Thursday, June 25, 2020

Grounded on the Word (Pt 3)

2 Timothy 3:14 (ESV)
[14] But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [15] and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. [16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

A life and a ministry grounded on the Word of God is like a Light House standing through the fiercest storms, guiding ships through dangerous waters. We need to be grounded on the Word. For the church that I am currently serving as an Interim Pastor, that means four things. I wrote yesterday about grounding our understanding of morality, and our practice on the Word of God. We also want to be grounded on the Word in terms of our theology and stewardship.

I have friends who have strayed from orthodox Christian beliefs. My observation is that they allowed their emotions to drive their understanding of the Scriptures rather than allowing the Scriptures to drive their theology. When we come to the study of God’s Word we cannot begin with a sense of what we believe to be right or true. We must begin with the following questions:
1. What does the text actually say?
2. What does the text mean?
3. How would the original audience have understood the text?
4. How does that apply to my context?
Too often we begin with question 4 and rarely get to the other three questions. But question 4 must come last or it will adversely color our understanding of the Word. Our theology must be grounded in a careful exegesis of the Word of God. Exegesis is a $50 word that means that we draw out of the text what is there rather than reading into the text what we expect or want to find.

2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Awhile back I was shopping for a car. I found one online that I liked, and made arrangements to go see it. The car I saw online looked like a deep forest green to me. When I drove in the yard where the car was, there sat a dark blue car. I said to my wife, “Where it the green car?” and She said, “What green car? The car is blue. The car in the picture online was blue.” My expectations and misperception almost convinced me that someone had pulled a switch. When we come to the scriptures assuming that we know what it will say, we risk the same error. We risk reading what we expect the Word to say rather than paying attention to what it actually says. We must be careful to handle God’s Word carefully. Our theology must be grounded in a careful reading of the Word.

Our stewardship must also be grounded in God’s Word. This deserves a whole sermon in itself. Stewardship is about more than giving money. We were designed to oversee and care for God’s creation. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Gen 1:26). As believers in Jesus Christ we recognize that nothing we have belongs to us. We are stewards of all that we have. When we fail to understand this, our “stuff” becomes our god. Our possessions begin to possess us. Stewardship is about recognizing that all we have belongs to God.

Gifts, tithes, and offerings, are a simple recognition that all we have belongs to God. As believers we do not give simply because we are commanded to give. We are told to give because we need to be reminded that our stuff is not ours. It has been my observation over the years that those with nothing are often more willing to give than those who have much. The more we have, the more our stuff controls us. When we have nothing we more readily recognize those in need, we identify more quickly with them, and we more easily let go. The United States of America is a wealthy nation. We, of all believers, need to learn to loosen our grip on what we have or we risk serving the wrong god. Stewardship is grounded on the Word of God.

A life and a ministry grounded on the Word of God is like a Light House standing through the fiercest storms guiding ships through dangerous waters. We need to be grounded on the Word. We need to ground our understanding of morality, practice, theology, and stewardship. on the Word of God. Anything less is like building on quicksand.

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