BIBLICAL TEACHING

Andrew Biggs

This, the period of Lent, coincides with our study of the Holy Habit “Biblical Teaching” - an opportunity to review our knowledge and understanding of how we apply the teaching of the Bible in our lives.

The Holy Habits resource booklet for Biblical Teaching reminds us that “Holy Habits is about practising doing holy things until they become instinctive”. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, encouraged Methodist Christians to develop habits of holiness in their lives by focussing on what he termed the Means of Grace, to discover God’s call upon our lives to love God and one another.

He recognised that God transforms us inside and out, our character and lifestyle, by inviting us into deeper actions of love and justice and growing closer to the life of God through practicing spiritual rhythms.

The Means of Grace were termed ‘works of mercy’ and ‘works of piety’. Works of mercy include evangelism, personal acts of kindness and acts of justice in how we structure of relationships with each other. Acts of piety include reading the Bible, personal prayer and public worship, receiving Holy Communion, fasting and pilgrimage. So we can see that developing Holy Habits is very much about what it means to be Methodist Christians - being methodical about how we live lives that seek to develop a greater holiness.

The context of this Holy Habit, like the others we have look at so far, is the passage from Acts 2: 42-47 and in particular the sentence “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching….”. Note that the word ‘Bible’ does not appear. That is because the Bible as we know it did not develop until around 300 years later. At the time of the Christians described in Acts, learning about the life and teaching of Jesus meant listening to the teaching of those who had been there and seen for themselves - the apostles. The only written texts were the Hebrew scriptures (that we know as the Old Testament) probably only available on carefully kept scroll at the synagogue - the scriptures that Jesus himself referred to (Eg. Luke 4:16-21). Later came the letters of Paul and others and later still the written gospels*.

We have the Bible as we know it: a bound collection of various forms of literature, written over a period of around six thousand years, carefully compiled for their contribution to our learning about our relationship with God and Christ; carefully hand copied for over a thousand years; translated from the original Hebrew and Greek into thousands of languages and, as a result of the invention of the printing press in the 1440’s, mass produced so that we are able to read it for ourselves. It is a complex anthology of texts that takes much study to learn to read, understand and apply to life as we know it at least two thousand years after the last text was written. But to take the time to do so is immensely rewarding in enabling us to know God, know Christ and develop our understanding of what it means to be his disciple.

So I would regard this Holy Habit as one of the most important. No doubt many of us already spend time each day reading the Bible with the help of Bible notes or other resources. Lent is a good time to adopt such a habit and to further develop habits of exploring the Bible.

Below are some links to resources that can help in this regard. Also the Lent groups this year will use the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland materials “Opening the Scriptures”. I would particularly commend to you the Methodist Prayer Handbook, which provides not only resources for daily and other times of prayer, but also a daily lectionary of Bible readings, Psalms and Hymns from Singing the Faith that can be used in daily devotions. And, if you would like a daily reflection to go with the passage then that is available on the Methodist Church Web site. It is also available through the Methodist Church App which is still available on the App store if you have a smart phone or iPad.

I hope that you enjoy exploring the Bible in different ways through this Holy Habit.

Andrew

Resources:

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Lent Course: https://ctbi.org.uk/lent

‘A Word In Time’ Bible study and information on reading the Bible from the Methodist Church: https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-faith/the-bible/

The Methodist Church App: https://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/connect/methodist-church-app/

Resources for Daily Bible Reading:

https://www.brf.org.uk/bible-reading

http://www.bibleinoneyear.org

https://www.ucb.co.uk/word-for-today

For exploring the Bible together as a family:

https://www.brf.org.uk/childrens-and-family-ministry

*For a fuller explanation of how the Bible came to us and of how its authority is viewed by the Methodist Church see the report of the Methodist Conference 1998 ‘A Lamp to my Feet and a Light to my Path” available at: https://www.methodist.org.uk/downloads/conf-a-lamp-to-my-feet-1998.pdf

And now I make all things new. Rev 21:5

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