A man of the word

woman-reading-bible-op-800x533Ezra 7:10: For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Ezra was a man of the word. He lived and breathed the word.  He invested years into the mastery of it, probably in the investigation of the hidden meaning and historical features; and above all, he invested his life into the practice of the word.

Ezra was a quintessential man of the word.  He committed his time to study it, his life to practice it and her talent for communicating it.

Jesus described the kind of man who is great in the kingdom of God as the one who obeys the word and teaches others to do the same (Matthew 5:17-20).

So Ezra qualifies to be called a great man. The psalmist said that your (God) word have I kept in my heart that I may not sin against you (Psalm 119:11). No one can presume to please God without checking out the divine demand in his word.

As a Christian, you are supposed to be a person of a book, the bible. You are to master the book, eat it inside out.

Okay, here is the hard truth: you should cover your eyes in shame if you are five year old as a Christian and have not read it from cover to cover. You should cover your face in shame.

Look at what Jesus told Nicodemus (John 3:1-10); he told him that as the teacher in Israel, there was certain things, he was expected to know. In the book of Hebrews, the bible says that when some people ought to be teachers but still needed to be taught the elementary principles of faith, it is a sad situation (Hebrews 5:11-14).

Of Timothy, Paul affirmed that right from his childhood, he had known the Holy Scriptures, which is able to make him wise for salvation which is in Christ Jesus (2Timothy 3:14-17). And there are the Berean Jews who the bible says are noble and take the pain search out the truthfulness of the words of Paul, for themselves, from the scriptures (Acts 17:10-12).

Jesus acknowledged that the Pharisees search the scriptures, you should do nothing less (John 5:29). Or are you not even curious, do you not have any sense of exploration at all? What excuses are you giving yourself to not have finished the bible from cover to cover all these while, or is it just plain laziness? Examine yourself, and shake off yourself from the chains of lethargy when it comes to the 66 books of the bible.

Don’t you want to be taken on the adventure called the bible that starts with the creation dynamics (Genesis) to the future of the world in the book of Revelation? Except you have allowed people to tell you to see the bible in a negative light: as the book of fables, as myths, or blatant lies? Have you been taught to not respect Paul and what he stands for, being responsible for many of the books in the New Testament? Shake off those wrong thinking and embrace the blessing in the word.

As a man of the word Ezra studied, practiced and taught the word of God

Study

Paul told Timothy to give diligence to his study of the word of God (2Timothy 2:14-16) so that when he stands to preach he would accurately divided the word of truth. You cannot give what you don’t have. It is the depth of your meditation on the word that will determine the flow of it from you.

You are called to stand apart as a man who studies God’s word. Every one of us is called to continue in God’s word (John 8:31). To study means to pay more than a cursory attention to the word of God. It means to seek to understand how passages of scriptures relate to each other, and how they relate to the plan of God for your life, for the church and for the ages.

A psalmist prayed that God will open his eyes to behold wondrous things out of His word (Psalm 119:18). In every act of studying the word, we need the illumination of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 15:26, 16:12-14). Regardless of your age and exposure in life, God’s word is opened to those who realise that the Holy Spirit is the one who brings the reality of the word to them, who brings out the treasure from the word out to them.

To study means you seek to have a comprehensive view of the word. Through that we would no more be children and tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14-15). We are admonished that in malice we should be novice but in understanding we should be mature (1Corinthians 14:20).

Practice

We are admonished to not be hearers of the word only, thereby deceiving ourselves but we should be doers of the word (James 1:21-25). Jesus brought a strong indictment against the Pharisee, telling the people to do what they say but not follow their example (Matthew 23:1-8).

Here you are teaching about prayer, and you don’t have any prayer life to talk about, here you are teaching about holiness and your holiness level is nose-diving! Examine yourself. Paul said that he pummels his body so that after preaching to others he would be found in error and judged for it (1Corinthians 9:24-27).

Talking about the Jews in the book of Romans, Paul accuses them of claiming to be custodians of the oracles of God, his very words, but neglect to live true to it (Romans 2:19-24).

Note that God is not interested in breeding hypocrites, who hear but don’t do.

Teach

Part of the passion of Ezra is to teach the statues and the ordinances of God in Israel. He has a passion for getting it right and he also wants the people to get things right.

But juxtapose that with the words written by James that everyone should not desire to be teachers because greater judgment is directed to them (James 3:1). Then you will realise that not everyone is called to occupy the position of teacher in the body of Christ, but God does not want us to be so empty-headed that we are not able to offer the simplest defense of the gospel, while we can articulate things that have to do with the our worldly pursuit.

The primary desire to study and practice must be the responsibility of individual Christians. But teaching is another kettle of fish.

It is one of the seven gifts of God as outlined in the book of Romans by Paul (Romans 12:3-8). And one of the ministries set in the church is that of a Teacher (Ephesians 4:10-14). There is a difference between the two (gift of teaching and Ministry of a Teacher), with the latter carrying more authority and scope of expression (combining with a leadership status in the body of Christ as a whole), and the former more localised and limited. The latter obviously also possess the gift of teaching.

 

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3 responses to “A man of the word

  1. Christians have to be students of the Bible, and Teachers must teach in context. An uninformed Christian teaching out of context, is a cult waiting to happen.

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  2. Pingback: Day 137: Ezra 8-10; Sins of the Exiles | Overisel Reformed Church·

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