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At work in his Word

We should look at the text and learn what it says and means and consider how it is stirring us to love God and live for God in this world.

BIBLICAL PREACHING AUTOR 108/Peter_Mead 08 DE FEBRERO DE 2024 12:27 h
Photo: [link]Andrik Langfield[/link], Unsplash CC0.

As we enter February, there will be many new year Bible reading plans that are fading away. 



Perhaps the challenge of a full work schedule, combined with dark mornings, drains the motivation to be in God’s Word.  Or maybe the second half of Exodus and Leviticus is proving too great a challenge. 



Whatever the reason, many will settle into a rhythm marked more by guilt than regular enjoyment of the Bible.



It is hard to relate to a God we cannot see, hear, or touch.  And while we know that the Bible is his glorious gift of communication to us, it can often feel distant and disconnected from our everyday lives. 



How can we find motivation for a relationship with God that has the Bible at the centre?



The critical issue is right in the question itself.  Do we experience the Bible in the context of a relationship?  Or have we let the relational aspect drain away, leaving the Bible as an optional tool or merely an interesting document for our fascination with religious history?



In 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Paul gives us a critical passage on the nature of Scripture. In those verses, Paul points to the role of Scripture in our salvation and our growth to maturity.  In these verses,



Paul clarifies what Scripture is and how it works in us.  Let’s look again at these verses and remind ourselves that God lovingly works in us as we are in his Word.  To put it differently, the Bible is not just a “past tense” book for our studies. 



It is a “present tense” gift for our relationship with God.  God lovingly works (present tense) in us as we are in his Word and as his Word gets into us.



 



Entering into a relationship with God, 2 Tim. 3:14-15



As Paul wrote to Timothy to encourage him in the challenges he would face, he wanted him to remember where his ministry all started.  It started by coming to know salvation in the first place. 



Timothy had learned and came to believe in the sacred writings of Scripture from his grandmother, his mother, and Paul himself.  His Bible exposure taught him about the wonder of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 



Without the Bible, we would only be guessing about God, and our guesswork would never have led us into a relationship with him.  God has taken the initiative in our salvation, revealing his character, plans, and great gift. 



There is no relationship with God if there were no Bible.  But since there is, let us not lose the relational nature of our connection to him!



 



So, what is Scripture? 2 Tim. 3:16a



“All Scripture is God-breathed.”  What a way to describe it!  It comes from the very core of God’s being.  He made sure that the authors wrote exactly what God wanted to be written. 



All Scripture, every last Word, was as he intended.  On a human level, the Bible is astonishing – so many authors, different languages, different types of literature, and yet an incredibly coherent and consistent collection of documents. 



But the Bible is not written just on a human level – it is “God-breathed!”  That means it is unique – no other book is in the same category.  It also means it is a loving gift – God wanted it written for his people.  It is a purposeful gift – God intended it to achieve something in us.



Based on what we know of God, what might we assume his Scriptures would do?  Would God give us a mindless distraction to pass some time?  I don’t think so.  That does not fit what we know of his character.



Indeed, he would want to work in our hearts since that is the core of who we are and the heart of all our problems.  Surely, he would want to instruct our minds since God made us incredible thinking beings. 



And he would want to guide us in how to live since God had a good plan and we have so profoundly rebelled against him.  Is it a living communication designed to work in our hearts, heads, and hands?  That seems about right.



 



How does God work in us through Scripture? 2 Tim. 3:16b



Regarding our beliefs, the Bible is profitable for teaching and rebuking.  We need instruction to understand God, the world, and ourselves.  And since we don’t always think well, we must be rebuked, lest we persist in error and come to harm. 



How many newcomers to Christianity put information together and end up with errant thinking, only to be corrected as they read the Bible? 



For example, many think they have solved the complexity of the Trinity by assuming there must be one God who dresses up in three different outfits to suit the occasion. 



Sometimes, he is a father, but other times, he shows up as a man, and sometimes, what we need is a more empowering Holy Spirit.  But then they might read about the baptism of Jesus, and suddenly, they are confronted by all three persons involved distinctly and simultaneously.  Oh dear.  Rebuked by Scripture.  Taught the truth. 



This correcting rebuke might happen with logical ideas about salvation, eternal judgment, or whatever.  If we want “to overcome error and grow in truth … we must turn to the Scriptures!” (John Stott)



Regarding our actions, the Bible is profitable for correcting and training in righteousness.  We need to be set straight at times.  Perhaps we have drifted into an area of compromise and the Scriptures confront us as a mirror. 



Or perhaps we have drifted from God and run up against Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus.  Maybe you have already been corrected by that passage?  So much about that church is so impressive, but “this I have against you: that you have left your first love!”  It can stop you dead in your tracks. 



And then, it instructs you to repent and do the things you did at first.  A way back to the healthy reality of a real relationship with God.  The Scriptures train us in righteousness – growing us up in all areas of character, endurance, maturity, etc. 



Do we hope “to overcome evil and grow in holiness?  Then it is to Scripture we must turn, for it is profitable for these things.” (John Stott).



 



What is God’s goal as he works in us through the Scriptures? 2 Tim. 3:17



The goal is clear: you will be complete or mature, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  We know that God has good works for us in every stage of life.  But how can we be ready for them? 



The answer is easy.  Get your nose in the Bible and get the Bible into you, relationally, so that God’s work will be done in your life.



 



Two errors to avoid



Some Christians will come from a background that might be labelled “text-optional” – it is a divine-hotline approach to living, with an eager expectation that God will speak through my thoughts, feelings, and circumstances. 



The Bible may be sitting there, but so is the red flashing phone that offers direct encouragement along the way.  If this is your background, then be sure to recognize that along with all the perceived blessings comes a tendency to leave the Bible sitting there. 



But the Bible Ais not optional.  For a healthy relationship with God, we need to be soaking and swimming in his Word, enjoying the wonder of God at work in us passage by passage, day by day.



Other Christians will come from a background that might be labelled “text-only” – it is the intellectual curiosity approach to living with a Bible.  There may be an eagerness to study the Bible and a hunger to learn more and more, but often, there is too little expectation that God will speak to me as I read and study. 



The Bible is open, and the study is focused, but somehow God is not expected to be at work.  If this is your background, then be sure to recognize that along with the blessing of study, there is also a tendency to stop studying before fully responding to God’s Word. 



We should look at the text and learn what it says and means and consider how it is stirring us to love God and live for God in this world. Engaging relationally is not optional.



Again, for a healthy relationship with God, we need to be soaking and swimming in his Word, enjoying the wonder of God at work in us passage by passage, day by day.



Let’s move beyond “what is God saying to me through my thoughts and feelings” and “what is this text saying” to the relational reality of “what is God saying to me as I read or study this text?” 



God is at work in us as we are in his Word.  What a privilege.  A present tense, today, privilege.



Peter Mead is mentor at Cor Deo and author of several books. He blogs at Biblical Preaching


 

 


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