Knowable, Necessary, and Enough

I’ve heard it many times and from the most unexpected sources:

“I try to read the Bible, but . . . it doesn’t seem to say anything to me.  I don’t understand what I’m reading.  It doesn’t help me, so I end up quitting . . “

Set this response beside David’s from Psalm 119:

129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
131 I opened my mouth and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.

The question Kevin DeYoung poses (and rigorously answers) in Taking God at His Word is this:  How does one go from Ho Hum (response #1) to Whole Hearted (response #2)?  If the goal of life is Psalm 119-zeal, what are the pre-requisites for getting there?

The truth is that, without exception, every woman I have heard confessing her lackluster response to the Word of God would pass any test for orthodoxy.  She would affirm that the Word of God is true, that what it demands of us is good, and that what it provides is also good.

It’s the feeling and the doing components that are missing in their lives.
There’s no delight:   “My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly,” (Psalm 110:167).
There’s no desire:  “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law,” (Psalm 119:18).
There’s no dependency:  “I cling to Your testimonies!” (Psalm 119:31).

It is Kevin DeYoung’s goal to bring belief, feeling, and action together – not with a checklist (heaven, help us!), but with Truth.  What does the Bible say about itself that will convince the reluctant and indifferent reader to dig in and spend time in the Word?

For starters, we need a foundation of trust.  “You will not find anything more sure” than the written Word of God.  Then, using the memorable acronym, S-C-A-N, Taking God at His Word sets forth the attributes of Scripture that demonstrate why it’s worth your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection:

Sufficiency
I struggled off and on for years with the high-handed notion that I would rather hear from God through more personal and direct communication than I find in His written Word.  Hebrews 1 reveals that God has spoken to us through the Old Testament and, then, gloriously, through His Son, who is His final Word and Revelation.  J.I. Packer elaborates:

“While this kind of ‘immediate’ revelation has ceased, we should allow for ‘mediate’ revelation whereby God gives us new insights and applications — sometimes in surprising ways — but always through Scripture.”

This is HUGE in relation to relevance, because the times when I question the relevance of a book which claims to provide all that I need “for life and godliness” (II Peter 1:3) are the times when my life is . . . not exactly focused on godliness.  “The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture invites us to open our Bibles to hear the voice of God.”

Clarity
God has spoken truth in story, in poetry, in apocalyptic style, and even in didactic correspondence.  Before Scripture was available as it is today, Moses was reminding Israel that God bends over backwards to communicate with His people.  While some portions of the Bible are clearer than others (anyone read Ezekiel lately?), the main teaching points for  knowledge, belief, and action are spelled out transparently.  Furthermore, if a topic is hazy in one context, it is made plain elsewhere.  So, a PhD in theology is a nice thing to have, but certainly not necessary in order to be a student of the Word.  “Ordinary people using ordinary means can accurately understand enough of what must be known, believed, and observed for them to be faithful Christians.”

Authority
The Bible gets the last word — ahead of science, human experience, church councils — and my cranky observations about life.  This dismissal of all conflicting truth claims is politically incorrect and out of step with the culture in sufficient measure to play havoc with your next office party, but it’s not a matter of aggravating people.  (Remember Anne Lamott’s great quote:  “It’s not always necessary to chop with the sword of truth.  It can also be used to point.”)  The example of the Bereans in Acts 17 is illustrative.  They compared the Apostle Paul’s words with the inspired Word “to see if it was so.” Likewise, it is to be our compass.

Necessity
“The heavens declare the glory of God,” but they don’t spell out the plan of salvation.  Those who would believingly follow God through Christ must know who He is and how to enter into the life He offers.  He has made this known through His Word in which “He speaks so that we can begin to know the unknowable and fathom the unfathomable.”

If this is all true, our right response to the Word of God is to harvest its wisdom and share its truth with confidence and boldness.  Jesus’ earthly ministry gives a pattern for living in light of a high view of Scripture.  He quoted it, referred to Old Testament characters as historical figures, and considered that whatever Scripture said, God had said.

Five words lifted from John 10:35, 36 speak volumes:  “The Scripture cannot be broken.”  Not because He was out to prove the point, but because He believed it to be true, He simply stated the fact that Scripture could not be dismissed or dissolved.  He addressed the matter with more intention in His Sermon on the Mount:  Teach it as it stands and obey what it says if you want to be great in my Kingdom!

On the way to assimilating a Psalm 119-level regard for the written Word of God, consider Paul’s words to Timothy.  With characteristic practicality, he lays out its uses:  teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness.  Underlying this is its amazing origin — God-breathed, the very words of the Almighty — and every day, when we open its pages, the Bible offers the privilege of taking God at His Word.

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Published by

Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

26 thoughts on “Knowable, Necessary, and Enough”

  1. Hi, Michele! I think there’s no way to really understand the Bible without the Holy Spirit. We need to ask God to send the Holy Spirit to open our eyes, our heart and mind to see what the Word of God is really saying. Thanks so much. Blessings upon blessings!

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  2. Great post Michelle. I have met a lot women who have said those very same things at one time or another in their lives. Myself included. I like what you said here “we need a foundation of trust.” For me, it wasn’t until God gave me the opportunity (through trials and tribulations) to not only believe his word, but really trust it with all of my heart that I noticed a difference in my scripture reading. It really changed the way I read it. Nice to meet you Michelle. I really enjoyed reading your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, my brain is helped by the acronym, and I love your stated habit of asking for guidance before reading. I’m afraid that teaching has given me a too cavalier attitude in my handling of Scripture – diving in to get ready for Sunday . . . I try to stay in the habit of praying “open my eyes that I may behold . . .” but so often I’m guilty of a different approach. Thanks, Anita, for sharing your thoughts.

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  3. Anyone who knows me will hear me say, “The church needs to remember to “take God at His Word”. I am concerned that the church in particular is using “gimmicks” to woo people in rather than trusting that the Word of God will do what it says it will do.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michele,
    I agree with everything in this. What a great book! Putting it on my list. I also liked Packer’s quote. That is exactly why for the first time I am really hearing from God – through Scripture – after studying, then waiting for Him to talk to me. The SIMPLE method of Bible study.
    Thanks again for linking and being such a faithful wonderful friend
    Janis

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I picked this book up where there was a Kindle special on it, but I have to confess that it’s just been sitting on my reader. It sounds like a very helpful read, though. I’ve seen a lot of gimmicky systems for reading the Bible, but this sounds like a Scripture-based guide to reading for understanding rather than something that tries to make the Bible into a game. As one of your commenters said, I think we need the Holy Spirit to help us understand, but this sounds like a good aid. I’ll have to move it up on my reading list.

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  6. Great review and I am challenged by the questions that Kevin de Young poses? I am wondering if you were encouraged by what he outlined in his book? The acronym SCAN also got me thinking. The fact that Kevin DeYoung wants to bring belief, feeling, and action together makes me think that this book is a great resource for those who are questioning the validity or power behind God’s words in the Bible. Thank you for this today!

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    1. Actually, I was very encouraged by the book, and have gone back to it a couple of times in the short time since I finished reading it. SCAN has gone through my mind as well. DeYoung has a way of making biblical truth and theology “simple” with out oversimplifying.

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  7. This is a really powerful post you have written, Michele. It reminds of something that happened to me while we were away in Thailand for a retreat a few weeks ago. We were studying the life of Abraham and talking about how God spoke to him face to face. Someone in our group said something along the lines of, “Sometimes I wish that God would just speak to me audibly and clearly. I don’t think I’d struggle with faith and with knowing what to do if He did.” All of a sudden, I had this picture in my head of several patriarchs – Abraham and Moses and a few others – sitting around a table like we were and heard one of them say, “Sometimes I wish that God would just give us a Book that had everything He wanted us to know and do in it. Then I wouldn’t have to wonder what He wanted and wait for Him to speak to me – I’d just have the book and could look in it whenever I wanted or needed to know something. I don’t think I’d struggle with faith and with knowing what to do if He did that.” I was so convicted by this and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

    Your sharing about this book has just reinforced this message for me. Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com this week!
    Tina

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a beautiful way you have of turning a thought on its head to make it clearer. Yes, Tina, I’m sure the patriarchs would have loved to have all the truth we have at our fingertips. And I really did love that book. I keep going back to it.

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