God Communicates!

God created us for the sake of relationship. He made us to be recipients of His unconditional, eternal love! He hasn’t hidden this or made it obscure. Paul talks about a mystery now revealed. Moses said ‘this isn’t far from you – it is close to you, touchable’. Jesus repeatedly described the kingdom as being ‘at hand’. Right back in Genesis God states His intent to be a God who communicates by creating the universe through the medium of speech. He uses burning bushes, writing on a wall, writing in the sand, a still small voice, thunder, angels, dreams, a donkey.... The writer of Hebrews puts it like this: ‘In many and various ways God spoke to us in the past through the prophets… but in these last days, through His son'.

God communicates! For the sake of relationship He communicates about who He is in every way He can. But because it’s about relationship, the way He communicates is relational. It takes account of the individual, their circumstances, their personality. To Moses, a man impressed with power and the trappings of royalty he provides the drama of a burning bush. To the man named after the most famous dreamer, he speaks in dreams and Joseph discovers his call to marry Mary. To Elijah, immune to signs of power, a whisper...

The Reason For The Bible

And God has continued to speak to people in diverse ways based on their background, circumstances and personality. But this very personalisation can lead each individual to think that their mode of communication, their revelation of God is the only one! Worse, because of our limited knowledge and capacity to be deceived, our understanding of what God has said and what it means is so often incomplete or biased. 'Did God say?' was Satan's first question, it makes the point, individuals are vulnerable to mishearing and misunderstanding or to adding their own interpretation. To safeguard against this God has spoken to a wide range of people across centuries of different cultures and experience. He has spoken to kings and slaves, men and women, old and young, healthy and ill, free and oppressed. And in the Bible ahs captured this diversity to provide a comprehensive and safe view of who he is. It is this very diversity of authorship, of style, of literary type that makes the Bible a safe and reliable view of who God is. It isn't one persons idea, it isn't biased from one particluar time or place, it isn't written from a specific class background. So God still communicates directly with individuals - that's the basis for relationship - but he does so in the context of a full disclosure of who he is. Delivered, not by one individual or class of individual but by a wide range of authors. That's why is the Bible so big, why it repeat things from different angles!

The same incident viewed from different angles builds a more reliable picture of the actual event
than one account given by an interested participant. Even if each account is biased or motivated
by self-interest, when taken together, the truth can be discerned.

It’s not in code, it isn’t in inaccessible languages. It’s not a set of rules or a collection of doctrinal statements. It’s about life, written by living people most of whom were as messed up, saved, confused, anxious and happy as we are! Using ordinary people with normal bias, interpreting the same events different ways – God compiles the whole and says ‘when you read the whole, you’ll see me.’

The Holy Bible

John tells us at the end of his gospel that the world isn’t big enough to contain all the books that could be written about what God has done and who he is. Even so, as Luke puts it ‘many have written…’ . Different people with different perspectives and different motives have written about God. Many of those writings are lost, some are malicious, influenced by the enemy to distort, discredit or destroy the reality of who God is. Many more contain truth about God – personal testimony, historical perspectives of what God has done. If God were assembling a library about himself today, the composition of the Bible would undoubtedly be very different. New stories of the oppression of his people; documents from Anne Frank, Corrie Ten Boom perhaps. Missionary stories from Elizabeth Elliot and any number of Koreans. Stories from the underground church in China. Theological understanding of God's heart for the poor from Pope John Paul II or Mother Theresa. Different perspectives, different backgrounds, diverse opinions. But just as with the Bible we actually have, coming together and taken as a whole, this new collection would have provided a comprehensive revelation of God that he could use to provide the context for personal relationship.

In reality of course circumstances made it important to assemble such a catalogue much earlier. The stories that had been told orally for generations had started to be written down, the opportunity was there. More than that, there was an increasing need, to bring clarity and stability to what people thought about God, his ways and his purposes.

The Writing of Scripture

Because God is love, He does not control in the way that His power would allow Him to. Rather, He accomplishes His will out of freely given obedience – loving relationship. The people who wrote scripture did not enter into a trance like state in which God dictated exact words. The people who told the original stories did not open their mouths and have God speak as if He were a ventriloquist. The personalities of the authors shine through – they wrote, or spoke inspired by God, excited by what God could do – but they wrote, they spoke. Scripture itself tells us that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet . Because of this they may contain different perspectives, moments of bias, cultural baggage and perhaps even honest mistakes . They were authored by real people living in real circumstance, honestly telling from their view point the story of their encounters with a living God. Of course, God has chosen the best, those with the least baggage, the widest perspective and has even used the process as a means of refining the content. It is a special collection of writings, not because of some inherent magical properties, nor because it’s human authors were an elite, holy group. Rather, God has protected and confirmed to people across the ages that these writings, taken in context together, are a complete and adequate revelation of God. They are ‘called out’ (holy) by God from the array of material produced by His people down the ages.

The miracle of inspiration is not only that God breathed life into the words of of ordinary people way back in history when they were first written, but that by His Spirit He continues to breathe life and inspire, those scriptures today!
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