Holding Fast the Word of Life in 2010

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

As always, in the second message of Prayer Week, I am seeking with all my heart to call you, plead with you, inspire you, motivate you, encourage you, persuade you, lead you to give yourself to the word of God in 2010. To give yourself to the word of God in 2010. To give yourself to the word of God in 2010.

I mean something more than a few-minute snatch at it every few days. I mean give yourself to it  every day. Every day. Every day.

No Power Without the Promises

I would guess that almost everyone listening to me is dissatisfied with the spiritual power and consistency and fruitfulness of your life. And I do not consider that anything I say is simple remedy to that spiritual weakness. God is sovereign. He changes times and seasons. And that includes spiritual times and seasons—in cultures and in families and in individual lives.

But one thing I know: There is a spiritual diet without which no Christian can be strong and healthy and fruitful. And that is a diet of the word of God.

No Promises of Power

Hear me carefully. I am making no promises that reading or memorizing the Bible will automatically make your life strong and healthy and fruitful. The Pharisees read and memorized the Scriptures more than any of us ever will. And most them, Jesus said, were cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12).

I am not giving a guaranteed technique for power. The Spirit blows where and when he wills. I have known seasons of terrible barrenness in reading the Bible. Not in neglecting the Bible, but in reading the Bible. I am not God, and the Bible is not God. God is God. And we do well not to think we can manipulate him by handling his words like beads on a string or fingers on a ouija board.

Open the Eyes of Our Hearts

There is a spiritual receptivity that he alone can give. Why else would Paul pray in Ephesians 1:18 that “the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,” that we may know the glory of what the word so plainly says?

He is praying. He is praying to God. The Bible is not God. The Bible is the infinitely precious and infallible word of God. But if the living God does not open our hearts to the word of God, we can read it a hundred hours a week and never see the glory of what it says and the one who gave it.

No Guarantee, No Magic

Paul prays that we would see what is in the word with the eyes of our hearts. This is the close of Prayer Week. And there’s the link between prayer and the word of God. If God does not act sovereignly to overcome our spiritual blindness and deafness and numbness, seeing we will not see, and hearing we will not hear, and reading we will not comprehend.

So I am giving you no guaranteed regimen or device or scheme or trick for spiritual power and health and fruitfulness. Bible reading is not magic. Bible memory is not mind control or divination. I don’t know if your reading the Bible and meditating and memorizing will give you power and health and fruitfulness.

Don’t Starve the Grace

What I do know is: Without it you starve every grace that God means for you to thrive on his world. There is a spiritual diet without which no Christian can be strong and healthy and fruitful. And that is a diet of the word of God.

So here I am, longing, praying, pleading that you give yourself to the word of God in 2010. Give yourself to the word of God. Give yourself to the word of God. It’s the word of God. It’s the word of God.

You Shine as Light in the World

Look at Philippians 2:14–16.

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Take two phrases and notice their connection. Verse 15 at the end: “you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.” This culture is crooked and perverse in many ways. And Paul says that Christians, whose citizenship is in heaven, shine in this dark world as lights, that is, like stars in the night sky. This is the word used for the sun and moon and stars in Genesis 1.

You are the light of the world, Jesus said (Matthew 5:14). Now Paul says that Christians shine as light in a crooked and perverse generation. How? How do we shed the darkness of our sin—our selfishness and pride and fear and lust and bitterness? Paul answers, “You shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.” You shine by holding fast the word. Holding fast the word.

Holding Fast the Word of Life

“Holding fast” translates a word that means hold your position or hold your gaze. In 1 Timothy 4:16, it’s translated, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching.” In Acts 3:5, it’s translated, “He fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.” In Acts 19:22, it’s translated, “Paul himself stayed (held his place) in Asia for a while.”

So the idea is holding fast with your attention or with your person. Holding your gaze, or holding your position. So now back to Philippians 2:15: “you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.” Holding your gaze on the word of life. Holding your position with the word of life. Not leaving the word of life. Staying with the word of life. Fixing your mind on the word of life. Giving yourself to the word of life.

Fuel for Your Lamp

The way you shine as lights in a dark culture is by holding fast to the word. Hold your gaze on it. Hold your position in it. Stay with it. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). We’re going nowhere away from your word. We’re staying with you and your words. We’re holding our position here. We’re holding our attention on your word. This is life.

Life and power and health and fruitfulness are mediated from God through his word. This is the way he has decided to do it. If we stay away from the word, the light will grow dim. The word is the fuel of our lamps. You shine, holding fast the word. You shine, holding fast the word. The word is the fuel of your lamp.

Don’t starve the wick of your lamp by not soaking it in the kerosene of the word. Keep your wick in the word. Hold it fast. Give yourself to it. Hold it in your mind and in your heart.

God’s Invitation

This is the only way to shine. I do not promise you that you will shine if you read the Bible and store it up in your heart. But I do promise you that if you don’t, you won’t. So whether you think of the word of God as fuel, without which your lamp cannot shine, or as food, without which your soul cannot live, the point is the same: If we don’t soak in the fuel and eat the food, our light dims and our soul languishes.

God has brought you here today so that he could tell you through my voice: I have an invitation for you. I have a gift for you. I give you my very word. It give it to you. Take it in 2010. Take it and hold fast to it. It is your life. Your light.

Hold Fast the Word

Hold fast to it for the sake of faith. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17).

Hold fast to it for the sake of your joy. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).

Hold fast to it for the sake of your freedom. “If you abide in my word . . . and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).

Hold fast to it for the sake of your holiness. “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Hold fast to it for the sake of the Holy Spirit. “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5)?

Hold fast to it for the sake of life. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Hold fast to it for the sake of strength and stability and fruitfulness. Your delight will be “in the law of the Lord, and on his law you will meditate day and night. You will be like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that you do you will prosper” (Psalms 1:2–3).

Give Yourself to the Word

God has a gift for you in 2010. An infinitely valuable gift—his word. Receive it. Hold it fast. Give yourself to it. Amen.

©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in physical form, in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For posting online, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. For videos, please embed from the original source. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org