WEEK 1: The Word Informs Us
There is little doubt that the Bible is the most influential collection of writings that the Western world has known. On a societal level, the Bible has shaped and influenced philosophy, art, literature, education, politics, health care, in fact the whole of civilisation. On an individual level God has worked through his Word to see countless lives transformed. It has been translated into over 2,200 languages, with translation work continuing in hundreds of places around the world. The Bible Society (a publisher of the Bible) distributes over 500 million Bibles or portions of the Bible annually across all parts of the world. It is estimated that in the past two centuries five billion Bibles have been printed. To put that into a visual picture, if all of these Bibles were stacked on top of each other we would have a tower approximately 78 000 km tall. If they were laid out on the globe, they would circle the world twice. It really is second to none in terms of its impact on humanity.
Of course, for Christians like us, the Bible is not just simply another book that we can learn from, or even a guidebook for life. We call the Bible, “The Word of God”. We believe that the Bible is not only a book about God, but that God himself has inspired those who have authored and collated the writings contained in the Bible, and that the words we read in Scripture carry an authority that is above any earthly authority we assign to other writings.
Much of our life as followers of God is devoted to seeking to understand and apply the Bible, and to make it understandable to others. We desire for Scripture not just to teach us, but for the words (from God) to form our thinking, shape our hearts, and direct our actions. Even more than that, we would say that we meet with, and encounter God in a very real and life transforming way through the Bible. We are going to explore this over the course of the coming weeks in this sixth project.
In the first of the projects, we will consider how the Bible, God’s Word, informs us as Christians and as Christian leaders. In doing that we need to understand some background about how the Bible came to be, and why we consider it and treat it differently to other writings and teachings. We will also touch on how we can best approach the Bible to get the most from it.
You may be familiar with the Scripture from Hebrews 4:12 which states:
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
The image that we have here of the Word of God is that of a sword, a very sharp and powerful weapon. And that it is. A sword that rests in a cupboard or in a chest isn’t serving its purpose. A sword needs to be used for the purpose for which it was designed. It is critical then that we as Christian leaders know how to handle the Bible, this powerful sword as the writer of Hebrews refers to it, in a way that reveals Truth, which shows Jesus as the Way, and brings us to the one who gives us Life.
I’m indebted in many of the thoughts I am sharing in Project 6.1 to a recent book authored by an Australian Bible teacher, Mike Bird, “Seven things I wish Christians knew about the Bible.” I whole heartedly recommend this book to those who want to explore further much of what will be shared in this first part of the project.