Monday, 24 October 2016

In the beginning was the word

There is no other book in the world like the Bible. Or rather I should say books (plural). The Bible is a compendium of 66 separate books written at different times and by different people in different cultures over about 2 thousand years.
They include lots of different genres; Law, history, prophesy, apocalyptic, wisdom, poetry, gospels, letters, and they need to be understood both individually and with reference to each other.
What are they? They are a record of God’s dealings with creation, especially humanity, from the very begginning in the Garden of Eden, a relationship which goes wrong, is eventually restored through Jesus Christ and then looks forward to the re-creation of a renewed humanity in a new heaven and a new earth in the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. It is the story of our past, our present and our future
Christians have always regarded the scriptures as inspired by God. Or “God breathed” as the scriptures themselves say.
That doesn’t make them dictated by the hand of God but they are “inspired”. Because even the most arcane piece of scripture from the dullest of history books is inspired, any piece of scripture innately carries within it the capacity to inspire, to comfort, challenge or to give voice to our suffering and lament. God is woven into and through the text, so giving us the possibility to connect with God
Here is how Paul describes that facet of the scriptures in 2 Timothy 3:15-17
“and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,17 that the man of God[a] may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
Christians use it habitually as a record of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as God’s plan  to fulfil his promise to humanity not to leave us dangling without hope, without a future but as our rescuer – usually called our saviour or our redeemer. He promises us eternal life in a glorious future.
Jesus is God’s rescue plan for creation. A rescue which was prophesied in many places and our first reading today is one such prophesy in Isaiah. Our gospel reading records that Jesus himself recognised another prophesy was referring to himself when he read from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue and declared that “This prophesy is fulfilled in your hearing”. The story of how that life and death and resurrection came about and the consequences resulting from that event are recorded in the gospels and letters and our third reading records one such outworking.
The Bible is our authority because Jesus regarded it as his authority and over time it has proved its worth and usefulness.
The Bible is unique and even in these godless times you may be surprised to know that it is the world’s bestselling book every year.
We all have our favourite bits of scripture from the 23rd psalm to John 1 at Christmas perhaps to Romans 8:38-39 to Revelation. The Psalms are an extraordinary resource expressing every human emotion.
John 3:16 is one of the best known summaries of the Christian faith
“God so loved the world that He gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life”
These, and many like it are words containing life which can inspire us to great things; As a Christian teacher I could do no better thing than lead anyone to the Bible.
We take the Bible seriously because the Bible takes us seriously. It takes our need of a permanent loving relationship seriously, our need for love, mercy and forgiveness seriously.
So as this is Bible Sunday I’ll end with these immortal words from Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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