Have you ever thought about how Jesus viewed the Old Testament? Since the Old Testament was the entire Bible in His day, His view of it can be understood as His view of the Bible.
Matthew has the first record of Jesus’ temptations. When Satan came to Jesus in the wilderness in order to tempt Jesus, the Savior’s response was to quote Scripture. His strength to resist temptation was found in obedience to God’s Word.
Later, when confronting the Pharisees, Jesus said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” How trustworthy were the writings of Moses? Jesus, the living Word of God, equated Moses’ words with His own.
Following His resurrection, Jesus met two disciples walking to the town of Emmaus. During the ensuing discussion, Luke relates that Jesus began “with Moses and all the Prophets” interpreting “for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (24:27). Later, after Jesus vanished before their very eyes they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” (v 32).
The Word of God changes us. It is not possible to take the Word of God into our hearts, minds and souls and come away the same. And as the Word of God changes us, we change culture.
Jesus called His followers the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Both of these explain how we influence those around us. As we grow in the Spirit and the Word we are compelled to demonstrate the love of Christ around us. We learn how to respond to cultural challenges by God’s Word.
In the Old Testament the men of Issachar’s tribe were known for having an understanding of the times, to know what Israel should do in every situation. How do we know what to do, how to understand culture, how to influence it? Through God’s Word.
The mistake we sometimes make is trying to use God’s Word for changing culture without allowing its changing work in us first. We are quick to condemn the sins of others, point out a few select verses and preach loud and long. Never mind we regularly overlook Scriptures condemning our own preferred sins.
In our blindness we think the world hears our words rather than our actions. They are not so easily fooled. Neither can we try to clean up ourselves mainly so we can call out the sins of culture. We cannot remove the log from our own eyes for the sole purpose of pointing out the splinter in the eye of society. Culture will be better served when we show holiness birthed in a pursuit of God, rather than a quick, critical spirit.
When we pursue God and become immersed in His Word, our image is more conformed to Christ. When we show love instead of hate, patience instead of curtness, gentleness instead of harshness, mercy instead of judgment, or diligence instead of slothfulness, Christ is displayed. And when Christ is displayed doors will open to share the Gospel. As people accept the Christ of the Gospel they, and eventually the culture, are changed.
When I think about Bible Studies for Life, I anticipate both personal and cultural change. When the Bible meets life, things change!
I pray God’s Word so powerfully changes us that culture cannot help but feel the impact person by person.