Being Church: Bible Loving Chuch


Author: Alan Smith Date: Sunday, January 29, 2017 Campus:

SLIDE 1

We are continuing our current series of talks on “Being Church”.

Two weeks ago Gareth spoke about being ‘Naturally Supernatural’ – how we can do the things which Jesus did by allowing his Spirit to work through us. If we are truly being church then we now play the part of Jesus working in the world today, bringing the Supernatural into every aspect of our Natural lives.

But what else might define us as a church?

SLIDE 2

Today we are looking at being “Bible-Loving”.

What does that phrase mean to you? - do you love’ the Bible?

How do we treat the Bible; how do we handle it, make use of it, benefit from it and how might that relationship be seen as a loving one?!

The Bible is a book - so is there any book that you do love?

How do you show that love? Perhaps it’s a book you can never put down? The excitement of what happens next leads you on through the book without stopping? Or perhaps there is a nostalgia or memory around a certain book; whenever you read or re-read it; it takes you back to an important or enjoyable time in your life.

As a child I loved any book that dealt with astronomy – that answered my longing to know where I was in the universe, how it was constructed, what it was doing and what the point of it all might be! Encyclopaedias were fascinating too – you could dip in and find out anything you needed to know. All without adverts, sponsored links, conspiracy theories…!

Our experience of books may taint our experience of the Bible – too long, too disjointed, too gruesome (in parts), too unbelievable. The internet allows us to dip in and out of all sorts of content but the Bible as a collection of writings has always been a core foundation of the church. Having a few favourite verses we refer to is not enough. The sweep of the Bible is across the whole of human history.

Everything in the Bible happened in times when only the written word has lasted for us to experience those events – and yet the Bible is not simply a history of our religion. It makes some astounding claims which go beyond the words on the page.

SLIDE 3

John 1 makes the link between the ‘words’ of God and the ‘Word’ of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

SLIDE 4

Genesis 1

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

When God created the universe he spoke all things into existence. His words were the exact expression of his creative thoughts but were also inbuilt with all the power required to make them into a reality.

This is the Three-In-One God in action.

SLIDE 5

Jesus who came to earth and who John wrote about is the exact representation of God (God’s Son) who when filled with the Holy Spirit (his power) is able to make anything a reality – including the rescue of people from their sins (to end the conflict between God and people) and the restoration of people to their intended purpose (to enjoy God’s loving presence for ever).

The Bible records God’s words, his intentions and his promises.

We can put the words in the Bible to the test by putting them into practice.

We do this not by trying really hard to replicate the things Jesus did, but by allowing Jesus to come into our lives and transform us from the inside. By allowing God’s Spirit to come in power and enabling us to do the same things (and greater) that Jesus did.

SLIDE 6

Let’s look at a few verses about what the Bible says about itself:

Hebrews 4:12

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Rules judge the actions after you’ve acted; God’s words judge our thoughts and attitudes.

SLIDE 7

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Bible (Scripture) is not like good advice based on what others have experienced – instead it is breathed out by God by his Spirit and contains life and power to change and equip us!

What did Jesus say about his own words?

SLIDE 8

John 5:39

39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

It is not by reading and remembering the words and advice in the Bible that we will truly live. It is by realising they all point to Jesus and we need to come to him.

SLIDE 9

John 6:63

63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

Jesus words are full of the Spirit and life.

SLIDE 10

For some reason God chose not to dictate an amazing manual for life written by Jesus – instead he worked through the lives of many ordinary people over thousands of years who experienced God’s spirit working through them - including Jesus - which together would become the Bible.  60 books, 40 authors, 1 message!

The words of God have authority because they are God-breathed. We can take them at face value however startling they are because God is faithful and never lies.

Jesus talked about some of earliest Bible stories like Noah and Lot and days in which they lived as fact, not legend or fairy-tale. If we stake our eternity on Jesus we cannot decide for ourselves which parts of the Bible can be trusted and which cannot. God’s Spirit will guide us and reassure us!

There are many books written by people that give practical advice on how we can improve some aspect or other in our natural lives. And some of them work some of the time for some of the readers. But God’s promise is for us to make him our foundation through Jesus so that ALL aspects of our lives can be restored!

SLIDE 11

Matthew 7:24

Jesus describes two types of people…

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

How do we put Jesus words into practice? Not by just copying what he did but copying his dependence on God at all times and allowing the Spirit to direct us.

SLIDE 12

And yet - do we refer to the Bible enough?

We have complete freedom to have it and to read it. We may have different printed copies or every available version on a computer or phone. We may also have discovered that the times when we are reading it coincide with the best times of our lives.

SLIDE 13

So we have more access to the bible than at any time in the past.

But we need time too – or an appetite for it. When I was a new Christian I never read the Bible much, referred to it but never read it through. Now I love to read it. I prayed to God for an appetite because on my own I would never feel like reading it through. It’s long, some of it is boring, seems far removed from our language and culture. We can make time by setting an alarm to remind us to do it. But if we love the Bible then we don’t need an alarm either.

Love draws us because it is an appetite.

Let’s ask God to make us hungry and thirsty for his words, for his Word, for Jesus’ words in our thoughts and for his power to sustain and build us up.

If you were parched on a summer’s day would I have to persuade you to drink some ice cold water? If you had starved for days and I brought out your favourite food would I have to persuade you to fill your plate and stuff yourself?

I believe that as we read God’s words and we see how much he loves us we will hang on every word he says and we will want to read more and more of them. We will be drawn to our God in the person of Jesus and we will want to know him and his words more and more…

SLIDE 14

Psalm 42

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?

Jesus said…

John 15

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
SLIDE 15

Let us read Jesus words and dwell on them more, expectant of what God has promised. I think we’ve only just begun to see what being church is all about!

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