Monday, August 11, 2014

Why Scripture? (part 3 of 3)

Though the setting in which a preacher stands behind a pulpit while the audience listens would be foreign to the original followers of Jesus, and wouldn’t be recognizable to them as “church,”  which, for them, took place at a community meal, it is possible to generalize and say that the preacher preaches (the teacher teaches, or the prophet prophesies, or the community leader exhorts and encourages) so that the Creator God may be made known. 

This fact has always been true of the church of Christ, even if it was not done in what has become the most familiar form for most of the believing community the world over.  The preacher preaches so that his hearers can learn about the covenant God and know more about that God.  Knowledge about the Creator God is transmitted so that those that made in the image of that God, who are called to be covenant bearers, might be able to correctly and effectively bear that image and covenant, so that they might be a blessing to all peoples, and that their God may receive the glory that is due to Him for His mighty acts. 

While the Creator God is acknowledged through praises, knowledge of Him is conveyed through the preaching of the Scriptures (primarily the message of the Gospel, rooted as it is in the story of the covenant people and the narrative of the Creator’s interaction with His creation), which convey information about the Creator, His character, His means, His purposes, and His goals.  The primary subject of proclamation in the time and places of regular Christian gatherings for worship must be the Creator God as revealed in the narrative of Scripture, and the primary activity (it seems) must be proclamation. 

Yes, the primary activity that must take place at these regular appointments must be preaching and teaching (communicating knowledge of the Creator God for the purpose of rightly being His divine image-bearers and representatives, with an understanding rooted in the historical recollections of the Creator God’s activity in His world, so that kingdom work might be properly performed), for it is in the mysteriously transformative proclamation of the Gospel that the power of the Resurrection is sent forth, and it is in this that knowledge is seated. 

This instruction in knowledge, which has and always will require great discipline and diligence, is of paramount importance, and should not only inspire the hearers to a constant desire to learn more about their God, but also to live lives of praise to that God.  Also of paramount importance is the realization that living this life of praise will not result in a withdrawal from the world around them into a self-imposed and ungodly exile that has the believer erecting their own temples. 

If learning more about the God of Scripture, as revealed in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, causes the hearer to retreat from the world in separation, isolation, and condemnation fostered by an “us versus them” mentality, then that preaching has gone woefully astray from that which is modeled by Jesus, and springs not from a diligent study of Scriptures so as to learn more about the Creator God, but from a subjective and self-satisfying interpretation of Scripture designed for little more than the gaining of personal control over the lives of the hearers and the all too familiar pursuit of power. 

Instead, living a life of praise will result in the erection of a multiplicity of tabernacles, placed within a fallen world as a symbol of constant exodus, in which, like the one claimed as Lord, the believer goes out to show forth the blessings of the Creator God’s kingdom to “tax collectors and sinners,” to the sick, to the thirsty, to the hungry, to those lacking clothes, to those in prison, and to the places where pain and evil are corrupting the covenant God’s creation and thwarting the advance of His kingdom.   

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