In concluding this section on aligning our lives with the Bible I am trying to convey the importance of the Bible in our lives. This is not an exercise of knowing information, stories or being able to say you read the whole book. It is all about the Bible aligning within your own life so that out of you flows the Word of God into every situation, even that of the Centurion’s life.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Shall I come and heal him?’ The centurion replied, ‘Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, ‘Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” (Matthew 8 v 7-10)
The centurion understood the powerful authoritative word spoken from ‘The Word’ would be enough. Based on his limited understanding of authority of ‘Go, Come, Do’ he knew there is power in the Word.
As I explained yesterday recently I was asked to write on ‘Why is the Bible relevant today?’ So let me continue …
Some of the reasons why Christians do not read the Bible:
- I don’t have time to read.
- I don’t know where to begin.
- I don’t understand it.
- I don’t see how the Bible applies to my life.
It is a commonly held view that there are 52 countries in the world where it is illegal or very difficult to have a Bible. Some of those countries may have more relaxed laws than others. But the point is one part of the world can’t get hold of a Bible or hide their Bibles in their hearts and minds and the other part can see the Bible but don’t pick it up..
Half of the books of the Bible can be read between 10-45 minutes. Many can be read in less than 20 minutes.
The Bible is described in many ways, such as:
A lamp- “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” Psalm 110:105.
Milk – “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” 1 Peter 2:2
A sword – “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17
A seed – “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.” Luke 8:11
Here are some helpful tips I have implemented in my life:
- It is a discipline. I have to re-adjust my life to make sure I have the time.
- I read the Bible in a language that makes sense to me. I read the Bible with three translations before me. The NIV, the Message and the Amplified. It enables me to more fully understand the text. I also use the ESV and NKJV occasionally.
- I keep a journal book to use with my Bible reading. In this I firstly write anything that is going to distract my mind when I am reading eg. a shopping list. By writing it down I know it will be dealt with later and then I can carry on concentrating on my reading. I will then write my feelings, thoughts and questions on what I have just read.
- I try and read it with imagination. I put myself in the place of the characters and try to understand what is taking place for them. I keep asking questions throughout the passage and let the questions be challenging ones to me.
- I always ask myself “How does this apply to me?”
- Is it helping me with the truths of my faith?
- Is it teaching me?
- Is it asking for my obedience?
- Is it calling for a worshipful response?
- If it is symbolic language, is there an obvious meaning behind the words?
The exact criteria the early church used to choose the books is not fully known, but there are believed to have been five guiding principles used to determine whether or not a New Testament book would form the Canon and these show us the relevancy of the Bible to Christians today.
- Is it authoritative – did it come from the hand of God? (in other words does this book come with a divine ‘thus says the Lord’)
- Is it prophetic – was it written by God or man?
- Is it authentic – the fathers had the policy, much like I do with items in my fridge, of ‘if in doubt throw it out’. This enhanced the ‘validity of their discernment’
- Is it dynamic – did it come with the life-transforming power of God?
- Was it received, collected, read and used – was it accepted by the people of God?
I close with a quote from Malcolm Muggeridge, a journalist and satirist who died in 1990. I choose the quote because it indicates why I think preachers and teachers of the Bible need to continue to improve in their skill of handling the Bible so that the whole Church can see its relevancy.
“People say that the Bible is a boring book … but they don’t say that about Shakespeare, because the people who teach Shakespeare are zealous for Shakespeare.”
And finally: This centurion shows us that we need the Word of God for our situations of life. Other people like his servant needs it.
Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
We need the spoken Word of God, the Bible, in our hearts and minds and on our lips. That is our hope for the emerging Church in this season.