The pastor at the church I was visiting was adamant. “God only speaks through the Bible.” He went on to explain that while God spoke through dreams, prophets, angels, and a “still, small voice” in the Old Testament, now that we have the completed Bible, Scripture is the only way God still communicates with us.
How well do you know the Bible? Do you attend a church with Biblical teaching? Do you read books about the Bible? Watch a Christian TV show? Perhaps you’re part of a small group, a “home group.” Some groups discuss the previous weekend’s sermon; others may read a book together and discuss that. When is the last time you cracked open a Bible and read it for yourself? Continue reading
I just read a book that has transformed the way I read the Bible. I think you should read it too.
As a white, North American woman, I have cultural biases—and most of the time I’m not even aware of them. I have a certain way of thinking about time—as a series of consecutive events. I live in a society that places a strong emphasis on individuality. We value efficiency, not procrastination, and leaders over followers. Other cultures view these (and other) things quite differently.
Are you a Berean? Acts 17:11 reads:
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
When it’s time for the sermon, do you listen with great eagerness? Then, do you read your Bible on your own to see if what they said is true?
Last March I posted six “wise sayings” culled from my Facebook friends’ posts. (If you missed that post, you can find it here.) Today I’m going to add another six, and ask the same question—is this God’s wisdom or man’s? If you can’t read the text on the images, click on them to enlarge them.
“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4)
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
“On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4, italics mine)
Are you on Facebook? Like a lot of our friends and family, Pete and I have Facebook accounts. I try hard not to spend too much time watching all the “heartrending” videos, checking out everyone else’s grandkids (ours are cuter), and noting that my photographer acquaintances have recently taken incredible photos and I haven’t because I’m home reading about them on Facebook.
Along with all the political statements, sentimental photos, and check-ins, are a growing number of “wise sayings.” Whatever the topic, someone has created a small graphic with some sort of lovely border or faded photo in the background, highlighting the latest in popular philosophy. They’re shared, and shared, and shared, with comments ranging from “Yup” to “That is so true!” I’m sure you’ve seen them too.
I’m pretty consistent about reading my Bible. Not perfect, mind you. Sometimes life gets in the way, sometimes I get distracted. For the most part, though, I try to read at least a chapter (or more, if they’re short or in Numbers) every morning. I always imagine it as God and I sitting down over a cup of tea, having our own little tête-à-tête.
Recently I’ve been rereading the gospels, first Matthew, then John. Pen and straight edge in hand (I’m a bit compulsive about neat annotations), I was underlining verses that particularly spoke to me, inscribing comments in the margin to remind myself later of what I was learning.
True or false: We can always know God’s will by reading the Bible.
True! you say. Of course that’s true. After all, doesn’t 2 Timothy 3:16 say that “[a]ll Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”? Even more significantly, didn’t Jesus quote scripture?
Yes, he did, and that’s what’s getting me all befuddled. But maybe I’m jumping ahead of myself.
Last week I discussed how a large majority of single Christians are engaging in premarital sex. Yet, I always thought the Bible was quite clear on this topic—God’s against it. How do these unmarried believers handle what appears to be a black and white issue?
It seems there are two possible approaches. Either they still believe that engaging in extra-marital sex is sinful—and end up feeling guilty—or they reinterpret the Bible and claim that there’s no problem.
Which parts of the Bible do you believe?
As good Evangelicals, we like to say, “All of it!” We believe the Bible to be the inerrant, holy word of God, and we “take it literally”—it means what it says. How often do we hear someone say something along the lines of, “We can’t be picking and choosing which verses God really meant.”
Yet, we do that all the time.
You’ve probably heard of A.J. Jacobs’ book, The Year of Living Biblically. (If you haven’t read it, please do—it’s a fun book and I recommend it.) Then there’s Rachel Held Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I have not yet read that one yet, although I intend to. Both of these authors point out that we don’t really do everything God says to do in the Bible. Most of the time, we don’t even try.