From the Word
“Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
“Why doesn’t God just talk to me and tell me what He wants me to know?” He does. He has given us His Word, His conversation with us. In the nearly twenty years I have served St. Paul’s, many have noticed and remarked about the fact that I favor the study of various books of the Bible, rather than topical studies. That’s true. My thinking is simple, the Bible is God’s conversation with us in the way and the context of His choosing. Topics arise, but they do so in the context God has chosen. There is always a temptation to isolate Bible passages from their context. That’s not to say that topical studies are in some way bad or wrong. They are not. The catechism is a continuous topical study on subject after subject.
We cannot underestimate the value of the Bible as God’s communication with us. The Bible is what God wants us to know in the context He chooses to give it. Some of that conversation is lessons learned in God’s interaction with His people. Part of it is in the things He gave us to help us in our walk of faith, and our worship. He gives us his expectations (Law) and His action on our behalf (Gospel). He teaches us through His direct application of truth (Prophets and Epistles), and even uses poetry and hymns to teach us about our relationship to Him.
His purpose is that we live with Him here by grace and in heaven (John 20:31). That is the consistent theme throughout his Word. He also teaches us lessons of life, but always within the context of salvation. He teaches us a way of thinking that is foreign to those who don’t believe. The world around us is steeped in Law, because that’s all they know. But God calls us to think in terms of grace and truth.
We talk to God in prayer and sometimes wish we had His verbal answer. This is one of the many reasons for us to continually be in God’s Word. We are people of the Word and pray that He would keep us steadfast in, and through, His Word. One of my favorite prayers is one we pray in our liturgy to this day.
“Blessed Lord, who has caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that, by the patience and comfort of Your Holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”