Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Union with Christ and the Bible
The aim of the Christian life is union with Christ (Phil 1:21; Galatians 2:20) and one of the ways to achieve this is familiarity with and constant reading and meditation of the scriptures. But how are we to read it? Here is Dallas Willard:
"We will be spiritually safe in our use of the Bible if we follow a simple rule: read in a repentant manner. That is, read with readiness to surrender all we are, all our plans, opinions, possessions, positions. Study as intelligently as possible, with all available means, but never ever merely to find the truth and still less merely to prove anything. Subordinate your desire to find the truth, and your desire to have others do the truth, to your desire to DO IT YOURSELF.
Those who wish to hear the Word and know the truth often are not prompted by their desire to DO it. The light such people find frequently proves to be their own snare and condemnation."
In search of guidance - Willard page 172-3
Willard refers to the writings of William Law:
"Therefore the Scriptures should only be read in an attitude of prayer, trusting to the inward working of the Holy Spirit to make their truths a living reality within us."
"there is a simple technique or routine that all believers, no matter how trained or untrained, can follow with assurance that the very bread of life will be spread for them on the pages of the Scriptures. It is a practice very similar to one encouraged by Madame Guyon in her little book, SHORT AND VERY EASY WAY OF PRAYER, first published in 1688 in Lyons, France (republished under the title Experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ)....
When you come to the Scriptures as a part of our conscious strategy to cooperate with God for full redemption of our life, we must desire that his will in all things revealed should be true for us. Next, we begin with those parts of the Scripture with which we have some familiarity, such as the Twenty third Psalm, the Lord's Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13, or Romans 8.
Remember these words of Thomas a Kempis, it will help you:
"Of what use it is to discourse learnedly on the Trinity, if you lack humility and therefore displease the Trinity? Lofty words do not make a man just or holy, but a good life makes him dear to God. I would far rather feel contrition than be able to define it. If you know the whole Bible by heart, and all the teachings of the philosophers, how would this help you without the grace and the love of God?"
Your aim must be only to nourish your soul on God's word to you. Hence, go to those parts you already know, and count on your later growth and study to lead you to other parts that will be useful."
Ibid page 174