Friday, 9 September 2011


The Word of God is living...
Do you want to hear from God? We believe God speaks. And there are things to do if you really want to hear from God...

I get really annoyed when I hear people twisting Scripture. I have spent the last two decades learning how to better interpret God's Word by delving into ancient history, the Roman Empire, the classical Greek language, and contextual commentaries. As a result I read Scripture differently. Rather than reading a verse of the Bible in isolation, I now try to read the verse in its context - within the passage, the book, the covenant, and its culture. I follow the Interpreter's Maxim that Scripture interprets Scripture. If a particular verse of the Bible is unclear, then there are probably other verses and passages that complement it and make it clearer. When reading what appears to be a promise in the Bible, rather than immediately "claim it" I first ask, "Whose promise is this?" Some of the promises that God made in the Old Testament were made to Abraham or Israel or David or Solomon, but not to me.

This type of Bible reading is called "exegetical" (ex="out", exegetical means to get out of the text). It is the safest way to read the Bible. But it's not the only legitiamte way to read the Bible. There is a way to read the Bible so that you are "hearing" from God. It involves prayerfully approaching your Bible reading with God-seeking questions.

I'm reading the highly acclaimed biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas. It is truly remarkable how often Bonhoeffer approached the Bible with the prayerful desire to hear God's voice and was clearly guided or comforted by what he read in the Scriptures. What he acheived in his all-too-brief 39 years is staggering. Not many people can lay claim to being an international statesman who changed the course of human history - but Bonhoeffer would easily qualify. Reading his biography, it is very apparent that he knew God, loved God, and spoke for God in what we now realise was predictiveprophecy. Bonhoeffer once scolded a conference of his colleagues for not listening to God. He rebuked them for treating the Bible as a dead book rather than a living one. And Bonhoeffer practiced what he preached.
Hebrews 4:12 ¶ For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
At Bonhoeffer's darkest hours he found the Word of God not merely to be the inerrant, infallible Word of God, but the living Word of God which not just spoke - but spoke to him! Eric Metaxas gives numerous examples of this. These examples provoked me to ponder the numerous ocassions this has happened and still happens in my own reading of Scripture.

If you need to, or are desiring to, hear from God, approach your systematic reading of the Bible with prayerful questions and requests to hear from God.
First Peter 1:23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
Father, speak to us as we read Your Word. We want to hear from You. We want Your guidance. Help us to not only hear Your Word but to heed Your Word. Help us to read Your Word exegetically and devotionally so that we are both informed and inspired - developed and directed. May we know You, the Lord of Peace, in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

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