Numbers 1:1 "Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying"
Reviewing what we looked at yesterday - The God-Centered Congregation
Yesterday we began to look at what is meant by the term "congregation". Local churches are often referred to by this title. As we saw yesterday, in both the Hebrew and Greek meanings behind this English word, the idea of "God-appointed" or "God-called" is meant. God must be central if the church congregation is to fulfill its purpose. With that general idea put forth - we obviously need to flesh that out a little further. What traits must be present for there to be a consistent God-centered congregation? In today's blog, we want to consider that first crucial emphasis - namely the Strength of Scripture.
The Strength of a God-centered Congregation is the scriptures
Here in Numbers 1-4 we see several references to God speaking to Moses the words of God for their instruction. In fact, in just the first four chapters of Numbers alone we find no less than thirteen places where God speaks to the people. Below I will point out some observations from key verses in Numbers 1-4 that describe the function of God's Word in the God centered congregation:
1. God's Word is God's Words revealed In Numbers 1:1; 2:1; 3:11,14, 40, 44; 4:17,21 God "spoke to Moses", saying particular words that revealed His intent for the people
2. God's Word Compels the Conscience In Numbers 1:19 and 3:51, 4:41 we see another word, namely "commanded being used". Thus God's Word has the authority to compel the conscience to pursue a course of action
3. God's Words are Written Words In Numbers 3:1 and 4:41 we see reference to this phrase: "Now these are the records". That phrase is found a dozen times in another book written by Moses - the Book of Genesis. This term is a technical term describing the taking down of history or biographical information. Thus when God spoke to a prophet his words - that was revelation. When those prophets in turn wrote down the words by the supervision of the Holy Spirit - that was inspiration. The fact that men such as Moses had to get all of his facts accurate tells us that what He wrote was without error - or inerrant. Furthermore, the fact that the words of scripture had to lead the people into accurate carrying out of God's instruction meant they were infallible - or incapable of leading into error.
4. God's Words are to be proclaimed to the congregation
Imagine having responsibility over the wellfare of 3 million people. According to one commentator, the camp of Israel here in Numbers 1-4 numbered in excess of 2 million people and stretched over an area of 12 square miles! Even with the aid of delegation, the organizational demands would had been staggering. Moses, the man of God, had to take the word of God revealed and wrote it down under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (Exodus 24:4) He then needed illumination to digest its contents to understand its bearing on his life and the lives of those whom he served. Then he had to proclaim the Word of God to the people.
God's Word was revealed with the intent that it would be proclaimed, preached, taught and explained. Without this God-ordained method, God's people will not know how to take the sacred words of pen and ink and live them out in their daily lives. Why else do you think Moses was able to assemble the people in Numbers 1:18? Or organized the people by their camps and standards in Numbers 2? Or explained God's words to the priesthood in Numbers 3-4? The words of God had to be explained. This is necessary for every generation of God's people.
The Pattern for ensuring the Scriptures Strengthen the congregation - Proclaiming the revealed, inspired and illumined Scriptures
And so the Word of God is His revelation spoken to His prophets (Old Testament) and Apostles (New Testament). (2 Peter 1:20-21) This revelation was not merely left to be retained in the memories of the forty biblical authors. The revelation given by God was written, superintended by the Holy Spirit - which is what we call inspiration. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) With inspiration completing the writings of the scriptures, the ability to understand them comes as a result of the Holy Spirit's ministry of illumination. (John 14:26, 16:15; 1 John 2:20,27) Then we see the necessity for the preacher to come and proclaim God's Word to the congregation. (1 Timothy 4:13, 16; 2 Timothy 4:1-4)
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012
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