Bible Doctrine in a Nutshell

Ezra 1:1 gives us a “doctrine in a nutshell” for what we believe about scripture: “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah …”. We find two important, balancing truths about the word of God in this verse:

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Trust His Purposes

Ezra 1:1 begins with a reminder that God’s purposes are always fulfilled:
“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying:” — and following was Cyrus’ decree that he would gather God’s people back to Jerusalem, and rebuild the temple of Yahweh there.

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“Heart-Knower”

In Acts 1:24-25, the disciples, seeking God’s direction for a man to fill the apostleship vacated by Judas, prayed: “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship …”. The Greek Bible text of this prayer reveals a name for God that perhaps you have not heard before:

The English phrase “who know the hearts” is actually one word in the Greek text: “kardiognosta”. It is a compound word, literally, “heart” (kardio) “knower” (gnosta). What a great name for God: “Heart-Knower”!

This name was never specifically used of God in the Old Testament, although its truth is taught there. In Jeremiah 17:10 God says: “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind.” The Greek “kardiognosta” is used in only one other place in the New Testament, in Peter’s address to the Jerusalem council in Acts 17:8, where he reminded the church: “God, who knows the heart …”.

It is a good reminder to us yet. How many times are we fooled by the appearance or apparent winsomeness of people — but God is not. He knows the hearts of all — even ours! We may fool other people, but we cannot deceive Him. Just as He reminded Samuel, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

This is such an inherent part of Who God is, that the disciples gave Him this name. We can use it of Him too: “Kardiognosta” — “Heart Knower”!

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The Most Important Thing

It is no accident that David opens Psalm 18:1 by saying, “I love You, O Lord my strength.” His love for Yahweh was the first and most important thing in his life — and should be in ours as well. Continue reading

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“The Discipline of the Word” I Peter 2:1-3 sermon

(Preached 8-24-17 at First Baptist Pauls Valley, OK)

For years before his death in 2013, Pat Summerall broadcast NFL games on television. Many of you would recognize his voice to this day. Some of you also know that Summerall’s life had been devastated by many years by alcohol. At one point, later in life, he checked into the Betty Ford clinic, but he said what really turned his life around was that while he was in there, he began to really read the word of God, the Bible. He read it every day. And he said the more he read, the more wanted, and soon his thirst for alcohol was replaced by a thirst for the word of God. When he got out of the clinic, he was baptized as a follower of Jesus Christ, and his life was never the same. The word of God had changed his life.
This kind of hunger for the word is what is described in our passage for this morning, I Peter 2:1-3, where the Bible says:

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

We are continuing this morning the study we began last week, “Disciplines of Disciples.” We saw last week that God commands us as followers of Jesus Christ to “discipline (ourselves) for the purpose of godliness.” Just as it takes discipline to practice for a good band performance, and discipline to exercise, it takes some discipline to live a successful Christian life. It is not going to just “happen”; you have to learn to exercise some disciplines.
This morning we are going to look at the first, and arguably the most important of those “Disciplines of Disciples” — the discipline we need to show in relation to the word of God. Our focus is going to be on :2, where God commands us through Peter, “Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”

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God’s Word: Desire or Discipline?

In light of I Peter 2:2’s command to “long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation”, one might ask if spending time in the Bible should be considered to be a “discipline”, or a more natural “desire.” The answer is: both!

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Read The Word: Public Reading of Scripture

In II Kings 23, King Josiah led a revival in Judah when God’s word was rediscovered in the Temple. The book of the Law was read aloud to him by Shaphan the scribe (22:10) and it had a profound effect on the king. Josiah wept and tore his clothes (:19), which were signs of mourning, and he sought God’s leadership through His prophet. Then Josiah turned around and did for Israel what had so impacted him: Continue reading

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