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Bible Engagement Blog


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The Friend of Bible Engagement

There are enemies and friends of Bible engagement. But the Friend of Bible engagement who surpasses all others, is the Holy Spirit.

Bible engagement isn’t a solo activity. None of us can go it alone. Bible engagement is always a joint affair. As a bare minimum, Bible engagement requires a relationship in order to exist – a friendship between a person and the Holy Spirit.

Because God is unique, as well as being the creator and ruler of all humanity, the friendship between a person and the Holy Spirit can’t be like a human relationship. When a person, together with the Holy Spirit, engages with the Scriptures, it’s not as equals. The friendship is more like a student- teacher relationship with the person being the student and the Holy Spirit the Teacher (cf. Nehemiah 9:20a, John 14:26).

For a friendship to grow and flourish, friends must know and understand their roles. If a person tries to take charge of the process of reading, reflecting, remembering and responding to God’s Word, the process will fail. It’s disastrous in human affairs when a student tries to usurp the teachers role, and even more so when a person takes charge of the biblical text in a way that takes over or negates the role of the Teacher. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”1 Corinthians 2:16.94cd33c91ac46570f18e54ba0b3a5969

Gods Spirit and our spirits need to be in open communion in order for Bible engagement to thrive (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:12-16). Yet remarkably, many people try to engage with the Bible unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit. In our ignorance we do what we were taught to do in school; we take charge of the text – subjecting it to our scrutiny and critique – deciding whether or not we’ll accept or reject what we’re reading. We’re the master of the text – period! But that’s not the way to engage with the Bible. The Bible must read us. And this only happens when we humbly open our hearts and minds to be shaped and moulded by the Teacher.

“No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” 1 Corinthians 2:11. It’s imprudent to try and understand the Bible without the Holy Spirit. Spiritual matters need to be spiritually discerned. Biblical comprehension requires the insight and wisdom that comes from God (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14). Only the Spirit of truth can guide us into all truth (cf. John 16:13). Or, stated differently, we require “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) in order to understand God’s Word.

So how do we adopt the role of the student with the right environment for the Teacher to teach us?

To begin, we must recognize that we are powerless. “The flesh counts for nothing” John 6:63. “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” Isaiah 64:8.

Next, to receive God’s wisdom we must empty ourselves entirely of any worldly wisdom. We must become “fools” in order to become wise (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:18). Why? Because God frustrates the intelligence of the intelligent and “turns conventional wisdom on its head” 1 Corinthians 1:19 (MSG).

Then, as we prayerfully and expectantly ask the Holy Spirit to teach us we must remember that his anointing is in us (every believer) to teach us “about all things” 1 John 2:27. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we can’t learn from others who are taught by the Holy Spirit. It’s a matter of first priorities. We should look first and foremost to the Teacher to help us engage with the Word.

Finally, we must give the Teacher time and space in our lives if we want Him to instruct us in the Word. Basically, we must read the Word as a prerequisite for the Teacher to teach us the Word. That’s what friends do – they spend time together. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly …” Colossians 3:16.

© Scripture Union Canada 2017

2 Corinthians 4:5


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You can’t worship Jesus if you don’t read the Bible!

You can’t worship Jesus if you don’t read the Bible! Now hear me out …

If you don’t read (i.e., hear, connect, engage, study, contemplate, reflect, act on) the Bible, you don’t know who Jesus is. If you don’t know who Jesus is, you can’t worship Him. If you can’t worship Jesus, then how can you call yourself a Christian?

I meet a lot of people who tell me they’re Christians. When I ask them if they read the Bible and they say “No,” or “Not really,” then I ask, “So what makes you a Christian?” They usually say, “Because I love God/Jesus.” Now here’s my dilemma. If someone says they love Jesus, but don’t read the Bible, then what “Jesus” are they loving? That’s a crucial question. For if we don’t love the Jesus of the Bible, then there’s a problem.jesus-in-bible

Forgive me if I’m blunt, but surely it stands to reason that if someone doesn’t worship the Jesus of the Bible, then that person’s worshipping a different “Jesus.” And who is this other “Jesus” that millions of non-Bible reading “Christians” are worshipping? Probably a “Jesus” they’ve created in their own minds. One who can be shaped and moulded to be whatever a person wants Him to be.

There’s a chilling verse in the Gospel where Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” Matthew 7:21. Every time I read this verse I wonder, “Who are the people who call Jesus ‘Lord’ yet don’t get into Heaven?” Well maybe they’re the people who’ve created an alternative “Jesus” who values what they value, tolerates what they tolerate, and cares about what they care about.

Here’s the rub: If you’re worshipping a “Jesus” who you can control, then you’re worshipping an idol. Jesus said, “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” John 4:23. To worship Jesus in “spirit and truth” our worship must be informed, not by the non-biblical things we think we know about Jesus, but by the Word of God.

Now I know, the Jesus of the Bible isn’t a tame Jesus. He disrupts our lives, opposes our personal opinions and preferences, demands holiness, gets in the way of the pursuit of happiness, and expects us to do uncomfortable things. Let’s be honest, the Jesus of the Bible doesn’t line up with our preferred version of Him.

Little wonder that people say, “I respect Jesus, but don’t agree with everything in the Bible.” For in their heart of hearts they know they can’t do things their way if they love the Jesus of the Bible.

So which Jesus do you worship. Is it a “Jesus” shaped by your imagination or is it the Jesus of the Bible? If it’s the latter, then that’s only true if you’re reading the Bible. There is no other way. You can’t worship Jesus if you don’t read the Bible!

© Scripture Union Canada 2017

2 Corinthians 4:5