As we draw closer to the beginning of our journey for a lifetime, I have more thoughts about this Bible we study. The collected books that comprise our Bible are called ‘the canon.’ This word comes from the Greek word canon meaning rule or measuring stick. In the case of the Bible, the canon is closed, meaning no books may be added or subtracted. The canon has been developed through much debate on the part of religious leaders and scholars. There are five basic guiding principles for a book being accepted into the Biblical canon. The first question asks is the book authoritative? Does the book come with a divine “thus saith the Lord”? The next question asked is, is the book prophetic. Was it written by a man of God? This is followed by is the book authentic? If in doubt, toss it out. Is the book dynamic? Does it bring life transforming power? And lastly, was the book received, collected, read, and used by the early people of God?
There are two canons in existence today, the Protestant canon and the Catholic canon which includes the books of the apocrypha. The word apocrypha is a Greek word that means hidden. It is believed these books were written somewhere between 200BC and 400 AD. Some Bibles have the apocryphal books between the Old and New Testaments and others have them mixed throughout. There are scholars who look at these books as having no real point in terms of Christian religion. Reasons include historical and geographical inaccuracies, and they lack distinct elements which give divine scriptures their divine character. Some even go so far as to believe they teach false doctrine.
Our Old Testament is divided into several sections. The first five books, believed to be written by Moses are called the Pentateuch, penta meaning five. These books are followed by history, poetry, and prophecy. And the books of prophecy are divided into major and minor prophets. The distinction has nothing to do with the book's importance. It has everything to do with the book's length. The New Testament is divided into the gospels, Paul's letters, general letters, and prophecy...the Book of Revelation.
There are folks who ask why it is important to read and study the Bible. And there are others who tell me I have read it once and I don't need to read it again. Except, the Word of God is a living word and each time we read, God reveals different things to us. It is exciting and transformative all at the same time. And, it is a challenge and a huge undertaking. Here are some scriptures that speak to why we read the Bible. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read, ”All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, corrections and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The words we have in our Bible went directly from God to the writer of that specific book. These are not man's thoughts but God's. The psalmist has several things to say about reading God's Word. 119:11 tells us, ”I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” And psalm 119:105 reminds us, ”Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” And Jesus tells us in John 8:12 ”I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” In other words, Jesus who is light will light the way for us to follow Him. He will lead us on the right path and in the things, He would have us do in His name. In the Book of Acts Luke reminds us, ”Now I commit you to God and to the Word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Spending time in God's Word is vital for our spiritual growth and for the growth of our relationship with the Lord. We will have Bibles available for one more Sunday. The reading plan is available in the box in front of the office along with the Indeed devotionals. We will also be sending an email out with the reading plan attached. You will be able to find it on our website as well.
Perhaps I sound like a broken record. It would not be the first time, nor will it be the last. We live in a world full of challenges and struggles. Yes, we have good times as well but no matter what is happening, we still need the Lord in our lives. He is the one constant we have. There is no grace like the grace we receive from Him. His peace surpasses anything the world might offer, and He continues to lavish His love on us whether or not we deserve it. So once again I invite you along on the journey of a lifetime. We begin January 1,2021.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W