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Lesson 1

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“How We Read the Bible”

Fall 2011

Session I – Sept. 14, 2011

Opening Prayer

The Word of God has no end. Cities shall fall.  Kingdoms will crumble.  Empires will fade away as smoke.  But the truth of the Lord endures forever.
John Jewel (British Reformer, 1522-1571)

Outline of this course

Tonight’s focus:  Introduction to the texts & background from the Confession of 1967.

Our focus Scriptures

Old Testament:
Genesis 1 & 2;
Exodus 20:1-17;
Leviticus 12 & 18;
Joshua 6:21, 8:26; 11:20;
Isaiah 40;
Ezekiel 1 & 37.

New Testament:
Matthew 5:17-48;
Luke 1:26-38;
John 6:1-14, 16-21;
Romans 1:26-32;
I Thessalonians 4:13-18;
Revelation 7 & 21:1-4.

Background material

Confession of 1967, sections 9l27 to 9.30, on the Bible

9.27  The one sufficient revelation of God is Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate, to whom the Holy Spirit bears unique and authoritative witness through the Holy Scriptures, which are received and obeyed as the word of God written.  The Scriptures are not a witness among others, but the witness without parallel.  The church has received the books of the Old and New Testaments as prophetic and apostolic testimony in which it hears the word of God and by which its faith and obedience are nourished and regulated.

9.28  The New Testament is the recorded testimony of apostles to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, and the sending of the Holy Spirit to the Church.  The Old Testament bears witness to God’s faithfulness in his covenant with Israel and points the way to the fulfillment of God’s purpose in Christ.  The Old Testament is indispensable to understanding the New, and is not itself fully understood without the New.

9.29  The Bible is to be interpreted in the light of its witness to God’s work of reconciliation in Christ.  The Scriptures, given under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are nevertheless words of human beings, conditioned by the language, thought forms, and literary fashions of the places and times at which they were written.  They reflect views of life, history, and the cosmos which were then current.  The church, therefore, has an obligation to approach the Scriptures with literary and historical understanding.  As God has spoken the divine word in diverse cultural situations, the church is confident that God will continue to speak through the Scriptures in a changing world and in every form of human culture.

9.30  God’s word is spoken to the church today where the Scripture s are faithfully preached and attentively read in dependence on the illumination of the Holy Spirit and with readiness to receive their truth and direction.

Handout:  Five perspectives


Closing Prayer

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