The Bible Helps Us Today
Matthew 7:24-27 “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.”
“these words”.Jesus is referring to His Sermon on the Mount here. It is one thing to hear andbelieve. It’s another to hear and obey!
Scripture helps us with modern problems. We have unique things going on today that weren’t happening 2,4,6 thousand years ago. John Wesley offered three tools to use when interpreting Scripture and applying it to our lives: church tradition, reason and experience. And the United Methodist labeled this approach the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. This is how we Methodists are called to apply the truth of Scripture to our personal and social lives.
The Bible is the primary authority for our faith. We study the Scriptures prayerfully, looking for connections to the life we live and the decisions we are called to make. It is our map, our guide and our GPS system. It speaks to us about what God expects of our lives, our thoughts and our actions. Though written long ago it is still pertinent and relevant today.
Interpreting it through tradition is us using 2000 years of church teachings.
“Through reason” is using our brains, but only when combined with tradition and experience, because we can make Scripture say what we want. A lot of people do. And that’s very dangerous.
Experience is how it becomes personal to us. We read it through our own filter of our experiences.
We each use all three of these when reading and interpreting Scripture and that’s why everyone of us can read the same text and come to different conclusions about the way it speaks to our lives. We can even study the same text two years later and have it say something different to us. It’s a living Word.
John Wesley suggested the following list of ways to study Scripture;
1. Set aside every day for reflection on Scripture.
2. Read with the single intention of knowing the will of God and make it your resolution to follow it.
3. Begin with prayer so that your understanding of Scripture is shaped by the Spirit who inspired it. Close with prayer so the words you read will be embedded in your heart.
4. Pause to exam yourself by what you read in order to praise God for the ways your life has conformed to God’s will and be conscious of the ways in which you’ve fallen short.
5. Use whatever insight you have immediately so that the written word will have its full power in your life.
Prayer and Scripture – spending time in each – are the non-negotiable essentials for the journey of discipleship. They are practices by which we become faithful disciples whose lives are centered on Jesus and through whom the love of God begins to transform the world.