The Great Revelation

We live in what is often called “the Information Age.” An torrent of words flow our way everyday from multiple sources. You are reading “CoffeeBreak” which indicates you are ‘wired,’ a part of the most amazing information development in human history – the Internet. It allows me to influence the thoughts of people far beyond the physical location of the pulpit from which I speak on Sunday. CoffeeBreak has subscribers in Italy, the Far East, Australia, and most of the USA. I don’t write that to boast, but to illustrate a point. Many of those readers have no way to know what kind of person I am. They cannot evaluate the authenticity of my life to know if I really live the words I write.

The unregulated and largely unfiltered flow of words requires real wisdom and a measuring stick of truth. Disciple, our standard of Truth is the Holy Scripture. Are you a good student of the Bible, a person who genuinely loves the Word of God and reads it for all it’s worth. Paul encouraged Timothy to remember the value of the Scriptures and he wrote: “Why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17, The Message)

“God-breathed” is a curious construction, isn’t it? In many translations the word is “inspired.” The Bible didn’t fall down from the sky on parchment written by angelic scribes! Peter tells us that the human authors were “moved by the Spirit.” They breathed the Breath of God and, in their stories and words, recorded His wisdom for us. To recognize the human means of receiving the Word does not, in any way, diminish its power in my life, but it does make it study a bit more complex. For example, to fully understand Paul’s teaching letters we need to know something about the disciples to whom he first wrote his letters. Galatians, that wonderful letter about Christian freedom from religious regulations, was written to a church he had founded that had fallen under the spell of false teachers who were stealing the richness of Christ’s grace from them. We can feel Paul’s passion still after 2000 years as he asks, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” (Galatians 3:1, NIV)

The way that we commonly hear the Bible used may actually diminish our ability to understand it. We hear a snippet here and a proof text there, little lines taken from their rich context and turned into a kind of pithy proverb to make a point. Yes, it is the common way the Bible is read and preached and used – even here in CoffeeBreak. It is true that we can excerpt passages and study them, we may even quote a phrase to underscore a point, but the best way to let the Scripture become the Gift of Truth to us which God intends – is to read it with understanding of context, with grasp of the story line, and with deep love for the One whose Breath makes the Words alive!

Let me encourage you to read the Bible as ‘God’s-story’! Don’t read it to ‘get something’ out of it. Don’t go looking for a proof-text to vindicate your pre-conceived idea. Don’t just grab for a passage to support your latest idea about doctrine. Read the Word with an open heart and discerning mind, with an invitation to the Holy Spirit to make it the ‘living Word.’ Be cautious about reducing it to mere nouns and verbs to be parsed. Keep a real heart of wonder at the revelations in it and a deep humility to accept them as instructive for life here and now. God will use those ancient texts to create wisdom in you, to shape your life in a way that pleases Him, as you come to love Him for the amazing, complex, Being He reveals.
Read your Bible again- for the first time!

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