The Pyramid of Faith -
Four Ways God Speaks To Us, Part 1:
S is for Scripture
May 1, 2011
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Today we will begin a new sermon series that talks about how God touches us, strengthens us, and speaks to us.
I have a basic premise for you to consider. This basic premise is very simple: We all need to be connected to God. We all need that special connection which is faith in our soul.
Some people know they need "The Connection", and pursue it - the way you are doing now, by being in Church. In the Bible, Mary Magdalene did the same thing as she sat at the feet of Jesus.
Some people deny it like the Prodigal son did.
Or maybe there are folks that just need more information, like Thomas did. But the premise is that we all need the Lord, everyone needs the Divine Connection.
We reach up to God through our prayers, don't we? But how does God reach back to us, and fill us with His wisdom and His strength and His love?
I would like to share a treasure with you this morning. It is not a new treasure, in fact, it is as old as the Methodist Church itself. It is a treasure that was given to us by the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley. It's a special system that considers four ways to let God speak to us.
I would like to invite you to think of it as a four sided pyramid. On each of the four sides of the pyramid there is a letter written. The letters are “S”, “T”, “R” and “E”. Each week we will explore one letter and one of these ways God reaches out to us. It almost spells the word “STORE”, doesn’t it? And we will explore what God has “in store” for us in this pyramid of faith.
Historically, this is called the "Methodist Quadrilateral." Since a "quadrilateral" is a hard thing for me to get a picture of, I like the picture of a pyramid instead. A pyramid is something with four sides that comes to a point. That point is the place in our consciousness where we encounter God.
The first Side of the Pyramid of Faith: Scripture - the Holy Bible.
The first side of the pyramid of faith begins with the letter “S”. What does it stand for? It stands for the word, SCRIPTURE. John Wesley believed, as we believe, that Scripture is God's primary tool for getting in touch with us. It is the first and most important way in which God reaches to us: the Holy Scripture, the Holy Bible.
An Amazing Book of History, Healing, and Holiness
Let’s think about this. The Bible is a book of history. It is a book where we learn about the great people of faith, who through the ages, have reached for God and been connected with God. How else would we know about Abraham or Moses or Isaiah, except through this book, the Bible? How else would we know about Joseph, or Mary or even Jesus? The Bible is a book of history. Finish this sentence for me, won't you? "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the ______?" Of course, “for the Bible tells me so.” It is the place of our roots. It tells of the gradually growing understanding of God by people, and how that understanding matured and finally found its fullness in the coming of Jesus Christ - the pinnacle and center of the Bible.
The Bible is also a book of healing. It heals our worries, our brokenness and our loneliness. In the pages of this book is healing from the harmful effects of sin. In this Book is the story of salvation, the redemption from low ways of living. Herein we find the high road to abundant living. It is indeed a book of healing.
The Bible is also a book of Holiness. "Holy" means, "Special to God." This is no ordinary book. It holds ideas that are mysterious and sacred. It holds ideas that put us in touch with the Mind of God. It is to be revered and respected because of the ideas it contains.
Let me tell you a story about my Mom. She had tremendous love for the Bible. I remember Sunday afternoons when she would sit with the large family Bible in her lap, and read all afternoon. She completed the reading of it several times.
When I was in seminary, I had to buy a lot of books. One of them was a recommended edition of the Bible. I bought one of these for myself, and also one for my Mom. When I gave it to her, she appreciated it very much, but I could tell that something was wrong. There was something unusually hesitant about her usually enthusiastic response, especially for a gift such as this.
I said to her, “Mom, please tell me. What is the matter?” Well, it seems that this particular Bible, a black covered Bible with red edges, had something that she really wasn’t used to on the cover. She was used to Bibles that had the words, “Holy Bible” written on the cover. This particular book was a Bible with a black cover that simply had “The Bible” written on the cover.
The Bible is a holy book that gets us in touch with God. My Mom loved that idea so much, that it disturbed her that the word “Holy” was missing from the cover.
Be assured that I did go out and get her one with the words “Holy Bible” on the cover. I have that Bible still and it is full of her writing and her notes and underlines, it is precious to me. A replica of that Bible was placed deep in the ground in a metal box, buried under the eighty foot tower of the Piscataway Christ United Methodist Church. It was placed there by the children of the church as the building was being started. It symbolizes that the church is built on the Scripture, the Holy Bible. It is a Holy book that we look at Sunday after Sunday that brings us inspiration. It is a book that brings us closer to God.
How Does God Get In Touch With Us Through the Holy Bible?
There are three ways that I can think of.
Here in church, week after week we take the pages from the Bible, explore them and discover the phrases that light up for us, using a pencil to underline the phrases that get us closer to God.
Through Bible Studies
Through our church there are many Bible Studies available to you. Alba Lucia, Steven Thomas, Reverend Dave and I all hold Bible Studies which you can join in order to get in touch with this remarkable, historic, healing Holy Bible.
Through Personal Reading
Personal reading is a third way to get in touch with the Bible. Now, here is something to consider when you start reading the Bible: Wynton Marsalis is a great trumpet player of both the classical and jazz styles. He said a remarkable thing about Beethoven. He said, “Some music just comes to you. Some music you can just feel surrounded by and enjoy the first time. But Beethoven’s music, you have to come to it.”
I love that way of looking at certain pieces of classical music. The Bible is that way, too. The Holy Bible is not "easy reading". When it comes to the Bible, we have to come to it. When you are studying it personally, you may not find what you need at first glance. But I urge you to keep on looking until you find a phrase that touches you, a story that seems to light up on the page for you.
I invite you to consider a little bit of homework this week, my friends. Just once this week take your bible, open it up anywhere and start reading. Look for a phrase that catches you or lights up for you. Look for a phrase that represents God speaking with you. Consider this just once this week. If you do, let me know either in person next Sunday or by email. (If you email me, I promise that I will reply to you). Let me know what phrase lit up for you. If you don’t find something the first time, keep on looking, I know you will find something important and uplifting. You just may have a meeting with the Lord as you read those pages.
One of the most important ways that God connects with us is through ideas found in the Scriptures - the Holy Bible.
Come back throughout May and we will discover three other ways that God speaks to us.
God loves you; I do too. Have a wonderful week.
© 2011 Anthony J. Godlefski