Here is a recap of the lesson that I shared on January 14, 2023. The title of the sermon was "Wrestling the Bile? " The lesson was deeply rooted in the wisdom of Paul's letters to Timothy, particularly focusing on 2 Timothy 3:16-17. This message is part of our ongoing series, "Wrestling with Doubt, Finding Faith."
Paul's guidance in these verses is foundational. He asserts that all Scripture is God-breathed and serves to teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness. This forms the cornerstone of our lesson: the nature of the Bible as a tool for instruction and preparation for every good work. However, is it a tool for perfection? Many people believe so.
In this series, we've encountered diverse reactions. Some have embraced it, finding resonance in their journey of faith and doubt. Others question its relevance, feeling confident in their faith without doubts. This divergence of views is exactly why this series is crucial. It's not just for those who doubt, but also to equip those without doubts to understand and aid those who do.
A striking revelation came from a gathering with fellow ministers in Lake County. We realized that only about one-third of Lake County actively participates in the life of one or any church. This statistic led us to ponder why many stay away from the church. Common reasons include perceptions of hypocrisy, weariness, and doubts about faith. But these are the very issues we aim to address through our series.
Today's sermon focused on effectively exploring and wrestling the Bible--because it was given to us as a tool, not as a deity. Acknowledging that wrestling with Scripture is a part of reading it, we explored its power and nature. I emphasized that faith is not about being persuaded or brainwashed into a set of beliefs. Instead, it's about being inspired to seek answers, to question, and to develop a deeper understanding.
We delved into the historical context of Paul's writings. When Paul referred to all Scripture being God-breathed, he only had the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. This raises intriguing questions about the nature of Scripture and its interpretation.
An important aspect of our lesson was the acknowledgment of doubts and questions within the Bible itself. The Bible isn’t just a set of instructions; it's a complex, living document that invites engagement, questioning, and reflection. We examined how Jesus himself often engaged with and questioned the Scriptures. e.g. Matt 12:1-8
Our lesson also touched on the infallibility or Inerrancy of the Scriptures. Fancy words to ask... Is the Bible Holy because it is perfect, or is it Holy because it talks to us about a perfect God in an imperfect church, in a broken world? This led us to explore the essence of the Word of God and the Word of God. In John 1:14, we see that the Word [Jesus] became flesh in Jesus Christ, the perfect embodiment of God's word.
In addressing the difficult passages of the Bible, particularly those involving violence or seemingly contradictory messages, we were reminded to read Scripture through the lens of love and purpose. We contemplated whether certain passages reflect God's heart or the cultural context of their time. I recommend that we use Matthew 37: 39-40 as the foundation of our reading and wrestling with the Bible. And we should also use Matthew 7:12 as a frame or, at the very least, for balance.
I also shared personal anecdotes, drawing parallels between the doubts and questions we encounter in faith and those in everyday life. These stories served to humanize and relate the complexities of faith to our daily experiences.
The sermon concluded with an encouragement to embrace our questions and doubts, not as obstacles but as opportunities for growth and deepening of faith. We were reminded that a holy life isn't about perfection but about living with purpose and reflecting Christ's unselfish love in all we do.
In essence, today's message from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 was an invitation to engage with the Bible not as a static text but as a dynamic, living conversation with God. It's about finding our place within the grand narrative of God's love and redemption and understanding how Scripture guides us to live out that love in our lives.
Sermon Slides - Click the Link below