When we read Scripture, we need to ensure that we know and realise that the Scriptures were written in a specific time frame, in specific circumstances, to specific people for a specific purpose. They were not specifically written to us and for us! Indeed the Apostles would not even have contemplated the vast changes of circumstances in culture, tradition, language and technology that we have today.
Therefore we need to be careful in how we approach Scripture to ensure that we are understanding Scripture within the context it is placed. We need to understand that not all Scripture is to be read literally. Much of the poetry and prophetic writings are metaphorical and rhetorical. The ancient stories mythical, historical and theological, and not so much scientifically factual.
We make a major mistake when we approach the beginning and the end of Scripture by reading into our circumstances, without first understanding the purpose, context, and circumstance that it is written.
In Genesis, Moses is not making a case for young or old earth creation theories. His writings are to a specific people, at a specific time, for a specific purpose. Basically he is telling the Israelites their story. He is telling them that they are God’s people. He is telling them not to worship that which is created, rather to worship the creator of all that is created. And in the same vein, John didn’t write the book of Revelation to us, for us, to warn us of our specific and future circumstances. No!! He wrote it to a certain people, in a certain context, in a certain time frame for a specific purpose.
However, in many ways, while the Scriptures were not written to us, they were indirectly written for us. For we are a continuation of God’s people. They tell us our story. They tell us our story of belonging, our story of being and our story of purpose. And for us to know our story of belonging. To know our story of being. And to know our story of purpose. We need to know what was being said to them, why it was said to them, and the context of what was said to them, so that we can truly learn from their story and apply those lessons to our own life.
There are many who say that experience has little or no place in the final authority of Christian belief. To those who truly say and believe this, I say humbug to you. You simply have got it wrong.
- Simply put, Scripture tells us that God pours out his love into our hearts deadened by sin.
- Simply put, Scripture tells us that Jesus has sent the Spirit of God to convict us of sin.
- Simply put, Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit of God is the one who makes God’s word come alive in us.
- Simply put, Scripture tells us that Christ will come again and we will triumphantly reign in new life.
- Simply put, Scripture tells us of Christs agonising death and his triumphant resurrection.
- Simply put, Scripture tells us of the church’s experience of the Spirit, sin, and each other.
Scripture is simply a record of experience. God’s experience with his creation. God’s creative experience within its self. And its a record of God’s creation with its creator. And so we don’t experience God, because Scripture tells us so. No, we experience God, and its because our God is an experiential God, we can read about the experiential God we worship in the Scriptures.
My long term readers will know that I have struggled since 17th October 2007 with the ongoing repercussions of having suffered from“Viral Encephalitis.” I praise the Lord that there has been great improvement and healing over those years to where I am today. During those years I have faced doctors diagnosing me with M.S and the deciding that no, I don’t have it.
There was a brief interlude a number of years ago, when I was taking 80mg of prednisone every day. The hormone increased my strength and mobility greatly- however my specialist went through the roof when she heard I had been self medicating, ordering me to go off it, as the side effects were too great a risk.
Over this time I have prayed and I have been prayed for. My mobility and my strength has improved to the point where I haven’t used a walking stick for around 8 months now. Though I still do suffer at times great fatigue, and have lost a lot of muscle strength. However… I digress.
There is a passage of Scripture from 2 Peter 2:4 which says, By his stripes, we are healed. It’s a reference from the great passage in Isaiah 53 in which the prophet foretells the coming of Christ, our redeemer. It doesn’t take long to do a search on the net and find that there are two camps divided over the meaning of this verse. Some say it means that we can expect God to heal us of physical infirmities. Others say it has nothing to do with physical sickness, the healing only refers to spiritual healing. The forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation with our God.
I don’t want to weigh into the discussion taking sides as to who is right and who is wrong about this verse. What I do want to say is that this verse is true. By his stripes we are healed. I have truly come to the place in my Christian walk there I don’t know exactly what this verse means. I have come to the point in my life where I am not going to argue about it. I do not know if this verse is only talking about spiritual healing. I am not sure if this verse also includes physical healing with an absolute.
Oh, I know we are reconciled through Christ. I know that I am totally forgiven and washed clean, that I have no doubt. I have no doubt that I can pray for my own, and pray for others healing – again of that I have no doubt. And I have no doubt that God hears my prayers and hears the prayers of his people – again of that I have no doubt.
And so within the framework of not knowing, I can and I do, state with confidence: That by the wounds of Christ, I am healed! And I can leave it at that. For the truthfulness of this verse, has nothing to do with what I do or don’t believe about it. Rather the truth of it, comes through, in and over in the finished work of Christ Jesus.
And so my simple confession of praise to our Lord is that Lord, I thank you, by your stripes I am healed.
Through 2012 I plan to use Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System to read the Bible. This system calls for 10 chapters per day, with each chapter being drawn from a different part of the Bible. This means that over the course of 2012 anyone who uses the plan will go through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the Old Testament wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the Old Testament History and Prophetic books about 1.5 times. That is drinking from the fire hose!
I think it is good to plan to read through the Bible. I encourage us all to read through the Scriptures in a systematic methodology. I think it is good to read the Pentateuch twice. Pauls letters 4-5 times. Read through the wisdom books 6 times and the psalms twice. Read through Acts 12 times and the gospels four times.
However I have some deep reservations about this reading plan, whereby one chapter of the Bible is read on a daily basis from ten different books. Perhaps these reservations stem from personal reading and devotional habits that are peculiar to myself. Perhaps my study, devotional and worship inclination is vastly different to that of others.
On a personal level, I find its helpful to systematically read through one book of the Scriptures at a time. I can reflect deeply on its train of thought. I can meditate on the passages I have read through out the day. And I can easily come back to the book and pick up from where I left it. I like to read a verse or passage and go ‘Aha!’ and then reflect, write, and pray through what that means to me. I like to allow the word to sift and percolate through my mind, drip feeding into my heart and thereby fully absorbing the word into my inner being.
I wouldn’t be able to absorb with deep understanding the word of God if I was to read 10 chapters from 10 different books each day. Personally I would find the process distracting and confusing. I would have an ‘Aha!’ moment, only to lose it’s importance and thrust while reading the next chapter from a different book. Or, because my mind and spirit is still reflecting on the previous passage, I wouldn’t really comprehend what it is I was reading in the other chapters. To be honest, this is something that I often struggle with anyway. I will pick up the paper, a novel or even the Bible and start reading; only to discover some time later that I hadn’t comprehended what it was I was reading.
In reading God’s word, I would much rather read and encourage others to read one word, one verse, one passage, one chapter or one book with understanding, revelation, absorption and transformation; instead of reading widely with little scope for deeper understanding, revelation, absorption and transformation, which is what this plan would do for me.
The Team Pyro are at it again. Busy making rhetorical straw man arguments and tearing them down. Such as their latest post here where they make the following inane comment about prophecy.
However, if you are a really-really “continuationist,” then stop pussy-footing about. Get on with it, man! Have Crossway issue an ESV with lots and lots of blank pages in the end, so you can “continue” to ink in new Scripture. Just be sure to tell everyone that that’s where you’re coming from.
I made the comment on their blog saying,
Can you point out to me any NT book or scripture that was written by a New Testament prophet. Seeing as Scripture wasn’t written by any NT prophets and the NT doesn’t record all that the NT prophets said…why then do we say that modern prophecy is outside the closed canon.
Surprisingly, I checked back a few hours later and found that my comment had been removed by a blog administrator. I’m still interested in their answer, though I don’t think its going to be forth coming.