Over the past few weeks, it has been a pleasure to engage with other pastors in our LEAD Cohort, “The Disciple-Making Power of Expository Preaching.” As we have considered the work of explaining and applying the Scriptures in our preaching, I have been very refreshed in reflecting on the place of the Bible in our local fellowships. Here are two of the reasons why:
Through the Scriptures, God speaks to us about true comfort. There is no doubting the fact that we are living in challenging times. Given the pressures we are facing—everything from political tensions to social unrest and injustice to the spread of a global pandemic (throw in wildfires on the West Coast and hurricanes for those on the other side of the country)—we can find ourselves feeling not only exhausted but overwhelmed by the voices all around, the varying news outlets addressing us day by day and social media platforms continually vying for our attention. In all of this, we feel our need for words that are not slanted or confusing, but instead are full of comforting truth.
As we come to the Scriptures, it is this voice of comforting truth that we hear. In the Bible, the God of creation and redemption speaks to us. He tells us, for example, in Psalm 46 that even though our places of safety (the mountains) may be tossed into the places of our greatest fears (the raging sea), the Lord of Hosts is with us. This promised presence is something cosmically demonstrated in the coming of our Savior, Jesus, who not only identifies with us in our weakness (Heb. 4:14), but through his cross and resurrection he has also opened up the way to God, purchasing our access to divine mercy and grace in our times of need (Heb. 4:15).
Through the Scriptures, God speaks to us, bringing about faith. In the doxology at the end of Romans 16, the apostle Paul states that it is through the preaching of Scriptures’ truth about Jesus that the obedience of faith is worked in our hearts. In our current climate, we are in a place of regularly wondering who we can really trust—who is worthy of our allegiance? Through the pages of the Bible, God tells us that he has set up his Son, Jesus, as the eternal and reigning king (Psalm 2).
Currently, we see and experience a world that is pained by dissent, disease and destruction. But when we study the Scriptures, we meet Jesus, the one who is powerful over disease, darkness and death. When Jesus returns, he will bring deliverance for those who are helpless and relief and life to those who are oppressed. In the midst of a broken world, through the Scriptures God speaks to us about the cosmic and eternal reign of King Jesus. As the Lord speaks, our allegiance to Jesus as the supreme source of final and eternal hope is renewed, and faith is kindled in our hearts.
So, what does this mean for us? Well, it means that as Christian believers we are no strangers to the hard days in the world we live in. But it also means that as we continue to come back to the Scriptures, we come to the place where the Master of the Universe speaks. He speaks words of present comfort and eternal hope grounded in the climactic and accomplished work of our Savior-King, Jesus. All glory be to Christ!
Jared Pulliam is lead pastor of Christ Church Sellwood, a growing USMB congregation in Portland, Oregon. He and his wife, Julia, have four children. Prior to planting Christ Church Sellwood, Pulliam served on the pastoral team of Trinity Church of Portland, Oregon, which provided a core team for the new congregation in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood. The church currently holds two Sunday morning services.