JumpIntoTheWord

Bible Engagement Blog


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One Big Story

The Bible is one big Story of redemption, restoration and renewal through Christ Jesus. Yet regrettably, the Bible isn’t always read, heard, shared, taught or engaged as one big Story. Many people limit the Bible to being lessons in good behaviour, an arrangement of doctrines, a source book for wisdom, words or succour, interesting literature, something to be studied, or a guide for decision making.

The one big Story is full of stories. Seventy-five percent of the Bible is narrative and the remaining twenty-five percent is composed of poetic or didactic material. The narrative composition of the Bible should direct our engagement. Rather than majoring on the directives of the Bible, as many do, we should engage with the Bible in ways that ignite our hearts and minds to the one big Story. That is, we should chiefly interact with the Bible as the Story of God’s love for us; how Christ Jesus came to rescue us from sin and give us fullness of life.

Engaging with the Bible as one big Story about Christ Jesus and His love for us shouldn’t be one approach among many. It should be the only approach. Why? Because from the beginning to the end of the Bible, according to the Bible, Christ Jesus is the focus of the Story (cf. Luke 24:27). That’s not to say that He’s mentioned directly in every sub-story. He’s not. In many instances He’s “hidden.” But it is to say that all the stories, taken together, are one big Story about Christ Jesus and how He wants us to enter into and become a part of His Story.Gods-Story4-copy

So what is the storyline of the big Story that Christ Jesus wants us to enter into and become a part of? The Story begins with our creation and shortly thereafter our separation from God because of sin. What follows concerns God’s grace as He seeks to restore humanity to Himself. It’s the Story of brokenness and how we can be whole through faith in Christ Jesus.

At the heart of the Story is the incarnation and life of Christ Jesus. The Story reaches its climax when a great reversal occurs. Amazingly, humanity is given the opportunity to be reconciled to God through the sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection of Christ Jesus.

The Story is good news second to none! It’s about the greatest rescue plan in history – about God in the person of Christ Jesus who enters our world to save – about the Redeemer who ultimately makes everything right. And more. What makes it good news is that it’s a living Story concerning you and me. In Christ, all things are made new (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17). The Story reveals how, through confession, repentance and belief in Christ Jesus, we can know salvation from the penalty of sin, fullness of life now, and the hope of eternal life to come.

The grand ending of the one big Story depicts creation renewed. The ending is really a fresh beginning; a magnificent turn-around. Everything will be new – a new heaven and a new earth in which there is no more pain, sorrow or death. And Christ Jesus will live with His people forever.

While the one big Story has a beginning and an end, it’s also a never ending Story. The paradox of the Story is that as we enter into it we discover that we’re living in the tension between the already and the not yet. That’s why we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” Matthew 6:10 (NIV). And as we pray this prayer we’re reminded that we owe allegiance, not to ourselves, but to the King. The purpose of our lives is to do what the King wants us to do: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8 (NIV). This is our kingdom work until the new heaven and the new earth are realized.

Unlike the story of those in the world without Christ Jesus, the one big Story transforms us so that we can do kingdom work, not in our own strength, but with the strength that comes from Christ Jesus. When we enter into the Story we are in fact committing ourselves, at His invitation and direction, to share and live-out the Story through the course of our lives.

So engage with the Bible as one big Story of redemption, restoration and renewal through Christ Jesus. And in so doing aim for your story to become His Story. For as Glenn Paauw from the Institute for Bible Reading says, “the Bible wants us to see our own lives as little parts of its own bigger, grander story.”

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5


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How are you reading the Bible?

How are you reading the Bible? Bible engagement isn’t about reading the Bible exclusively to gather facts, get guidance or learn how to be good. Satan loves it when people read the Bible for these reasons because as long as we’re reading the Bible to simply grow in knowledge, figure out what to do, or develop our morality, we’re not engaging with the Bible as we should.

God wants us to taste and see that He is good (Psalm 34:8a). The goal of Bible reading should be to encounter Christ Jesus and to engage with Him in ways that lead us to become increasingly more like Him.taste-and-see-that-the-lord_t_nv

John Piper, the pastor and theologian, says, “Bible reading that only collects facts, or relieves a guilty conscience, or gathers doctrinal arguments, or titillates aesthetic literary tastes, or feeds historical curiosities – this kind of Bible reading Satan is perfectly happy to leave alone. He has already won the battle.”

How are you reading the Bible? Do you read it focusing on the fact that it’s ultimately the Story about Christ Jesus and how he sacrificed His life in order to atone for your sin and reconcile you to God? If not, you’re not reading the Bible as God intended.

Here’s what Satan tries to hide from us: The overall Bible story centres on Jesus. It’s about His astronomical, unconditional, sacrificial, incomparable, transformational, and eternal love for us. A love that made the world right again by making it possible, through trust in Him, for our sin to be acquitted and our death sentence revoked. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” 1 John 4:10.

Christ’s love for us is why the Word we read has to be the Word we know. For this to happen we cannot rely on pastors, professors or prophets, but from spending time in the Word in order to encounter the presence of the living Word. Then, when we encounter the living Word we should ask Him to renew us through His written Word. For it’s only through encountering Christ Jesus personally and openly that our minds and hearts will be convicted and changed to live a life of love emulating Christ’s love.

So how are you reading the Bible? There are only two ways to read God’s Word. The right way and the wrong way. And the right way is to read the Word as the Word we know.

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5


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Communal Bible Engagement

Most Christians in the Western world engage with the Bible mainly by themselves. We read it privately during a “quiet time,” interpret it alone, and experience it personally in the sanctity of our home.

Which is good and fine. Or is it?

Private engagement with the Bible isn’t the biblical norm. In most instances when the Bible mentions engagement with God’s Word it’s in the context of community. God’s people experienced the Bible as “we,” more so than “me.” People would gather together, often in someone’s home, and the Bible would be read aloud while everyone listened. Then, having listened to the Word they interacted with it, processing, digesting and acting on it together.

Hearing with others, rather than reading independently, was the biblical reality because it was an oral culture with very few copies of the Scriptures available.

So how did we get to where the plural focus of Bible engagement became more singular?

With the advent of the printing press in the 15th Century, engagement with the Bible became book focused. Books facilitated the shift from the Bible mainly being heard in community to mainly being read individually.

While some things are gained through the process of change, some things are also lost. The printing press shifted Bible engagement from something that was about communal formation to something that was, according to the author Glenn Paauw, more about a “private me-and-God book.”

So why is the privatization of Bible engagement an issue?

Privatized Bible engagement is problematic because self-directed connections with the Bible often lead to self-oriented responses to the Bible. And mostly serving personal needs is the antithesis of biblical faith.

All that to simply say that communal Bible engagement needs to be renewed. So how do we do that?

Renewal begins when we recognize that the Bible is primarily addressed to the community of faith, speaks to our shared actions and beliefs, and invites the people of God to work together to make disciples of all people. Then, with this understanding as our foundation; we imagine, explore and experience the Bible together. Experiencing the Bible together can take countless forms. It may be small groups of students gathering together on campus lawns to read the Bible, or a family discussing the Scriptures during supper. Regardless of the form, the way we experience the Bible together should include listening, learning and living out the Bible as “us.” This requires humility, grace, and an openness to hear from God through what others say.

Shifting from private to communal Bible engagement isn’t easy. New postures of thinking and acting aren’t formed overnight. For communal Bible engagement to thrive, we must intentionally make it happen. And this takes fortitude, prayer, wisdom, unity and hard work.

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5


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Bible Engagement Basics Comments

Since Bible Engagement Basics was published in July 2017 I’ve been gathering comments connected with the distribution of the book. The comments have been made during face to face conversations, usually during church visits at the conclusion of a Bible Engagement Sunday service where I’ve preached a Bible advocacy message and made the book available for people to purchase. The comments have also been made by people who have read the book and then connected with me because they wanted to tell me their stories.

I would not have thought about blogging these comments if it hadn’t been suggested by a friend. He asked me about the impact of the book, and while telling him, he stopped me and said, “You should blog these stories. They’re encouraging and could be helpful.”

So here are some comments about Bible Engagement Basics:

“Thank you for your message this morning and for your book. You said things I can’t say … good things that the congregation needed to hear … just recently the Sunday School teacher asked me, ‘Who came first, Moses or Jesus?’ … Your book will help!” – Rector of an Anglican church.

“When I bought the book I thought I’d only read one or two chapters, but I ended up reading all of it. Which is unusual because I don’t usually read non-fiction books.” – Young man in his twenties.

“Thank you so much for the practical coaching and instructions through your book on how to engage with the Word of God. I have greatly benefited! I wish everyone of my staff can get to read it. It is very informative and sBEB-Front-Coverimplifies the aspects of Bible engagement so well.” – National Director of SU Uganda.

“If you can’t afford a copy of Lawson’s book, I’ll personally buy one for you. Everyone needs this book!” – Pentecostal pastor at the conclusion of a Bible Engagement Sunday service.

“I’ve never read the Bible but after hearing your message today (it was on 2 Kings 22-23) I’ve promised God that I’m going to start reading it and hope that your book helps me do this.” – Gentleman in his eighties who has worshipped in an Anglican church all his life.

After preaching a Bible engagement message at a seminary chapel service I asked one of the professors why the school, at the conclusion of the service, was giving copies of Bible Engagement Basics to their students. “Students are usually expected to buy their books. This is unusual,” I said. He smiled as he replied, “We believe this book expresses the core values that are important to us.” – Toronto Baptist Seminary Professor.

“Since reading your book I felt compelled to read the Old Testament. I’ve never read the Old Testament before and started reading Isaiah. It’s amazing. It’s like Isaiah is describing our world today!” – United Church member.

“I agree with what you said about reading the Bible. I’m a pastor from Jamaica and have been visiting family in Toronto. I go back home tomorrow. I’m taking copies of your book for some people in my congregation. It will help them.” – Baptist pastor at a Bible engagement Sunday service.

“Recently at our International Leadership Team conference in Colorado, I passed along copies of your book ‘Bible Engagement Basics’ to a number of our international regional directors. They were eager to accept it. Now the book is in Hong Kong/China, 2 directors covering the whole of Africa, India, US, France, our directors of Latin America and the Middle East.” – CEO of an international Bible agency.

“I’ve needed a handbook like this. I’m not reading the Bible as much as I should. I’m hoping this will strengthen my Bible reading.” – Middle aged lady.

“We have had a conference for SU school group leaders and members this past weekend where we have been using Bible Engagement Basics. Rather than just sell them or give them away we want, where possible, to use the book with small groups to introduce them to it and get them engaging with it so it can be maximum help to them in engaging with the Bible.” – Executive Director of SU Scotland.

“I finished reading your Bible engagement book yesterday and I enjoyed learning new things from it like Lectio Divina. I don’t usually read theological or academic books but this was easy to read! Thanks for your encouragement to emphasize reflection with reading the Word.” – Physiotherapist.

“It’s really good! I never expected it to be this good!” – Mission Agency colleague.

“I was so pleased to hear that 250 of your books were sold after the Sunday morning service … Thank you for presenting a wonderful, biblical exposition. You applied the truths accurately and meaningfully and in an interesting way. It was wonderful for me to also be blessed by hearing your message.” – Church of the Nazarene Pastor.

“It’s very potent, your book … every time I pass my Bible where it sits in the living room, I feel guilty and feel I should be reading it and nothing else!” – My mother.

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5


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The Enemy of Bible Engagement

“This will be the year I read the Bible,” you say to yourself. And so you begin, with the best of intentions, but before long you’re taking strain. Then you get to Numbers and your days are numbered!

Why do so many of us struggle to read the Bible? Even when we really want to do it, we somehow fall short. Are we feeble, or what? Why can’t we muster the discipline? Why do competing priorities take precedence? Why do we struggle to focus on the text? Why?Reading-Bible

There are many practical reasons why we don’t read the Bible, but there’s one big spiritual reason that trivializes all other reasons: Bible reading takes great effort because Satan’s the enemy of Bible engagement.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Satan does everything in his power to undermine our engagement with God’s Word because he’s hell-bent on doing everything he can to destabilize, demoralize, damage or destroy our relationship with Jesus.

Here’s why: Satan hates truth because Jesus is the Truth (cf. John 14:6). And he hates the Word of God because God’s “word is truth” John 17:17.

Satan’s been the enemy of Bible engagement since the beginning of humanity. The first thing he did to undermine God’s relationship with the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden, was to twist God’s word (cf. Genesis 3:1).

Satan’s also been the enemy of Bible engagement since the beginning of Christ’s public ministry. The first thing he did to try and demolish Christ’s work to redeem and reconcile the world to the Father, was to twist God’s word (cf. Matthew 4:1-11).

Satan has been and always will be (until he’s thrown into “the lake of burning sulphur” Revelation 20:10) “that ancient serpent … who leads the whole world astray” Revelation 12:9. And one of the main ways he leads humanity astray is by blinding our minds to the value of the Word or obscuring the Gospel message that connects us with the One who is the Word. Satan uses smoke and mirrors to divert us away from God. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Let’s not forget that Satan’s called the “prince of this world” (John 12:31) because the whole world is under his control (cf. 1 John 5:19). That’s why it’s naive to think we can connect with the Bible in our own strength. We need supernatural power, a power greater than Satan’s power, in order to successfully read, reflect, remember and respond to God’s Word.

So don’t try to go it alone. Don’t think that a New Year resolution or your personal discipline will be enough for a Bible reading victory. And don’t be so arrogant to think that you can do anything you set your mind and will to do. For it takes One greater than the enemy of Bible engagement to help you get into, and stay in the Word. It takes “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,” whom God sends to “teach you all things” and remind you of everything He has “said to you” John 14:26.

There you have it. To grow stronger in Bible engagement you need to depend on the Holy Spirit. So remember to ask God daily to fill you with His Spirit (cf. Ephesians 5:18) and then open the Book and trust Him to “make everything plain to you” (John 14:26 MSG).

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5


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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


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Why We Should Read The Bible

The story is told about a youngster who found a Bible on the bookshelf. “What’s this dusty book Mom?” he asked. “That’s God’s book,” said his Mom. “Well why don’t we send it back to God? We don’t use it here, do we?” asked the boy.

The story raises an important question, why read the Bible? Of all the great books that we could read, why should we read God’s book? Here are 5 reasons why:

The first and most important reason why we should read the Bible is because it’s a God-given window through which we get the best view of Jesus (cf. Luke 24:27). And why is it important to check out Jesus? Because He claims He’s “the way and the truth and the life” John 14:6. That’s a mind staggering and potentially life altering declaration. If it’s true that no one comes to God except through Him, that Jesus personifies truth and is the source of our existence, then it’s a claim that has to be reckoned with. What Jesus said cannot be ignored or dismissed out of hand. So we should read the Bible to consider His claim on our lives.

Hands of a person raised together in prayer with bibleThe second reason why we should read the Bible is to see how God sees us. Most Westerners, due to Existentialism, view life as meaningless, apart from the meaning they choose to give it. But that’s not how God views us. The Bible indicates how God places a high value on every life of every person. We are loved by God and created for a purpose. When we read the Bible it soon becomes clear that it’s a love letter from the Creator to His creation. As God says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11.

The third reason why we should read the Bible is for our deepest needs to be met. Most of us (Nihilists are the exception) want to know why we exist. Is there meaning and a reason for my life? The Bible, by virtue of its content, is the book of life. It reveals God’s meaning and reason for our lives and how we can possess and enjoy fullness of life (cf. John 10:10). Jesus says, “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life” John 6:63. Did you hear that? The Bible is “full of … life.” Even if the other reasons for reading the Bible didn’t exist, this should be reason enough to read it.

The fourth reason why we should read the Bible is for our health and growth. As I look back over the course of my life I can see how I’ve matured. Do you want to grow in wisdom? I’m thankful that I no longer think and act like a child or youth. And I’m thankful that since I started reading the Bible, the Scriptures have made me “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” 2 Timothy 3:15. My reality can be anyone’s reality. “For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” Psalm 107:9. So read the Bible because we were not meant to “live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

The final reason why we should read the Bible is so that we can learn how to love and accept love. The sad litany of many people’s lives is that they don’t find, receive or love others adequately. Or worse. Many people never encounter the love that surpasses knowledge and fills us with the fullness of God (cf. Ephesians 3:19). The Bible tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). To know love, the real thing, we must be Bible engagers. That’s because the primary way to know Love is in and through reading His Word.

There are many more reasons why we should read the Bible. But we’re not going to consider them now because good reasons need to be coupled with right actions. So let me ask, “Are you reading the Bible? I mean really reading it?” How you answer this question can make or break you. I don’t say that lightly. It would take a book to spell out all the benefits of Bible reading. So please understand why I close by urging you to truly get into God’s Word and discover the joy that comes from having the message of Christ dwell in you richly (cf. Colossians 3:16).

© Scripture Union Canada 2017

2 Corinthians 4:5


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Opening the Scriptures to Open Eyes

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:45 (NIV).

They were trudging down the road, shoulders slumped and faces drawn, their distress evident for all to see. From their animated and heated discussion it was clear that they were trying to make sense of a recent tragedy. And then a man drew alongside them. Matching their pace he asked what they were talking about. They stopped walking … the burden of his question seemingly too much to bear. Unfazed by their unhappiness the man asked a question, and moving on they began to chat about the things that were heavy on their hearts.

The conversation that unfolded between the men on the road was about Jesus of Nazareth and the Old Testament prophecies that spoke of Him. What the men on the road didn’t realise was that the man who’d joined them and was now talking to them was Jesus Christ – the one who’d been crucified three days previously and the very one about whom they were speaking!

“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

The encounter on the road to Emmaus is revealing: It points to the tremendous value Jesus placed on the Scriptures and how, because they were central in His life, He wove them into His daily dialogue with people. The encounter also shows us that people need a fresh understanding of the Story in order to make sense of the issues they’re facing. Jesus opened the Scriptures and in so doing opened the eyes of the disciples.

Which raises a pertinent question: How will people come to know and understand the Story if we don’t share it with them? Conversations are needed … conversations seasoned with life words … conversations that explain what the Scriptures say about Jesus Christ … conversations that Jesus can use to open eyes to see Him.

© Scripture Union Canada 2017

2 Corinthians 4:5


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Bible Engagement Renewal

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a German professor of moral theology at the University of Wittenberg, started a schism in the Catholic Church when he sent a Theses (also nailed to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg) enclosed with a letter to Albert of Brandenburg, the Archbishop of Mainz. The Theses propositions disputed the power of indulgences and effectively started the Reformation and the branch of Christianity known as ProtestanBruenig_Lucas_Cranach_imgtism.

Luther’s dispute with the Catholic Church included a belief in the Bible alone (rather than with sacred tradition) as the highest authority in matters of faith and practice (sola scriptura). So for most Protestants, and a Bible engagement advocate like myself, the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is hugely significant.

While much could be said about the doctrines of sola scriptura, prima scriptura (Anglican, Methodist, Wesleyan), or the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Catholic), the purpose of this article is rather about how we desperately need a Bible engagement renewal.

Despite all that’s been accomplished down through the centuries to stress the primacy of God’s Word in the faith and practice of the Church, there’s a significant lack of emphasis on Bible engagement in many churches. Something’s lost that needs to be found. And to find what’s been lost we must begin with lamenting the weak state of Bible reading, reflecting, receiving, remembering and responding.

Someone once said that we “need to let the Bible accuse us.” The trouble is we’re not connecting with it in a way that opens the door for the Bible to show us where we’ve gone astray, and we don’t give it room to help us return to the place where it gets to have its way with us (because Bible engagement is essentially Jesus engagement, this statement should also be understood as Jesus getting to have His way with us through His Word ).

Through the course of history God breaks into the affairs of humanity to renew and restore us to Himself. Five-hundred years on from the last great renewal in Bible engagement we need the Lord to bring us alive to His Word again. There are no shortcuts to a Bible engagement renewal (unless God chooses otherwise). The process of renewal usually requires the following:

  • Recognize the need for a Bible engagement renewal. “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” Psalm 85:6.
  • Pursue a Bible engagement renewal personally. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” Psalm 51:1.
  • Seek forgiveness for personal and communal sin. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” Psalm 51:10.
  • Promise to follow the Lord and engage His Word with all your heart and soul and mind (cf. 2 Kings 23:3).
  • Act on the Word. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” James 1:22.

Now pray for a Bible engagement renewal; trusting God to usher in a much needed season of long term growth that will be marked by the strengthening of individuals and communities of faith as they connect with Jesus and His Story.

© Scripture Union Canada 2017

2 Corinthians 4:5