From the Pastor’s Desk -March 2016

The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple… Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7-11)

Our church’s statement of faith begins with “We believe that the Scriptures, contained in the Old and New Testaments, are the Word of God, and that as such they are the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice for the individual believer and the church.” Our Conference’s (CCCC) statement of faith says something quite similar; “We believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testament, to be the only inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God written.” The commitment to the Bible as the very Word of God is one of the hallmarks that has defined evangelicalism and has stood at the center of the Christian faith since its very beginning.

Now we recognize that the various books of the Bible, whether it be those that record the history of God’s dealings with the Israelite people in the Old Testament, the sermonic utterances of the prophets, or the prayers and songs of the Psalter, came through the pens and minds of individual men. The same is true of the accounts of the Gospels and the Epistles in the New Testament. But we also believe that God so moved in the minds and hearts of these individual authors in such a way that the very words that were first written on paper were precisely what God wanted. Thus we can truthfully say that this is indeed Word of God. God wanted us to have his Word in written form. This is why, for example Jesus, in his high priestly prayer said, “Your Word is truth.” (Jn. 17:17) This is no small thing. What this means is that the Bible is tremendously important for us as individual Christians and also for us as the church.

It is the Bible that leads us to Christ by displaying the gospel to us clearly and simply. Under the power of the Holy Spirit the words of Scripture bring us new life. The Bible has the power to have a transformative effect on our lives as nothing else, certainly more than any words we may speak. But it also has power to transform us as we grow in our faith. Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness… (2 Tim. 3:16) and as we read in Hebrews the Scriptures are “sharper than a two-edged sword …discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

The Bible also sets the foundation for the church. The Bible defines what we believe (our doctrine), and how we function as the church. Yes, I know there may be different ways in which we interpret various passages in the Bible on lesser issues, but on the major issues, the Bible is really remarkable clear. The real difficulty comes when we seek to subject the authority of God’s Word to human reason. Every time the church has done this throughout history it has run into trouble, whether in the days leading up to the Reformation, or within the past two and a half centuries. The church loses its moorings and descends into ecclesiastical and moral confusion. And when it does, the church loses its voice, the voice to provide real hope for broken and sinful people, and the voice to provide security for our communities and our culture.

The Law of the Lord really is perfect, reviving the soul. Let’s hold firm to our sure foundation.

Pastor Tom Bridgman

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Grace Church Congregational

1055 Williams Street

Pittsfield, MA 01201