The Bible Is Our Friend
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 4:4a (Holman) But He answered, “It is written:”
Jesus’ first statement after His coronation into the public ministry was a declaration of absolute confidence in the Bible. I agree with Spurgeon, “The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is our religion.”
Jesus used the book of God well because He knew its Author, the Holy Spirit. Contacting the author is still the best way to understand a book.
The Bible was the only weapon Jesus felt a need to use against Satan. Even the old dragon himself was forced to learn it can slice to the quick.
Jesus met all three temptations with a direct quote from the book of Deuteronomy. All His replies came from only one book, out of 39 available to Him. He wanted the devil to know he was not short of ammunition.
Deuteronomy was the book Moses wrote to aid Israel when they were in the Wilderness. Jesus, now in a wilderness Himself, sought refuge in it.
The children of Israel had needed to learn vital lessons while in the Wilderness then. God’s Son needed to now. God cared for His people in a desolate place once. Jesus learned His Father could and would do it again.
Like Israel and Jesus in the wilderness, people want something solid to fix their lives on. Some are driven to ruin by seeking in the wrong places.
Jesus taught us that the only right place to look is to the Scriptures. We Pastors are devastated when our people come to us with tales of unspeakable woes that can be traced directly to disregarding the Bible.
The Bible is our friend. Believe it all. To question one word in it is to give Satan a foothold. As the father of lies, he opposes true sayings of God.
Jesus Himself is the Word incarnate. He could have voiced one word and felled the devil, but for our sake He put honor on the Bible. Jesus could have rested on His deity, and called twelve legions of angels. Instead He said, “It is written”, thereby teaching us where we should look for help.
I love the Bible. I love reading about it, studying in it, and reading it all yearly. My like of Scripture may be enhanced by the fact my spiritual gift is teaching. I had trouble reading the whole Bible the first two or three years, but then it became warp and woof of me, and has become sheer delight. I find structured daily prayer a challenge, but Bible reading has become easy.
Some claim the Scriptures are hard to understand. That’s bogus. For 200 years, we USA Americans used the Bible to teach children how to read. A humble prayerful spirit can dissect it, whatever version a person uses.
Matt. 4:4b “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that
comes from the mouth of God.”
Don’t miss the word “Man”. Our Savior, our Lord, our God, identified Himself with us. What He said about Himself then also applies to us now.
Jesus in essence said, “It really doesn’t matter much if I have bread right now or not. God can sustain Me however He wants to.” Jesus said of Himself, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me” (JN 4:34).
Jesus felt “it is better to starve to death, than live and thrive by sin” (Henry). Daniel agreed; he would not defile himself with the king’s food.
Jesus taught it is wrong to think physical needs are our most important needs. We require more than food. The physical cannot satisfy our deepest essence. We were made to where we need God’s life more than physical life. We are spirit; God is spirit; thus our most important life is the spiritual, Latin meaning what pertains to spirit. We were not meant to live apart from God.
It is a terrible day when we humans are reduced to being nothing more than food-eating machines, when we are driven by passions for sex, drugs, or money. We are meant for something much better. God commanded us to rest every seventh day in order for us to look up, to remember we have an existence higher and more important than back-bending toil and sweat.
God taught this lesson to Israel in the Wilderness. He let them hunger to let them know communing with Him was the most important thing in life.
When they thought they would starve to death, He used something other than Earthly bread to feed them. He sent directly from Himself to them something they had never seen. They called it manna, meaning, “What is it?” They learned to see beyond the physical. In hard times learn to lean on God.
We are to live for what our material bread represents. Life depends on the Giver who is behind the bread. We obsess with second causes. The main thing is not the bread, but the nourishment God Himself gives us through it.
When we bless our food, we are not working some magic on the food. Rather, we are actually blessing God. Food pictures something bigger and better. Food is a means, not an end. We live in Him who uses food for us.
Where did the bread come from? Who made the seed germinate, the ground fertile, and sent the sunshine and rain? Stories live behind the bread, stories that ultimately end up at God’s feet. Our sustenance depends on God.
Bread is the staff (support) of life; God’s blessing is the staff of bread (Henry). This is life’s deeper meaning. We live on what He says and does.
Matt. 4:5 Then the devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on
the pinnacle of the temple,. . .
This may refer to the east corner of the south temple wall. Its pinnacle stood four hundred feet above the valley floor below it. One tradition claims James, the Lord’s brother who led the Jerusalem Church and authored the Bible book of James, was martyred by being thrown off this precipice.
Notice our text’s double emphasis on holiness: holy city and temple. This test happened in a sacred place. No place is holy enough to exempt us from temptation. Adam and Eve fell in God’s lavish Garden living all alone.
Satan had a special interest in the holy city and the temple. He had been able to turn both headquarters of Heaven into headquarters of Hell. He filled the temple with malicious legalists, and used the city to kill God’s Son.
Don’t be surprised when Satan’s venom is seen in a church building. Satan hates any place that believers have set aside to focus on God. Where else would the devil rather connive to undermine our undivided attention?
This explains why much unrest and sin are among us when we gather here to worship. Temptations are intensified here, in this holy place. Sin is among us right now: immodest dress, lust that has observed the immodesty, envy over another person’s car or clothes, ingratitude, grumpiness toward your own family in the car coming here and toward others here, smugness about greeting all around you, stinginess when the offering plate is passed.
One reason unbelievers don’t believe in depravity is because they never belonged to a local church. Our critics jump on our failure, and say it proves the local church is useless. I paraphrase Churchill. A local church is the worst organization around, except for every other one that’s been tried.
It’s unfair for organizations narrowly focused by age groups, gender, selection processes, and specific tasks to look down on an organization that has to accept all ages, all mental conditions, and all moral standings. Despite its faults, flaws, and failures, the local church is still the hope of the world.
Be careful when you come to church. Never be caught off guard. Be on the lookout for temptations. Expect unexpected tests in this holy place.