NOT BY BREAD ALONE
by Frank King
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America is literally eating herself to death. Too many of her citizens are fast food junkies. The amount of overweight and obese individuals greatly concerns health officials, even though they say this problem is beginning to level off.
I have visited many of our larger cities over the past 20 years. One thing I am always interested in, of course, is the locations of some good eating places for lunch and dinner. No matter where I go there seems to be no lack of customers for eating out. As I write this article, however, the national average of regular unleaded gasoline has recently exceeded $4 per gallon, and that reality is beginning to cut into the restaurant business.
The same thing exists in grocery stores. They seem to always be crowded. I have even gone there late at night thinking I can beat the crowd that way, and it seems as if many other people were thinking the same thing. And if you go there during a holiday weekend, the volume of food and beer and soft drinks some people buy is almost sickening to watch.
Now think for a moment. What would happen if Christians had the same kind of appetite for the Word of God as they do for physical food? I submit to you that this would revolutionize the church. Sad but true, to many of us it is unthinkable to go days without eating, except for a time of fasting, but we can go days, even weeks without studying the Word of God.
We are both physical and spiritual beings. Just as our physical body needs food daily, our spirit also needs spiritual food which we get from the Bible. After Jesus had fasted forty days and nights, the enemy came to Him and said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3). Jesus had the power to do what the enemy requested that He do, and it was true that Jesus was hungry. Yet did He not obey. Instead He replied, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (verse 4).
Jesus knew it was not God but the devil who was speaking to Him. In verse 10, He called the devil by name. Verse 1 states that “Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” Understanding His mission, He refused to obey the enemy. More importantly, Jesus introduced the idea of the Word of God being food for us to live by.
The devil has not changed. It is still his scheme to have us more focused on our flesh than on our spirit. He does not regard the things that are of God but the things that are of men, Jesus says (Matthew 16:23). The power of the enemy’s temptations lies in the fact that they are aimed at satisfying our flesh, and that’s hard for us to resist.
One reason we need a daily diet of the Word of God is because faith comes by our hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Faith is the only basis upon which we can walk with God or please Him. The Bible is full of His promises. They mean nothing, however, if we don’t believe them. Faith in God’s promises lifts our vision beyond what is in our mortal view, and focuses us on the awesome God and His ability to meet whatever need we have in our life.
We also need to feed on the Bible because it is the only way by which we can gain knowledge about God. His ways are past finding out (Romans 11:33). That means we can’t go on an expedition to find out about Him. The greatest of our researchers cannot tell us one single thing about Him that they have independently discovered. The only thing we know about Him is what He reveals to us about Himself. And these revelations are found exclusively in the Word of God. One thing that troubles me greatly is some of the recent laws of our land that have been passed because they reveal great ignorance about God, and eventually they will come back to haunt us. Another sad truth is that many people attend church on Sundays worshiping a God they do not know.
A third reason we need the Word of God is so we can grow spiritually. No matter how long we have been walking with God the more we study His Word the more it will challenge us. The more we will see where we fall short. Christ is our standard. He is the one we must strive to become like. The Bible is God’s prescription for how we are to get there. We will never fully reach that objective in this life, but our walk with God should be progressive. Each year we should be more like Christ than the year before. The Bible is our perfect guide for growing thusly.
Back in 1995, I saw the results a poll done by the American Bible Society. According to it, 92 percent of the respondents said they owned one Bible or more, but only 18 percent of them said they were very familiar with the Bible, 53 percent said somewhat, and 29 percent said they were “not at all” familiar. Eighty-seven percent said they believed the Bible is the revealed Word of God, but only 59 percent of these said they personally turn to the Bible for advice.
In a separate study done by the Christian group Barna Research in 2006, 48 percent of all adults agreed strongly that the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings compared with 42 percent in 2002 and 35 percent in 1991. Twelve percent of born again Christians did not agree that the Bible was totally accurate in all of its teachings.
Consider the following verse: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). The word “sincere” here means unadulterated. So to grow we must have a desire or appetite, and we need wholesome spiritual food. Based on the studies above, not every believer believes that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and even among those who do, their belief does not necessarily translate into a strong appetite for the Bible.
Jesus told the devil that we live by “every word” proceeding from God’s mouth (Matthew 4:4). Perhaps all of us have our favorite book or books of the Bible, but for wholesome growth we must study the entire Bible. Then some believers think that since we are under the New Testament the Old Testament does not apply to us. But God’s truths endure forever. Still others concentrate on the teachings that support their convictions about prosperity or healing and miracles, etc.
Imagine what shape our physical bodies would be in if we neglected important food groups just because we did not like them. This would have a negative impact on our physical development. Similarly, our study of the Bible ought to be done in a systematic way that assures us that we are reading through the entire Bible, not just selected portions. Everything God says or has inspired men to pen in the Bible is wholesome food for us to grow by.
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Excellent article full of truth. Admittedly, I too, sometimes postpone the reading of the WORD until I suddenly "feel" something is wrong, out of harmony.....the minute I return to read the Word, even if it is just one verse...everything comes together again. Thanks for the reminder and the sharing of this article. GOD BLESS YOU