At the beginning of my freshman year at the University of Georgia, I had determined to be God’s guy. Reading the Bible daily, I thought, was the key to getting me to that goal. The first morning of my college career I picked up my Bible and started reading the Gospel according to Matthew. I read four chapters that day, and four the next, and so on for several months.
I have to confess. I didn’t get very much out of what I was reading. If someone asked, I could tell them the chapters I read, for example, Matthew 9 – 12, but I couldn’t speak with understanding about the content of what I read. Honestly, it was nothing more than words on a page. But why? What was I missing?
It was four years before the answer came. When it did, the Bible came to life. Here is what I learned and what I am continuing to learn.
- The Bible is about Jesus; it is God’s testimony concerning His Son. Jesus put it this way: “These are the Scriptures that testify about Me” (John 5:39). We are to read the Bible to know Jesus and discover all that He has done for us. That is what I missed. I was reading to ascertain the rules and regulations I was to live by in order to be God’s guy. For some reason I was trying to make the Bible about me. But the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, points us to Jesus. The Bible is His story, and when we read it with that understanding, we grow in our knowledge of Him.
- God’s Spirit teaches us the meaning of the Bible. We cannot figure out the mind of God through human intellect, logic or reason. Our finite minds are not capable of such an enormous undertaking. Paul made this point to the Corinthians: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”– 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV). God wants us to know what He has prepared for us. He never intended for His love and grace to be unlocked mysteries. He sent His Spirit to us so that we can understand what He has “freely given us.” Apart from God’s Spirit, we cannot comprehend the meaning of the Scriptures. When reading the Word of God, do so with a dependent attitude, a teachable spirit, trusting God’s spirit to open your heart and mind to the meaning.
- The Spirit of God reveals the meaning of the Bible to us through the lens of the New Covenant. As believers in Jesus, we live in the New Covenant, not the Old. Trying to blend the purposes of these two covenants leads to great confusion. Everything in the Old Covenant was written to point us to the New. The Old consists of shadows and types and examples. In the New Covenant, we see and experience the realities of all that God has for us in Christ. Those days in college, I approached the Bible with an Old Covenant mindset. I was looking for rules, regulations and commandments. I was reading the Bible with a veil over my eyes and I missed Jesus. Seeing the Bible through the New Covenant lifts the veil and enables us to see the glory of God in the face of Christ.
The Bible is unique among all other books. It contains the very words of God, and specifically His word, or testimony, concerning His Son. God wants us to know Jesus and to share His life. The next time you open the Bible, do so knowing that God’s Spirit will take the message of Jesus and make Him real in your heart.