Friday, February 20, 2015

Scripture, or just What People Say About It?

Dan loves to dig into faith issues.  He listens to several podcasts each week from his favorite
speakers.  He just started the newest religious book that everyone is talking about online.  He checks in regularly with popular blogs.  Twitter points him to great articles about the new ideas in biblical scholarship and what the younger generation wants from churches.   He can tell you all about the latest doctrinal issue that’s splitting American churches and about mission trends in Africa and about whatever N.T. Wright just wrote and about the newest “we got big quick” church.  

We would love Dan’s enthusiasm, and we would hopefully share his zeal in seeking to understand our religious context.

But there is one problem with Dan’s faith, and it’s a big one: he has left Scripture behind. 

It’s not that Dan doesn’t believe in the Bible.  He read through the New Testament (more than once!) years ago, and he even made it through the Old Testament one time.  Dan believes in Scripture; the problem is that he hasn’t been spending much time with it lately.  Scripture has faded into the background, and he now fills his mind and heart with the voices of people talking about Scripture.  Those voices are often helpful, but they are most certainly not the same. 

3 quick reasons why we need to make sure we keep spending time with Scripture and not just be experts in ‘what others say about Scripture.’

       1)      God’s word is where the true spiritual power is.  It is only God’s word that is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12).  It is only Scripture that is “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16).  It is only the word of God that gives life (John 6:63).  It is only the word of God that is the Spirit’s sword (Eph. 6:17).  If I want true spiritual life, shaping my soul in the way God wants it shaped, I need a lot of time alone with God’s word.

        2)      Every human voice is slanted, intentionally or not.  We all have blind spots.  We are all still in the learning process.  I suspect we are all influenced by the world’s ideas more than we realize.  So when people put together books and blogs and sermons, we have limitations.  The tone may not be right.  The idea may not present a fully-balanced view of Scripture.  It is not enough to just hear others talk about faith ideas; by itself, that will result in a people-slanted version of Christianity.  We need to hear Scripture itself on these issues to get a more well-rounded perspective of what’s important, what’s true, and what’s just trendy. 

        3)      There is a personality within Scripture that we need in our life.  If you’re a reader, you know the experience of reading an author long enough that you find yourself thinking or talking in the author’s writing style.  Similarly, as we spend time with Scripture, we find its personality sinking into our mindset.  And we need that! 
          We need to not only hear people tell us what Jesus was like, we need to actually read the gospels and see Jesus the full range of Jesus’ teaching and talking to people.  We need to spend time hearing David’s love for God in the Psalms.  We need to feel Paul’s passion for truth, for saving souls, and for avoiding false religious ideas.  The best way to really let God shape us is to spend enough time with His word that its personality becomes part of our own.

We are blessed with so many wonderful faith resources today.  Personally, I could spend half a day just looking through the religion section at Barnes and Noble, reading back covers and tables of contents.  I could easily spend the other half-day exploring the internet to hear great speakers and to learn how other churches start effective outreach ministries. 

So if you love to look into religious ideas, I’m right there with you.  I hope you keep using those resources to grow in your faith.  But make sure you don’t just become an expert in ‘what other people say about Scripture.’  That’s leaving the real foundation behind.   God is real, and He has spoken.  To know Him, I need to get deeper than the human voices can go.  I need to make sure God’s word has the loudest voice in my faith.   

Spend time with God’s word today!  

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