one of many ways to God is not a Christian, because they are going against the Word of God. There are even some ordained ministers who believe that we should still be performing sacrifices in the Church. What they’re basically saying is that the blood of Jesus is not enough to save us. These people are heretics and they should be hounded out of the Church. The Bible is crystal clear in teaching that the only way of being saved is by belief in and obedience to Jesus Christ.
We should not be afraid of proclaiming the truth of the Bible. And we must certainly not make apologies for it. God is God, and we are not – He is the author of the Bible, and it is not our job to defend it. All we are called to do is faithfully proclaim it. Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, was once asked how he would defend the Bible. His classic reply was, “Defend the Bible? I would just as soon defend a lion. Just turn the Bible loose. It will defend itself.”
It also reveals to us what we need to do to be saved. On the day of Pentecost the apostle Peter preached a powerful and convicting sermon. We pick up the story as he ends his sermon in Acts 2: “Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’ When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
From the beginning of time, God has always revealed what He desires of us. We looked at Ecclesiastes 12:13 last week: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
God reveals in the Bible what we need to do to be saved. Hebrews 5:7-9 says, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” In order to be saved, we need to hear God’s Word to us. As Paul writes in Romans 10:17, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
We need to believe that Jesus died for us, and that His blood shed on the cross of Calvary is what pays the price of our sin. Unless if we confess with our own mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord, we remain lost, and doomed to eternal separation from God. All of these things are taught consistently throughout the Bible.
We also learn in the pages of Scripture that God knows how weak we are and how easily we are tempted by the things of the world, so He gives us the necessary tools in order to remain faithful to Him. He knows that the cares, riches and pleasures of this life tempt many to desert Him, so we have on record the most amazing prayer ever prayed – Jesus’ prayer in John 17: “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.’
This prayer reveals to us how we are able to stay protected from evil, even though we live in an evil world. To “sanctify” means to set apart or separate from the world and to consecrate yourself to God.
This is why it is so important for us to apply what we learn from Scripture. James 1:22-25 says it best: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does.”
When we learn to apply the word of God to ourselves and live by it, we are automatically in fellowship with God, and we remain under His protection and care.
And of course, the Bible tells us of what is yet to come. This is why our reading this morning was from the very last chapter: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”
There are many more reasons for God giving us this precious gift we know as the Bible, and today we have only scratched the surface. The most important thing to remember though is this: God’s purpose in giving us the Bible is only fulfilled when each of us learns its message and applies it to our lives, and in so doing finds the salvation God yearns for us to find and accept.
Gideon’s International do tremendous work in distributing Bibles throughout the world, and even today in many hospitals and hotels you will still find a Gideon’s Bible in your bedside drawer. According to their website they distribute a million new Bibles every five days.
Inside the cover of every Gideon’s Bible is this anonymous quote: “The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here too, Heaven is opened and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.”
Homegroup Study Notes
Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17
What are some of your struggles in reading and meditating on the Bible?
How have you felt guided or inspired by Scripture?
Our theme on Sunday was the reasons God has given us the Bible.
Following is the quote printed inside every Gideon’s Bible. Discuss each point in your group, and how you have felt God speaking to you through His Word:
“The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here too, Heaven is opened and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.”
Make a commitment in your group to be more diligent this week in spending time in God’s Word. Next Sunday we will be visited by the Bible Society, so as you meet next time, share your experiences as you explored the Bible this week.
Close by praying that God would give you a greater desire to read and learn from the Bible.