Stephen Manley has been teaching, preaching, and saturating within the Word of God for six decades. In today’s How to Study the Bible post, he shares five assumptions he has come across that affect how we approach the Word of God. Find out more about Stephen on his website or follow him on Twitter.
Our personal culture and traditions embed into us many assumptions. According to the English Dictionary an assumption is “something taken for granted or accepted as true without proof; a supposition.” We learn them as children and have a difficult time unlearning them as adults. There are many assumptions concerning the position of the Word of God in our personal lives and in the life of the church. They may not be spoken but they influence our saturation in the Scriptures.
1. The Part-time Ritualist
This individual views the Scriptures as simply one aspect or influence in a person’s life. He sees the Sunday morning sermon as only one piece of the action through which God may or may not speak to the congregation. God may reveal Himself through the singing, the pastoral prayer, or even the responsive reading. Exposing the Word of God through preaching is not the core of the worship service. In his personal life, this individual considers the Bible as only one avenue through which Jesus may reveal Himself. A personal friend, a counseling session, a beautiful song, or even nature are all equal instruments for God’s revelation. This individual does not saturate in the Scripture searching carefully for more of Jesus.
2. The People Lecturer
This view of the Scriptures assumes the value of the Bible is in its data and information. One approaches the Word of God with a keen academic desire. They view preaching as the opportunity to express knowledge which quickly becomes a display of their own wisdom more than the revelation of Jesus. At the conclusion of their sermon, one is amazed at how much they know. They are a virtual information dump of an amazing amount of data. How they learned and memorized such a vast amount of facts is the question. These individuals miss the wonder of embracing Jesus through saturation in His Word.
3. The Pitchman
He stands in front of the side show at the carnival calling out to those who are passing by. “Get your ticket! See the bearded lady,” he cries! Many people view preaching as the opportunity to “pitch” their program to the congregation. What are they selling this morning? It may be missions, a building program, tithing, or Sunday school. If the Word of God is used it is simply a re-enforcement to their sales pitch. No wonder those who have this assumption do not saturate in the Word of God. It is simply a means or tool to use for a personal sales pitch.
4. The Piety Foreman
The pastor turns to the visiting evangelist. As they make their way to the Sunday morning service, he states, “Give it to them, this morning!” The Word of God is a whip to beat people back into obedience. They misbehave all week long and need to be corrected. The Word of God is simply a tool to correct those who have gone astray. These individuals search the Scriptures to verify their own actions and condemn those around them. They miss Jesus in their search.
5. The Persuader
Obviously the above assumptions are incorrect. There may be elements of all of these in our search of the Scriptures, but they must never become the core of our saturation. The proper view of the Scriptures is found in the PERSUADER. This individual views the Scriptures as the central influence in his life. It is the primary means by which he will find and know Jesus.
The Living Word (Jesus) and the Written Word (Scripture) have come together. As we saturate in the Written Word the Living Word is energizing and quickening the pages to bring new revelation. The Words of the page become the spoken Word of Jesus to the believer’s heart. His words persuade us. No wonder we saturate in the Scriptures. When we preach we expose the Word of God. This is the most powerful persuasive tool at our disposal. We would not waste our time in any worship service by exposing anything but the Word of God.
Where are you? Which assumptions are you making about the Word of God and your personal study of it? Would you ask Jesus to give you a posture of heart where He opens the understanding of His Word when you read it? Ask that He would give you such a passion for Scripture that it becomes central and the foundation of your life?