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A few weeks ago, I began a series of short (or not so short) articles to help us as a church read and study the Bible better. We began by reminding ourselves of what kind of book the Bible is: it is a book both from and about God. Those two very basic but indispensable facts about the Bible actually teach us much about what sort of mindset with which we should approach this wonderful book. Because the Bible is God’s special revelation that centers on his Son, Jesus, our motive for reading and studying the Bible, if we intend to rightly understand and receive it, must be to know God through his Son.
On its face, this statement may catch some unimpressed. I am certain that such a response is not because some do not want to know God—I believe every true Christian genuinely does want to know God. The present Western milieu, however, tempts us to want something more, something better, something tangible we can exchange for a better life today. But, dear friend, is there really anything better or greater or more valuable than knowing God? His unchanging nature is a lighthouse on the rocky shore of our sin-riddled lives. His never-failing salvation is breath to our lungs and blood in our veins. His centuries long patience with which he works his redemptive work for humanity is a firm foundation in the midst of a storm riddled landscape. To know God is to have a close relational bond with the eternal Creator of the universe. A bond in which he invites us to speak to him, learn from him, follow him and enter into his own plan of salvation for the nations.
This is what we are to look for when we read the Bible—Jesus on every page! This is why we read the Bible—to know God and his Son, Jesus Christ. There is, quite candidly, no greater motive for reading the Bible than this, and there is no greater need we have from God than to know this.
Knowing God through the Scriptures, though, does not imply an individualistic frolic through the Bible to collect impressions of God like so many pretty wildflowers. Rather, it is an intentional pursuit of personal knowledge of the eternal God of the universe who reveals himself perfectly in the Son who takes on flesh in the man, Jesus of Nazareth. All of Scripture points to Jesus (Luke 24:27). Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, fulfills all Scripture (Matthew 5:17-30; Luke 22:37; Acts 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; 2 Corinthians 1:20). The word “fulfill” in the biblical sense means to “fill up with meaning” or “to make perfect.” This is what Jesus does with the Old Testament Scriptures. He quite literally takes and fills every word, sentence, paragraph, and book of the Bible’s histories, writings and prophets and gives them perfect, clear, and overflowing meaning and significance. This certainly includes all that God’s Word says about salvation or redemption—it’s all found in and centered on Jesus. This is what we are to look for when we read the Bible—Jesus on every page! This is why we read the Bible—to know God and his Son, Jesus Christ. There is, quite candidly, no greater motive for reading the Bible than this, and there is no greater need we have from God than to know this.
If what you think you need most in life is to be a better parent, you can find hundreds of books to help you grow as a parent. If you need discipline in your financial dealings, there are bankers and financial advisers that can assist with that need. If you need guidance and direction about a career path or course of study, there are countless sources of wisdom to help you make that decision. But in all the wealth of knowledge our world has to offer no single work can reveal to you the inner thoughts of the God who rules and reigns the cosmos other than the Bible. No other work so clearly and plainly explains the world around us with such compelling congruity as the Holy Scriptures. And there is no book, nor guru, nor social movement that bears the words of God that reveal to us the very person of God other than the Bible.
I hope you won’t misread me here. I am not saying that the Bible has nothing to say about how we live our lives, or about God’s best plan for how we live our lives. It does speak to those matters. First Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” This means, in part, that God has given us all we need for salvation and godly living in His Word. The Bible does give us instruction for daily living. But, notice that Peter says all these things are given “through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” This means that all we stand to gain for godly living in the Scriptures comes through the knowledge of Christ himself! So we do learn from the Bible to be good and faithful stewards of our finances and resources and time, but only because we know the God who is the owner of all things. We do learn from the Bible how to be better parents, because we learn from the one true God who is a perfect Father to all who call on him in faith for salvation. We encourage wives to follow the leadership of their husbands because we know Christ who willingly followed the good will and purposes of God the Father. And we press men to love their wives sacrificially because we know from Scripture the perfect Savior who loves his bride, the church, by laying down his own life for her sanctification. In this way, the Bible is continually relevant and applicable, but only insofar as we are coming to that relevance and application through the knowledge of God himself! And apart from saving faith in Jesus, who fulfills the Scriptures for us, we have no hope of ever truly pleasing God.
So when you open your Bible tomorrow, ask yourself the question, “Why am I reading this book? I hope and pray that your answer will be, “To know God through his Son, Jesus Christ.”