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How Do We View the Scriptures: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Devotional Thought of the Day:

21 Christ rules there above all heavenly rulers, authorities, powers, and lords; he has a title superior to all titles of authority in this world and in the next. 22† God put all things under Christ’s feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things. 23 The church is Christ’s body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere. Eph. 1:21-23 GNT

I do not mean that the Bible should be worshiped. Its uniquely sacred character is something that does not need to be exaggerated or even insisted on, because it is self-authenticating. It confirms itself to any earnest and open-minded user. For just as openness to and hunger for God leads naturally to reading the Bible, so the eager use of the Bible leads naturally and tangibly to the mind of God and the person of Christ.

To worship is to be filled with the love we have for the one with whom we enter into communion. None of us worship anyone we don’t love or who doesn’t love us. We are loved by God! We are dear to Him! “God is love”!
This certainty is what leads us to worship God with all our heart, because “He first loved us”
(1 Jn 4:10).

I started studying scripture academically in 1983. Up till then, I had read it and been taught it devotionally, been taught its principles. But studying it in the Greek and Hebrew, specifically looking at the culture and how people would have understood it then, well, that is different.

The challenge is that every pastor, no matter how formally or informally trained, approaches the scripture with a predisposed attitude toward it. That attitude makes a difference in how they will present it to their people, how they preach, teach, counsel, and how their people see their own ministry.

As with anything, there are extremes in this, and a bulk of ministers fall into the middle ground, and then there are a few oddballs, not on the spectrum.

On one side, we have the people who think that the Bible has many flaws, and that it is the job of the pastor )or at least the professors) to help people discern what is true, what is added to scripture, and what should not be heeded at all. They would place the wisdom of man as more reliable than the Bible. On the very extreme, they dismiss all the miracles, and much of the “moral” teaching as only being relevant “then.”

On the other side, we have pastors and professors who confuse the “word of God” (the scriptures) with the “Word of God” (Jesus) Often they will claim to teach and preach “verse by verse” and “book by book”, plunging the mysteries and finding hidden meanings that become rules and doctrines. ( An example of this would be those who adore the KJV to the extent that every other translation is a ruse of Satan)

So how do we approach scripture? Is it something so holy and precious that we honor it and bow down to it, or is it something we can treat like a good philosophy or self help book? Do we take every word of every translation (or just ours) as if sacred, or do we dismiss this part and that, based on our knowledge and research?

I think there is a different route to take (yes, I am the oddball mentioned above).

I believe the word of God is the inspired word of God, the message it conveys is critical for us to understand. It is more than a matter of life and death.

It leads us to praise God, to adore Him, it is there to reveal to our broken hearts, minds and souls the mercy and love of our Creator, and therefore it is beyond all other books.

But it reveals God, it isn’t God. It is a tool, a device, that has to be used with care, keeping in tension doctrines to complex for our minds to fully understand. While this revelation is an incredible gift, the relationship it reveals, describes and encourages is the treasure.

And while it is without error, we are are not. Therefore we have to be careful with our interpretation, with how we understand it, with how we teach it. We have to check what we teach against all of scripture, understanding the covenants, the history, and the tension that exists as scripture reveals our brokenness and the hope of healing that is found in Jesus.

That is why our constant focus has to be on what scripture is promised to deliver to us, to reveal Christ, whose love caused Him to endure the cross for us, to rescue and deliver us from the bondage of sin…and restore us to our heavenly Father.

Heavenly Father, please reveal to us Your love as the Holy Spirit cuts open our hearts with Your holy, inspired word, allowing the work of Christ on the Cross, and at Your side interceding for us to make us holy. May we realize what a blessing the scriptures are, as the words reveal to us Your care. Help us to neither dismiss the scriptures, nor prize them more that the message they bring. In Jesus name. AMEN!

Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.

Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 254). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.

300 posts, 59 countries…a Wedding, a Funeral, and the Pope’s First Sermon….

Devotional Thought of the Day…

 27 God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28 So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29 To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in meColossians 1:27-29 (TEV)

Those of us who bear in our hearts the truth of Christ have to put this truth into the hearts, and minds and lives of others. Not to do so would show a love of comfort and bad tactics too. Think it over once again: Did Christ ask you permission before coming into your soul? He left you free to follow him, but he was the one who sought you out, because he chose to. (1)

This Gospel continues with a special situation. The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways, that do not include the Cross.” When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.
I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage – the courage – to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward.  (from Pope Francis’s first homily 3/14/13)

It seems a pretty big milestone in some ways.  As I posted yesterday’s message – my sermon from Wednesday night’s Lenten Service.  300 devotions and sermons I have posted here.  People literally from all over the world have read these “pages” – from 59 countries – including most of the Middle East.  It is incredible to consider, that the pastor of a small church, would see his words reach such distances.  In a crazy week – it hasn’t quite sunk in, for that matter, neither has my recent mission trip to China, and the massive amount of work that I was able to witness there, and the amount of prayer and emotional support we need to provide to those over there.

This morning, I need to craft three sermons for this weekend.  My normal Sunday message – which is based on Phil. 3 – that nothing is comparable to knowing Christ.  On Saturday I will officiate at a wedding, and at a funeral.  And even as I begin, I realize that the 300 posts, and the three sermons this week, and even the new Pope – Pope Francis’s first message – are all, in reality – the same encouraging word…and that word is provides us hope, comfort.

As the new Pope phrased it, we are to walk in the presence of the Lord, with His cross… professing the glory of Christ.

That will be the key to our churches reviving – nothing else.

That will be the key to the young couple’s marriage – that they live together in Christ – that He becomes the center of their lives. That they build their family, the engage their community, with the cross of Christ there before them.

And for Jim, it was what sustained him in life, and will sustain his family now that he awaits us before God’s throne.

If I had wrote this blog a few years ago – and even now I am tempted – to preach about the injustice inside, and outside of the church. For such injustice, such unrighteous – burns and causes me to burn. (even as of this morning!)  I want to fall to the temptation of making this a statement.  But that will change nothing, I can rant and rave – I can writing scathing rebukes- and I will create wars and revolutions.

Only one thing causes change – in me – or in those I want to change.

The presence of Christ. The Lord who St. Josemarie reminds us, seeks us out – who invades our lives.  So let this blog, and indeed, all of us who know Christ – proclaim His love, proclaim His cross… proclaim His presence…

and may we realize that mercy…and walk with Him…

Thank you all for encouraging me by reading this words… and especially thank you to those who like and comment on them.

 

 

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3341-3344). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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