Bible Study notes for Sunday September 16th
Running through all this weeks readings is the theme of ‘Words’, so it would be good to begin this week by taking time to pray through our Psalm, 19, an expanded meditation on the speech of Creation and the Word of the Lord.
[When we say the daily office in church we ‘breathe’ the Psalms – that is we say the first half of the verse – give ourselves time to breathe, then say the second half. So much of our speech and prayer is ‘breathless’ – we need to give words space. Try saying the Psalm like this, together. It is a Good Discipline. It teaches us more of what it truly means to pray together (and how hard it is!)]
1The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
3There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
4yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
5which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
6Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.
7The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;
8the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes;
9the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.
11Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
13Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
- Now turn to the Gospel reading. Note that this is all about Speech – “Who do people say that I am?” – ““But who do you say that I am?”
- EVERYTHING hangs on our answer to that question. Why?
- What is Peter’s answer? What does it mean for Us, that he is “The Messiah (Christ)”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer in ‘Letters and papers from Prison’ says ‘’What is bothering me incessantly is the question what Christianity really is, or indeed who Christ really is , for us today.” How do You answer that question?
- The distinguished New Testament Scholar, Richard Bauckham says ‘in asking this question, Bonhoeffer presupposed the biblical account of who Jesus was and is, as well as the consonance of credal orthodoxy with that biblical account. Knowing who Jesus Christ is for us today requires us to rediscover his identity according to the Bible and the creeds in the context of our unavoidable immersion in our own here and now. Our task is not to create a Christ out of the needs and demands of our context, but to discern the relevance for our context of the Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday today and forever.’ Discuss
- Where in the Liturgy do we answer the question “Who is Jesus”? – what words do we use?
- Look up the Nicene Creed in your prayer book – p. 410. What do we the Church affirm about Jesus Christ?
- Now turn to the passage from James
- In the context of the passage, why does James suggest that those ‘who teach will be judged with greater strictness’?
- “Whenever we speak of Christ, we are to some extent acting as ‘teachers’”. Discuss
- Bearing in mind James teaching that we should all be ‘slow to speak’ 1:19 –
- what light does his teaching in this weeks passage throw on this?
- thinking back to the instructions on praying the Psalms, how much of our speech is ‘breathless’, or unthinking?
- What might me be wise to consider before ‘putting mouth into gear’? Is the Truthfulness of our speech the only thing to consider? Were those who thought Jesus to be ‘Elijah’, or ‘John the Baptist’, or ‘One of the prophets’, speaking truthfully? What is ‘Truthful speech’?
- In the passage we read a few weeks ago from Ephesians we read the phrase ‘speaking the truth in love’. Take a moment to share what you think that phrase means. now read the verse in its context, Ephesians 4:11-16. Note the significance of the teachers and doctrine in the verses leading up to ‘speaking the truth in love’. Now discuss again what you think the phrase might mean
- “Doctrinal truth is of far less significance in the contemporary church than it was in the early church in which the creeds were crafted’ Discuss. Does having weak doctrine affect our faith?
- ‘Speaking truthfully of Christ is a necessity if we are to live out the gospel’ – Discuss
- Finally read the passage from Proverbs in the context of this weeks study. Discuss.
- The Wise are contrasted here with the Simple, those who ‘hate knowledge’ How do we attain Wisdom?
- “ In paying more attention to the thoughts of others than the teaching of Scripture we become wise in our own eyes, puffed up with what is falsely called knowledge” In our lives as disciples of Jesus, how much are we shaped by his words – how much by the prevailing ‘wisdom of the world’?
[Note: Wisdom is personified as female in the Old Testament, especially in Proverbs. In Christian tradition, Wisdom is associated both with Christ and the Holy Spirit]