We continue through the bible by chronologically by hitting the intro of each of the Gospels. Notice the differences between each of them.
When you were in school, your English teacher would give you a text book and there would be assigned reading, practice questions, review sections, and assignments. Segments of great writings would be included in the text book, but never the entire story. Just the parts you needed to study the method of writing, the verbiage, the rhythm and pace of the story, would be included. We are taught to answer questions like, what did the author mean when he put this in the story, and why did the author choose to say it this way instead of that way, etc. Everything is sanitized and isolated.
How many classics have you only read those passages that were required reading in high school or college? There is value in this method of study, but what a shame that we have neglected so many great books, because we see them as ‘required reading’. We forget that they are great books! Sadly, the Bible is often lost in this same method of reading.
The Bible is a wonderful collection of writing that should be read in its entirety! Did you read the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye? Or maybe the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis? Imagine if we read those books like we read the Bible. You could certainly study them, pulling out passages to be dissected, gaining better understanding of what the author was saying. But would you then say you had read them? You wouldn’t think of starting in chapter 8 of Book 3 of the Left Behind series. And so we ask, what does it mean to read the Bible?
That’s a simple question right? Well, maybe not. Most Christians read the Bible like a text book. We are told often that the Bible is a Life Manual, a guide to Righteous living. Life’s How-To Guide. The problem with looking at the Bible this way is that we start to read it that way. Nothing kills the story of a great book like studying it.
Bible study and Bible reading are different both in purpose and process. When I read for the study of a work, I pick it apart. I contemplate things like why did the author say “dread poured into me from my head to my toes” instead of “I found I was gripped with fear, unable to move”. I look for symbolism and parody. I don’t read the whole story again, and I’m not concerned to start from the beginning. I can jump from chapter 8 to chapter 3 without stumbling over the story itself.
When I read for the sake of the story however, I look to understand the whole story. I want to meet the characters, the antagonist and the protagonist. I want to understand the conflict, get lost in the struggle, hope for the hero, and despise the villain! My purpose is to experience the story being told. When I read for this purpose, I read from the beginning. I try not to stumble over the mode and method of the work. They are details that don’t add to the story and so, I don’t focus on them. My purpose determines my process.
The Bible is one of the greatest stories ever told! Everything you could hope to find in the latest novel is found in this Book! Have you ever read it? Maybe you have studied it, and covered the ‘required reading’ but never enjoyed the story itself. If you have never read this Book in its entirety, allow me to recommend it to you. It truly is the Greatest Story ever told.
Tonight I was reading I timothy, I must confess it has been to long since I have devoted time to God’s word. I am taking my time to absorb it this time as opposed to my competitive eating style. I began in I Timothy but stumbled and had to take some time on v. 5.
Although my view on this topic has changed slightly from the traditional pentecostal stance I do believe that Speaking in other Tongues is a Biblical gift from the Holy Spirit. I think this study is very interesting, you have to get to the third page to really see the neat stuff, the first two are just background but still interesting.
As someone who loves CS Lewis, especially the “Screwtape Letters” and someone who spends some time talking theology on the net I found this to be all to true.
OK I tried to write this formally but I am not in a position to do so yet, so I would like to put some thoughts out that I have recently been rolling around my head:
Read the whole thing before you send me nasty messages. I came to this conclusion not after months of research or philosophical debate but after I listened to a GREAT message on my way home from West Virginia. The message was “Hermeneutical and Exegetical Integrity” by Scott Golike.
In one of my favorite stories from C.S. Lewis a girl named Jill Pole has entered Narnia, Lewis’ fantasy world for the first time and has found herself alone knowing very little about the world around her.
In this passage she heard a stream and became very thirsty but when she came nearer the stream she saw a great lion just on the other side. This, you know if you are familiar with the story is Aslan the Christ figure of Lewis’ allegory. Jill stops in hesitates scared of the Lion before her.
“Are you not thirsty?” said the lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the lion.
“May I? could I? would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear! said Jill, coming another step nearer. I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
I love this interaction because Lewis paints Christ as powerful and strong, Aslan doesn’t beg or bargain with the girl as some preachers are want to do, he simply states the facts and makes it clear that he makes no promises to leave you as you are.
I have heard it said that many Christians today want to “defang God” and make him the God of nice. In fact many people when disputing the claims of Christiainity specificly or dieties in general will start by asking questions akin to “How can a good God allow…” As if God is simply to make our lives perfect after our mostly half hearted devotion to him. In this passage Lewis ends it so well by having Alsan restate the most important fact “There is no other stream”
Peter got this point when he came upon a teaching of Jesus that was difficult to swallow. Most of his disciples left and he looked at Peter and the rest of the twelve and asked “are you going to leave me to?” Peters response was so profound, “Where else would we go, you alone have the words of eternal life.” Like it or not God is God and there is no other place to go, really.
Make your critics your coaches…
Last night I was listening to Mark Driscoll at church and he came to a part that was very challenging to me. Let be digress and say that recently I have been asking God how I can live out the gospel in my own life. I have enough knowledge on spiritual matters, but I have been recently challenged to live my life accordingly as opposed to just hearing the word, where have I heard that before?
This is an article by the Internetmonk that touches on a topic that is very unusual to me. I have thought about it on several different occasions but being saved and educated in a prosperity environment I don’t know that I have ever carefully considered it. How much could I live without and should I? Should I consider it God’s blessings and enjoy it or examine my life in terms of what I can do without for the sake of providing for the gospel?