In our culture today that question probably sounds like nonsense. We place ourselves as the final authority in life on all matters, however, this isn’t very logical because all we have to do is look back on the last 6-months of our lives to see that our “final authority” isn’t very reliable.
This is why Scripture is so important.
I know there are some objections and concerns so let me respond quickly:
1. I didn’t grow up going to church: I didn’t either. When I first started reading Scripture I thought David and Goliath was about a bear. It’s okay. You have to start somewhere.
2. I don’t like to read: That’s a lie. You read fiction junk all the time about vampires and hunger games. You read about sports. You read about music. You have all the draft beers memorized at the Flying Saucer. You can do this. It is simply a matter of you coming to a place where you decide if you want to stay in this fight.
2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
This verse might sound complicated. You see words like, “Approved, diligent, workman, and accurately handling the word of truth”, but it simply means we need to be growing in our understanding of Scripture. Sometimes this can seem a bit broad so let me give you 3 Stages of growing in your understanding of Scripture:
Why does God bring judgments of plagues against the Egyptians? At first glance it looks like God is a vindictive, cruel, war monger, or a religious jihad in the Old Testament. However, when we read Scripture and it is difficult to understand we need to position ourselves in a place of humility to seek understanding.
I didn’t grow up going to church. Not even close. In fact I made fun of people who went to church. I didn’t know anything about the Bible so it is a little funny to me sometimes that I teach Bible today. Early on when I started learning Scripture and teaching Scripture the focus was on finding the timeless principle. It was really helpful. It was grounded in truth. It wasn’t a personal opinion of the day. It was communicating God’s world. However, I have found teaching timeless principles ultimately leads people moral and behavioral modification. It was a timeless principle, but it ultimately fostered legalistic patterns and neglected to exalt and elevate the righteousness we have been given through faith in Jesus Christ’s work on the cross.
For example, when I would study to teach Old Testament Scriptures I would look for timeless principles so that we could have the life of that Old Testament character. When I would study New Testament Scriptures I would look for principles of how we could live with that same dedication or commitment. It wasn’t bad, it was biblical, but it also didn’t seem to lead to life change. It would lead to behavioral modification, but it would never seem to last. It never seemed to result in lasting courage of Joshua or lasting passion of Paul. As a result it would leave you with one or two responses: Either exhausted because you are trying so hard to have courage or passion, or angry because you can never seem to have encourage courage or passion.
In addition, it reduced Christ’s work on the cross to a closing comment at the end of a lesson. There might be moments where there was a powerful illustration that would be used to call people to transformation, but for the Christ-follower it often seemed like the truth of Christ’s work on the cross was repetitive and something that was for other people.
As I examined this pattern in my life it led me to look at the Scripture differently. It led me to study and teach Scripture with the focus of looking for Christ’s work on the cross being exalted. It led me to not settle for teaching moral principles. It led me to a place of seeing the gospel throughout life and not just in a call of transformation. It doesn’t mean the biblical principles are overlooked, but that the biblical principles aren’t the destination either.
Going through Scripture can be a lot of fun, but it can easily turn into simply learning information and seeing who can win the bible trivia championship. It could also turn into religious habits of talking about Scripture, but never really experiencing life transformation. Last night we started reading through Philippians 1:1-11 in the New Testament. It was a lot of fun. We read through the passage, talked about the passage, talked about what it would look like today, but in the last 15 minutes we went through these questions and it was really helpful:
What is the big idea of the passage?
Finding the big idea is just looking at the 11 verses and summing it up to 2-3 of your own words. There really isn’t a wrong answer unless someone says something like “circus and peanuts.” That would be wrong. Scripture is interactive and the Spirit of God will teach us His truth so individually we could come up with “big ideas” and ideally we would all have similar big ideas. For our group, we fumbled through some attempts and generally came up with big ideas about joy. Now, some bibles will have subtitles so try not to cheat and short change the experience 🙂
The Bible teaches us that all of us have run away from home, rejected our parents, and are trying to figure life out on our own. We have basically all become orphans. Scripture teaches that God chases after us, adopts us, and gives us a name, purpose, blessing, and provision.
However, I think most Christ-followers struggle with adoption.