By: Brian Borgman
“These things I have spoken to you so you may be kept from stumbling” (John 16:1).
The Upper Room Discourse is a wonderfully rich portion of Scripture. Jesus is preparing His disciples for His departure. He is preparing them not only for the coming of the Spirit, but also for coming persecution. He wants them to persevere through the challenges and trials, and so He gives them His words (John 16:1). Although this has immediate reference to the Upper Room Discourse itself, it is also true on a wider scale, God has given us His Word to keep us from stumbling, to keep us running the race with endurance.
God’s Word equips us to endure in so many ways. It is filled with promises, which we lay hold of by faith (2 Cor. 1:20; Heb. 4:1-11; 6:11-12). Faith in God’s promises is how we fight the lies of the world, the flesh and devil. His Word is filled with truth about His character and all that He is for us. We need to think of the Bible as God’s self-disclosure. The more we know Him, who He is and what He is like, the stronger our faith grows (Psa 9:10; Lam. 3:21-25). God’s Word also brings us correction and reproof for wrong actions and wrong attitudes (2 Tim. 3:16). God’s Word fills us with joy (Jer. 15:16; John 15:11). The benefits of God’s Word go far beyond any list we can compile.
We need to read and hear God’s Word regularly. I believe whole-heartedly in devoting a period of time every day to reading God’s Word. A consistent reading regimen not only feeds your soul, but enriches the public ministry of the Word too. In the case of God’s Word, the more we eat, the hungrier we get. We need to make it a matter of conscience to regularly receive God’s Word, as the church offers it to us through the called ministers of the Word.
What if the disciples had forgotten Jesus’ words? What if those words would not have given them hope of a coming Comforter? What if those words had not been used to keep them from stumbling? Well, you might say, they did stumble, remember Peter? They seemed hopeless, remember them at the Sea of Galilee after the empty tomb? Ah, my point exactly.
To receive God’s Word by reading it and hearing it will not prevent all sin, doubt or stumbling, but it will prevent these things from being fatal. Peter stumbled, but he recovered. How? The Word of Christ. The disciples temporarily lost hope, but that hope was restored, through the Word of Christ. The Word is that ballast deep in your soul that keeps you from sinking.
My fear is for those who have so little interaction with God’s Word. Sooner or later, in one way or another, that neglect will catch up with us. Sooner or later the counsel of the world overtakes the counsel of God’s Word.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus has given us His words so that we would endure. Do not neglect the very means by which He intends to sustain and grow your faith in a faithless world.