“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
—2 Timothy 3:16–17
One of the traditional names for the Bible is the Word of God. Using this name for Scripture shows a belief that the Bible is a way in which we can most clearly see and understand God’s desires for the way in which we live our lives; however, most of us tend to read the Bible through the lenses of our own upbringing, culture, and traditions. How do these aspects of who you are influence your reading of the Bible? Have you ever thought about what your experiences bring to your reading and study of the Bible?
The established church during the 16th century tended to focus their worship services, not on the centrality of Scripture, as is common in most 21st century churches, but on the ritual surrounding communion. The entirety of the worship service was conducted in Latin, a language used exclusively by the church, academics, and the nobility.
One of the difficulties with the worship services of that time occurred with the average worshipper having very limited understanding of what Scripture actually said, both due to the challenge of understanding the language of the service, as well as, the emphasis being not on the Word of God but upon the ritual of the service itself.
In response to the common view of his time, Martin Luther desired for the church to see the Bible as the central authority by which people gained an understanding of who God is, what God desires of their lives, and generally takes the understanding that no one and nothing other than Scripture exists as a true authority on what God desires.
One of the reasons for Luther’s desire to see the Bible as the central authority by which people learned about God came from the established church’s belief that certain people, due to their church office, could speak God’s desire for the church without the possibility of error.
One of the later Reformers of the Church, John Wesley, said that “the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church.” By saying this, Wesley desired for Christians to see that our worship lives and our relationship with God should be based upon our understanding of the Bible rather than the church attempting to place our own meanings within the Scripture.
God of All Good, You continue to speak to us through the Living Word of the Bible. You desire for us to grow closer to You through the immortal words that have been written in Scripture. Thank You for offering us a way to see You more clearly, to draw nearer to You through the simple acts of reading and study. Open our hearts and minds to Your Holy Spirit that we might ever see You in the words of the Bible and grow ever closer to You through it. In Christ’s Name, we pray; amen.
On October 31, 1517, a young monk and professor posted a list of interesting discussion topics to the local social media of his day, the door of the church. Today, we recognize Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” as a hinge on which all of history turned. What really happened 500 years ago? Why does it matter? Is the Reformation still going on now?