Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why Scripture? (part 1)

…useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16b-17  (NET)

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments exist for the purpose of representing the Creator God to His covenant people.  Though there is a tendency to look to Scripture to grab a verse or a story in order to find an application to a situation in which one may find himself, doing so may be a matter of getting things out of order.  The traditions of the covenant people of the Creator God, the prophetic utterances, the wisdom literature, and the theologizing about the meaning of the Resurrection that helped to shape the church community in the years following the Christ-event, do not exist primarily to serve man and to inform man how to live; but rather, they exist primarily to reveal the covenant God, and in that revealing, to cause His people to take steps to bring Him glory. 

This revelation for the purpose of knowing the Creator God is given so that those who are supposed to bear His image might be able to do so rightly.  This, of course, is why believers undertake and so highly value theology, for one cannot serve the Creator God, with a knowledge of His purposes, if He is not known primarily as revealed through that which is recorded in the book to which is ascribed the influence and inspiration of His life-giving Spirit. 

Believers do not approach the Scriptures so as to first learn about themselves, to gain encouragement for themselves, or to find out what the Creator God has in store for them.  All of these things take place as secondary results.  The believer approaches the Scriptures in order to learn about the covenant God.  Because humans are made in His image, it is in learning about the covenant God that they are able to learn about themselves.  This is encouraging because it is possible to learn that the Creator God has a purpose for His image-bearers, and the Scriptures provide believers with the hope that He is at work, quite faithfully, to bring about those purposes in his image-bearers, for His image-bearers, and through His image-bearers. 

If one was ever take a moment to consider why it is that believers gather together as Christians, in what is referred to as “church” or “worship” services, it is in this realization that the answer is to be found.  The author of the letter to the Hebrews is adamant about the regular gathering together of those that call Jesus Lord, as he writes “And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings…encouraging each other” (10:24-25a). 

When looked at on the surface and from the outside, by those that do not yet call Jesus Lord, one would have to be compelled to admit that these regular (predominantly Sunday) gatherings as individual bodies in representation of the reality of the existing and coming kingdom of the Creator God, is quite the peculiar practice.  Naturally, it is as peculiar as the very message upon which the church is built, which is that of an eminently shameful and ghastly crucifixion, the extraordinarily ridiculous notion of a man’s resurrection from the dead, and the somewhat ludicrous idea that those two things, taken together and then punctuated by an ascension, prove that the crucified man was the very embodiment of the Creator God and is the sovereign and ruling Lord of all in a kingdom that has been inaugurated on earth and awaits its final consummation in the coming together of the Creator God’s realm of existence (heaven) and man’s realm of existence (earth). 

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