Alec Hill explores the second of InterVarsity’s Core Commitments. In this article he explores our love of Scripture: We encounter the living God through scripture and are transformed by the Holy Spirit as we read, study, teach and obey His Word.
Love of God’s Word is deeply rooted in our history in at least three levels: personal meditation, making disciples, and evangelism.
Emphasis on the “morning watch” was a hallmark of InterVarsity’s pioneers. Many senior staff still remember former president John Alexander’s emphasis on a proper Quiet Time.
Scripture calls us to “meditate on it day and night, so that [we] may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written” (Josh. 1:8). IVP author and Urbana speaker, John Stott, provides an apt model for us. For the past six decades, he has enjoyed 90 minutes of Bible study and prayer each morning. Such discipline allows us, in the words of Blaise Pascal, to “think God’s thoughts after him.” Or, as stated in our Core Commitments, to “encounter the living God” and be “transformed by the Holy Spirit.”
During my quarter century of working with students, I have come to conclude that a solid Quiet Time is the best predictor of spiritual growth.
Within a year of the founding of InterVarsity/USA in 1942, staff member Jane Hollingsworth utilized inductive Bible study as a primary means of developing followers of Jesus. Two decades later, Barbara Boyd launched Bible & Life, a program which eventually involved over 50,000 students, and Paul Byer developed the Gospel of Mark Manuscript Bible Study. We build upon a wonderful legacy of leaders who took Scripture seriously.
The apostle Paul underscored the importance of using God’s Word in this way when he wrote his protégé, Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Tim. 3:16). As such, we are called to regard God’s Word as the authoritative standard for our lives. Quoting John Stott, we do not, like some, “use Scripture as a drunk uses a lamppost, namely for support rather than illumination.”
Rather, we regard the Scriptures as a central means by which the Father seeks to conform us to the image of Christ. Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the Bible provides insight into both our unworthiness and the transcendent grace of God.
From InterVarsity’s first Director of Evangelism, Paul Little, to the current holder of this position, Terry Erickson, inductive Bible studies have been part and parcel of our evangelistic strategies. What we call Groups Investigating God (GIGs) today, have been utilized in various forms over the past six decades.
Augustine is perhaps the most famous example of an unbeliever who found faith through direct interaction with Scripture. Sitting in a garden one afternoon, he heard the voice of a child on the other side of the wall say, “take up and read.” One author notes that as Augustine picked up the book of Romans: “Instantly, as if before a peaceful light streaming into his heart, dark shadows of doubt fled. The man of unconquerable will was conquered by words from a book he had once dismissed as a mere fable.”
As Augustine and many of our students have discovered, “the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
Today, we continue to celebrate the transformative power of God’s Word through campus Bible studies, InterVarsity Press publications, Urbana Bibles, and leadership training at our camps, to mention only a few. All of us affirm, not only in our Doctrinal Basis, but also in all we do and teach, the “unique, divine inspiration, entire trustworthiness, and authority of the Bible.”