How does the Holy Spirit engage with us?
So what, really, is the Bible?
The Bible. What a misunderstood book. Certainly not by those early believers, who trusted and obeyed the Hebrew Scriptures as their instructions for living. Not so now by many Christians. We need to realise that it is not a dead tome. It is a living oracle, God’s mouthpiece, even many Christians fail to understand this. In the words of Abraham Heschel:
“The Bible is an eternal expression of a continuous concern; God’s cry for man; not a letter from one who sent out a message and remained indifferent to the attitude of the recipient. It is not a book to be read but a drama in which to participate; not a book about events but itself an event, the continuation of the event, while our being involved in it is the continuation of the response. The event will endure so long as the response will continue. When we open it as if it were a book, it is silent; as a spiritual power it is a voice …”
The Church has historically used this book as a loud hailer for its beliefs, or even as battering ram to enforce them. It is telling that for many centuries the Bible was hidden from the common man, so that the clergy could enforce their own interpretations. It is even more telling that it is now the world’s number #1 bestseller and we still rely on the clergy to interpret it for us. This is fine if we can always trust the clergy, but, as we have seen, a Church that has severed itself from its Jewish (and biblical) roots is not going to be the best place to go to always understand what this Book is actually saying.
So Hebraic Church is going to have to go back to basics to draw out many truths that have been lost. It should encourage open-ended study, where the model is to use constant questioning to tease out truths, even if there are no clear answers. That’s the Hebraic way, all about engagement with God through His Word but not always receiving timely neat answers. Bible study is a life-long pursuit, we’re never going to suss everything out, but we need to be open to what God wants to teach us or tell us. That’s how He works. It’s all very practical. We engage with Him through prayer and Bible study, then He tells us what we should do with our lives, whether generally or specifically, then we go ahead and do it. Remember, function before form, the Holy Scriptures are more to direct our actions than feed our knowledge. And, as an extension of this idea:
The Bible should speak to us primarily about God, rather than be used as a reference book for the plans of man.
We especially need an understanding of the much reviled and neglected Old Testament. Did Jesus come to destroy Torah or promote it? Are the biblical festivals for Christians? What about the Sabbath? These are all important questions and have rarely been asked because the Church has traditionally been taught that the New Testament has replaced the Old, just as the Church has supposedly replaced the Jews.
All that remains to say here is to encapsulate everything into one single thought, expressed earlier:
Thought #5: The Bible is God’s mouthpiece
This is an extract from the book, Hebraic Church, available for £10 at http://www.sppublishing.com/hebraic-church-101-p.asp