Encouragement From The Word

The legacy of Gordon Fee

Earlier this week, Gordon Fee died.  That name may not mean anything to you, but if you’re a follower of Jesus, there’s a good possibility that you’ve read something that he was involved with.

Fee was a Christian who pastored a church for a little while, but ultimately felt called to the academy.  He taught New Testament studies at Wheaton College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and at Regent College in Vancouver, from which he retired some years ago.

But you probably don’t know him from his teaching appointments.

His greatest legacy, other than the students he taught, was threefold.  First, he was active on the translation team for the original New International Version of the Bible, so if you’ve read the NIV at all in the past, you’ve probably read some of his contributions to Bible translation.  Second, he wrote commentaries, principally on the letters of Paul (so if you’ve heard me preach on, say, 1 Corinthians, Gordon Fee touched your life that way!).  And third, he co-wrote a book called How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth (a copy of which I gave away just yesterday!).

Fee was Pentecostal and a scholar, and he believed that the Holy Spirit plays a role in our study of the Bible as well as in our living out of the Christian life.  He wasn’t the first person to assert this, of course, but he was used by God to promote the spiritual life in the midst of learning and growing in Christ.

I recommend that you read anything he wrote.  And I also recommend that you read what he would have recommended, and that’s the Word of God.  Read your Bible – for all its worth.  Notice that as I just used it and in the title of Fee’s book, there is no apostrophe:  we don’t read the Bible for all it’s worth, but for all its worth.  We want to get the most out of the Bible, which has great worth to us as followers of Jesus.  It is how the Lord communicates most clearly to us.  It’s how we learn the Christian life.  It’s how we gain comfort and are challenged in our walk with God.  

So I don’t encourage you to read the Bible as a tribute to Gordon Fee; he wouldn’t ask you for that.  But I do encourage you to read the Bible because of what it is:  God’s Word to us.  The Word of Life.  The Truth. 

Take even five minutes today, if you haven’t already, and read a portion of Scripture.  Let the Lord speak to you.

Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear” (Jesus, Mark 13.31, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Read on!

Most of you reading this find that there is value – great value – in reading the Bible. It is, as the Psalmist put it, a lamp to our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119.105). It is God’s revealed Word in writing, the library of books in which we find God’s will for the human race, in which we find everything that can profit us for salvation.

Reading the Bible is good for your soul.

Do you also read the writings of those who have read the Bible and found their lives enriched by it?

There is a whole category of Christian literature entitled, ‘Spiritual Classics’. There are varying opinions as to what gets classified as a classic piece of spiritual literature, but the writings of many of those who have contributed toward the church’s understanding of God and of itself generally qualify. Think of people like Athanasius, Augustine, Benedict, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley. Rarely is an author considered a spiritual classic while still living, though one might argue in favour of Eugene Peterson today, or even A.W. Tozer 50 years ago.

Many of these authors can be found online, whether in free books or for purchase. A few, like C.S. Lewis, can usually be found in big-box bookstores. To find many of the others, you have to find a really good quality bookstore. There are few Christian bookstores left, but the better ones will carry classics. Many better general, mom-and-pop bookstores will keep some of these classic writers in their religion section.

There is a whole world of learning to be had at the feet of these great thinkers and writers, but most Christians simply don’t know they exist. Now you do!

If you sometimes struggle for devotional reading that challenges your spirit, consider adding one of the great classic Christian writers to your routine. You will find blessing from their words, and perhaps even a certain affinity, when you realize that these great men and women of the Christian faith had struggles and doubts and difficulties alongside the joys of life in Christ – just like we do.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12.1, NLT).