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The Scriptures (Part 3 – Is the Bible Important)
March 14, 2021

The Scriptures (Part 3 – Is the Bible Important)

March 14, 2021

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The Scriptures

(Part 3)

Good morning… glad you are all here

Week 3 on journey thru the question “why” when it comes to the Bible

  • 2 weeks ago started with…
    • Why do we read this book… model life after it
    • Why do I trust what it says
      • Short answer: Because Jesus did all these things
      • As followers of Jesus we do the same
  • Last week question was – What is the Bible
    • Is it an encyclopedia of truth
    • Is it an allegory about relationship w/ Jesus
    • Is it an ancient bias book written to bring fear & control
      • What we believe here at Jesus Church is…

The Bible is a library of writings that are both divine and human, that together tell a unified story which leads its reader to Jesus.

Today… lets turn to 2 Tim. 3:14-17 (NIV)

Paul writing to his protégé Timothy

  • Says: From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures
    • From a young age Timothy was biblically literate
    • Fast forward two millennia later
    • Here in the United States
  • Even though a lot of these generations grew up in the church
    • I would say our culture as a whole is biblically illiterate
    • As a general rule – We don’t know the Bible that well
    • Hope is that we can change all that

Remember what we said last week: The Bible is…

Library of writings that are both divine and human, that together tell a unified story which leads its reader to Jesus.

  • This week is the follow up question – What is the Bible FOR
    • What role does it play in Kingdom of God
    • When u read it – What is it supposed to do in us/community
  • And then the deeper question – Is it really all that important
    • Does it really matter… like Leviticus (really)???

So this morning… Big picture – I see 3 major reasons for the Bible

1: To know who God is… we are… how we relate 2 God

It’s about knowing who God is…

Opening line of the Bible – In the beginning… who – GOD

  • The Bible is first and foremost about God
    • It isn’t about you/me
    • It isn’t about how to get ahead in life
    • It isn’t about how to have a great marriage
    • Or even how to go to heaven when you die
  • That’s all in there – but if the bible is a story… main character isn’t us
    • It’s God… He is the center
    • He is what this library is all about
  • Bible is like God’s self-disclosure statement
    • Word 4 this in Theology: Devine Revelation (that’s what Bible is)
    • Meaning: God himself through a human writer saying…
      • This is who I am
      • This is who I am not

Need now more than ever b/c so much bad thinking about God

Eugene Peterson

God and his ways are not what most of us think. Most of what we are told about God and his ways by our friends on the street, or read about him in the papers or view on television or think up on our own is simply wrong.

  • Maybe not dead wrong – But wrong enough 2 mess up way we live
    • This library of scripture is: A REVELATION
    • It’s something we could never figure out on our own
      • Why does that matter

AW Tozer

We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God

  • Meaning: We become like who we think God is…
    • ISIS terrorist beheading the infidel
    • Prosperity preacher jumping into his 100 million dollar jet
    • Crazy Midwest angry preacher screaming hate on street corner
    • The pop singer at grammy’s thanking God 4 song of 1night stand
    • Catholic nun gave life to live slums of India: Work w/ dying
    • Husband living in a hospital room w/ dying wife – death do us
    • Business tycoon gives money to forward God’s kingdom
  • All do what they do b/c of what they believe about God
    • So clearly what we think about God matters
      • It’s not just some fun thing to think about
      • It’s not just some abstract idea
      • It’s not just for the intellectuals… IT MATTERS

This why the Bible so important – There is so much bad thinking on God

  • Not just out there – even in the church
    • There is so much that we conclude on our own
    • Based on the way we want it to be
    • Based on the way we think it should be
  • The Bible cuts through all the myths & misconceptions
    • And it really gets at who God is (specifically parts on Jesus)
    • Because this is a library about God

But it is also about us…

Few paragraph after “God” we read about us

Gen. 1:26 (NIV)

  • So in who GOD is… we discover who WE are
    • Our culture wants to label you with an identity based on your
      • Political leanings… pay grade
      • Personal interests… victories & failures
  • The Bible is Gods way of saying: NO this is who you are
    • I made in MY image and likeness
    • As a human regardless of if you follow Jesus
      • You have value… worth… beauty
      • [AND AT THE SAME TIME – READ THE STORY]
      • We are also messed up/corrupt/sinful
  • But in spite of that… u are loved by the God who created everything
    • That is who you are
    • So the Bible is important b/c it shows us who we are

Then the Bible is also about how we relate to God…

When we read the Bible… most of the stories are us interacting w/ God

  • And the problem is a lot of the time we miss point of the stories
    • B/C they don’t always have a moral lesson (sometimes do)
    • But a lot of the time they don’t
  • Genesis – Many stories don’t tell us how to live
    • Actually a lot of them tell us how NOT to live
  • Case in point – All the stories about polygamy
    • Lots of polygamy in Bible – But every single example is negative
    • All of them are dysfunctional: Anger/jealousy/favoritism/rivalry
      • If anything Bible is inditement on polygamy
  • Here is the beauty of story of God
    • Even though its wrong – God still works through those people

[EXAMPLE]

Israel – God’s chosen people

  • They come from 12 tribes – which are 12 sons
    • Which come from 4 moms and 1 dad
    • Jacob – I do not envy his home life
  • That isn’t sign of God’s blessing on polygamy
    • Read the story – Its a disaster of a family b/c of it
    • It’s a sign of God’s blessing IN SPITE of polygamy (mercy)

Point: The reason for most stories aren’t telling us how to live/not to live

  • But rather how ordinary/messed up people relate to God

Dallas Willard

The open secret of many Bible believing churches (us) is that only a small percentage of their members study the Bible with even the degree of interest, intelligence or joy that they bring to bare upon their favorite newspaper, blog or magazine.

  • Reason: We don’t know… aren’t taught how to understand
    • The experiences of the Bible characters
    • In terms of how they experienced life

Problem: We look for a teaching point – Not relationship with characters

  • Stop thinking… What is the moral to the story (Why)
    • B/C it dehumanizes the real people in the story
    • Yes there are points and lessons to learn
    • But the primary reason for these stories
      • Isn’t to give you a moral lesson
      • It’s to show how REAL people in REAL life relate 2 God
  • And so many people read about Abraham or Moses
    • Think that was then and this is now
    • That’s not how I relate to God… how I see the world…
  • My hope is that as we read the scriptures
    • We would become the character… not just to learn a lesson
    • But we would put ourselves in their world
      • Because the relationship they had with God
      • No different than the relationship we have w/ God
      • Through that we can learn how to relate to God

2: To tell real true story of human history

Most of scripture is a unified story (last week – narative)

But from the beginning (Genesis) to where we are today

  • Tells that story through lens of Israel – Not China or USA
    • This isn’t a text book of world civ history
    • More like the movie “Band of Brothers”
      • A specific story inside larger story (WWII)
  • Story of 1 nation & God in larger story of world & God
    • God was up to all sorts of stuff all over the world
    • Not in the Bible… WHY… This is a story not history book
  • But God was up to something special in Israel “God’s Chosen”
    • Out of Israel God would draw out the Messiah
    • Who would bring healing and renewal of God to all creation

Why does it matter… Because All of us live by a story

  • WE all live by a narrative (who are we/meaning and purpose of life)
    • Those stories = Worldview
    • Atheism… the most anti story there is… it’s still a story
      • Who are we – Evolved animals
      • Where come from – Glorious accident
      • Meaning of life – Is none/just what you make of it
        • That’s still a story
    • Republican convention has a story to tell (right/wrong/life)
    • Democratic convention has a story to tell (right/wrong/life)
    • Materialism has a story to tell (Buy and be happy… mean of life)
  • Point: Bible is an alternative story
    • It’s a story that upends all the other stories out there

Ivan Illech – South American Philosopher

  • After living through decades of upheaval in South America
    • Asked what is best way to change society
      • Is it violent revolution or slow incremental reform
      • Answer was neither

“If you want to change a society, you have to tell an alternative story”

This is what the Bible does – Gives Alternative story to all others

  • It’s an alternative story to
    • Socialism… Capitalism
    • Buddhism… Islam
    • Secularism… Atheism… Cancel Culture
  • Whatever the story is…
    • Bible exposes the weak points in all the other stories we live by

Book: Why Bible matters

The Bible reveals the world as it really is. It is not primarily a theological textbook, a body of laws and regulations, or a collection of nice moral stories. It is a story that presents a different way of seeing the world and our lives in it.

    • When I say story – Not saying something made up
      • I’m talking about the real true story of the world

Leslie Nuebegin (missionary) – Convo w/ Hindu friend on Bible

I can’t understand why you missionaries present the Bible to us as a book of religion. It is not a book of religion. And anyways we have plenty of book on religion in India, we don’t need any more. I find your Bible a unique interpretation of universal history. The history of the whole creation and the history of the human race. And therefore a unique interpretation of the human person as a responsible actor in history. This is unique and there is nothing else in all of the religious literature to put along side it.

  • And he is right
    • If you have ever read Koran, Book of Mormon, Badva Ita
    • You know the Bible stands apart
    • Nothing in all religious writings like it in the world

This is why reading the Bible is an exercise of the imagination

  • Meaning… When u read the Bible – you step out of our story
    • From a world where God is subplot / U are main plot
    • To where God is close / real / tangible
    • Evil is perverse… but God triumphs
    • This is a whole different world than what we are use to
      • It’s works ur imagination – Rethinking reality from ground up

But it’s also an exercise in PARTICIPATION

  • Meaning: It’s kind of story u join into and in time carry forward
    • Reiterate… most of Bible doesn’t tell u what to do (some does)
    • Some tells u what not to do… what to think/feel/believe
  • Again Most of Bible doesn’t say what to do / not to do
    • Most of it is story telling
      • Husband and Wife – Can’t give birth
      • Another Wife – Can’t stop giving birth
  • And the thing about Good stories: They make you want to join in
    • Just look at the Avengers…
    • What 10 year old doesn’t want to be Iron Man or Thor
    • Imagine what if the Avengers were really out there
      • If that was a true story – You would want to live it
      • The Bible isn’t made up – It is the really true story
        • And it calls us as readers to step into story

3: To shape God’s people into the image of Jesus so we can PARTICIPATE in the story of Healing & Renewal

This is story that calls us to participation

But to join in that type of story – We must become a specific people

  • We have 2 become like Jesus… so when u open your Bible tomorrow
    • Don’t read just for INFORMATION
    • We read for FORMATION
    • Meaning: We read the Bible to be shaped into the image of Jesus

Joel B Green

Reading the scriptures should be an exercise in our submission to God. We don’t read simply for information but also for formation. We read so that the scriptures will shape us to be more like Christ. Spiritual formation is not measured by how much we know about the Bible, or how often we read the Bible, but by the way we follow Jesus. We can be familiar with much of the Bible and still not love or follow Jesus.

That seems so crazy – You can know the Bible (really well)

  • Still be mean, arrogant, foolish jerk
    • It’s shocking to see “Mean Christians” on Social Media specifically
    • It’s such a contradiction of terms
  • Sad how many mean Xians use the Bible as weapon
    • They may be Bible Believing
    • They’re definitely not Bible Living
  • Bible not just designed to be believed – It’s designed to be lived
    • It’s not enough to just read it
    • It’s not enough to just study it
    • It’s not enough to just know what it says
      • You have to live it
  • Somewhere along to way – Bible became system of beliefs
    • It stopped being a way of life
    • These 2 things were never supposed to be separated

Circle back to 2 Tim. 3:16 (NIV)

  • That’s the question of the morning: What is it useful for???
    • Teaching – how to follow Jesus
    • Rebuking – pointing out how not to follow Jesus
    • Correcting
    • Training in righteousness – Try this

So that (end goal) the servant of God may be equipped for every good work

  • Scripture wants to make u a very specific person
    • Equipped 4 God’s work – To join in what Gods doing in the world
  • Scriptures plays role of the sculptor
    • Shaping our thinking/feeling/believing
    • And out of that… our living

NT Wright

The Bible isn’t simply a repository of true information about God, Jesus and the hope of the world. It is rather part of the means by which in the power of the Spirit of the living God rescues his people and his world and takes them forward on the journey towards his new creation and makes us agents of that new creation even as we travel.

Meaning: God is at work THROUGH the scriptures

  • To shape a new covenant community
    • A community who comes together around Jesus life/death/rez
    • To shape all of us into his image
    • So we can join in on what God is up to in our city/world
  • It is to shape missional community
    • If our community isn’t missional – We’ve missed the point
    • That’s why you all are gonna be at the Easter outreach meeting

Why this matters: The Bible isn’t only thing shaping us

We are constantly being shaped by our habits/community/environment

  • HABITS (TV/Gym/Video Blog/Media/Shopping)
    • We don’t understand the spiritual power of habits to shape us
    • We are little more than sum of our daily habits
    • What we do on regular basis is who we become
      • SO our habits shape us
  • Community (Friends/Neighbor’s/Coworkers/Church Family)
    • This has a shaping influence on you
    • Just as you are around an environment… you are changed
  • Our specific culture
    • City that we live in
    • Culture we are a part of
    • Day and age in which we were born

All this has shaping influence on character and who we are

  • We are not passive – we are active
    • We want to think of ourselves as concrete walls (nothing gets in)
    • But we are more like chain link fences
      • I influence and I am influences
      • I form and I am formed

We live in a culture that is a formation machine

  • It is forming you and me into a specific kind of person
    • Person who relies only on self
    • Person who ultimate goal in power

But the scriptures are counter formational

Dallas Willard

We come to the scriptures as part of our conscious strategy to cooperate with God for the full redemption of our life.

  • Do u have a conscious strategy to cooperate with God…
    • Reality is that life has momentum to it
    • You are becoming specific person w/ every moment of time
    • If you let the momentum of culture carry you
      • You will be different than you are now (better/worse)
      • Might not like who you become
  • Scriptures are a way to hit the breaks
    • Say this is who I want to be – Not that
    • Not culture but Jesus of Nazareth
      • 10 years from now I don’t want to look like culture
      • Wanna look/speak/act/think/love/believe like Jesus

One of the ways we partner w/ Jesus to this end

  • Open your Bible… step into the story… meet with God
    • May it shape you / me / community into image of Jesus

[PRAY]

 

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