Part 1: December 10, 2013
“Wow,” said my friend as he leaned back in his chair at Starbucks, took off his glasses, and began to stare over my shoulder in reflection. He just did something that he had no idea he could do. He just “got something” out of the Bible. As a matter of fact, his reaction is almost identical to the ones I’ve received from the other dozen or so folks who have taken me up on my challenge.
Toward the end of the summer, at the close of one of my messages, I told our members to give me 45-minutes and I would teach them how to “get something” out of the Scriptures. The only catch is that they would need to buy me a cup of coffee. One woman began to weep as we sat there at Panera Bread. We just finished an incredibly edifying discussion on the first several verses in Galatians. She had no idea she could mine that sort of treasure from a few verses that seemed so benign at first glance. Another time, it became crystal clear to me that the gentleman I was meeting with probably has the gift of teaching. He didn’t even know it until he learned a few skills in studying the Bible. Needless to say, he was blown away. As a matter of fact, not one person has walked away underwhelmed after just 45-minutes with me over a cup of coffee.
To be clear, these people were not in awe of me. All I did was deconstruct some false assumptions they had about studying God’s word. After that, I walked them through a few foundational ideas that should keep them going in the right direction, even when they are overwhelmed by the “blahs” - you know, those times when you just can’t seem to muster the emotional strength to crack your Bible. (Everybody goes through that.) Then we turned to a couple of verses and studied together for a few minutes. Nothing intense. As a matter of fact, it has been a delight to get to know some of the members of our church a little better. What exhilarated each of them was the realization that they did indeed have the ability to read, interpret, and apply the Scriptures to their own lives in a relevant, rubber-meets-the-road way. It was beautiful to watch their faith blossom in front of my eyes. For the majority of them, this was the first time they had hope for a better life with God.
Now they believe. They believe they can hear the Father’s heartbeat in the Scriptures. They believe they can sense the living, abiding presence of Christ in the Scriptures who is the Word of God and who is God.1 They believe the Scriptures are “breathed out by God and are profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”2 They believe the person of the Spirit still breathes upon those words today, lovingly inscribing them upon their souls.3 And they believe that they now have the tools to walk this out.
This brings me to the point that I will address in this initial post. Do you have a desire for what I’m describing? Do you want to be able to banquet at God’s word? Do you want to be able to understand it and apply it to your life? Without this desire, I’m not sure we can move forward. If you do have this desire, then God likely imparted it to you. Briefly consider the first several verses of Ephesians 2. The Apostle Paul reminds us that before we came to Christ we were “dead” in sin. He says that what evidenced this was that we “lived in the passions of our flesh.”
Question: Have your passions been altered? Do you still want to follow your sinful passions? Of course, at times, you do. But, generally speaking, do you have a desire to “be conformed to the image of his son,” Jesus?4 Do you want to know Jesus and experience Jesus and belong to Jesus? Do you want to be a different kind of person? Do you want to know God’s word?
“But I don’t know how to, Chris!” I know, I know. In the raspy words of Master Yoda, “Patience. You must have patience, my young padawan.” We’ll get to the “how” later. In the mean time, if you can say “yes” to the aforementioned questions, you’re ready to move forward with me.
See you next Tuesday.
1 John 1:1
2 2 Timothy 3:16
3 Hebrews 8:10
4 Romans 8:29