Why I am Nazarene, Part Four: The Holy Scriptures

When I first became a Christian, I can remember having a hunger to know more. I wanted to devour everything I could. My family got a job cleaning the church every week, so I remember reading different devotional materials and whatever curriculum was lying around. I was amazed by Christian subculture. I listened to Christian music, bought t-shirts with well-known logos reprinted with Christian messages, and I even got pink flip-flops that had “Someday My Prince Will Come” on them. Our hometown video store closed down, so my mom bought all the Veggie Tales they had on VHS, per my request. Now I was finally able to make Veggie Tale references just like all my friends who watched them at the appropriate age (compared to me watching them at age eleven). I am aware this sounds ridiculous and hilarious. I wanted to know all I could.

This includes getting a Bible. Now I had what I considered a lame Bible. It wasn’t fun or colorful like my friends, so I got a new Bible. It was a Teen Devotional Study Bible. It was green and purple and cool. It arrived in the mail the same time we were getting new flooring installed in our kitchen and dining room. I ran into the dining room excited to show my mom my new Bible. The guy installing the floor looked at it and asked what it was. “Is that the new Harry Potter?” he asked.

I knew I was different, but I didn’t care. I embraced it.

When I was in sixth grade, I took a more active role on the Children’s Bible Quiz team. I memorized all the memory verses. I was told I would make a great memory verse quizzer when I was able to be part of the Teen Bible Quizzing team. That’s what I became.

I hid the Word of God in my heart, like Psalm 119:11 says.

Ten years later, and I take classes at college about the Bible. I write exegesis papers and preach sermons on the Bible. I am the assistant coach to the Teen Bible Quizzing team at my church. But it’s so much more than what I do. Scripture has really changed my life.

Last year, we quizzed over Hebrews and 1 & 2 Peter. One of the memory verses is only our coach’s favorite Bible verse,* Hebrews 4:12.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Scripture is powerful. It is able to change your life. It shapes us.

As someone who is pursuing ministry, and especially youth ministry, I want people to develop a knowledge and love of the Bible. I believe it is important to know because it is our story. I mean, it’s the story of God. But we fit into the story of God because God is not done telling stories. He is not done working in the lives of people.

I know I could go into more detail about the element of story, and perhaps I should. But, let’s be real: if anything I post is too long, you’re like uh, I don’t need to read something that will take me hours, so peace out. And I don’t want you to peace out.

So what do Nazarenes officially believe about Scripture?

This is what our Manual states we believe about the Holy Scriptures:

 “We believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, by which we understand the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith.”

I was reading a blog the other day, and while the Scriptures weren’t the focus of the article, the writer explained the Scriptures were passed down through generations and cultures like the childhood game of “telephone.” I don’t believe that to be true. I don’t think we should treat the Bible flippantly. I believe the Scripture does have authority, but Christ is the ultimate authority. From what we know (and read through the Bible) about Christ, we know he was motivated a lot by love rather than dogma.

In my Systematic Theology class, my professor submitted to us that some believe Genesis 1 is a poem written so people would stop worshiping the Sun and Moon, but rather the Creator–that it is not literal. Some of my classmates’ worlds were ruined. They didn’t know what to do. And you know what? If the earth was not formed in a literal six days and six nights, I am okay. My faith is not shaken.

As stated in our beliefs, we believe the Bible is inerrant in all things necessary to our salvation. We believe God breaths life into His Story (1 Timothy 3:16). God desires our relationship be restored–our relationship with Him, with ourselves, with nature, and with others. As Nazarenes and Christians, we are pursuing holiness. The Bible is our revelation to become holy people, part of a holy community, where we are equipped, sent and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be active participants in God’s redemptive mission.

I really like what Dr. Eugenio Duarte wrote, as found here:

“It is common to refer to the writers as authors in the sense that they participated in the work of making the plan understandable to all, including themselves. This, therefore, implies that each individual writer expressed himself in the way he received the Word, using a language and style that could be understood by the recipients. “Although in some significant ways the writers lived far apart from each other, they agreed perfectly on the central message of graceful and loving salvation. That is in itself a clear substantiation of the fact that the authorship of the Bible belongs to God.

“We believe that God gives us the Scriptures for the purpose of communicating the truth about Himself (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit), about humans, and about the salvation that only God can give and only humans can receive and benefit from.

“We believe that the Word of God not only gives us the meaning of faith, how it works, and what it achieves, but it also clearly stipulates faith and Christian living as the purpose for which the Word was given to us. It is so because God, knowing our greatest need, made the only provision that meets that need. He wants us to know why He made the provision. He wants us to receive it and, in consequence, to grow in our knowledge of Him. He wants us to have a personal relationship with Him, grow in that relationship, and thereby fulfill the mission for which He created us and redeemed us.”

*Which sounds bad to play favorite when it comes to the Bible, but we probably all have a favorite Bible verse. Admit it. My favorite is John 16:33.

This is part four of “Why I Am Nazarene,” but here’s part one, part two, and part three.

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