This Sunday our worship service will focus on 2 Timothy 3:10-4:8. The passage is an exhortation from the Apostle Paul, an older follower who is perhaps nearing the end of his life. He writes to Timothy, a younger follower who has been called into leadership in a local church setting.
There are some general warnings in the text about the challenges of the culture, and some specific coaching: continue in what you have learned, and keep teaching those things.
The text is perhaps best known for two smaller sections. In the first, concerning Scripture, Paul writes:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV) Some translations say, "All Scripture is inspired..."
In the second, concerning the end of his life which is possibly near, Paul writes:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7, ESV)
This week I'll spend a good deal of the teaching time focusing on the first. What do we mean when we speak of the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures? How have these concepts been understood through history? In what ways is our understanding clouded by the distance of time and the different influences of culture? If a life is being shaped in the image of Jesus Christ, how might such a life be engaged and informed by Scripture?
These are controversial topics, and I'm probably going to throw some gasoline on the fire. In fact, my opening comments, intended to be an illustration of why this is so important, will probably be so frustrating for some people that they will not be able to focus on anything that follows.
In other words, I fully intend to challenge and push you this week to the limits of the imagination and creativity made possible by God's Holy Spirit. Because I believe at least two things about our current conversations about Scripture in this society:
Either we completely disregard the Bible so as to make our hypocrisy more evident by our obvious lack of familiarity; or....
We are obsessed with an understanding of Scripture's authority that would have been completely alien to those who actually wrote it, and so we miss the point.
Interested? Curious? Think I might actually be getting in your face this Sunday?
Good. See you in worship as we struggle together, absolutely loved in God's grace and therefore free to join in the journey of being shaped by God's Spirit in the image of Jesus Christ.