So, how do we change the grid that causes people to see only shame and wrath? That’s the question. How can we keep a respect for the Word while opening the heart to see what is really there? People shouldn’t have to stop reading the Bible in order to hear grace. In fact, they should be able to find grace throughout the Bible. How do we help them?
Perhaps the first thing is to remember that we are them. Very few of us escaped learning the performance system. Almost all of us were taught to read Scripture through that same grid. So we pray and ask Him to guide us. He wants us to see the truth of His love. Trust that He will lead you into His Word.
It has helped me a great deal to have a set of axioms, firmly supported by Scripture, with which to interpret Scripture. That is just another way of saying that Scripture interprets Scripture.
For example, I know that God loves us. In fact, I know that His fundamental motivation toward us is love. I get that from Jeremiah 31:3 and 1 John 4:8 and 16. I also know that He chooses us and draws us to Himself in love. That’s clear from Deuteronomy 7:7-8 and Ephesians 1:4. It was nothing that I did that caused Him to choose me, it was simply His love and grace. (Check Ephesians 2:8-9 and 1 John 4:10.) Sin is not the issue. He chose me while I was still a sinner because I could not make myself otherwise. (Romans 5:8 and Ephesians 2:4) Nothing will separate me from His love. (Romans 8:35) His primary desire is that I would love Him. That tells me that He desires a close relationship with me. Throughout Deuteronomy and the giving of the Law we are told that God wants us to love Him. (Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 30:15-16, 19-20; see also Matthew 22:37-38). He also wants the motivation of my heart toward others to reflect His love for them. He wants me to love others. (1 John 4:7; 5:8)
More coming…. Comments??
(I am traveling these days. This series of posts was quite popular a couple of years ago. I hope you find them helpful. Please feel free to comment as usual. See you on the other side! – Dave)