August 18, 2019

Wednesday with Michael Spencer: Gods Words and the Word

Wednesday with Michael Spencer
In which Michael cuts through the noise and makes a central point about the Bible.

I believe that confessional Christianity wisely focuses on the ultimate, final purpose of the Bible, and not on the mechanism used to achieve that result.

This is wise, because there will always be vast disagreement over the nature of the Biblical material, and what kind of books they are. This diversity of views has always been true, and will continue as the Bible is studied.

What must be noted, however, is that those who see, for example, the Gospels as exact reports of conversations and events, and those who see the Gospels as literary creations drawing portraits of Jesus for theological purposes, will both sit under the teaching of the Word, with open Bible and open hearts, listening for the Spirit to illuminate the Word so that Christ may be known, worshiped, obeyed and loved.

We may disagree on whether the Bible meant to tell us the age of the earth in scientific terms. We may disagree about dinosaurs on the ark. We may disagree over why there are two temple cleansings by Jesus at two different times in his ministry. We may disagree over whether there are multiple authors to Biblical books. We may disagree over whether all of Jesus’ exorcisms were demon possession rather than physical/mental conditions unknown at the time. We may disagree on these things and still say:

All we know about Salvation by grace through faith by Christ comes from the Bible. That is what I believe. I have a view on Genesis, and a view on Job and a view on the Gospels. My views are, as best I can understand it, in line with what I believe these books are, and what they were written to be. I want to understand these texts so I can clearly hear their message. But at the end of the process, I read the Bible as God’s Word to me about the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. I come to scripture to know Jesus, and to hear the Word of my salvation.

Comments

  1. Robert F says

    All we know about Salvation by grace through faith by Christ comes from the Bible.

    Not sure I agree. I believe that at this time that the Bible is indispensable to the church, for a number of reasons, but there was a time in the history of the church when the canon we have now, this collection of scriptures, did not exist, yet the church existed, and knowledge of “Salvation by grace through faith by Christ” existed; that was the situation for several centuries. And I believe that God can make Christ known even now quite apart from the Bible, and people can know him though they do not know his name or the Bible.

    • I think if I were writing those words today, I would say, “All we know about Salvation by grace through faith by Christ comes from the Bible through the church.”

      It is the faith community in Christ, led by the Spirit, that gave us the Bible and has preserved and proclaimed the gospel it teaches over the centuries. It has obviously done so imperfectly, nevertheless it has been God’s vehicle to bring his Word to the world through his words.

      • Christiane says

        I can agree with this.

        There is something ‘at work’ in the Church which ‘builds’ on what came before and which ‘passes on’ what was given to be treasured and shared with all who needed it. Imperfect humans? Yep. But that’s okay. We can’t do it all. We each of us and in a living community of faith are a part of a ‘whole’ and we do what we can. The ‘whole’ includes God’s grace, and that makes all the difference.

        I’ve heard it explained like this:

        ““It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
        The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
        We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
        Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
        No statement says all that could be said.
        No prayer fully expresses our faith.
        No confession brings perfection.
        No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
        No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
        No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

        This is what we are about:
        We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
        We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
        We lay foundations that will need further development.
        We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

        We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
        This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
        It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.” (O. Romero)

      • senecagriggs says

        Amen C.M.

        I think if I were writing those words today, I would say, “All we know about Salvation by grace through faith by Christ comes from the Bible through the church.”

        It is the faith community in Christ, led by the Spirit, that gave us the Bible and has preserved and proclaimed the gospel it teaches over the centuries. It has obviously done so imperfectly, nevertheless it has been God’s vehicle to bring his Word to the world through his words.

    • –> “All we know about Salvation by grace through faith by Christ comes from the Bible.”

      Here’s another idea…

      “All we know about the POSSIBILITY of Salvation by grace through faith by Jesus comes from Scripture.”

      I’ve been leading a study in Isaiah for the past year, and it just struck me that without the prophetic words that raise the idea about there even being a Savior/Messiah, would any of us have our faith in Christ? If Isaiah and other books of the OT did not exist, would Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection have registered?

      What I’m getting at it, not only is it “All we know about Salvation by grace through faith by Christ comes from the Bible,” but it’s also, “All we know about the possibility of that even existing comes from the Bible/Scripture as well.”

      So my personal addendum to Michael’s final statement “I read the Bible as God’s Word to me about the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. I come to scripture to know Jesus, and to hear the Word of my salvation,” would be:

      “And I read the Bible to remind myself that this Salvation was foretold through the OT writings and clearly God’s plan all along.”

  2. senecagriggs says

    I think if I were writing those words today, I would say, “All we know about Salvation by grace through faith by Christ comes from the Bible through the church.”

    It is the faith community in Christ, led by the Spirit, that gave us the Bible and has preserved and proclaimed the gospel it teaches over the centuries. It has obviously done so imperfectly, nevertheless it has been God’s vehicle to bring his Word to the world through his words.
    ________

    I like that R.R.