Tale of Two Brothers – Part 2
I am introducing two people I’ve met during my ministry.
They don’t represent exact persons, but these are two kinds of people, typical of two styles of following Christ. And so now I introduce Brother 2 (or if you like, Sister 2).
Like Brother 1, he is a lot like us: covenant child, Christian home, Christian school, church every Sunday. Married, two young kids, a hard worker, far from perfect but another nice guy.
When I spend time with Brother 2, and we chat a while, there’s a word I have for him: he’s hungry. He wants to be in the Bible. He has told me that he’s got a time in the morning when he reads it—he gets up a bit earlier than he needs to so that he can open Scripture, spend a while thinking about it, and praying about his day.
On Tuesday nights he goes to Bible study, so he prepares himself for that, and he usually gets something out of it. Brother 2 says he’s not really “a reader,” but he certainly tries to read. So I’ll recommend a good book to him, and then he’ll spend two months reading it, slowly reflecting on it and re-reading it if he needs to.
From what I know about him, this brother tries to be good husband to his wife and a good dad to his kids, a good friend to people in our church, and a good neighbour to his neighbours. He’s ready to help a person in need. He’s willing to serve in the church. He tries to lead his wife well, and to teach his children. He’s humble, and talks about God in that way which shows the LORD is a living part of his life.
Before you think Brother 2 is perfect, be sure that he is far from it. He and I have talked about how morning devotions feel empty sometimes, like he’s reading God’s Word but the words just aren’t sinking in. On Sundays his mind is sometimes so busy planning the work for his week that he finds it difficult to pay attention to the preaching. He struggles with sin, and there are many things that he wishes were different. He knows that he could be a better husband, a more patient father, and he admits that there’s a couple people in his church whom he finds hard to love.
He’s not perfect, but he’s persevering. And what is the difference in his life? Our life today is what it is because of dozens of factors, from our genetics to our childhood experiences, from our parents to the teachers we had in high school. But to my mind, this brother’s “secret” is his connection to the Word of God. He’s no stranger to Scripture, but he’s hungry for it. For many situations of life, whether at work or in the home, his sanctified reflex is to go back to Scripture. What does God say about this?
Because he’s reading Scripture in a meaningful way almost every day, he is close to God’s will. He knows the Bible. He doesn’t just know the stories and the lessons, but he knows the spirit and shape and focus of the Scriptures.
He’s into the Bible, and the Bible is into him.
All this is not to say that he has an amazing memory, and that he is a Bible scholar in disguise. He is still learning new things, and he often has to re-learn the things that he knew before. But this much is clear: he loves the Scriptures.
So like we asked about Brother 1, what comes of a man (or woman) like Brother 2? Is he moving forwards in faith, or drifting backwards? God doesn’t promise him an easy life. Just because he knows Scripture doesn’t mean he’ll never be troubled. His wife might get cancer, or he might lose his job. He’s also not saved because he knows a lot. He isn’t saved because God gives us bonus marks for going to church or doing devotions.
But I know that Brother 2 is going to be fine, because he is clearly on the path of life. He is like the wise man who hears the sayings of the Lord and who does them—like the man who builds his house on the rock, and whose house does not fall in the storm because it is so well-founded.
For a person who truly delights in the Word of Christ is a person who is secure in Christ. A person who draws near to God to hear his voice will be one to whom God himself draws near in order to bless.
I’ve been fortunate to meet Brother 2 (or Sister 2) in many places. Sometimes he’s only 17. Sometimes she is as old as 93. I always find such men and women to be encouraging, and their example inspiring. They have a dedication, a vitality, a presence of the Holy Spirit in their life that is unmistakable.
Continuing in What You Have Learned...
And that’s why I introduce Brother 2 to you. He’s not some freak of nature, a rare species of sanctification that only comes along once every ten years. For you’re not so different from him. We have essentially the same opportunities that he has, and the same fundamental calling from God.
The questions for our brother is the same as the question for us all: Will I be at home in the Scriptures? Will I be hungry for the Bible? Will I build my life on Scripture as a firm foundation?
Listen to what Paul writes to Timothy, “You must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, how from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:14-15).
It sounds like Timothy was a lot like Brother 1 and 2, and a lot like us—he learned the Scriptures from the time of his childhood, and he was shaped through the good instruction he received at home and at church. So now that Timothy is a young man, Paul exhorts him to continue: “Continue in the things which you have learned.” Keep going in the Word. Keep being reminded. Keep listening and reading.
Sticking with the Scriptures may seem like a light thing now, but someday we’ll feel the weight of it. For it is only the Scriptures which are able to make us “wise for salvation.” The Scriptures tell us about eternal rescue from sin in Christ, and about how to receive everlasting blessedness in the presence of God.
Continuing with personal devotions, and church attendance, and a meaningful prayer life may seem like fairly unimportant things now. But someday we’ll learn how these little things really mattered. For all of us, there will come a time when it will be shown whether our lives were founded on realities or trivialities.
I have presented these portraits to you as two ways of living, two alternatives of responding to the Word of God. Are there other options? There’s many shades and degrees of difference between Brother 1 and Brother 2, Sister 1 and Sister 2. But fundamentally, I think that it does come down to just these alternatives. For every person, there is this essential decision to make. What kind of person will you be?
Does the Word of God light your path, does it shine a light on your feet? Or do you mostly refuse the help of the Scriptures, and keep stumbling along in ignorance and darkness?
Put another way: Do you crave the pure milk of the Word, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation? Or do you slowly starve yourself, only periodically eating something that sustains you spiritually, and daily gorging yourself on the rubbish dispensed by an unbelieving world?
Put another way: Do you daily open and search the Scriptures because you know that they testify to Christ your Saviour? Or do you mostly leave the Scriptures closed and miss out on the knowledge that is most worth knowing? I think that we all long to be the kind of person
who loves the Word of God, and who loves the God of the Word.
This is our prayer and our desire, because we know that so much depends on it. We know that this Word is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. We know that this book contains the very mind of God, the true state of mankind, the way of salvation and the happiness of believers. Scripture should rule our heart, fill our mind, and guide our feet.
So we pray that God would help us to embrace his Word, now and always.