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Jesus replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
– Luke 8:21

It is not enough to read Scripture, to know the Bible. One is only truly a disciple when he or she lives the Word. What are the difficulties of putting this book into practice? How do you approach life “under the Word”?

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“Reading the Bible, if we do not do it rightly, can get us into a lot of trouble. The Christian community is as concerned with how we read the Bible as that we read it. It is not sufficient to place a Bible in a person’s hands with the command, ‘Read it.’ That is quite as foolish as putting a set of car keys in an adolescent’s hands, giving him a Honda, and saying, ‘Drive it.’ And just as dangerous. The danger is that in having our hands on a piece of technology, we will use it ignorantly, endangering our lives and the lives of those around us; or that, intoxicated with the power that the technology gives us, we will use it ruthlessly and violently.”
– Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book.

How can reading the Bible get us into trouble? What are guidelines for reading and living this book we should follow?

“Christians do not believe in the Bible; they believe in the living God attested by the Bible. Scripture is indispensable in bringing us into a new relationship with the living God through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, and thus into new relationship with others and with the entire creation.”
– Daniel Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding.

How have we confused the Bible with God? How can Scripture contribute to our relationship with God?

“It was during the Enlightenment that the foundation of the Christian faith shifted from the centrality of the person and the work of Jesus Christ to the centrality of the Bible. Theology shifted from the God who acts to the God who spoke. In the worst scenario faith shifted from trust in Christ to trust in the Book. Therefore, the first question we must address as evangelicals in a postmodern world is this: Do we believe in a book or a person?
“The issue in a postmodern world is not to prove the Bible, but to restore the message of the Bible, a message which, when proclaimed by the power of the Spirit, takes up residence within those who know how to hear.”
– Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Faith.

How have you mis-focused on the Bible? Is your focus on Christ- the Historical Figure or Christ- the Living Son of God?

“Being Christian is not just believing in some propositional statements about a man whom the church says was God. It is not only accepting the good news that two thousand years ago Jesus absorbed our sin on a cross and endured the punishment for it that we deserve. It is much more than that. Being a Christian involves something happening to us in the now. It is linked to an intensely personal relationship with Christ in our everyday lives. Each of us should be able to testify to being aware of a mystical presence that enlivens us, convinces us we are loved, leads us, directs us, and strengthens us to live out the will of God. Each of us should be experiencing an indwelling presence that enables us to taste a special joy and a love that is difficult to describe to anybody who isn’t familiar with the same kind of experience. Because of what Jesus is doing in us now, each of us should be evidencing a change in personality whereby the fruit of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance–are increasingly obvious to others.”
– Tony Campolo, How to be Pentecostal Without Speaking in Tongues.

How have you changed since becoming a Christian? For some of you, that’s a long time to think back on. How does God continue to work in your life today? In what ways are you resisting the Spirit?

“You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.”
– Ephesians 1:13-14.

God deposited His Spirit in us. How do you invest in the Spirit to guarantee that inheritance?

“The Holy Spirit in the New Testament sense is the presence of God which bears witness to, and makes effectual, the historical Christ as a living personal presence. The operation of the Holy Spirit is necessary for the Word about Christ to become the Word of Christ for us, and for the Word of Christ to become the Word of God.”
– Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of the Church, Faith, and the Consummation.

When do you hear the Spirit? Do you feel Christ’s presence through the Spirit? If so, what atmosphere promotes that feeling?

“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
– John 14:23-26

Jesus says that God’s Spirit will teach us all things. How does the Spirit continue to teach you?

“The work of the Spirit is the bringing to be of the vision of God. . . the capacitating of persons to ‘see visions’ and ‘dream dreams’. . . The birth of the Church is the beginning of the End. . . The Kingdom of God as the miracle of ocular newness when ‘the blind see’ makes its impact on history in the creation of a visionary community . . . Therefore in this birth of the Church, the risen and ascended Lord takes to himself a Body on earth with eyes opened by the Spirit to see the future.
– Gabriel Fackre, A Christian Story, p.157-8, The Descended Spirit

What has been your personal and church background for accepting the work of the Spirit? How do you see the Spirit’s working now?

“You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but are in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
– Romans 8:9-16.

What does it mean to have Christ living in you? How do you continue to live according to the sinful nature? Repent of these failures and ask God to enliven the Spirit within you.