Tag Archives: theology

The Bible: Written by men moved by the Spirit

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Spirit.  2 Peter 1:20-21

writing Bible.jpgAs Peter is writing this book,  he is about to die (2 Peter 1:14)  so this is his final words from a life of following Jesus.  If you remember from the Gospels, Peter was this bold bumbler that was brought in as a disciple early on by Jesus.  After the shame of denying Jesus, Jesus restored Peter and gave him a prominent position as an evangelist in the early church.  Peter said in 2 Peter 1:16 that he did not follow cleverly devised myths, which is exactly what some people view the Bible as being.  He was an eye witness of Jesus and His majesty.  In 2 Peter 2:1 Peter warned of false prophets and false teachers that would  secretly bring in destructive heresies.  And in 2 Peter 3:15 he talked of how they twist Scripture, to their own destruction.  

What was written in the Bible is not cleverly devised myths, nor should it be twisted or interpreted according to one’s own personal whims.  That means we cannot take and twist the words of the Bible to conveniently suit whatever personal theology or position on God that we want.

The books of the Bible were written by 40 different men, over a span of almost 1500 years.  Many of the writers did not know each other, but yet what they wrote about does not contradict or negate each other.  Peter here is talking about words of prophecy, which are words about what Jesus was going to come and do from the Old Testament, what He did, as written in the New Testament, and what He is going to do when He returns, which is woven throughout the Bible.

God used these men’s personalities, but He told them what to write through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Peter wrote in his writing style and from his own vantage point in history, but God told him what to write.  2 Timothy 3:16 informs us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God…”  The Bible is God’s breath, His words, His authoritative commands.  

With that in mind, here are some principles in approaching the Bible:

  • There is a true meaning to the words of the Bible, and there are false meanings.  We must submit our minds to the discipline of finding out what the true meaning is, rather than presuming that whatever pops into our minds or suits our lifestyle is the true meaning.  
  • The Bible is not our story, but it is God’s story.  God is telling us a complete story of who He is, who we are, what sin is and how, in His perfect plan, He prepared a people (Israel/the Jews) to produce a Savior.  That Savior is Jesus, who is perfect God come down in the form of a man to die on the cross for our sins.  One day He will return and establish His kingdom, and only those who put their trust in Him will be there.  Get to know that story by reading the Bible from beginning to end over and over.  Don’t just look for random verses that produce a good feeling for today.  We fit into God’s story and plan, not the other way around.  So often people want their own “personal” God that helps them to find good parking spots or to get them out of jams.
  • God’s words are authoritative for our lives.  That means we can’t pick or choose, taking only the promises and leaving out the commands.  His words are difficult and radical, and sometimes hard to understand.  Don’t water them down, or skip parts.  So often I hear people say, “My God isn’t like that.”  If the Bible says that God is a jealous God, for instance, then that’s what He is and we ought not to put anything ahead of Him in our heart’s passions.
  • The Bible demands our obedience and humility.  Since it is the very words of God, we must obey God’s directives.  In order to submit to the Lordship of Jesus and the authority of His words, we need a humble spirit that causes us to say “no” to our flesh and its desires and to say “yes” to God’s leading in our lives.
  • Don’t be like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, who He rebuked in John 5:39-40: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life.”  Some people can be experts in the Bible, but yet they refuse to come to Jesus.  The Bible is about Jesus, and eternal life is found in Him.

There are many more principles to approaching the Bible, but this is a start.  May you grow in your love of the Bible and of the God who wrote it.  And may its very words get under your skin and change your life!

*image from Christianity.com

 

 


The Table

the table.jpg

 

In Beth Moore’s new Bible study book, “Entrusted,” daughter Melissa cites Benjamin Meyers and his book called Christ the Stranger: The Theology of Rowan Williams (T and T Clark International, April 2012).

In it, Meyers describes Williams’ view of theology.  Williams was the Archbishop of Canterbury, a leader in the Anglican/Episcopal church.  Though not from a background I typically draw from, his description of theology caught my attention:

“Theology…is not a private table for one but a rowdy banquet of those who gather, famished and thirsty, around Christ.  The lonely work of reading and writing is not yet theology but only its preparation.  Theology happens wherever we are drawn together into the congenial and annoying labour of conversing, listening, and disputing–in short, where we are drawn into a collective struggle for truthful speech.” xi

It seems that everyone has a theology of some sort about all kinds of things related to God, the Bible, the Christian life, and life itself.  It bleeds into our viewpoints about politics, relationships, how and where we spend our money, and many other things.  So often the development of our pet theories are formulated by ourselves in our own private Bible studies, our movie and TV watching, or in our families.  Or we latch onto a system of thinking or doctrine that was imparted by a revered author, pastor, or teacher.

But the working out of it has to be at “the table.”  That table, as Williams put it, “is not a private table for one but a rowdy banquet of those who gather, famished and thirsty, around Christ.”  If I am am famished and thirsty I will seek out a table to join with others to find Christ, to speak and to think about Him, and to marvel in His mercies.  That table is not a place for people to use Scripture as a weapon, to ramrod a particular theory, or to point out everyone else’s mistakes or flaws in thinking.

Melissa then cites Shauna Niequist in Bread & Wine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013) adds to this:

“We don’t come to the table to fight or to defend…We come to the table because our hunger brings us there…The table is a place where the doing stops, the trying stops, the masks are removed, and we allow ourselves to be nourished, like children…If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health.” pg. 258.

The table can be a Sunday school class, a small group, a gathering of friends, or a group of bloggers.  My way of looking at the world can be developed in my own studies and contemplation, but I must be open to the refinement of those doctrines at the table–the place where I come for nourishment because I want more of Jesus in my life.  I need more tables in my life.  I get too busy and task oriented.  But oh, the joy of sitting down to a good meal, with fellow travelers who are committed to relationships and to the give and take of the family table.