How is a 4,000 yrs old + book relevant for today? That is the question most people ask when they approach the Bible. They read about the Law, tent dwellers, and shepherds. They think back to a time where television and the internet were not even a glimmer in someone’s eye. Skyscrapers did not rule the air, nor were we immediately accesible through email, text message, or a mobile phone. With this in mind, how does such a foreign time remain relevant to us today?
Scripture is for Equipping
The apostle Paul tells us,
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Paul informs us that every word of Scripture is God-breathed and useful in order to equip the man of God. Knowing that all Scripture is useful is part of Scripture being relevant for today, but there is another piece of the puzzle we must fill in before we have our answer .
Scripture is Written with a Purpose
Each writer had a specific purpose for the text he wrote, which is the missing piece to our puzzle. Modern writers write with purpose. They do not write a short story, poem, or book without a reason or purpose for doing so. In biblical times, it was no different. Every story, poem, and book in the Bible has a purpose for being there.
From Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 3, we know the purpose of the biblical writer was to thoroughly equip the man of God for every good work. The way the biblical writer equips is no different than how our modern writers would equip. They looked at the situations the readers were facing and wrote toward those ends.
Our Issues are More Similar Than You Think
Some of you may be thinking, those in biblical times did not face the same situations I do today. How could they? There time was much different than mine. Even though all the modern conveniences were not available, and their culture was not exactly like ours, the situations the writers and readers of the biblical text dealt with are strikingly similar.
From the beginning of the Bible we see writers writing about men who desire power, wanting to be their own gods (Gen. 3), adultery and enticing women (Gen. 39; Prov.1-8), as well as barrenness (Gen. 16 -17). Demon possession (Luke 4), Homosexuality (Rom. 1), Disunity in the church (1 Cor. 3; Eph. 4; Phil. 2), Lawsuits (1 Cor. 6), Marriage (1 Cor. 7; Eph. 5), Partiality (James 2), Speech (James 3), Enemies (Matt. 5), Judging others (Matt. 7), and Anxiousness (Matt. 6) are a few more purposes for which the biblical writers wrote. Even though our world’s may look a little different on the outside, we are all still dealing with the same things on the inside.
Fallen Condition Focus (FCF)
Bryan Chapell calls
The mutual human condition that contemporary believers share with those to or about whom the text was written that requires the grace of the passage for God’s people to glorify and enjoy him is the Fallen Condition Focus .
Our world, and the biblical writers world, is corrupt and fallen. Since our world and man is corrupt, we need the grace of God to instruct us in how to live. The Word of God is designed to do just that, to instruct us in how we are to live, and it was the writers of God’s Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, who took up that task in their writings.
As you read through the text, you can be assured that God’s Word is relevant for you. The times may be different, but we are still fallen and corrupt, needing God’s grace to instruct us in how to live. The biblical writers, just like the writers of today, write with a purpose. Their purpose is to thoroughly equip us for every good work. They do so through the many stories, poems, letters, and books they wrote.
So then, when we approach a text of Scripture, we need to first determine what FCF the writer is seeking to address, then we need to identify how we are to respond biblically to the FCF the writer is addressing.
In my next post, I will look more specifically at how we are to determine the purpose of the biblical writer and the FCF he is addressing.