After some urging by a few people, I will be doing my best to post some notes and perhaps some additional thoughts from my teachings from the weekends. (not to mention make use of this incredibly underused blog o’ mine)
I would always welcome further engagement and discussion here, being that my desire in teaching is hardly to end a conversation but, rather to spur it onward. So feel free to read this, and perhaps listen to our podcast as well to get the most content.
I probably had the most fun reading/preparing for this past weekend’s sermon than I have had in awhile, simply because the Christian Scriptures fascinate me to no end.
Here are some of my notes from this weekend:
-Right belief about the Bible (as bound up in words like inerrancy, authority, inspired, etc.) is important but insufficient when it comes to how we use/understand/apply it. In the same way as claiming a map is the authorized map is insufficient in meaning you will get to your destination or that it is the most efficient or safe route (I borrow this analogy from Christian Smith [see recommended reading])
-If we want to model our church life after the early church, we must devote ourselves to the Apostle’s Teaching (as they did) amongst other things.
-To devote ourselves to something is a continual, intense, and ever-increasing “holding onto” and “wrapping around”.
This raises two questions:
-What is the Apostle’s Teaching?
-How do we devote ourselves to it?
The Apostle’s Teaching
This is not a shorthand for “the Scriptures” but rather a way of understanding and interpreting the Scriptures.
Teaching here is not a verb, it is a noun. They did not devote themselves to going to see the Apostles every day or weekend. They devoted themselves to their teaching; the substance of their message. So what was the substance of their teaching?
The previous part of the chapter to tells us in Acts 2:15-41
The Apostle’s Teaching is (at least)…
Jesus’ Life and Ministry (v. 22) Jesus was a real man with a real life and a real ministry! And this is important! It is not just about his death and resurrection, it is about his life! This means all that is in the Gospels.
Jesus’ Deliberate and Undeserved Death (v. 23)
Jesus’ Triumphal Resurrection (v. 24, 32)
Jesus’ Receiving and Pouring out of the Spirit on All people (17-18, 33) -Young and old, men and women -Peter is explaining to the people their place in salvation history and is interpreting to them the events of what is taking place.
Respond to it in repentance! (v. 38-39)
Devoting Ourselves to the Apostle’s Teaching
So when we talk about valuing the Scriptures, the way in which we value them is by devoting ourselves to the Apostle’s teaching, which was Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit for the continued work of Christ in the world. So this is more than just believing that the Scriptures are true and having tons of Bible studies. This is about HOW we read, study, meditate, listen, and digest. We do it by continually pursuing the story of Jesus, seeking to find him where we look, and then asking “What do I do with this?”
Jesus is the interpretive key. We devote ourselves to the apostle’s teaching by trying to see Jesus as they did: the fulfillment of the long awaited hope of Israel and the future hope for the world.
A few supporting quotes:
“For a Christian, every part of the Bible must in some way point to Christ, to the living person of Jesus who is the Christ, and to the unlimited, liberating love of God which is revealed in Christ. To put it bluntly, it is not the words of the Bible that are ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’ It is the person of Christ, to whom the Bible witnesses.” (Keith Ward, What the Bible Really Teaches: A Challenge for Fundamentalists (London: SPCK, 2004), 27.)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer says it this way: “In its entirety and in all its parts it is nothing but this witness of Christ, his life, his death, and his resurrection.” (No Rusty Swords, ed. Edwin H Robertson, trans, Edwin H. Robertson and John Bowden (1965; repr., London: Fontana, 1970), 312.)
John, an apostle, explains why he even wrote his Gospel and included what he did in John 20:31, “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.”
So we devote ourselves to a teaching; a way of understanding the Scriptures, which is ultimately about Jesus. So we devote ourselves to the story, as fulfilled in Jesus.
Not to merely a book (or rather a collection of books).
Not to a theological system or “ism”.
Not to a certain pastor, leader, or author.
Not to a social cause.
Not to a philosophy.
To the ancient, apostolic teaching that Jesus is the full revelation of God himself, he has redeemed the world, and he invites us to join him.
What does this stir in you? Questions? Thoughts?
The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith
The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight
Surprised by Scripture by N.T. Wright
How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee
Coffee House Theology by Ed Cyzewski (his chapters on Scripture and Tradition are very thoughtful)
For those of you who struggle with the OT (like me), particularly the violence,this is an excellent article by Brian Zahnd.