In the summer of 2015, NECC took the plunge into reading the entire New Testament together. For the next eight weeks, we will be once again using CBE to embark on a book club style format through God’s word, this time the first five books of the Old Testament. Also known as the Pentateuch, these books relay historical accounts from God’s creation to the establishment of the Nation of Israel. Through CBE, we will be once again embarking on a book club style format through God’s word.
What is CBE?
The Community Bible Experience is a fresh way to read the Bible. for the first fifteen centuries, the scriptures did not have chapter and verse divisions. Those divisions have made studying scripture easier, but consequently we tend to think of God’s word in bits and snippets. By removing these divisions, we can read the Bible the way it was originally written. Without the distraction of divisions, we can better see the flow of the text and better understand what God is telling us.
Why read the Bible?
One of our affirmations of faith in the Covenant Church is the centrality of the Word of God. We believe that the effective power of the scriptural word is inseparably associated with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit never works independently of the word, and the word is made effective through the Holy Spirit.
The union of word and Spirit is a central theme in evangelical faith. It was by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that the written word came into being (2 Timothy 3:16). Through the Spirit the word of God does not return empty but accomplishes that for which it was sent (Isaiah 55:11). It is through the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit that the sinner who responds to the word is assured of being a child of God (Romans 8:16-17).
It is essential, then, to the life of the church that it be a company of people who desire their lives to be shaped by the powerful and living word of God. The alternative is clear. Not to be shaped by the word is to be shaped by the world.
Why read the OT?
Shakespeare said that history is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” The Christian view of history is quite a contrast; we believe God ordained it, organizes it, and moves it towards a meaningful, definite, and certain purpose. The Old Testament narratives about Israel describe real events in real time involving real people and a real God. The reality of Israel’s faith rested on the reality of Israel’s history.
The Old Testament is also redemptive history. God actively directs human history for the purpose of redeeming sinners to Himself. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Old Testament to record what would graciously reveal that redemptive purpose, and even the Redeemer Himself (Luke 24:27). The Biblical history, then, is not just facts to teach us theology. These historical facts serve to bring in God’s elect. What greater motive do we need to study it than that these Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15).
Our Focus During This Study
By reading through the first five books together, we will be reading the BIG picture. The Bible is a cohesive story, From Genesis 1:1 to the end of Revelation. God’s plan for reconciliation is woven throughout each book, in each of the accounts that we have heard since our first years in Sunday School. By reading these books together and whole, we will be able to see God’s plan unfolding toward the culmination in the life and ministry of Jesus.