Bible Study Series – Knowing your Bible – The Book of Ezra
The phrase ‘the chief of sinners’ seems to have moved from 1 Timothy 1v 15 via the hymns of Lucy Ann Bennett and Charles Wesley into the self-understanding of many Christians. Over the years I have heard many Christians refer to themselves, both in their conversations and public prayers, as ‘the chief of sinners’. Is it right to do so? I would argue that it is not. To do so not only misses the point of Paul’s argument to Timothy but also undermines the Christians’ experience of grace.
I work a few days a week as a Mental Health Practitioner in our local NHS Mental Health Resource Centre. GP’s refer to us people with such concerns as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders and we then offer assessment and interventions such as counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness.
It seems to me that there are two basic approaches to preaching the Bible. Let’s call the first the ‘Should’ position and the second the ‘Right’ position. ‘Should’ preachers use the Bible in order to tell their listeners what they ‘should’ do, how they ‘should’ live, what kind of faith they ‘should’ have and how they ‘should’ be attending meetings and telling others about the Gospel. ‘Should’ preaching makes the Bible all about ‘Us’. ‘Right’ preachers seek to lead their listeners to God through the pages of the Bible in order to encounter Him and His Glory. ‘Right’ preaching makes the Bible all about God.