Each week at Gateway we gather to explore God’s word. Our goal is to help translate the scriptures from their first century setting into our post-Christian context.
But what about the scriptures themselves?
What do these stories really have to do with us?
Are they really inspired? Inerrant? Infallible?
In this message we explored the history, reliability and relevancy of these ancient texts to our lives today.
A Story to Join
God inspired the authors of Scripture by his Spirit to speak to all generations of believers, including us today. The biblical narrative was not written simply out of an interest in the past but also to provide a picture of the promises of God, which will come to pass in the future.
The unfinished narrative functions like an unfinished play, in which those who belong to Jesus Christ are now called to be the actors, taking forward the drama towards its intended conclusion.
God calls us to immerse ourselves in this authoritative narrative communally and individually to faithfully interpret and live out that story today as we are led by the Spirit of God. It is by soaking ourselves in the entire drama that we, God’s people in Christ Jesus, are to live with and under scripture’s authority. Not simply by knowing which bits to look up on which topics, but by becoming people of this story. People formed and shaped in our imaginations and intuitions by the overall narrative, so that we come to know not only what scripture says on particular topics but why it says those things.
Seeing the Bible in terms of its great story enables believers to develop a layered and nuanced hermeneutic which retains the full authority of the whole Bible while enabling us to understand why it is, for instance, that some parts of the Old Testament are still directly relevant to us while others are not, and how this is not arbitrary but rooted in serious theological and exegetical principle.
The story begins with Creation and Fall (Genesis 1-3) as the first two acts, then Israel (Old Testament), then Jesus himself (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), and then the act of the Church (Acts & Epistles), in which we ourselves are still living, whose final scene of renewal we know from passages like Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 21 and 22.
The Interpretive Key
The true purpose, center, and interpretive key to scripture is Jesus Christ. 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.
“In its entirety and in all its parts [Scripture] is nothing but this witness of Christ, his life, his death, and his resurrection” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
John Stott wrote in Understanding the Bible that, “the Bible is primarily a book of neither science, nor of literature, nor of philosophy, but of salvation… The salvation for which the Bible instructs us is available 'through faith in Christ Jesus.' Therefore, since scripture concerns salvation and salvation is through Christ, Scripture is full of Christ. Jesus himself thus understood the entire and function of the Bible. 'The Scriptures,' he said, 'testify about me.'… Our savior Jesus Christ himself is Scripture’s unifying theme.”
“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true Word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit, and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him.” - C.S. Lewis
When the risen Christ encounters a few of his confused disciples after his death and resurrection he gives them this interpretive key. "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." (Luke 24v27). Jesus is saying that everything in the Bible is about me! Beginning with Moses and the law and the Prophets, it’s all about me.
In the end, there are only two ways to read the Bible; is it basically about me or basically about Jesus?
Is it basically a set of moral principles — about what I must do?
Or is it basically the story of Jesus — about what he has done?
If you think the Bible is all about you - about what you must do and how you must live and how you have to do the right things to receive God’s blessing, then you don’t need a Messiah. All you need is the list of rules! Or you can read every part of the Bible as if its all about Jesus Christ and what He has done for you!
This is the message of the Bible: we’re not saved by what we do, we’re saved by what He did!