We continue our series of explorations on "Enjoying your Bible" (see "A steady stream of words" for the previous article). Let's now look at the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Since no gospel has our "address on the envelope," what value do they have for the church today? Great value is the simple answer.
The four gospels are part of the transition from the Jewish history and relationship with God to the new Christian age and a new relationship to God. Much of the gospels are teaching and demonstrating the coming church age, the age of the Holy Spirit. My title for this article is the title of the 1871 classic book by Alexander Bruce which is still in print, and emphasises "how Jesus the Master Trainer prepared his tiny band of followers to win the world with faith and love." (Available on Kindle or in paperback at Amazon.)
The internal evidence in the gospels is strong for this viewpoint. Let's notice first the integrity and veracity of the words of Jesus. "Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me" (John 14:10b ESV, also verse 24). These verse teach us that the Father God was always feeding Jesus the words He wanted him to say. That statement alone shows how much notice we should take of them. Read More
I supposed I knew my Bible,
Reading piecemeal, hit or miss,
Now a bit of John or Matthew,
Now a snatch of Genesis,
Certain chapter of Isaiah,
Certain Psalms (the twenty-third),
Twelfth of Romans, First of Proverbs —
Yes, I thought I knew the Word!
But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do,
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read the Bible through.
You who like to play at Bible,
Dip and dabble, here and there,
Just before you kneel, aweary,
And yawn through a hurried prayer.
You who treat the Crown of Writings
As you treat no other book —
Just a paragraph disjointed,
Just a crude impatient look,
Try a worthier procedure,
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in very rapture
When you read the Bible through!
— Amos R. Wells (1921?)
Get a daily reading chart, like the following one that has you reading the whole New Testament in one year. It is free and you can download and print it.
As we continue our exploration on enjoying the Bible, in our last teaching I made the point that some scripture is written directly to the church age in which we live, as shown by "the address on the envelope," but we can learn from the parts addressed to other groups. Before we go deeper into the books addressed to us, let's look at the rest of the Bible.
In a quirk of verse numbering by Robert Estienne in 1555, both Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4 contain essentially the same words of Jesus. "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (KJV). The Message paraphrase reads, "It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God's mouth."
Jesus was being tempted by Satan and in reply is quoting directly from Deuteronomy 8:3: "And he [God] humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord" (ESV). Read More