What people say matters. Our words provide an invaluable insight into our character. Our likes and dislikes, viewpoint on life, hopes and fears all flow out through our words and paint a picture of who we are.
So how amazing is it that in Christianity we have a God who has spoken and revealed himself to us?
This week we move on to our second value: to be a “bible-saturated community”.
We believe that the bible is God’s very word and that as such it is both fully authoritative and without error to all issues of life and faith having been breathed out by God himself (2 Timothy 3:16). At a time when many are abandoning their trust of Holy Scripture, we want to cling to it.
When we talk of being bible-saturated we mean that we want to allow God’s word to seep through into every area of our life together as a church and as individuals, to flow in to all we do and shape all we think. We desire to become so full of His word that no room is left for competing ideas or philosophies so we view all things through the lens of His revealed character and will in the bible.
This means we seek to be a people who read the bible regularly, who dwell on it, who engage with it on both an emotional and intellectual level, wrestling with difficult passages and rejoicing in the God it testifies to. We want to produce people who know how to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and are taught how to feed themselves.
With this in mind we want our teaching be firmly bible focused. We want the bible to be at the heart of our teaching, unpacked and applied, not a nice self help message with a bit of bible thrown in to sound spiritual.
This means the bible becomes the anchor that holds our sermons firm in place, letting it dictate the message rather than it simply being a hook to hang our own ideas onto.
On a practical note, we believe that God chose the exact words He wanted to use in the bible and therefore we lean towards word for word translations such as the ESV or the NASB rather than thought for thought versions.
Unfortunately this view of scripture is not a universally accepted one and has been under sustained attack over the last few decades. For this reason the Chicago statement of biblical inerrancy was produced in 1978 and signed by over 200 evangelical leaders (including such names as J I Packer, Wayne Grudem and D A Carson) to lay out the historical and biblical understanding of biblical inerrancy. We gladly affirm this statement and are passionately committed to scripture being our primary and only authoritative means of God’s revelation to us. All other sense of God speaking to us must be submitted and weighed to God’s revealed word in scripture.
Of course, we want to be doers of the word too, more about how we do that in our next value!