2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (NIV)
The grease-stained pizza boxes were piled high in the corner of the upper room as youth group neared the half-way mark of the night. A delightful assortment of teens chatted away, filling that tiny space with a cacophony of giggles, shouts, and cheers as an impromptu game of Nerf football broke out, under a pencil sketch drawing of Jesus welcoming the little children. Aware of a looming deadline, I tried to call the group to order, saying above the din, "Okay, it's time to plan the youth service that's coming up at the end of the month. You'll remember last week, we went away thinking about the leadership role you'd like to take in the service. Some of you offered to play a musical instrument; others wanted to pray; and at least one of you thought about offering testimony or a mini-sermon. Before we go any further tonight, we have to settle on a Bible story to focus our common efforts on. Any ideas?" Silence. Then, one brave hand went up. "Ross, why do we have to read from the Bible in church? Why can't we just read Dr. Seuss or a poem or something? What makes the Bible so special?"
Why do we need to read from the Bible? While as professed Christians we trust in the authority of Scripture, for many of our pre-Christian neighbours, there is no longer a shared consensus on the Bible's importance. The Reformed heritage rests on the important claim of "sola scriptura" or "Scripture alone" as the prime authority for Christian life.
Ironically, it seems like we live in a time when we know both more and less about the Bible. Today, scholars offer us wonderful tools to study the Bible, and yet, the result has often been that people in the church feel better informed but further away from the Bible as a result. Like a car that once was easy to repair on our own, now we need a specialist to run fancy diagnostic tests in order to fix it. I worry that, over time, we've lost more than our biblical literacy in the church — we've lost our trust, at times, that the triune God can and does speak to us through Scripture. For example, I love the prayer for illumination that is said before reading the Bible in public worship. I love the acknowledgement that anyone can read the Bible, but to truly understand God's wisdom, we need the help of the Holy Spirit.
John 20:30-31 – Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (NIV)
The Bible was written that we might believe. As followers of Jesus, we hold onto Scripture as our guidebook through this pilgrimage of life before death and life beyond death. Why read from the Bible as a Christian community? It's not just a story; for us it's the story. From pizza-box-filled youth rooms, to stained glass sanctuaries, to shopping mall food courts, to the end-and-new-beginnings of a graveside, might we look at the Bible again with fresh eyes? This day, may we help people take steps towards faith in Jesus and learn to love the Bible again, trusting it to be a faithful witness of God's revelation to humanity? Might we have ears to hear a testimony of grace to who Jesus is for the world, yesterday, today, and forever?
Prayer: God our Father, we praise You for the inspiration of Your Word, which we know as Scripture. Thank You that in reading the Bible, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can discover Your Word to be the cradle of Your living Word: Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Break Thou The Bread Of Life" (Lyrics)