“The Bible tells us not how we should talk with God but what he says to us; not how we find the way to him, but how he has sought and found the way to us; not the right relation in which we must place ourselves in him, but the covenant which he has made with all who are Abraham’s spiritual children and which he has sealed once for all in Jesus Christ. It is this which is within the Bible. The Word of God is within the Bible.” ~Karl Barth
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” ~Psalm 119:103
After Oasis last night I visited for about an hour here in my study with some folks who wanted some more information about Legacy. We talked about spiritual formation and children’s education and Small Groups and new buildings and worship styles and evangelism. And we did our very best to stay off that A-B Line of thinking and talking. And right in the middle of our conversation, one man looked right at me and said, “You know what I really like about Legacy? I love how much Scripture is read here.”
Sadly, the holy Word of God isn’t read publicly anymore in too many churches. I cringe as I write those words. And I hate to believe that it’s true. But it is.
While I was in school at Austin Grad I served as a roaming visiting preacher, trying to get my feet wet, trying to gain some experience, trying very hard not to embarrass myself or the poor person who had invited me to speak. Inevitably, someone from the church would call me a few days in advance of my visit and ask for a Scripture reading. And on more than a few occasions, the kind person on the other line would balk at my suggestion.
“That seems too long,” the person would say. “Can we shorten that a little?”
“It’s six verses!” I’d reply. “Ideally, I’d like to have the whole chapter read.”
In too many churches the only time Scripture is read is right before the sermon, generally just one or two verses, usually by a pre-teen or teenager who’s not looked at the passage until the moment he’s standing before the holy assembly of God’s people.
I’m delighted that, here at Legacy, we uphold the Word of God and give it the prominence it deserves in our Christian assemblies. The Word is read publicly in big, meaty chunks. The Word opens our assemblies. It closes our assemblies. It’s read at the Table. It’s read by our elders and ministers. It’s read by the entire congregation in unison. It’s read by our young children and our older men.
And there’s a reason for that. Actually, there are many reasons for that.
The Bible is an instrument of God’s holy communication. God acts through his Word. He speaks through his Word. God is his Word. The Bible is not a book of man’s thoughts about God and the actions of God; the Bible is God’s intimate actions and thoughts about and regarding man. The Word of God creates and sustains life. The Word transforms us into his image. It gets inside us and shapes us. It molds us and moves us. It’s the vehicle by which God reveals himself to man. It saves. It’s the standard by which we’ll be judged. But the Word of God is not a threat or a burden. It’s a delight. It’s our hope and our joy. It’s our protection against temptation and sin. We live by the Word of God. Without the Word of God, we live in famine.
And so we read it here at Legacy. All the time.
And I was very glad last night when my new friend noticed.