Monday, November 26, 2007

Sizzling scriptures

2 Timothy 3v10-17 Gospel power.

By contrast there is Timothy. In chapter 1v3-5 we're given some biography. He learned the gospel from his mother and grandmothers as they taught him the scriptures from childhood. The same way each of us learned it. One way or another, the message of the scriptures reached us whether through the reformers and bible translators, through preachers and authors, through songwriters and church leaders. Somehow, somewhere along the line the scriptures came to you. For me it was probably through the fruit of Wycliffe & co's Bible translating, the liturgy of Thomas Cramner, the songs of Graham Kendrick.... The scriptures have a two-fold effect:
  • Enwisening for salvation. 3v15
  • Equipping for living. 3v17.
One message. Two effects. One gospel to start and to finish. Jesus for salvation and Jesus for living. No extras required. No more than grace just more of it. David Prior observes we never move on from the cross only into a deeper grasp of it. Why do the scriptures have this effect? Look at v16. The scriptures are described here as God-breathed. That is to say they are exhaled by God. Written words on the breath of God, as all words come on breath. Not 'inspired by' but 'expired by' Wayne Grudem observes that all the words in scripture are God's words in such a way that to disbelieve any word of scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God. The Scriptures are God's words written. So, what's it like when God speaks? Here's the strategy, consider the examples in scripture and we'll see how we should approach all scripture. Start at the start. Think of the first time God spoke (not the first thing God did - remember before time he gave us grace in Christ! - and the Father, Son & Holy Spirit were living in loving fellowship for eternity past)... God said: let there be light. And there was light! Matter of fact. Said and done. Utterly effective.

What God says happens simply because he says it. His words are universe-creating. That is phenomenal authority. Then He speaks to the waters to divide them. It happens. Try it yourself – it will not work. But when God speaks such things are easy. And the authority of God's word wratchets up a exponetially when we meet Jesus, whose every move fulfils all the scripture, and who rules the church by his word. The same words, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4v6 open our blind eyes to see the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus. No surprise that it was the scriptures that made Timothy wise for salvation.
This is what the words of God do.
Universe-creating.
Glory-displaying. Heart-changing.
Soul-converting. Sin-killing.
Nation-shattering. World-renewing.
God's word is unchained.
Thursday, April 21st 2005. My sister's 24th birthday. I awoke at 5.45am to go to the bathroom. I felt some water on the floor with my bare feet, barely awake and thinking that I'd need to mop up the tiles in a hour or two. I did what I was there to do and then went to wash my hands. Reached for the taps and then was flung back across the room with a jolt. The metal taps had become electrified. Standing in a pool of water probably didn't help me very much as the shock passed through my body. Woke me up good and proper. Sizzling.

What are you expecting when you come to the word of God. Are you expecting to read just any other book? Or are you expecting and electrifying experience that jolts life back into your soul. The scriptures sizzle with the power of God. And so any ministry built upon the word will be dynamic and life-changing. Full of power, unlike the fakes surrounding Pastor Tim.

The fakes have only devilish imitation. But with the scriptures Timothy has the most tasty words of all – sweeter than honey, and like a Christmas Pudding coated in alcohol his ministry will sizzle with divine power, aflame with the Spirit of God, ultimately more impressive than all the spark and style of the fakers. The scriptures bring us to salvation. They show us the grace of God in Jesus and by them we are enwisened, and come to repentance. Simply, read the Bible to become a Christian. But, as we saw before. Grace to save. Grace to strengthen. So too, scriptures to save, scriptures to strengthen. It's not that the Bible reveals Jesus so we can become Christians and then we move on to something different to keep us going. No, the same scriptures teach us all we need for life.

They are, v16, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. So much so, they equip us for every good work!! The life-giving promises of God-spoken strengthen us in grace. Powerful-Christianity is going to be scriptural-Christianity. When the Bible is open real change starts to happen. The effects will be unpopular (v12) and persecution is assured. But, what could we want to do than every good work? And how could we do them if we are not equipped?

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