October 1, 2014

Design Your Life Around God's Word

If you were to ask someone to come into your home and redesign a room for you, often the designer would begin by looking around the space and asking you, “What is important to you in this room? What would you like to be the central element of the new design?” You might choose a favorite picture on a wall, a special vase, a colorful rug, or maybe a piece of furniture—something that you like and that is important to you—and then the designer would start to plan the room with that item in mind. As the central element of the room, that item would become the main source of guidance for other design decisions.

In a similar way, people also have a central element that guides their decisions in life. Moral decisions are made based on one’s beliefs—the principles or ideals one deems to be true and right. In fact, all nations, institutions, and people have some moral foundation guiding their decisions. From Scripture we can see that there are ultimately only two possible sources for this foundation: man’s ideas or God’s principles. God’s principles are given to us through His Word, and the degree to which an individual, a family, a church, or a nation applies God’s Word, is the degree to which they will be successful in every aspect of life. It is vital to understand and follow God’s Word.

Today we live in a world that pushes the idea that there is no connection between God and truth or between God and what is right. The common modern belief is that there is no absolute truth; that “truth” and “right” are whatever we make them to be. Yet even those who say nothing can be an absolute truth must admit that their very statement affirms the reality of absolutes: you cannot be absolutely sure there are no absolutes!

In contrast, as believers we know God’s Word is absolute. His Word is true and right. The laws and precepts that God has given through the Scriptures are what we stand on and live by. The Bible is not just a book; it is not like a picture or a piece of furniture that we prefer above all others. It is our very life! It is what blesses us, keeps us, and instructs us.

God’s Word is the absolute truth. Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God is pure.” Every word of Scripture is pure and there is nothing false in it. God said not to add to Scripture or take away from it because it is complete. It is what mankind needs. It is what our homes need. It is what our nations need. The Bible does not mix with the ideas of the world; the Bible was given to save people out of the world.

God’s Word affects our lives in powerful ways and in good ways. Psalm 19 describes some of its characteristics. Beginning in verse 7 we read, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Can you think of any law of this world that is perfect? God’s law is perfect and it brings salvation—it can change hearts and lives. The rest of that verse continues, “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” I am so glad of that. I was raised around the Gospel and came to the altars of prayer simply because that is what everyone else was doing. Yet, in that simplicity, God revealed Himself and helped me to grasp the importance of salvation. Those who do not know God can find Him through the simplicity of the Scriptures.

Because God’s Word is the truth, the success of any nation or people depends on the place they give the Bible in their lives.

Verse 8 says, “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” Doing what is right brings rejoicing, and that is what the Word of God has done and will do. Those who follow His ways find great joy. It continues, “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” The Gospel message opens eyes to understand the truth. “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” It is good to fear and reverence God because He is the source of true and righteous judgment. Verse 11 says, “Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” The Bible not only shows us the blessing of doing what is right, but it warns about the grave consequences of doing what is wrong. There is great reward in God’s Word when we obey it. These are the words of eternal life.

Because God’s Word is the truth, the success of any nation or people depends on the place they give the Bible in their lives. The Scriptures were first given to the nation of Israel, and indeed they became a great nation. Their greatness did not come from their numbers, for they were few. It was not the land they were to possess, for it was small compared to other lands. It was not their wealth, for they arrived in the land with only the goods they could carry through the wilderness. We read in Deuteronomy 4 that the reason for Israel’s greatness was two-fold. The first part is mentioned in verse 7 where Moses asked, “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?” Israel would be great in part because they had a God that was nigh unto them. He heard from Heaven and answered when they called upon Him. The second reason for their greatness is mentioned in verse 8, “And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” The instruction they received was given by God. It wasn’t given by a man or any individual; it came directly from God. In the New Testament, Paul says that God committed unto the Jews the “oracles of God”—they had possession of His very utterances (Romans 3:2).

Moses explained the importance of the words God gave the Israelites in verse 6, “This is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” God told the Israelites that following His Word would elevate them as a people in the eyes of other nations. They would be an example for others to follow; that is what God wanted for them. Their success rested upon whether or not they would live by the words they received from God.

Years before the nation of Israel was formed, when God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees, He called him for a greater purpose than just the one nation of Israel. God said, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). That promise is for you and for me today, and for all nations. The Bible is the source of all law, truth, and life for any nation and any people who will submit themselves to it. All who obey will reap God’s benefits, just as Israel did.

At times in its history, the United States has experienced the blessings that come from following God’s Word. Recently in my home church, we have been studying how our nation started and what its foundational principles were based on. Our founding fathers knew that if they put God first, this nation would prosper. They knew that obedience to God’s Word was essential to life, liberty, and happiness, and they pursued that. One testament to their sentiments stands in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where a monument was built around 1889 called the “National Monument to the Forefathers.” That granite work of art is eighty-one feet tall. On top of it stands a woman with a Bible in one hand and a finger of her other hand pointing to Heaven. Her name is Faith. At the base of the monument sit four other statues. One is named Morality, holding the Ten Commandments and the scroll of Revelation. The second represents the Law, the third is Education, and the fourth is Liberty. This monument is a testimony to what the founders believed—that the Bible is true! The founders intended God’s Word to be the pattern for morality, law, education, and liberty.

The founders knew that in order to survive, a nation needed not only to possess God’s Word, but also to embrace it. They knew that if God’s Word was the governing source of this country, He would bless it, and He did. In news articles and historical books, you can read about times when disasters and calamities came, and the national leaders proclaimed days of prayer and fasting. State and church alike prayed, and when God answered, they gave thanks to Him for helping them.

When Israel failed to share God’s Word with the rest of the world, God did not give their calling to another nation but to a group of people—the Church. This includes all who have been born again, all around the world. Israel was to be an example, and today we as the Church need to be an example. We must exemplify the Word of God.

Did you realize the Apostolic Faith Church was designed with a specific focal point in mind? The central element that guides our work is God’s Word. When we enter His house, everything inside has been designed around Scripture and is intended to draw people’s attention to it. The Bible and prayer is the foundation of everything we do. When people come into our church buildings, we want them to know that the focus is on God. It is not about our ideas but what “thus saith the Lord.” God’s Word is what sustains this work.

The truth is still declared here. In our church services, we hear about salvation and God’s power to change lives. We hear about sanctification and holiness. We hear about the power of the Holy Spirit. Every message we hear is centered on God’s Word. It is the truth!

Scripture says that judgment will begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). God looks down at the places where we worship and He sees what is preached here. He sees if His Word goes forth as He gave it, and that is exactly what we want to do. We have been commissioned to hold fast the Word of God. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” This tells us that our commission is to hold forth the Word of Life, and if we do that, our running and serving God will not be in vain.

When God gave His Word to the nation of Israel, a great responsibility came with that entrustment. The Israelites had an obligation not only to obey it, but also to teach it to their children and their children’s children. God’s statutes were not to be kept to themselves but were to be passed down through generations. As Christians, we have a responsibility to do that in our homes. When we rise up and when we sit down, we have a duty to God’s Word. We may not be able to do that for the whole nation, but we can do it in our homes. The Bible is to be the central element of our lives, guiding all of our decisions. When our children see that obedience to the Word of God brings blessing, they are more likely to recognize that it is the truth and embrace it for themselves.

We read that in the days of the kings of Israel, the Word of God was forgotten at times. Manasseh and Amon were wicked kings who turned away from the Lord and did terrible things. It seems the Word of God was lost during their reigns. It was done away with. Then came Josiah, who was a very young man when he became king. At about age twenty-six, God’s law was found again in the Temple. When it was read, he rent his clothes. He realized that his nation had fallen from God and needed to return. Then, as a nation, Israel began to pray and seek God again. The Israelites began to restore the Word of God.

The truth—what is right and wrong—is not for leaders or majorities to decide. Truth belongs to God and God alone.

That is what we need today! In the United States, we have witnessed the destruction of the Word of God from the place it held at the nation’s founding. Now, Christians who stand for the truth of God’s Word are condemned as narrow minded or bigots because they believe certain things are absolutely wrong. But the truth—what is right and wrong—is not for leaders or majorities to decide. Truth belongs to God and God alone. As Christians, we have been given the truth, and it is our responsibility to raise it up even if society condemns it. Hopefully those who see our lives will recognize what Israel was supposed to be—an example of wisdom and understanding that proves God’s Word true.

What have you designed your life around? When people come into contact with you, do they see that it is built around God’s Word? The greatest possessions Israel had were God’s Word and God’s presence, and those are the greatest possessions we can have today. Both are so necessary and both are available to us. We have a great opportunity to study God’s Word and apply it to our lives. When we do that, God cannot help but bless every aspect of our lives. He will bless you and He will bless this church, and others who see it will know that His Word is true.

apostolic faith magazine