March 15, 2005

Scripture talk

At last week's RUF, I gave a "Ministry Minute" on the Bible. Here are my notes:

One of my favorite things to do is listen to really good songwriting, no matter what the style of music it is. Folk, alternative, country, Motown, you name it; if the songwriting’s good, I’ll listen. I think the thing that draws me to pay attention to a songwriter is their ability to artistically express themselves, while giving you this opportunity to get to know them in the process. The more songs I listen to by a particular songwriter, the fuller a picture I get of that person; many times to the point that I feel I know them like a close friend. And once I’ve consumed all that I can find by a songwriter, I’ll start reading interviews and articles about the writer so that I can hear their thoughts about what they wrote and why they wrote it.

It’s this kind of progression of digging deeper to understand the writer that makes me think of the way we approach the Bible. Second Timothy 3:16 says that “all scripture is God-breathed”, which means that everything written in the Bible has come from the Lord’s mouth. These words were written down by many men, but it all comes from God. We read God’s word so we can know what God has to say: about life, about creation, about history. As we learn what He has to say about these things, we find that we get to know Him better: who He is, why He does what He does. And hopefully the end result is that we come to know Him. If you’re here tonight and you say you don’t know who God is, I challenge you to read this book from cover-to-cover. Trust me, all that you need to know about God is written on these pages.

Now once we say that all scripture comes from God, there are some pretty big things that we have to stand up to. Like I said, by reading the bible, we come to know God. One thing that is said about God is that He is unchanging. Now for us humans, we’re constantly changing. We’re changing our clothes, our minds, our hearts! What would your life look like if you never changed? So if we believe that God is unchanging, then we believe that His word is unchanging. What is said in the Bible is always true, no matter who’s hand it came from: Moses, David, Paul, or James.

So what do we do when we come to a part of the Bible that is difficult to understand, or at least one that could be saying multiple things depending on how you approach it? Well, since we believe that this is God’s word, He’s not going to say one thing on this page, and then later say something different on another. In order to interpret something that isn’t clear, we need to look at what is said more clearly elsewhere in the Bible to find the right way to understand the text in question. If you’re looking for some direction in how to do this, I highly recommend Knowing Scripture, by R.C. Sproul. He will give you some strong tools to use when you’re reading and interpreting the Bible.

Going back to the songwriting analogy, I think what draws someone the most to a songwriter is not just that you know them, but that you feel like they know you. When they write songs, it sounds like they have written them for you and about you. Sometimes they write something so “perfectly you” that you’re almost frightened to think that they might be reading your diary, or at least they’ve surfed your blog to find their new material. And not only that, a great songwriter writes things that help you to get through the hard times, giving you hope in saying that they’ve been there and they made it through.

This is also what we see in scripture. When the Bible points out that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, it cuts a little close to home. When scripture says that “the wages of sin are death”, we see that all the good we have tried to do is still in vain. And when Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life… everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”, we understand that redemption is ours if we only just believe. Do you believe tonight that God has spoken in the Bible? Do you believe that these words are from Him to give you life? And do you believe that you can know Him through these words? If so, that’s awesome; keeping reading and you’ll get to know Him even better. If you don’t believe these things, I encourage you to pick up a Bible tonight and read. I guarantee that you will know God better once you’ve finished it.

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