After the sermon this past Sunday on the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders, thought I would write a few blogs this week to encourage dialogue on the topic of growing in our use of the Bible. In the story Jesus compares a person who “comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice,” to a wise builder who builds his house on a rock driving the foundation deep. On the other hand, the person who hears the Words of Christ and does not do them is like a foolish builder who builds on sandy soil. When the flood comes the house falls. The main truth of the story is a call to be sure the foundation on which we build our lives is secure. Of course that foundation has to be Christ, but Jesus is teaching us that building our lives on the Word of Christ is equivalent to building our lives on Christ. Jesus says that doing this involves three activities, coming to Christ, hearing His words, and then putting them into practice or doing them in obedience. So, the goal is to write three blogs with some practical ideas on how we can do each of these. It would be wonderful to have others join in the discussion to share ideas of their own so that we all can grow and learn.
So the first step here is to approach the Word with a proper perspective, seeing our coming to the Words of God as an act of coming to Christ. This means that before I begin interacting with the Bible I have to realize that the purpose of the Bible is to show me Christ. He is the central figure, and every word in the Bible is ultimately about Him. This is what Paul says in Galatians 3:24 when he says that the Law was our guardian leading us to Christ. In other Words, the Old Testament was given as a sort of school teacher leading us to Jesus by showing our need for Him and revealing His glory before He came. So how can we approach the Bible in a way that we are coming to Jesus as we read and hear the Scriptures? Some ideas.
*Begin Bible reading with a time of worship. Download worship music and listen, singing along to songs that worship Jesus before starting to read.
*When reading stories in the Bible that do not have Jesus as the main character, do not make a hero out of the main character. Realize that the hero of every story is God and the purpose of the story is to demonstrate God’s saving work in his people. If you try to make the hero the character you moralize the story and miss the big point, and you will eventually find other stories about the character that burst that bubble. So as you are reading, look for the ways God is being a hero to His people, and how He is rescuing, redeeming, forgiving, changing, disciplining, and equipping his people. Then know that all this points us to Christ.
*Repent of pride and read with humility. One of the quickest ways you can discern that you are misreading the Bible by missing Christ is if reading a passage of Scripture instills a sense of pride and accomplishment. If you feel good about yourself, knowing you are better than others, well you aren’t because you have allowed the very act of reading the Bible to create in you the worst sin of all, the sin of pride which is the wellspring of all sin. So, always work to repent of pride and read with humility, knowing that only Christ can make a text true in you.
*Look for the ways that Christ is the fulfillment of the text before I can be obedient to the text. Here are some examples
- If you read a commandment or law – know that you will fail to keep the command in ways, so before you can figure out how to obey the Law you must realize first that Christ perfectly fulfilled the Law for you, He has died for your sin offering forgiveness, and he has given you His righteousness.
- If you read a poem or song – No matter where the song sits in the Bible, it is pointing us to the person of Christ as the ultimate revelation of God’s goodness and character. So if we are singing a Psalm about God, that is ultimately leading us to Jesus.
- If you are reading about the kings and other characters in the Old Testament you will quickly realize that the role of king is important for the people, but the men who serve as kings are mostly terrible people who abuse power, mistreat people, and reject God. So this creates an hunger for a good king who will rule rightly. These texts are actually designed to create a hunger for a true and right king, and that hunger is satisfied in the coming of Jesus.
*Focus on promises more than on commands. While we are called to obey the Bible, the ratio of commands to promises is significant. There are a total of 613 commandments in the Old Testament, but as many as 3500 promises. This is because the focus of Scripture is not on what I must do but on what God has done and will do.
*When you read a text and then come up with an interpretation ask yourself this question, “Would my interpretation of this text be any different if Christ had not come, died, and risen again?” If the answer is “no” then you probably are misinterpreting the text.
*As you seek to obey the teaching of the Bible ask yourself if your obedience is flowing from faith in Jesus or is your obedience coming from a sense of duty. In other words, are you obeying in order to gain God’s acceptance, or do you realize that you have already been accepted because of the Gospel of Jesus and therefore you desire to obey and honor God by living in obedience.
That’s enough for me. Throw in your thoughts. I’ll post another blog soon with ideas for how we can do Bible intake. God bless.