Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Digging deeper in the Bible

Understanding and interpreting the Bible seems to be a lost 'art' to all too many Christians today - lay and clergy. What is needed are more books on the subject that are easy to read and accessible for those who want to take their faith seriously. After John Stott's "Understanding the Bible" and Gordon Fee's "How to read the Bible for all it's worth" I had all but given up looking for something that could meet the criteria of being erudite and accessible at the same time. Then along came "Dig Deeper" by Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach subtitled "Tools to unearth the Bible's treasure". It is superbly written in a down to earth and witty style managing to convey vital lessons in biblical interpretation in an entertaining and memorable way.

The book includes 17 short chapters presenting a wide range of interpretive tools that help the reader get to the heart of the text before them. Tools include "The Author's Purpose Tool" - which asks the question "why did the author write what he did?" Or "The Linking Words Tool" which highlights the importance of words such as "for" or "therefore" with instructive diagrams to help us understand how to apply their significance in the passage in question. 

Each chapter has a worked example plus questions and suggestions for passages which provide further opportunities to apply the tool discussed. I was so taken with the book that I finished it over two days ready to start again.

I strongly recommend the book not only for individual study but as a teaching tool for use in the parish - something I hope to look at next month.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Sharing your faith the Jesus way

I have often struggled I share my faith with others falling back on rather formulaic methods like the Four Spiritual Laws etc as if that, as a tried and tested way, may cover all the necessary aspects of the faith. The results have been, to say the least, rather poor. That's why the book " Sharing faith the Jesus way" by Jim Currin is such a revelation and a blessing. The premise of the book is a simple one. If you read the gospels you will see Jesus relating to everyone different,y. No formula, no spiritual laws, just dealing with people as individuals and in the on text of their own situation. If you wan mor information there is website. Its http://www.jesus360.org.uk/

A Basis of Faith

I am a member of EFCW - the Evangelical Fellowship of the Church in Wales - an organisation that exists to: "to link in fellowship evangelicals in the Church in Wales, providing leadership, encouragement and support in witness and ministry".

Their Basis of Faith is one which I personally adhere to and so I include it here to see if it resonates with those who are reading this blog and would maybe even consider joining? 

"As members of the Church in Wales within the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, we affirm the faith uniquely revealed in the holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, of which faith the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are a general exposition. Standing in the Reformation tradition, we lay particular emphasis on the grace of God - His unmerited mercy - as expressed in the doctrines which follow.

God as the Source of Grace
In continuity with the teaching of the holy Scriptures and the Christian creeds, we worship one God in three Persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God has created all things, and us in His own image; all life, truth, holiness and beauty come from Him. His Son, Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, rose and ascended to reign in glory.

The Bible as the Revelation of Grace
We receive the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as the wholly reliable revelation and record of God's grace, given by the Holy Spirit as the true word of God written. The Bible has been given to lead us to salvation, to be the ultimate rule for Christian faith and conduct and the supreme authority by which the Church must ever reform itself and judge its traditions.

The Atonement as the Work of Grace
We believe that salvation is in Christ alone. Jesus Christ came to save sinners. Though sinless, He bore our sins and their judgement on the cross, thus accomplishing our salvation. By raising Christ bodily from the dead, God vindicated Him as Lord and Saviour and proclaimed His victory.

New Birth as the Gift of Grace
We proclaim that Christ's atoning work can be effective in the lives of sinners only through the Holy Spirit, who brings us through repentance and faith to new birth, without which no person is a Christian believer.

The Church as the Community of Grace
We hold that the Church is God's covenant community, drawn from every nation, whose believing members, justified by grace through faith, inherit the promises made to Abraham and fulfilled in Christ. As a fellowship of the Spirit, manifesting His fruit and exercising His gifts, it is called to worship God, to grow in grace and to bear witness to Him and His kingdom. God's Church is one body and must ever strive to discover and experience that unity in truth and love which it has in Christ, especially through its confession of the apostolic faith and in its observance of the dominical sacraments.

The Sacraments as Signs and Seals of Grace
We maintain that the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion proclaim the gospel as effective and visible signs of our justification and sanctification, and as true means of God's grace to those who repent and believe. Baptism is the sign of forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Spirit, new birth to righteousness and entry into the fellowship of the people of God. Holy Communion is the sign of the living, nourishing presence of Christ through His Spirit to His people; the memorial of His one, perfect, completed and all-sufficient sacrifice for sin, from whose achievement all may benefit but in whose atoning self-offering none can share; and an expression of our corporate life of sacrificial thanksgiving and service.

Ministry as the Stewardship of Grace

We share, as the people of God, in a royal priesthood common to the whole Church and in the community of the suffering Servant. Our mission is the proclamation of the gospel by the preaching of the word, as well as by caring for the needy, challenging evil and promoting justice and a more responsible use of the world's resources. It is the particular vocation of bishops and presbyters, together with deacons, to build up the body of Christ in truth and love, as pastors, teachers and servants of the servants of God.

Christ's Return as the Triumph of Grace
We look forward expectantly to the final manifestation of Christ's grace and glory when He comes again to raise the dead, judge the world, vindicate His chosen and bring His kingdom to its eternal fulfilment in the new heaven and the new earth.

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity

There is an old religious joke that has been doing the rounds for years which goes like this:`` I was walking across a bridge one day, and ...