5/30/2014

He Has Spoken, Part 6

This is part six of a multi-part series on “He Has Spoken,” a study published by The Colson Center.  This post discusses the final presentation and discussion in the five lesson DVD curriculum.  The fifth lecture and discussion are entitled “Under the Word: Assuming a Posture Worthy of Scripture.”

John Stonestreet’s lecture starts with a popular illustration from Karl Barth.  Imagine people in a warehouse who have lived in the warehouse their entire life without a clear view of the outside world.  Imagine that a person comes into the warehouse, takes the person outside, and introduces them to the world beyond the warehouse. What a wonderful thing it would be.

That’s what the Bible does for us.  It shows us the way things are in the real world; the eternal, spiritual world we inhabit.

If our thoughts about this eternal world are out of line, we are in essence idolaters.  We make idols out of our misunderstandings and mistakes that distract us from the things that are.  We worship our false ideas of God instead of God Himself in all of His reality.

We must approach Scripture with the proper attitude.  We are to approach the text of the Bible: with great humility, with a willingness to repent, with obedience, with others, and with expectation.

This is not our world; this is God’s world.  We must be humble enough to know that the story is not about us; it’s about Him.

“The Scripture does not endorse us, it exposes us.”  We need to find out where we have fallen short and change our thinking about that sin and let that change of thinking change our actions (repentance).  The Bible is not about encouragement.  It is about the truth, and that truth should change our lives.
We should be willing to do what the Bible says.  Stonestreet reminds me at this point of what the Westminster Confession of Faith says: “By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God himself speaking therein; and acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come” (Chapter 14, paragraph 2a).

Stonestreet says, “The Scripture were not just given to us, they were given to others.”  We should read and study the Bible with other Christians to gain their perspective.  Also, we should approach the Bible in view of what the church has taught in history.  The historical perspective is important as well.

God reveals Himself to us in the Bible because He wants us to know Him personally.  We can expect this revelation each time we read the Bible.

The conversation between Stonestreet and T. M. Moore that accompanies this lecture is titled “Living Under the Authority of God’s Word.”  Moore makes several key points.

If we go to the Bible “looking for the wrong thing,” with a selfish attitude we “are not going to find” what we expect.   We must go to the Bible with the expectation to see Jesus Christ.  He is the main story, and we can find Him “on every page” if we look.

As we see Jesus, “we begin to reflect his image more and more.”  Christ creates a desire for a good life within us.  We become more like Him.  Jesus pushes us outside our comfort zones into the real Christian life.
We must get good habits in place to bring the true attitude toward the Bible to the forefront.   Prayer reminds us of who God is (worship) and who we are (confession).  We can use one of the 22 sections of Psalm 119 each day for guidance on what Scripture is and how to think about it.  Find a schedule that allows you to read daily from both the Old and New Testaments.  We should find a friend or group of friends that can discuss what we are finding in our daily readings with us.  We should take advantage of resources in our churches to teach us biblical concepts clearly.

One of the strengths of this series is that introduction of practical means for Bible study and reading.  “He Has Spoken” is a great resource to spur discussions of both theoretical and practical matters.
I will share my final thoughts in another post in a few days.

5/28/2014

He Has Spoken, Part 5

This is part five of a multi-part series on “He Has Spoken,” a study published by the Colson Center.  This post discusses the forth presentation and discussion in the five lesson DVD curriculum.  The forth lecture and discussion are entitled “Not Ashamed: Trusting in the Power of Scripture.”

John Stonestreet opens this lecture with a discussion of Paul’s advice to Timothy to hold on to the Word of God.  The Bible, as God’s Word, is trustworthy, stable and sure.  It is the one thing we can hold on to in our turbulent times.

The Bible identifies not just the way our needs are met, but also the very needs we have.  We do not go to ourselves and our “felt needs,’ but to the Word to identify our actual needs.

The Bible is true, and hence worthy of value.  It is the “true story of the world.” It does not need to be made relevant, because it is supremely relevant.

I am reminded of John Piper.  His ministry often reveals a lack of awareness of current societal trends, icons, books and music, but, he is single-mindedly focused on the Word of God.  Far from making his many books and sermons irrelevant, this focus makes his ministry supremely relevant.  His ministry has more impact because it is Scripture-saturated than it would ever have by being filled with cultural references.

Back to Stonestreet.  The Bible does not avoid the evident reality of the human condition.  We are not basically ok.  We are not good.  But God loves us so much that he “became one of us to bring us and the whole world to himself.”  We would never know that we are loved by God without His revelation in the Bible.

We are called to be biblical.  The Bible works because it always focuses our attention on something outside of us that is unchanging: a fixed point to which we can orient ourselves.

Stonestreet and T. M. Moore are involved in the discussion segment that accompanies this lecture.  The topic is how to live in a culture that does not grant the authority of the Bible.  We are challenged by a society that ignores us when we simply spout, “The Bible says…”

Moore relates an incident in which he was witnessing to a postmodern person and he drove home the point that there are moral absolutes by stealing the person’s pin and watching the reaction.  He recommends finding ways to help unbelievers see problems their view of the world has by “drawing out the implications of it”  with clear illustrations.

This is what Francis Schaeffer once called “taking the roof off.”  Letting people see through illustration and experience that their views are flawed because we are unable to live with the implications of those views.

Back to Moore and Stonestreet.  We must develop confidence in the Bible, and one of the best ways to generate this confidence is to share what the Bible says often.  We have to practice talking to people until we get confident.  We also gain confidence by seeing the Bible’s advice solve other people’s problems as well as our own.

The discussion turns to apologetics.  Some are not comfortable with apologetics, giving a rational defense of the Christian faith, because it has a bad name.  This bad name comes from apologetic’s reliance on human reason instead of directly relying on the Scriptures.

Moore points out that the Bible is easy to understand and very reasonable.  After all, Jesus used logic and reason to engage His intellectual opponents.  So did the Apostles.  We can share what the Bible says and be confident that the Holy Spirit will use the message to change hearts.

Moore wants us to avoid and us and them mentality that says there is nothing in the world that is good.  We can use the good things in the world, for example, laws against stealing, to illustrate the truth of Scripture.  After all, why should we have laws on the books against stealing if the reality is that we all make our own values and morality?  Laws against stealing do make sense in a biblical view, however.

We are all involved in culture, and we should all engage our culture with what the Bible teaches.  This can be a family activity.

This lecture and discussion can be a valuable conversation starter for groups of Christians who want to make a difference in the world.  It is not a full-blown apologetic, you can’t do that in ten minutes or so, but it does point someone in the right direction.

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