14th September 2020

Losing My Religion

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work.
Timothy 3:16 (Phillips)

I’m a fan of a 1980’s rock group called R.E.M. and one of my favourite songs is ‘Losing My Religion’.  Perhaps some might consider this heretical!  Nonetheless, ‘losing my religion’ is a phrase from the southern United States meaning to lose your temper.  In this instance, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck used this phrase to refer to his learning curve in teaching himself the mandolin.

This small example illustrates how easily we can misinterpret the words of another.  This applies equally to the Bible, which can often be ‘lost in translation’.  The Bible, which consists of a diverse 44 authors, cultures, and several languages, includes books said by some to be written as long ago as the 7-8th century BC until the first century AD.  Though these books were faithfully and very accurately copied down by scribes, today we read translations of them – of which there are many, 450+ in English, and over a thousand if we consider other languages.

Context is key, giving us sense of the verse within the passage.  Specifically, we need to read the Bible in its historical context, beginning with the author and his original audience, the culture, the literary style.  Also of note is the human component.  Studying the Bible is not simple, but it is rewarding!

The header scripture recognises Paul writing to his young protégé, Timothy.  The preceding verses give the context.  “Yet you must go on steadily in all those things that you have learned and which you know are true. Remember from what sort of people your knowledge has come, and how from early childhood your mind has been familiar with the holy scriptures, which can open the mind to the salvation which comes through believing in Christ Jesus.”  We read here how Timothy learned from his youth, via his Jewish mother (Acts 16:1) and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5), and the holy scriptures he studied were the written Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament. Some have mistaken this as a reference to the complete canon of the Bible.  The Old Testament pointed to the coming of Jesus Christ – salvation for all mankind.

Jesus Christ had been gone 30 years and wrong teachings were creeping into the church.  Timothy was being reminded to teach the true Christian message (1 Timothy 4:13). 2000+ years on since Christ’s ascension, we too need to teach the one true gospel and that is Jesus Christ is the one true Word (John 1:1).

Father God, help us in our studying to understand the true message of Jesus Christ with God the Holy Spirit as our continual guide.

Study by Irene Tibbenham


About the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a Deaconess and serves on the Pastoral Council in the Norwich Congregation of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
GCI Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email:  tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk


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