Sermon Series Summer 2016
Posted on July 20, 2016 by under Worship,

Taylor Holbrook - September 4, 2016

Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics “God makes himself known to us more clearly by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for God’s glory and for our salvation.” (Belgic Confession Article 2) her·me·neu·tics: the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts. “God said it. I believe it. That settles it!” You may have seen that bumper sticker. It reflects a view of scripture that says, “The way I interpret this is the way God meant it and it is very simple.” The problem is we have interpretations aplenty from followers of Christ in many places. We divide, reform, repent and reject because of the way we interpret the word. This Sunday we take a look at the matter of scriptural interpretation with a most intriguing book-the book of Philemon. It is one chapter, twenty five verses, one of the shortest in scripture. It is a very personal letter where Paul asks Philemon to take back a runaway slave, Onesimus. It is a reflection of the early church on a topic of tension. Paul has taught that in baptism there is neither slave nor free, but now the church has to deal with these uncomfortable divisions within itself. Paul in Timothy says that “all scripture is ‘God breathed’ and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) So it is interesting to look at Philemon for our understanding of hermeneutics. You can imagine that many Christians who supported slavery saw this as a key passage in understanding that the gospel maintained the structure of slavery. Our hermeneutics today would say that is a misguided interpretation. In the reformed tradition, we believe with the Belgic confession that scripture’s focus is God’s clear revelation for us on all we need for salvation and for God’s glory. We say that it is infallible in all that it intends to teach about faith and life. It is not primarily a science or history book. It is a book of relationship of God with God’s people and his creation. I am thankful that it is a living word, as the writer of Hebrews says. We have all experienced the way God speaks to us through a passage we may have read many times, and yet we discover new meaning, new depth, and/or new understanding in it. That is the power of the Holy Spirit which takes the written word and lets it live in our hearts. On the last Sunday of the summer it may seem heavy to talk about Hermeneutics, but it is a labor of love for Labor Day between Onesimus and his boss, and it is a labor of love for Christians as we more fully engage the word of life.

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Summer 2016

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