David Jeremiah - The Priority of a Devoted Mind
In the book of Matthew in response to a question that the Lord Jesus was asked, "What is the great commandment"? Jesus said, "Well, the great commandment is this. The great commandment is 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind and your neighbor as yourself.'" Those are the two things Jesus said in response to that question. The thing we have been talking about is in that passage of Scripture. In Matthew chapter 22 and verse 37, he said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all of your mind".
What does that mean, to love the Lord your God with all of your mind? To this day, we call ourselves Homo sapiens, which means thinking beings. This is not simply a scientific classification. It is a spiritual classification. We were made in God's image and one of the most precious and noble dynamics of being in the image of God is that we have the ability to think. It's what separates us from the other creatures that God created. He gave us the ability, as in the image of God, to think. In fact, in the book of Isaiah, the writer speaking the words of the Lord says, "Come now, and let us reason together," as if we can reason with God and indeed we can. We can reason with God because God has endowed his creatures, his humanity. We have been given this gift of a mind, of the ability to think.
And the Christian mind is not simply thinking by those who say they are Christians. But a Christian mind is totally different. It is a way to think the thoughts of God. When Jesus said in response to the question, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind," he was quoting an Old Testament Scripture found in the 6th chapter of the book of Deuteronomy. Jesus made this statement and it almost sounds as if he quoted the Scripture directly and intact but, in essence, he made one significant change. If you go back to Deuteronomy chapter 6, where we have what they call the shema in verse 4 which says, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord your God is one God," in verse 5 we read in Deuteronomy chapter 6: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and your soul, and with all your strength". When Jesus quoted it, he said, "You shall love the Lord the God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind".
Some say, "Well, Jesus just added a fourth dimension to the Old Testament Scripture". Or perhaps what is meant here is that we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, doing that with all of our strength. We love the Lord our God with all of our soul, doing that with all of our strength. And then we love the Lord our God with all of my mind, doing that with all of our strength. Whatever it means, what it does mean is that the Lord took the liberty which he alone can have to change the quotation from the Old Testament and make the point of the importance of the Christian's mind. Our mind. God gave us a mind and he tells us in his Word that we are to love our God with all of our mind, that is an intentional statement about the importance and priority of Christian thinking.
C.S. Lewis reminds us that God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other kind of slackers. He said, "If you're thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are embarking on something which is gonna take the whole of you, brains and all," and he was right. So I want to explore with you today this question: "How can I love my God with all of my mind? How do I do that"? And I want to suggest four things to you. First of all, we love our God with all of our minds when we feed on his Word. This book, we are told, is God's Word. That's what we call it. This is the Word of God. God has given to us a message straight from him to us. Now, there are many places we could turn to bear this testimony, but the best place, I think, of all the places, is Psalm 119.
Now, I need to tell you that Psalm 119, I've kind of tucked away in the back of my mind that if I am ever told that I am going to be executed and I have the privilege of choosing a passage to be read before they do it, I'm choosing Psalm 119 as my passage. It's got 176 verses. It's the longest chapter in the Bible and the longest Psalm in the Bible, right? So just mark that down. Don't choose "Jesus wept," or it'll be over in a hurry, all right? Choose Psalm 119. Now, let me tell you about this Psalm. Psalm 119 is a beautiful Hebrew poem. It's an acrostic poem. Look down in your Bibles. In most of your Bibles you will see that before the first eight verses there's a little Hebrew letter, and then next to it is the word "aleph". That's the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Go down eight verses and you'll find the next letter, "beth," which is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Psalm 119 has 22 paragraphs. All of them have eight verses, and each paragraph begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And if you could see this in Hebrew, every verse of the eight verses begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet that it's atop of the paragraph. This is the Psalm that David put together to express his incredible love for the Word of God. And here's what David wrote: "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me". Now, here's the student's wonderful statement: "I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts".
There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet; there are 22 paragraphs in Psalm 119. Each paragraph starts with the next letter. A beautiful poem, discussing the Bible and expressing how much David the Psalmist loved God's Word. Now, if you read this Psalm, you will discover that in almost every single verse of all 176 verses there is a synonym for the Word of God. There are at least eight of them: the law, the testimonies, thy ways, thy precepts, thy statutes, thy commandments, thy judgments, thy ordinances. All of them, synonyms for the Word. But recently, I was reading this Psalm and I noticed how many action verbs there are in Psalm 119. In other words, verbs that tell us how we're to get this Psalm into our system. How we're to respond when we read it. What are we supposed to do with it? And I wrote them all down. I'm not gonna ask you to follow me. I'll just read them to you.
From Psalm 119, here are the action words that we find that give us something of an idea of how we're to approach the Scripture. Here's what the Psalmist says. When it comes to the Word of God, you should walk in it, keep it, seek it, look into it, learn it, take heed to it, hide it in your heart, rejoice in it, meditate on it, contemplate it, don't forget it, strengthen yourself according to it, get the understanding of it, incline your heart to it, be revived in it, remember it, be taught from it, consider it, direct your steps according to it, and get understanding from it. That's what the Bible says you can do from the Bible, and from the Psalm. David says, "This is what you do. You go to the Word of God and you feed on it. You let it become what drives you and keeps you going every day".
And all of these verbs tell us how to do that. James Montgomery Boice reads Psalm 119 and then he comments: "The Bible meant more to the writer of this Psalm than anything else in his life. The Psalm is his attempt to tell us why. If the Bible is equally precious to you, you will rejoice as you study this Psalm and find yourself echoing the Psalmist's statements in your own mind and in your own heart". "Oh, how I love the law. How I love the Word," says David.
Now, here's what you need to remember. You cannot have a Christian mind without reading the Scriptures because you cannot be profoundly changed by that which you do not know. If you are filled with God's Word, your life can then be informed and directed by God. Your domestic relationships, your parenting, your career, your ethical decisions, your interior moral life, the way to a Christian mind is through God's Word. if you want to love the Lord your God with all your mind, you can't put this on a shelf and neglect it. It's got to be a centerpiece to that quest.
I got a copy of a book that's on the best sellers list. It's called, "Bonhoeffer". It is the story of a man, a great patriot, a great man of God, who was a Lutheran pastor in Germany during the days in the build-up to the Nazi takeover of Germany. He was a great man who found himself in the midst of a time in Germany when Hitler co-opted the church in that it was one thing for Hitler to take over the German nation, but he co-opted the church. In other words, the church was placed under the Third Reich. And here this young man was, a German pastor, trying to sort all this out, wanting to be honest and faithful to God. And when they included a declaration that the church pastors in Germany had to sign the Aryan paragraph which was a diatribe against the Jewish people, Bonhoeffer decided he wouldn't do it. He became an enemy of the Third Reich.
During this time, he came to America for a short time, seeking what he could find here in this country. He was trying to find out more about the church and what its role should be. He said when he came to America, he found the churches here were as dead as they were in Germany. But he said one day an African American friend of his asked him to go to the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and he said, "I got down there and heard all that music and heard these people excited about the Lord and it revived my soul". And he said, "I found out there was a way to know God that I had never known him before. That God wanted a personal relationship with us".
And this Lutheran pastor had his whole life transformed and in the part of the transformation that he records in his book, it changed his attitude toward the Bible. That was a Lutheran pastor; he had studied the Scriptures. He was greatly involved in higher criticism and all of that sort of thing. But I remember reading this in my study about halfway through the book and just getting so blessed by it, I just wanted to share with you what happened in his life. Here's what he wrote.
He said, "First of all, I will confess quite simply: I believe that the Bible alone is the answer to all of our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive the answer. One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. And that is because in the Bible," he wrote, "God speaks to us. And one cannot simply think about God in one's own strength, one has to enquire of him. Only if we seek him, will he answer us. And just as we do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but by simply receiving them, so that for days they go on lingering in our minds, and simply because they are the words of a person we love; and just as those words reveal more and more of that person who said them as we go on, so it will be with the words of the Bible. Only if we venture to enter into the words of the Bible, as though in them this God were speaking to us who loves us and does not will to leave us, only so shall we learn to rejoice in the Bible".
That's one of the things he brought back to Germany from his experience in America and from his association, and he went on to say, "I would like to tell you now quite personally: since I have begun to read the Bible in this way, and this has not been for so very long, it becomes more wonderful to me. I read it in the morning and in the evening, often during the day as well, and every day I consider a text which I have chosen for the whole week, and try to sink deeply into it, so as really to hear what it is saying. And I know that without this I could not live properly any longer".
Let me tell you what happened to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In 1945 he was sent to a concentration camp and ultimately he was executed for his opposition to the Third Reich and the takeover of the church in Germany. He's written some wonderful things and I recommend that book to you. It is a very exciting story of one man's courage. And it reminds us that whatever we do and wherever we are, we need something in us to strengthen us. And I like to believe that in cell block 90 where he spent his last days, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was giving thanks every day for the moment he made the decision to make this book his constant companion and to feed his mind and heart with its truth. Because it's in those moments when you are under pressure that the Word of God comes to mean so much to you.
I remember when I came through cancer, I came out of that experience in love with the book of Psalms and I wrote a book called "The Bend in the Road" based all on the Psalms that God gave me when I was going through that time. So let me just give you a little hint. Don't wait until you need it before you go for it. Get it soaked up into your life so that when the moment comes you'll be prepared. So let me just say this. We learn to love the Lord our God with all of our mind when we feed on God's Word. I've said this before. Generally speaking, our relationship to God runs along the same line as our relationship to his Word. If we say we love God, ultimately somewhere in the process we will learn to love his book, amen? You can't read this book like another book. You have to read it like a love letter from God. And when you do that, you begin to love God with all of your mind.
Number two, you love God with all of your mind when you find God's wisdom. This is an intriguing thought to me. Proverbs 3:13 says: "Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding". Proverbs 8:11 says: "For wisdom is better than rubies, and all things one may desire cannot be compared to wisdom". Proverbs 16:16 says: "How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding to be chosen rather than silver". Solomon describes wisdom this way. He says, "Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are the ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her". Wisdom, says Solomon, is something we look for and we find it.
Now, let's ask this question. What's the difference between knowledge, knowing what the Bible says, and wisdom? Here's the best illustration I can think of. If you have a computer, your computer has a hard drive. Into that hard drive, all kinds of information is loaded and stored. Everything you can imagine gets into there. Anything you put into that hard drive is there. Then you get a software package and that software package helps you figure out how to manage what's on your hard drive. It uses the information, but it directs it in a different way and applies it to particular situations. You know, I have an iPad and I'm telling you, there's, what is there, like, 8000 applications you can use with that iPad. I mean, I don't know if that's right, but it seems like that many. And what that is, is taking information that is then applied in a certain way to a certain situation.
This book is full of information. If all you have is the information, you're not gonna be able to function. What you need is wisdom. What is wisdom? Somebody said, "Wisdom is knowledge using its head". Wisdom is doing the right thing without a precedent. Wisdom is the ability to take the Word of God and apply it to the situations in life that you face. And how many of you know if we ever have needed wisdom, we need it today, amen? I mean, every day we're faced with things we have never been faced with before.
What is wisdom? It's doing the right thing without a precedent. Some things in life we can figure out because we've been there and done it before, but today it seems like more than ever I can remember in my life, every day I face things I've never faced before, and I have to ask God for wisdom, the ability to apply what the Word of God says, what I know about the Word of God, to that particular situation. In a willing mind, wisdom enables you to hear with God's ears, and to see with God's eyes. Here's another thought, wisdom is inspired depth perception into people and situations. It is the vertical thrust of the mind of God into our minds, making discernment possible on the horizontal level of human affairs. With wisdom, we can penetrate the mysteries of God. We can sense his nature, his plan, and his purpose, and if we long to know God's maximum for our lives, wisdom is the gift we need. And we love God with our minds when we find God's wisdom.
Now, let me throw in a little practical thought here. Before Shane Hipps became a Mennonite pastor, he was a former strategic planner in advertising. And in both vocations, he has learned a great deal about how technology quietly shapes people. His latest book is called "Flickering Pixels," and it helps Christians understand some of the spiritual dimensions that are shaping us today. Recently, in an interview he did with "Christianity Today" magazine, he discussed some of the damages being done by the Internet. And it might surprise you, he didn't talk about all of the stuff you get into on the Internet that corrupts your mind. He just talked about the Internet, period.
And listen to what he says. The first statement's kind of interesting. He says, "The Internet created a permanent puberty of the mind". He says, "We get locked into so much information, and the inability to sort that information meaningfully limits our capacity to understand. The last stage of knowledge," he wrote, "is wisdom. But we are miles from wisdom because the Internet encourages the opposite of what creates wisdom, and what is that? Stillness, time, and inefficient things like suffering. On the Internet, there is no such thing as waiting; there is no such thing as stillness. There is just constant churning". And what he's saying is that wisdom comes when we are able to take what we know from the Word of God and allow God to let it settle in and we meditate upon it and we learn. But in the Internet, there is no such thing as that.
The Internet just takes information upon information and keeps stuffing our minds with information, much of it not valuable. And before we know it, we are overwhelmed with information and we have almost no wisdom because we have not had time for wisdom to take control in our life. Isn't that an interesting insight into where we are today? So what does that mean? Well, it means we have to maybe make a few decisions. I now have three pieces of electronic gear, primarily thanks to my oldest son David who is an electronic guru and makes sure that I have all the stuff I need to have. It usually takes me about a year and a half to figure out how to turn it on, but usually I get there pretty soon.
So right now, I've got three pieces of gear. I've got a cell phone. I've got a computer, and I've got an iPad. Now, it suddenly dawned on me the other day, I was in my office, and an email came and my phone went off, my iPad went off, and my computer went off, all three of 'em, ding, ding, and ding. I mean, one ding for me's enough. I don't need three. But now I have to go and I have to turn 'em on and then turn 'em off and, what I'm saying is this. I'm certainly not against technology. I'm into technology up to my ears with all that we do around the country with television and radio, but we need to sometimes take a step back and say, "Am I so overwhelmed by what's going on with my technology that I have no time to think about what God wants me to think about"? And I thank God for this little reminder from this man that one of the things that can keep us from the wisdom we need is not ever having any time to think God's thoughts after him.
Here's a good illustration of how wisdom works that I wanted to share with you. In your Bibles, in 2 Timothy 2:7, Paul is writing Timothy and in one verse he puts it all together. Listen to what he says. He writes to Timothy and he says, "Timothy, consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things". Now, watch this. The command to Timothy is to think, to consider, to use his mind. And the reason Paul gives for thinking is this: "For when you do this, the Lord will give you understanding". Paul doesn't put these in tension, thinking on the one side and receiving the gift of understanding on the other side. He is saying, they go together.
Thinking is essential to the goal of understanding, and in order to find wisdom, we must think and pray, and God will take our thinking and direct it to the proper channel so that wisdom is the result. And here's what I love: James said to all of us in James 1:5: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him". Here's what our prayer should be: "Lord God, help me to understand what your Word means in the situations I'm facing. Give me wisdom to know what to do," okay?
Here's the third thing. We feed on God's Word, we find God's wisdom, and thirdly, we follow God's will. How do I love the Lord God with all of my mind? I follow his will. I do what he tells me to do. Now, Romans 12:2 puts it this way: "Do not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind," now watch this, "that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God". Did you know that God's will is perfect? His general will for all of us is perfect and his individual will for you is perfect. We should always be praying the prayer of the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven".
If you want to love the Lord your God with all of your mind, you will learn to pray that prayer. For when we seek for and we follow God's will for our lives, we are loving him with all of our mind and heart and soul. And here's the fascinating part of loving God with all of our minds. God has a different will for each one of us, and he communicates that will to us from the earliest days in our lives. I guess I just really discovered this and came across this truth, that from the moment we are born, and especially if we're in a Christian family, we're in a context of God, God begins to work on us to show us his will for our lives.
Back in that passage in Deuteronomy chapter 6, which is a great passage, God gives to the people of Israel a little formula that every Christian educator loves to read. For right after the verse we read earlier about loving the Lord your God with all of your mind, he writes: "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up".
God said to the people of Israel: If you want your children to grow up knowing that the Lord your God is one God, if you want them to know how to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, it starts at an early age and it's not just a half hour after dinner, although that is important. The Bible says that that will of God is communicated to your children when you sit down and when you get up, when you lie down and when you rise up. What is he saying with those metaphors? He's saying that the will of God is communicated by our whole life to our children. It is how we live before them. And it is wonderful for us to have times of devotion with our children and family altar and all of that, and I love that, but I remember reading some years ago someone said, "To give people a family altar and then not live for God the rest of the time, is like giving them food in one hand and poison in the other".
In other words, if we're gonna have a family altar, which I encourage you to do, then make sure you understand that's not the end of it all. That's the beginning of it all. That's where it starts. When you do that you begin then to live that life, and I promise you, your kids will learn more about who you are in Christ during the times you're going through right now if you're under pressure than they will ever learn during times of prosperity. They will learn my mom and dad are under pressure, but they're trusting God. My mom and dad are facing challenges, but they know that God will never leave them nor forsake them. That's where we learn about our faith and that's where we learn what God has for us to do in the future.
Interestingly enough, the book of Deuteronomy in which all of this truth is recorded, comes after the book of Exodus. In the book of Exodus we have the story of the people of God in Egypt, and in Egypt there were many gods. Remember, at the end when Moses was challenging all the gods of Egypt? There were many gods and history records that the gods of Egypt were often in conflict with one another. One god would say, "Do this," and the other god would say, "Do this". And then another god would contradict the third god, and all of the gods, it was a mass of confusion. And so God says to us in Deuteronomy 6, "Hear, O Israel," this is called the shema, mean hearing. "Hear, O Israel: The Lord your God is one God".
And the Lord your God who is one God has one will. He's not in conflict with any, how many of you know if you know the will of God, there isn't anything to contest? It's God's will. And I want you to understand that the will of God for you can be known and that God does have a will for your life. Jesus tells us that we're to love God with all of our minds and he means everything the mind is capable of doing is to be devoted to God. So let me take this a little further into the practical zone. It would seem that if your mind can spin out complex mathematical calculations, you are to love God in mathematics. If your mind can plan a business, design a building, analyze a novel, understand a philosophical problem, or imagine a story, you are to love God through your planning and designing and analyzing and understanding or imagining.
When Jesus says, "All the mind," he is claiming every mental faculty that you have. He wants you to love God with all that you do. And then when he says, "All your mind," he is telling you that this is a very personal thing. Not everyone has the same ability. We know that, do we not? Someone who is physically handicapped may not have the same physical strength that a star athlete does. That doesn't matter. Whether it means serving God from a hospital bed or from the Olympic Pavilion, we are called to love God with all of our strength. And the same is true with our minds. Our mind encompasses a wide range of talents and abilities. Some minds are gifted in the sciences. Some minds are gifted in the arts. Some minds are oriented to academia and higher education. Some are interested in more mundane things, but no one set of talents is better than any other, and every calling is equal before God.
And the point is, whatever our calling might be, whatever the will of God is for our life, God demands all that we can do and all that we can think. So when you leave here and you go back to work on Monday, you don't walk out of the sphere of where God is in control. Whatever you do, even if it has nothing to do with the church or nothing to do with the Bible, whatever your job is, you should go there and say as you walk in the door, "Lord God, you've given me a great gift in this mind that I have. Help me to use my mind to bring glory to your name today". And God is just waiting for willingness on our part to do that. We are loving God with all of our minds when we use our God-given intellect to understand our God-given wisdom and follow the Lord's will for our God-given utilization of gifts every day of our life. That's how we love God.
Now, I know what God's will for me is. I never have to get up in the morning and say, "Lord, what is it you wanna do with my life"? I learned a long time ago what God wanted to do with my life. I get up on Monday and you know what I think about? I think about next Sunday, the first thing when I get up 'cause I know Sunday's coming. My life is totally involved in the Word of God, and what God has called me to do. That's God's will for my life. And I'm so excited to know that. I'm not going off on any detours. I'm not getting caught up in anything that's gonna take me away from that. I'm too old to change. I'm just gonna keep doing what God's called me to do: do his will. So we love the Lord our God with all of our minds when we feed on his Word, when we find his wisdom, when we follow his will, and finally, when we fight his war.
You say, "There's a war"? Oh, yes. In 2 Corinthians there's a war that involves your mind and mine. Here's what it says: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds, and for the casting down of arguments and every high thing that exalts against the knowledge of God". What is the Scripture saying? The Scripture is saying, another way to view the Christian life is to see the effort that we are doing as a kind of warfare. And in this warfare, there is a negative and positive aspect to the mission. "Everything that exalts itself against God must be thrown down," says the Scripture, "and every thought must be brought into the captivity of Christ". Paul wants us to know that the greatest battles in the Christian life are fought between our ears in our minds. Isn't that true?
And I think what he is saying here when he talks about casting down arguments, is kind of a reflection of what we read in 1 Peter 3:15 that says: "Sanctify the Lord God in your heart, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear". And the word "defense" is the word "apologia" which means an organized answer to the questions people ask. Now, I wanna tell you something, we're living in an age, you and I are, when people are asking questions about Christianity they've never asked before. They're writing books about Christianity that are mean-spirited from the cover to the back. And every one of us, as we walk through life, we need to start equipping ourselves with some answers, amen? I'll just give you an illustration, one simple illustration.
You know one of the most onerous thing is about Christianity to those who don't know Jesus? It's the fact that the Bible teaches that there's only one way to God. That's politically incorrect. And people just steam when they hear that. "You mean you think there's only one way to God"? Absolutely. "Why do you believe that"? Because that's what the Bible says. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me". Now, what part of that don't you understand? The Bible says, "Neither is there salvation in any other for there is just one way". And I know people don't like that. And people ask me about that. I get asked that a lot, and I like to tell 'em, "You know what? First thing you need to know, I didn't get to make the rules," amen? God made the rules.
Now, I just read 'em and I try to obey them. But years ago we had a guy who used to come here every summer named Kenny Poure and he's one of my favorite people. I've known him for years and he came one summer, he gave us this little thought and I wanna just share it with you. He said, "You know, people get so upset when they find out that the Bible teaches there's only one way to God. There's only one way to get to heaven". But he said, "Why should we be surprised about that"? He said, "Did you ever think about the fact that the way you came into the world is the same way everybody else came into the world? There's only one way to become a human. You gotta be born. There aren't many ways. There's just one way. "Oh, what about the". There's just one way. To become a human, there's just one way. So if there's just one way for your first birth, why should you be surprised if there's just one way for your second birth? It's kind of the way God does things.
The Bible says: "There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end of that is the way of death". The Bible says there is a narrow road and a wide road and those who are on the narrow road are the ones who are going to heaven. The wide road, the Bible says, many that walk on there, but they're headed toward destruction. So, you know, we are so intimidated by the questions that people ask of us as Christians and maybe we should just stop and maybe read a few books and learn a few things and read the Word of God more and come up with the answers. We don't need to be on the defensive all the time.
And somebody say, "Well, how do you know the Bible is true and why do you believe it"? You know what I like to tell 'em now? I've quit, I just cut past it all. I believe the Bible because I choose to. I choose to believe this book. And I choose to believe it because I have studied all the reasons that people give for not believing it and my reasons are better than theirs. I believe this book because it's God-breathed and it changed my life and I've watched it change the lives of other people. So how do we love God? We love God by feeding on God's Word, by finding his wisdom, by following his way. But we also love God by getting into this intellectual cultural war that's going on and learning how to respond to the questions people have and give an answer that brings glory to the Lord.
Addressing a group of Christian students at Oxford University, C.S. Lewis spoke of the urgency of Christians participating in the intellectual battles of this day, and here's what he said. He said, "If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were educated. But as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the church, whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simply not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground would be to throw down our weapons and to betray our uneducated brethren who have under God no defense against the intellectual attacks of the heathen". What he is saying is if God has given you a mind and almost everybody in here, he's given us an education, there are many people that have not been given an education and if we don't study and help them and encourage them, then we are throwing down our weapons, that's what C.S. Lewis said, and going into the war without any weapons at all.
How do you do all this? I mean, I'm a preacher and this is what I do for a living. I love the Word of God. I spend a lot of time in it every week. But I want you to hear a story that I read this week. An example from a man by the name of General William K. Harrison. He was the most decorated soldier in the 30th Infantry Division rated by General Eisenhower as the number one Infantry Division in World War II. And General Harrison was the first American to enter Belgium during that war, and he did so at the head of the Allied Forces. This decorated soldier received every medal for honor except the Congressional Medal of Honor and he was honored with the Purple Heart. He was one of the few generals ever to be wounded in action. I mean, this guy was in the battle.
When the Korean War began, he served as Chief of Staff in the United Nations command and, because of his character, his calm, and his self-control, he was asked by President Eisenhower to head the long and tedious negotiations that ultimately ended the Second World War. General Harrison was a soldier's soldier who led a busy, ultra-kinetic life but he was also an amazing man of the Bible. When he was a 20-year-old West Point cadet, he began reading the Old Testament through once and the New Testament four times every year. General Harrison did this until the end of his life. Even in the thick of war, he maintained his commitment by catching up during the 2- and 3-day respites for replacements and refitting that followed every battle, so that when the war ended, he was right on schedule.
When at the age of 90 his failing eyesight no longer permitted this discipline, General Harrison had read the Old Testament 70 times and he had read the New Testament 280 times. And no wonder his godliness and his wisdom were proverbial. It is no surprise that the Lord used this man for 18 years to lead the Officers Christian Fellowship, OCF, which was a Christian organization for military people. General Harrison's story teaches me a couple of lessons that I won't be able to get away from. Here's the first one: that it is possible even for the busiest of us to systematically train ourselves in the Word of God, no matter how busy we are. None of us here will be any busier than General Harrison was. And also it teaches us when we do this, it will be demonstrated to everybody around us. People will see that we are men and women of the Word. It will affect every area of our life, our domestic life, our spiritual life, our professional life, and each of the great problems we face in life, just as the problems he faced, will be informed by the Word of God. That's how we go through life as Christians, if we want to love the Lord our God with all of our minds.
"Oh," you say, "Pastor Jeremiah, here we go again. Man, that's a standard. I gotta tell you something, Preacher. There is no way I'm gonna read the New Testament 280 times before I die". That's not the point, is it? The point isn't you have to do what General Harrison did. The point is you've gotta start where you are. If you don't read the Bible at all, start tomorrow. Read one chapter. Everybody in this room can do that. I don't suggest you start with Psalm 119, but start with one of the chapters in the Bible. And then read another chapter the next day. If you can't read a chapter, read a verse. But here's the point. You cannot love God with all of your mind if there is nothing of God's Word in your mind with which to love him.
You know, if it is true that the software package works from the hard drive, the problem that the Holy Spirit has in many of our lives is we haven't given him anything to work with. Here's how the Holy Spirit works. He takes the Word of God that we have learned and heard and studied, and he uses that to direct us and guide us. But if we have none of the Word of God in our system, we are tying, if I can say this in the proper way, we're tying the Holy Spirit's hands behind his back. We're giving him nothing with which to work. There's no such thing as loving the Lord your God with all of your mind and putting this on the shelf and never looking at it. This is not a guilt trip. This is an encouragement. You want a better way of life? You want a better sense of peace in your heart? You want better direction in your life? Don't neglect the gift that God has given you. This is a wonderful gift.
And I like to think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in cell block 90 with the Word of God coursing through his hearts, perhaps even on the day when they took his life. They said he was calm and rejoicing because he knew that God was with him. And I want us all to know that. I'm not a prophet. I've written a couple of books on prophecy, but I wanna tell you something. Our hard days as a country are not over. We're not finished with all of this yet and we might not be finished with it the way we would like to be finished with it ever, I don't know. But I do know this. God is enough, and his Word is sufficient. Let's take what we have and make it the best thing we've got and walk through this with our head up high and our shoulders back, saying, "Ha, with God on my side and working together with his Word, I am sufficient for any challenge that comes my way". And you will be if you will follow God's wisdom.