Looking for Answers

Sometimes it seems like life is tough. We go from crisis to crisis, never really knowing what’s wrong. Erma Bombeck, the columnist and humourist wrote, “If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?” If you have questions in life (and who doesn’t?) it’s not so daunting if you know where to look for answers. Of course, for Christians, we have a manual that guides us. Scripture reading is a vital part of any victorious Christian’s life. It’s important to understand that if we want to come to truth we have to understand the source of truth, and how to connect with it. Have a look at this scripture reading from the book of John:

Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”  After he had said this, he went out to the Jews… John 18:37-38

Pilate asked Jesus this question. Do you know the answer?

When Pilate questioned Jesus on the night of his arrest he raised a philosophical question that has plagued people since the Fall of Man: What is Truth? How can we know what is right and wrong? Are our perceptions of reality reliable? Philosophers have pondered it, and never come to a consensus. Notice that immediately after Pilate asked the question, he left Jesus and went out to speak to the Jews. Pilate didn’t wait for an answer because he believed he was asking a rhetorical question. In other words, one we can muse and wonder over, but never really expect to arrive at an answer. He certainly wouldn’t have expected a serious answer from a humble carpenter like Jesus. Little did he know he was speaking to the source of all truth. If Pilate had been really listening to Jesus he would have realised he had already been given the answer to the question.

Jesus said he came into the world to testify to the truth. “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” The truth is what Jesus has testified, what he taught and said. Jesus had explained clearly why He was born. He explained that He is the Son of God. He explained why the world needs a saviour. In other words, Jesus IS the truth personified. He is the giver of all truth, the source of all truth. In Colossians, Paul said this about Jesus:

I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3

Truth in Scripture

The treasures of Jesus are present in the scriptures which prophesied and prepared the way for his life. They reveal who He is, and why He had to come to earth as a man so the sinful fallen creation could be redeemed.

In John 1:1 we are told that Jesus is The Word, that He is God, and that he was vital to the creation of all things. In verse 14 we read that Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” It’s so important for us to understand this mystery, how Jesus embodies all truth, and that the scriptures contain the essence of that truth.

In John 15 Jesus explained to the disciples that He is the way, the “true vine.” We have to be connected to Jesus like a branch on a grapevine, drawing our life from him.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.  (John 15:7-11)

Jesus is the source of truth, and to be connected to him, we have to know what he said, and allow it to become part of who we are. Then we will have the joy, and the power to serve him, that He wants us to have. The solution to mysteries of life is found in Jesus Christ. Once we understand that, peripheral issues come into proper perspective.

Being sanctified means living by the truth Jesus came to give. He prayed to the Father that we would be sanctified by the word in John 17:17. Paul also mentioned this in Ephesians 5:26 when he spoke about the church being washed and cleansed with the water of the word. It is so important that Christians submit to this washing. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re an academic or a person who isn’t all that keen on reading, because being washed with the water of the word is a spiritual matter, governed by the Holy Spirit:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John16:12-15)

In order to receive from the Spirit of Truth, we must make sure that we are not going through the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but going to the True Vine – Jesus. That means our Bible study should be based on reliance on the Holy Spirit. Scripture is not of any private interpretation. In order to receive the richness of the knowledge and wisdom that is in Jesus, we approach our scripture reading with a reflective attitude, and an openness to being led deeper by the Holy Spirit.

You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

We all need that reproof, correction, training and even add to that inspiration! So, how do we read the scriptures in a way that connects us to Jesus, is led by the Holy Spirit, and equips us with wisdom for a life dedicated to God? Here is a model you may find useful:

A Model For Bible Reading

  • Read the Bible daily. It’s better to consistently read through a book over a period of time than to pick up random verses as it helps to create the context.
  • Concentrate on a small passage at a time. It’s better to read one verse and be changed by it than to gloss a chapter or two.
  • As you read, take note of words or phrases that seem more alive in meaning. Concentrate on them and ponder what they are saying in the context of the whole passage. On any given reading, a scripture will come alive with particular relevance as the Holy Spirit guides you.
  • Make connections with other scriptures that are brought to mind. The Holy Spirit will assist you with this, and all the more as you study your Bible and begin to remember scriptures. Let this combination of scriptures open up the depth of the passage.
  • Seek a deeper understanding of the nature of God. You will find much encouragement and leading in your own life by knowing more about the complexity and wonder of our great God.
  • Apply the scripture to your life: is there revelation for your Christian walk? Is there sin to be repented of? Is there an aspect of God’s character you see lacking in yourself? Is there something that needs to be addressed in your family? 
  • Pray all around what you have learned, exploring the nuances of meaning and how it relates in your life.
  • If you have identified an area that needs changing, act on what you have learned, in expectation that, now you have been “washed with the water of the word,” you will be given the victory!

This is an excerpt from a sermon given by Karen Dixon at Victoria Park Christian Centre on 26th June, 2016. If you would like information about our ministry or church services, please get in touch using the contact form below! Bless you.