The Word for today:
A couple days ago, I encouraged the no-longer-novice Bible students among us to make the transition from paraphrased Bible versions to "standard" versions, where they will learn to love those big, grand, power-packed Bible words that once seemed so intimidating.
I then went on to contrast a paraphrased rendering of Romans 1:16-17 with a "standard" rendition of those same verses. I made a big deal of the difference between "made right with God" and "the righteousness of God is revealed."
I made a big deal of it, but not big enough. Because to understand what Romans 1:16-17 is saying will turn your life upside down. I can attest to that because those verses have turned my life both upside down and inside out. But I'm just small potatoes, so here comes the even bigger deal I promised:
Romans 1:16-17, a capsule summary of Paul's message to the Romans, changed Martin Luther forever. After he finally understood the words "therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith," Luther said, "I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning….This passage of Paul became to me a gateway to heaven." (1)
What had Luther discovered that so deeply transformed him--and eventually all of Christendom? Embedded in these verses is the concept of "Sola Fide"--salvation by faith alone in Christ alone--which is the cornerstone of biblical understanding. But the concept had been buried under the traditions and false teaching of the medieval church.
It is hard for us, from our vantage point 500 years later, to imagine how Sola Fide could have gotten lost in the church, when the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation is shot through with the concept.
It is just as hard to imagine the Bible getting lost in the USA when the average household has three of them! But if they are seldom opened, seldom understood, and seldom heeded, then they are, by any real measure, lost.
Though you and I are unlikely to rescue the central tenet of Scripture from oblivion, we can--by loving it, learning it, and living it--keep the Bible from being "lost" to our families and to our local churches.
Show me a bigger deal than that.
(1) The New Student Bible, 1992, Zondervan.