Thursday, January 10, 2008

God-centered application

At our most recent Bible study leaders rendezvous - that makes it sound exciting doesn't it? - Henry, the guy responsible for our particular grouping, very briefly walked us through some ways we could think about God while we were thinking about how we might apply the Scriptures. (I think he was drawing upon the work of John Frame, but having never read Frame, I'm not sure). I should also say the following is my own take and not Henry's remarks verbatim!

Using the book of Exodus as our paradigmatic lens, we see God the Rescuer in action in leading his people out of Egypt, as well as in the Passover event. We also see God the Ruler, as seen, for instance, in the giving of the Law, which comprehensively covers all of life. Finally, he is the One who is with us, as He comes to dwell in the tabernacle. (I was tempted to neatly alliterate all three and say God the Relater, but that just sounds terrible.) Conservative evangelicals tend to focus on the first two and forget that God indwells us via the Holy Spirit, thus neglecting the experiential dimension, whereas charismatic Christians tend to have a better grasp of the latter. This being an overgeneralisation of course.

God shows his 'Godness' (my word), then, by showing how firstly, he is in control of all things. For instance, his rescue involves his absolute mastery over nature, hence the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. He also displays his authority, or his right to be obeyed, seen in the giving of his commands, especially in light of the First Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before me". Finally, God is a covenantal God, a God who is always with his people, as clearly seen firstly in his interaction with Moses (Ex. 3:12) and through his leading of his people through the wilderness.

This then, might begin to help us think about how to let God's word speak to us today. (We were looking at some specific Psalms but I'll be more general here). If God is in control, how might we then show our trust? It might involve correcting wrong patterns of thinking or strengthening our belief that God is trustworthy or recalling and holding onto something we learn of God's nature from the passage. If God is the supreme authority and deserving of obedience, then what might we need to repent of? Again, differing and more specific applications can come out depending on both the passage and the person. (This is the probably the area we're most likely to think of when we think about "application"). Finally, in light of the truth that Christians have a relationship with God, i.e God is with us!, what might we, from passage X, take delight in?

I'm sure more could be said, but it certainly seemed like a good starting point when thinking about how we allow the Scriptures to examine us!

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