Summer was just beginning to turn into fall when college began. In one particular class, there was a mix of students. Some were freshman, eager about finally starting college, yet slightly apprehensive about their new life. Some were sophomores, excited about seeing friends again, and of the opinion that classes just interfered with their fun. Some were juniors, glad they were halfway done with college, but not exactly thrilled about having to take an early morning class with freshman. And some were even seniors, who were looking forward to graduating and wondering why they hadn’t already taken this required class. The class in question was Religious Studies 101; a requirement to graduate from this Christian university. The professor started class by handing out the syllabus and going through, highlighting the important details. He paused when he came to the part about class discussion. “I want to make clear,” he said, “that everyone will be required to participate. It is part of your grade. Furthermore, it must be a meaningful contribution to the discussion. As much of our discussion will revolve around the meaning of biblical text, I want you to be able to defend why you think the text means what you are saying. And - this is the important part - you CANNOT say ‘the Bible says.’ I want to know where, exactly, in the Bible.”
During 2018, you journeyed along with The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries, Inc. through an in-depth study of the Power of Words. Every month, we looked at a different way words could be used - some for good and some for evil. We ended our year-long study where we began, in the beginning.
In the beginning God (Elohim) created [by forming from nothing] the heavens and the earth… And God said … (Genesis 1:1, 3a, AMP) In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. (John 1:1, AMP)
Bible studies - and even Sunday Services - can often have a heavy focus on the New Testament, specifically the Gospels and Jesus’ teachings - the Red Letter parts of the Bible! And they are important! They should be studied! But as John acknowledges at the very beginning of his Gospel, Jesus is the Word. He always has been and always will be. The entire Bible is the Word of God! It is important to study the entirety of God’s Word!
As Christians, we need to be able to defend our faith - just as those aforementioned students need to be able to defend their thoughts. And like those students, we should not be content simply saying, “the Bible says…” We should want to be able to provide context of why a passage is relevant in supporting what we are saying! After all, anyone can say, “the Bible says…”
It’s not always knowing the exact chapter and verse (many struggle with this!), but knowing the context so that single verses cannot be taken out of context and/or twisted to serve misguided arguments. Who was the author? Who was speaking? To whom were they speaking? Were they in the right? When was it said? What was going on in the world at the time? Is another portion of scripture being referenced? Was the author approving, disapproving, or merely recording events. Without context someone may walk away thinking that to divine God’s will we are to summon up the spirits, through a medium, of past prophets! (1 Samuel 28)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-8, ESV)
God - Jesus is the Word. The Bible is one of the many ways He communicates with His children and provides them with instructions. It is only from Him that we can be given true wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7, 2:6, James 1:5). To gain knowledge, to supplement our faith, to increase our self-control and love, can only be obtained through studying the Word of God. Not just reading it, not just knowing the words, but by studying, and living what we have learned!
Today, in our social justice, politically correct world, it is more important than ever to be able to defend our faith - with context! Many people, many Christians, labor under the false idea that becoming a Christian - accepting Salvation - is their final stop in their salvation journey. But salvation is just the first step of a lifelong journey. So start you engines! Pull out of the driveway and join The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries, Inc. on a road trip through the Scriptures!
Our 2019 journey begins on Tuesday, January 1, 2019! Join us on the first of every month as we travel through the Word of God and experience its timelessness and how it continues to relate and guide us through the world today!