I want you to think for a minute about how you view the Bible.
In our culture, there is an erosion of confidence in the Bible. People outside the church typically see it as a book of inspired wisdom, with some flaws that they can easily recognize and reject.
In the church, there is also an erosion of confidence in the Bible. Holding to the idea that the scriptures are the infallible, inerrant, authoritative word of the Living God is increasingly seen in our world as non-intellectual and unsophisticated. Or worse.
How people relate to the Bible in our world can be noted on a continuum. On one end of the spectrum would be those who actively work to discredit the Bible. On the other end are those who affirm and submit themselves to the absolute authority of the Bible. In fact, I think the continuum looks something like this:
1 – Discredits the Bible
2 – Rejects the Bible
3 – Ignores the Bible
4 – Acknowledges the Bible
5 – References the Bible
6 – Occasionally Reads the Bible
7 – Reads and Studies the Bible Regularly
8 – Affirms the Truth of the Bible
9 – Meditates on and Memorizes the Bible
10 – Submit the Authority of the Bible
We are experiencing in our day an increase in the number of people who would put themselves at the lower end of that continuum. They would oppose, reject or ignore the Bible. They would see a quote from scripture as having no more weight than a quote from their favorite sports star or politician.
This is certainly not the first time in our history that the culture has attempted to tame the Bible and bring it in line with the wisdom of the age. Last month was the 100th anniversary of the Sunday in May of 1922 when a prominent New York pastor named Harry Emerson Fosdick told his congregation that believing in the virgin birth was something modern people should reject, that the idea that the scriptures are inerrant could no longer be supported, and that the doctrine of the Second Coming of Jesus was absurd. Using language that will sound familiar in our day, Fosdick declared that those who saw such beliefs as essential were “bitterly intolerant” people.
The church in every age has faced, and will continue to face attacks from within, from people who suggest that we have to get in step with the modern way of thinking or become irrelevant. But generation after generation, it seems the gates of hell cannot prevail against God and His word. It is a firm foundation that has been laid for our faith.
Where are you on the 1-10 scale? What would you affirm about scripture?
Here’s what I think we need to understand. If you profess love for Jesus and yet fall short of a 10 on the scale of how you interact with the Bible, something is wrong. Or to put it another way, real spiritual maturity and a deep faith are tied directly not simply to our respect for the Bible or even our love for the Bible, but ultimately to our surrender to and obedience to the Bible.
Not that any of us submit to scripture perfectly. We don’t. But in the heart of every true child of God there is a longing to trust, submit, follow and obey, even when it’s hard to do so.
Here in the south, we have a lot of people who grew up learning about the Bible. They have a fair amount of knowledge about God’s word. The have a lot of respect for God’s word. They know verses. They believe the Bible is God’s word. But at the end of the day, many of these same people decide how to live their lives based on what seems reasonable to them even when it conflicts with God’s word.
They admire the Bible. They value the Bible. They may even claim the Bible is God’s word and it’s true. But their lives are not governed by the Bible.
Psalm 119 is all about the importance of God’s word. It’s the longest Psalm, with 176 verses. With a few exceptions, every verse in this long Psalm is about how much the Psalmist loves, treasures, cherishes and trusts in the word of God.
Here’s how Psalm 119 begins.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!
The English word obey is not found in Psalm 119. But the word “keep” or “kept” or “keeping” is found four times in those first four verses. That word is found 30 times in this Psalm.
There is a lot in this Psalm about delighting in God’s word and meditating of God’s word and trusting God’s word. But all of that is for nothing if we don’t keep God’s word. If we don’t walk in God’s word. If we aren’t doers of God’s word.
Are you a doer of God’s word? Not just a reader or a studier or even a mediator or memorizer or even a delighter? Are you a doer?
In the years ahead, there will be more and more pressure on you and your children to follow the wisdom of the culture. There will be scholarly loopholes created to give you an escape hatch. There will be cleverly constructed “reinterpretations” of scripture that will pretend to offer you a way to affirm the truth of the Bible without having to believe the parts that are on “the wrong side of history.”
As long as God gives me breath, I trust I will continue to affirm, declare and teach the complete sufficiency, perspicuity (look it up) and authority of God’s word. My goal will be to call you to have confidence in what the scriptures clearly teach. And I will continue to call all of us to not only believe the Bible, but to obey the Bible. To be doers of the word.
I’ll close with this quote I’ve shared before. It’s an all time favorite from A. W. Tozer. In a book published in 1966, Tozer wrote “Moral power has always accompanied definitive beliefs. Great saints have always been dogmatic. We need right now a return to a gentle dogmatism that smiles while it stands stubborn and firm on the Word of God that liveth and abideth forever.”
youth mission trip to st louis
I hope you’re praying for our students as they are in St. Louis this week, serving local churches there. As most of you know, Redeemer is part of a church planting network known as the Great Commission Collective. Our students are working with Harvest Church St. Louis to help them and other neighboring churches with a variety of service projects and outreach efforts.
|The students have been helping our St. Louis church partners get ready for an upcoming VBS, creating some scenery and props.|
|They’ve been out canvasing neighborhoods near the church inviting people to bring their kids to the VBS, along with gospel tracts, copies of the Jesus film on DVD in six languages and information about the church.|
|They’ve been helping with some landscaping and service projects at New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church.|
|They’ve also had some opportunities to have a little St. Louis fun – getting frozen custard and Ted Drews, sampling locally made chocolate, and getting to feed baby goats and see the Clydesdales at Grant’s Farm.|
|At my urging, they’ve also sampled some classic St. Louis style pizza from Imo’s. We’ll hear a full report from the group this Sunday. In the meantime, please continue to pray for them.|
REDEEMER WORK DAY
|Thanks to all who have let me know you’ll be coming out this Saturday morning at 9:00 to help us dig our post holes for our fencing in the playground area. I think we have a great crew lined up.|
Next Saturday, June 18 is our “all hands on deck” workday in the playground area. We’ll be installing the fencing and assembling a gazebo. We’d love to have as many of you as possible show up at 9:00 am that morning. Many hands make light work. And there will be pizza for all who can join us!
BACKYARD BIBLE CLUB!
|Have you registered your children yet for the Backyard Bible Club. Do it now! We need to know how many will be coming. And be sure to invite your children’s friends to join us as well. You can click this link to register your kids.|
|And did you send an email last week to any parents letting them know about what we have going on? I’ve made it easy for you to cut, paste and send. How about doing it right now?|
Dear ____ ,
Our church (Redeemer Community Church of Little Rock) is having a weeklong Backyard Bible Club this summer for kids fifth grade and younger. It’s the week of June 27 – July 1, and it’s each morning that week from 9:30 – 11:00. It’s going to be all about the Ten Commandments. I thought maybe your kids would be interested. And I thought maybe by the end of June, you might be looking for an activity like this to keep your kids busy for an hour and a half in the mornings!
The Backyard Bible Club is free, but you do need to enroll your kids. You can do that by clicking here. And if you have any questions, let me know and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll see what I can find out!
WHAT’S HAPPENING AT RCC IN JUNE
We have a lot happening this Sunday. In addition to an update on the student mission trip, we’ll be hearing about a ministry that brings healing and hope to those who have experienced the trauma of abortion. And we’ll begin a five week summer series on some of Jesus’ parables, looking this week at the Parable of the Wedding Feast found in Matthew 22.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!