Tag Archives: reading the Bible

The Grid – Addendum One

I ended the last post with these words: “He who is the Truth is in us.  He will guide us from within.”  This needs some emphasis and explanation.

Let me first establish a context.  I have been a theologian for many years.  I have a PhD in Theology.  I understand the incredible importance of the Scriptures.  I believe that the Scriptures are the Word of God given through His Holy Spirit for the blessing of His people.  I read the Bible; I teach the Bible; I love the Bible.  I probably hold a higher view of Scripture than most of my readers.  I even use words like “inerrant” and “infallible” when I refer to the Scriptures as given by the Holy Spirit.

But, listen: I don’t believe the Bible is the ultimate revelation of God, nor do I believe that the Bible will save anyone.

Occasionally, as I would visit with young pastors about what they believe, I would find someone who believed that the Bible was somehow God.  They worshipped the Bible.  They believed that studying the Bible was the highest Christian achievement.  They memorized the Bible and could quote long passages.  Some of them read the Bible exclusively; they would read no other book.  Recently I read a Facebook comment on a friend’s account where the writer said, “The KJV is Jesus Christ in book form.”  Although I had never heard it put so bluntly before this, this is the faith of the bibliolater, the one who worships the Bible as an idol.  They go too far.

You see, the Bible is holy because of its association with the One who is holy.  Just as the Temple of Solomon, the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, and other objects were holy because God chose to associate Himself with them, so the Bible is holy.  The words of the Bible, properly understood through the Holy Spirit, are the words of God.  But the Bible is not God.

When people begin to worship the Bible, they fall into the trap of the Pharisees.  The Pharisees knew the Scriptures.  They studied the Scriptures carefully and faithfully.  To them, the Law was the ultimate revelation of God.  Yet, when God stood before them in the Person of Jesus Christ, they not only couldn’t recognize Him, they rejected Him and hated Him.  The Pharisees thought they would find salvation through the Scriptures, but they missed the point.  The purpose of the Scriptures of God was to point us to the Person of God.

More coming…

I truly appreciate your 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)

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The Grid – Freedom to see

The fifth of five parts:

      So I go back and read Scripture now with these things in mind:

     God loves us.  He wants to give to us.  We are not able to achieve on our own what He wants to give us.  All He wants is for me to love Him and, through Him, to love others.

When I read Scripture that way, it opens up new and wonderful things.  No longer do I see only His anger and my guilt.  Now I see how He has reached out over and over in love to His people.  Sin is no longer the focus of my life or of the Scripture.  There is no excuse for sin, but no guilt for those who are in Christ.  Now I see how trying to live on my own has messed it all up.  I read Scripture with new eyes and new joy.

It is important for God’s people to read His Word.  But it is also important for us to remember that the Scriptures are the Word of the Lord who loves us.  The Lord knows that His Word is often misused.  The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders misused it.  The early Christians encountered false prophets who misused it.  He said that He would guide us into truth personally.  (John 16:13)  In fact, He went farther than that.  He who is the Truth is in us.  He will guide us from within.  (John 1:17; 14:6 and 2 John 1:2)  In Him, and only in Him, we have freedom to see the truth that the Bible presents.

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)

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The Grid – Being transformed in our thinking

The fourth of five parts:

      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)

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The Grid – What is Biblical?

The third of five parts:

     Even people who have embraced the message of grace still struggle with this.  I read a popular grace teacher a couple of months ago who said that people after the New Testament came to God by grace while people of the Old Testament came to God through the Law.  NO!  The only way to God throughout history, the only way He has given, is by His grace.  That was the point!  The Law was given to reflect our inability, not make us able.

So, when these folks look at the Scriptures, even after they begin to hear grace, they still struggle.  They still doubt that the grace message is “Biblical” because “Biblical” means performance and judgment.  They might move forward in grace, but they do it with a certain amount of guilt and fear.  In the back of their minds, the old grid won’t let them see grace in God’s Word.

Believe me, this is not easy to deal with.  I have counseled people in this situation.  They come in with their “Biblical” challenges to what I have taught and we have to go through each verse to see what it really says.  That can take a long time.  Others simply won’t read any Bible passages I give them.  They aren’t interested.  They want to hear about God’s love, but they won’t read His Word.  I worry that I am just another voice and I wonder how well they are receiving the message.  It has to be from God or it is just the opinion of another teacher!

I want people to read the Scriptures.  The Bible is the Word of God to His people.  In it He communicates His love through story and teaching.  Every page is a witness to the consistent love of God.  Every day I find things that fill me with wonder and joy as I consider the goodness and grace of the Lord.

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)

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The Grid – How we see the Bible

 

The second of five parts:

     Of course, not everyone reacted this way.  Some still believed that the Bible had the answers.  They heard of the life of grace and they really wanted it, but they had real trouble finding it in the Bible.  Like the others, they could only see more to do and condemnation.  Why?  Because that was the grid or interpretation they had learned.

We see our world through the grid of what we have learned.  The performance system (if you do this, then you will get that) has defined how we interpret information.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter what that information is.  It is why abusers can convince their victims that the abuse is the victim’s fault.  It is why some people learn to expect bad things in life.  “Bad people receive bad things.  If you want good things, you have to be good.”  That’s how performance people learn to see life.

Even our view of Scripture is affected.  Because we were taught that God was always angry at us, we see His anger everywhere in the Scriptures.  Because we were taught that law and rules were important for keeping evil people in line, we learn to value the Law and dismiss grace.  Because we were taught that we never measure up, we read the Bible and find over and over that we have fallen short of God’s expectations.

So guys like me have little hair left.  We pulled it out while screaming “THAT’S NOT WHAT IT SAYS!!”  We wanted so badly to show people that the love of God flows through the pages of His Word.  We wanted to show them that the Bible itself tells them that their teachers were wrong and manipulative.  We wanted them to find the joy of reading the Scriptures and the wonder of God’s consistent truth.  But so many couldn’t see it.  It didn’t fit through their grid.

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)

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The Grid – When the Bible is part of the problem

The first of five parts:

     One of the worst things about the performance system is how it twists Scripture to support its teachings.  A discussion group I am part of has repeatedly looked at and challenged the manipulation of Scripture passages used by performance based teachers.  One thing we need to understand is that this misuse of the Bible has made it very difficult for some to enjoy reading it.

Pavlov taught his dogs to react a certain way at the sound of a bell just by feeding them after ringing it.  When only the teacher knows the “whole” truth, the followers learn that their own understanding of Scripture is inferior and not to be trusted.  You failed the quiz over and over.  They learn that they need the “wisdom” of someone else to truly understand Scripture because they are, presumably,  too influenced by the wicked world.

The other thing that happened to many was that they learned to dislike reading Scripture.  I know fathers who wanted to throw their Bibles away after the family devotion time because no one in the family seemed interested or appreciative.  (Never mind that Dad had forced the whole family to get up at 5:00 AM so he could do this before he went to work.)  I know moms who simply stopped reading the Bible because it was constantly condemning.  They could see nothing in the Scripture except more to do.  And I know of kids who hated the Bible because it represented all the negative things their family was going through.  The Bible was said to be the source of the teachings that held everyone back and made life miserable.  “Do it because the Bible says.  Don’t do it because the Bible says.”  They grew up thinking that the enemy of their joy was the Bible.

Overstated?  Not according to what some people have told me.  It certainly makes sense that people would stop reading their Bible once they are out of the performance system.  It became the image of that system.  “If you reject the system, you reject the Bible,” the teacher said.  “Ok, so be it!” came the response.

Now, remember that this was twisted and misused Scripture that was being rejected.  We may know that, but those who were trying so hard to get away from the pain didn’t know that.  It was all the same book to them.  I have known several people who stopped reading their Bible even though they still wanted to know the Lord.  They were not giving up on their faith, not really, they were just rejecting the way it was presented in their lives – and that was connected to the Bible.

More coming….     Comments??

 

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