mile 4 :: scripture

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  • November 10, 2008

Last night was awesome! What a great night of prayer, conversation, brainstorming, studying, and reflection. Here’s how it went down.

mile 4 :: scripture

What has the Church’s position been on Scripture? Throughout history, how have Christians viewed their Bibles? If a co-worker said, “You’re a Christian. Why is the Bible such a big deal to you? What do you believe about it?”

ScripturesThose are the questions we opened the night with. What followed was a rich conversation about the nature and place of the Scriptures in the life of a believer. We said that the Bible was inspired by God – that in this mysterious but stunning way, the Bible was simultaneously the words of man and the word of God. The Bible was likened to a will, revealing the purposes of God; and a mirror, showing us ourselves; and a guide, showing us the way to God. The Bible was described as being trustworthy and authoritative for matters of faith and practice. The Bible was also the story of God’s initiative to save mankind when we could not save ourselves. Or to put it another way, it is the story of God’s redemption.

Clearly the folks in the room had a high view of the Scriptures. This was no ordinary book. We said that 7 Mile Road Church will be the same way. In the DNA of our church is a commitment to a high view of the Scriptures. And so we want to read the Bible, meditate on the Bible, preach the Bible, sing, pray, believe, and live the Bible.

But we also said, that fundamentally, the Bible is not a book about us – it’s about Jesus. From the 7 Mile Road story in Luke 24, we saw how Jesus, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Someone put it like this, “every book and every chapter and every verse points us to Jesus.”  Right on!  So we spent the majority of the night unpacking what it meant for the Scriptures to primarily be about the person and work of Jesus Christ.  

We shared how we had historically viewed the Bible; as a book that was more about telling us what we were supposed to do to get to God rather than what God had done to get to us. But seeing the Bible’s main theme as being the Gospel – the initiative of God to redeem us – changes everything. Cause now, the Jesus and His Gospel isn’t something you find in the New Testament alone – but throughout the Scriptures. For example, Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:15, “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Here’s the thing, Timothy didn’t have the New Testament like we do today. The sacred writings that he learned from as a child was the Old Testament. And Paul’s contention is that the Old Testament is able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus!

So then we walked through the Scriptures looking for the Gospel everywhere. We went to Genesis 3 and saw the first announcement of the Gospel in Genesis 3:15 where God promises that the seed of the woman would crush the head of God’s enemy. We went to Abraham’s story and saw that he was credited as righteous by faith and not by works as it is through the Gospel. We went to Exodus 20 and saw that before God gave the 10 commandments, He had already brought them out of Egypt (Ex. 20:1). So it’s not that the people obeyed and so God saved them, but that God saved them and then their obedience was to be a response. Gospel precedes law! We went to Isaiah 53 and saw the Suffering Servant pointing to the atoning work of Jesus. Just like Jesus said, beginning with Moses and all the prophets – we saw all of it as pointing to the person and work of Jesus.

We ended our discussion by understanding that the Bible has only one hero – Jesus Christ. If we read the Bible as a book about us, then when we read the stories of David, or Abraham, or Daniel, we’ll read it moralistically and only see that we are to be courageous like David or faithful like Abraham or prayerful like Daniel. But if we read the Bible as about Jesus, we’ll see how each one points us to the One.

I closed by reading the following excerpt that I heard somewhere a while ago:

Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you — it’s about him.

 

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About Ajay Thomas

Ajay lives in Philadelphia with his wife Shainu and their kids Hannah and Micah. He is responsible for preaching and vision as a pastor at Seven Mile Road. He loves God, family, food, and football - in that order.

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