Monday, June 3, 2013

how we read the Bible matters

But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
IMG_3267img-thingconfess that I’ve dedicated a lot of posts this year to writing about my interface with the Bible. The short story (for those of you new to this blog) is that my Sunday morning study group has been reading the New Testament, one book per week, in the order (best guess) the books were written. Consequently, while we started with First Thessalonians back in January, we only got to Second Thessalonians this weekend.
The result of this approach to reading has been to open up the story (The Greatest Story Ever Told) in a new way, and – as I have saturated myself with the New Testament writings – to kindle a renewed passion for God’s Word. Of course the focus of my reading continues to be more devotional than academic, but, still, I’ve almost come to the place where I can call myself a serious student of scripture.
HOW DO WE READ? Part of our conversation Sunday morning was in response to my question about our personal response to God’s Word. We can – for example – be captured by the sense of ongoing story, we can read historically, we can enjoy scripture as literature, we can respond to the text as a religious guide, and/or we can engage the writings of the Bible as a spiritual experience.
Personally, I have (and am) experiencing my Bible reading in each one of these ways. I tend to respond to different stories in different ways at different times. One profound effect of reading entire books in a single sitting is to experience the “arc of the narrative” from beginning to end. Reading Acts (a long book) last week, for example, gave me a “big picture” appreciation of the story I’d never come close to experiencing before.
But the critical point that emerged in yesterday’s conversation was this: no matter what else is going on, the factors of “sanctification by the Spirit” and “belief in the truth” are always transformational. These two elements – my choice to believe, and the work of the Holy Spirit – tend to make all the difference.
  • My choice to believe
  • The work of the Holy Spirit
So I’ll conclude by throwing out the challenge not only to read more Bible this week, but to do so in the context of the presence of the Spirit and the conscious choice to believe - DEREK

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