I learned years ago from Os Guinness that effective knowledge of Holy Scripture begins with a scriptural truth that orients your entire study of God’s word. For most believers in all of Christian History, who first learned it from their Jewish forebears, that truth was most wonderfully revealed in the first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God….” From this everything else followed.
When Christ Jesus came into the world, it was revealed as well that “In the beginning was the Word….” (John 1:1) Henceforth, the deepest insight into the heart and will of God would be found only in him who was that Word. All that had come before would now be seen through the lens of the coming of the Son of God, who came in love for the salvation of the world.
A disciple of Jesus is a man or woman who is determined, by God’s grace, to follow the Son of God as Savior and Lord. He or she is determined to be bound by obedience, in love, to him who is the incarnate Word of God. Jesus is the “lens” through which we see reality. The words of Jesus, the Word of God, become for us the word of God that we obey.
How do we begin to do that?
There is only one answer. We begin to learn to “abide” in his word (John 8:31). Abiding means holding to, being steeped in, being connected with, and obeying what Jesus said. It is not the same as hearing.
For as long as there have been followers of Jesus, his words have been read to the congregation of believers when they come together on the Lord’s Day. We are to hear them, of course, but it is so we will “mark them, and inwardly digest them.” That means we make them part of who we are. They become the source of our thoughts, our dreams, our prayers, our actions. How does this happen?
Our Lord did from time to time speak in the synagogues, of course, and he did gather and speak to large crowds and small. People heard his words. But the clear evidence of the scriptures shows that the deepest work he did with his most faithful followers was in other settings. What did he impart to them? He imparted to them the word of God.
He taught them the things about himself in the scriptures of ancient Israel. He continuously “schooled” them in the purpose of God as revealed to Israel, and as contained in the scriptures. He prepared them to take this to others, indeed he prepared them to begin the process by which his word would cover the earth. And he spoke the word of God to them incarnately, in himself, so that they would have it always.
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” His word is our guidance for the journey of faith.
— Jon Shuler
New Fall Series – 2016 (4/5)