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2 Ways to Read the Bible


Peter with Keys: to lock-up or let out?

A friend and co-worker recently passed along some thoughts that he’s had about our natural inclination to miss the big story of the Bible. Jeff, is a licensed counselor who has a deep concern about how our hearts interact with the heart of God.  While reflecting on Revelation 3:14-20, he  suggests,

“There are two ways to read the story of the Bible. One is to read it mostly as an indictment on the human race. In other words, we are sinful rebels bent on finding life apart from God.

The other is to read the “greatest story ever told” as an invitation. Yes, we are sinners who have turned away from our Creator God and His design for our lives (Romans 3:23). Yes, we’ve rebelled, but God longs to forgive and to restore us so that we can declare to the world His story of rescue and renewal.

If we read the Bible as an indictment, we will tend to see God as angry and harsh. But if we read the Bible as an invitation, we will be more inclined to see God as a merciful and loving God who “sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17).

Reading the Bible mostly as an indictment heaps shame and condemnation. Reading it as an invitation might cause us to feel disrupted and heavy-hearted, but it will also lift us up with great hope. Because we belong to Jesus we have the capacity to be so much more than our sinful inclinations. “New life has begun!” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Indictment screams, “Try harder!” Invitation whispers “Surrender.” Indictment calls for more effort from us. Invitation calls for less from us and more from God. Indictment barks, “Clean up your act!” Invitation is Jesus saying, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:20).

When you sit down to read the Bible, consider yourself invited.  —Jeff Olson

P.S. Paul said that it is the invitation of God’s patience and kindness that turns us from sin (Romans 2:4).”

Seems to me that Jeff catches here the difference between what God says in telling us our story and why he tells us. What do you think?

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73 Responses to “2 Ways to Read the Bible”

  1. BruceC says:

    Interesting Mart. Maybe a person’s mindset from the start does have a bearing on how they read the Word.
    I read it as a kind of love letter to an unworthy recipient. It is full of mercy and grace; but at the same time object lessons and warnings to us all. It reveals all sides of our Father’s character. To a believer is shows forgiveness, to an unbeliever conviction and judgment for rejecting God’s mercy in Christ.
    I am currently reading the Bible “two ways”. One; chronologically so as to put things as they happened in an accurate time-line and perspective. And the other way with a study Bible to glean as much insight and truth as I can. The problem (as with all of us) is the application of that truth to our life and not being resistive.
    If He did not love us and desire fellowship with us I don’t think He would have given us the Word at all.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  2. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    Dear Peter (see photo) — the saint we see changing before our very eyes. Jesus promised him — and through him those who follow Jesus in every age — “what you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; what you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19; 18:18)

    A teacher long ago in my faith walk said, “Jesus gives us the keys — a big helping of “Ps.” The “Ps” are Prayer, Perseverance, Patience, Practicing Faith, Peace… There are more I can’t remember. Though that little teaching is “milk” for babies, it could grow us up to be strong and ready for the “meat” of the Word of God. Ms. Mary was a good teacher because she was first of all a loving Christian. Second, she was an encourager. She would admonish with humor in sayings like, “No Bible, no breakfast.”

    I still pray to be like her.


  3. SFDBWV says:

    Jeff seems to have isolated two views of how to look at approaching the Bible, are there only two?

    Why do any of us read the Bible?

    Are we looking for information, or enlightenment or direction or comfort? I believe the list can go on.

    How we approach the Bible; is it from a broken heart, emptiness, a curiosity?

    Do sometimes we pick it up just to dust it off?

    We have discussed the wide ranges and plethora of the human condition here many times, as all of the factors that make us who we are and where we are at any given time. This is *how* we approach reading the Bible.

    Are we condemned, yes? Are we invited, yes? However not one without the other.

    How we view the Bible is only different from how we read anything because it is from God. Because we believe it to be from God we are looking for some supernatural enlightenment and encounter. Aside from the Bible we still are looking for something from the condition of our heart and intellect when we read.

    I think the other factor in “Ways” to read the Bible is *When* we read the Bible and that may be more telling than the way be do.

    Rain in the mountains and cool.


  4. swwagner says:

    The Word of God is a living book in the hands of the Holy Spirit. No matter how or when or why someone comes in contact with God’s word, it speaks to them. It is misquoted, misused, and taken out of context by man. However, the Bible says that God’s word does not “return void”…it has an effect of some kind on the reader/listener.

    I belonged to a congregation for about 15 years where the pastor saw the Bible only as doom and gloom. He spent most of the time screaming from the pulpit about judgment. He used the Bible to intimidate people into obeying his man made rules. Everyone was down trodden because happiness and joy was being choked out of us. When I finally started listening to the Bible for myself and ignoring the pastor, my joy in the Lord returned and I left that church. To this day, I am very leery of church membership, church programs, and pastors.

  5. swwagner says:

    Thank you to Mart and BTA friends. These discussions encourage me so much.

  6. Artle says:

    Just two sides of the same big story. One must be indicted before knowing the invitation is needed, convicted before being redeemed, condemned before receiving mercy, lost before being saved. You have to know the darkness exists before you will seek the light.

    How we read changes with each reading and over time. My first read thru was probably more indictment and confusion. Now, reading is full of wonder and surprises (and more inviting).

  7. swwagner says:

    Artle…well said, I agree.

  8. Artle says:

    Actually the first was probably more just confusion but there was comfort, then came indictment and later the invitation.

    But this was just my path. Everyone’s path is different.

  9. glbrosnan says:

    I was raised in a denomination that taught me ONLY indictment, and it took me years to get the invitation part. I “bought fire insurance” at 9, but never really got the whole relationship thing until I was in my 30s. When I learned He had created me to fellowship with me, I was amazed!

    I think maybe the invitation comes first – or should – and then the indictment will follow. In Isaiah, God invited him, but Isaiah immediately realized his unworthiness (indictment). I really wish I’d been invited first – would have saved me many years of pain and struggle!

    And I continue to read it as invitation. In fact, Revelations 20 where Jesus stands at the door and knocks is written to Christians. I love just starting my day by invited Jesus and Abba to come in and start my day with me, and go with me all day long.

  10. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… you nailed it when you said both, because to just focus on “one side” and not see the other is a form of selective blindness and that type of disorder needs the most correcting.
    Reading the bible to me is nothing but two-way communication with my God, after all it is His word speaking to us, and it is us listening to His words, hearing what He wants to share with us even our faith comes byour hearing in this way, and I believe our reading/understanding is His, and I can either claim it or reject it.
    Or, see it as pertaining to me or not, but if someone shares it with you and you do not like that message, unfortunately the messenger is then judged and harshly at times, according to the words of scripture I have read so far, and what I have received so far in return.
    So,I find that to be very true.
    I believe just because the past context does not fit our timing, thoughts, doctrine, or beleifs, He will still allow us to see whatever His will will allow.
    Each ventures into the word carrying their already formed beliefs and when God reaches down to ruffle some feathers none of us enjoy the process.
    Context to me, is how we open ourselves to
    His word, not how history unfolds, or what was then, no longer means it is for us.
    There is a verse I would like to share but must first make sure that I quote it properly as I am prone to making mistakes. But the verse is on my heart and lips and I trust He has put it there for me and all of us.
    We can’t pick and choose what we like, we must learn to like it all, after all it is God’s very word, whether it blesses or condemns is really His choice not ours.

  11. goldengirl says:

    I love this blog and I love all the comments. I have read the bible and been confused and condemned, I don’t think I have ever seen it as an invitation, but more as pointing out my guilt and shame. I know intellectually God loves me and cares for me as no other, but in my heart I still see myself as a shameful sinner and even though I have given my heart to the Lord time and again I still feel lost. I also have lost that first love that I had years ago when I first was saved. I remember as a 13 yr old singing to the Lord and the happiness I felt walking in the woods just singing to Him, then again when I was 22yrs old I made the commitment as an adult knowing my sin, but sometime several years later I began to lose my way with God, I have been up and down in and out with Him ever since and I am now 66yr old. How does one connect with the Lord and stay connected? I want that so much!

  12. oneg2dblu says:

    I have just read the above post about losing that passion of whern we first believed and wanting that to remain as it did before.
    I would first say, Has God ever left you, Has God ever moved away from you, or has He been too busy for you, or too distracted to hear you when you out to Him?
    As long as you continue to reach out to God, He will continue to be there for you.
    That never fails!!
    That never leaves us, it is us who move away, it is us who become distracted by the world, it is us who doubt, but He is always wating for us to return to Him, to repent to Him, to pray to Him, and that process never fails us, but we do.

    You are reading , reaching out, and returning as you write.
    He hears you as says, “Welcome back, my good and faithful servant.Be Blessed Gary

  13. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… Here’s the verse I was refering too and just reading and wondering in “what context others will receive and read these very words given by God to John, in 1 John 3:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.
    Does my bringing them up here say thst that context I have brought them in looks like love, or just more condemnation?
    Are they given by John to break us down or build us up?

  14. swwagner says:

    I just want to add that even in those hard years of hearing only the condemnation and judgment of God, I still learned so much. Looking back, I see the hand of God and how He does bring good things out of bad circumstances. Now, I admit that those “years in the wilderness” were for my own good to develop discernment and to grow faith in the desert where there was no water…except the Living Water. My sin of viewing God’s Word as a laisser-faire option for my life, no doubt caused God to do something about my attitude.

    In those hard years I kept reading over and over in Psalms or Proverbs that “the fear of man brings a snare”. Finally the realization came that I was allowing my fear of my pastor to govern me rather than believing God. It seems so silly now to have been held captive in doubt and fear, but God kept drawing me to Himself until I leapt into His arms by faith. It was like the temple curtain splitting from top to bottom…now, I KNOW that “MY REDEMER LIVES”….and I can talk to Him myself!

    The Word of God in print (Bible) and the Word of God in flesh (Jesus) are so wonderful with new life and truth to discover every day. My heart overflows beyond words at the strength and beauty of such powerful love. This Creator, Judge and Savior gladly wants me to fellowship with Him…He is indeed ABBA FATHER!

  15. poohpity says:

    I would guess it has to do with the type of people we are. For those who run their lives, the lives of people around them and probably how they themselves were parented it would be a punitive, harsh, angry God.

    The invitation from the beginning in Genesis seemed to be of a God who created humans in His likeness to have a relationship with them and made every effort to pursue them with invitation after invitation. To have that small voice inside feel disrupted and heavy-hearted to turn from rebellion back to that relationship. No where to me does that even insinuate that our God is oppressive and domineering to the point of shaming. If that were the case who would want to have a relationship with someone like that unless they were used to abuse and control.

    An invitation to have someone provide, teach, commune, protect, change not by picking out flaws but seeing what is possible, comfort, to think we are so special, accompany us through this life and all it’s challenges and trials, to love us in spite of ourselves, to show us patience and forgiveness ooh and so much more. The icing on the cake is just to have a relationship with GOD.

    If you look at what the heads of any government, kings, queens, princes/princesses, sheiks, czars or presidents one would not ever feel like they matter enough to stand before them yet we have a God even though we are sinners has extended an invitation to talk and walk with Him daily. If it were indictment we may never feel welcome into His presence but because He pursues us we not only can we live with Him in this life but brings us to where He exists beyond anything we can imagine or hope for by invitation only. That invitation is extended to ALL.

  16. poohpity says:

    If it were by indictment the command would be to follow all the law and then die by the law but Gods’ command is that we beleive in His son and to love others. Does that really sound like a indictment or for something beyond indictment to an invitation for a relationship. John 13:34 NIV; 1 John 3:23 NIV

  17. poohpity says:

    My heart is so broken for those who have yet to understand just how merciful and loving our God really is and does not ask of us anything that Jesus did not show as we clothe ourselves in Him. Col 3:12-14 NIV Most seem hell bent on the negatives of a life indictment that many times they push people away from a life filled with grace. When someone watches every step they take in fear of Gods’ wrath they miss the intimacy of a relationship with God.

  18. Artle says:

    Staying connected is easy, because God has the lifeline; like one of those retractable leashes. The difficult part is knowing and remembering that though the tether seems slack, it’s only because we need the room to run and play and sometimes even get hurt, but all so we can learn and grow. He still holds the other end; always has; always will.

  19. Artle says:

    I was driving down the road roughly 30 years ago when out of know-where it came to me that God had always been in my life. I wasn’t thinking Godly thoughts or praying and it wasn’t a trying time or anything special about it, the thought was just there. It was a very happy moment.

    The road has not been all smooth since and at times I have to cling to that moment 30 years ago, but I know he is here; always has been, always will be.

    I accidentally typed know above instead of no, but seems to fit.

  20. poohpity says:

    I guess I have never thought of being on a leash but rather God holding my hand until I decide to let go, not that God ever wants me too but there are times I make a choice to go my own way and let go of His. Just like Adam and Eve hide from God, He never hid from them but in fact sought them out to ask, “why are you hiding from me?” Gen 3:8-9 NIV. It was their guilt that caused them to hide in shame but God shed blood so that they could be covered Gen 3:21 NIV. The first animal killed and blood shed as an invitation to come back to Him. So it seems it was man who became chained or put a leash on himself from the freedom of enjoying all that God had made to enjoy. I guess we can look at many things differently that is what makes us all each so unique.

    Like when we take our children to a playground and say enjoy all but do not talk to adult strangers. The 1st question out of their mouth is “why?” and our hopes are they never find out why but just to trust us.

  21. poohpity says:

    I have often wondered if Adam and Eve would have just asked to be forgiven rather than blame. It is so hard to accept responsibility for our actions.

  22. bubbles says:

    There has to be a balance between the indictment and the inviting. They both must be in place, but we cannot put too much emphasis on either one.

    It seems like we as the church are leaning more towards the invitation and are losing sight of who God really is. God is holy. Are we as the church losing sight of who He really is? Are we losing an understanding of how He sees sin?

    I have heard many messages lately on false teaching in our nation. I am in no way talking about this site. Please know that. But I am becoming weary of the false teaching talk on and on. But am I missing something that God is trying to say? Is it wrong to become weary of something?

  23. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh.. as you have said, and even acted upon just by being a loving paren, giving your children guidelines to follow, so does God warn us with certain guidelines in His word.
    He says, do not to play or do certain things that He has labeled as sin, things like disobedience.
    Even though we may never understand the why of it here and now, being as children, we are best just to listen and obey, trust, and believe that what our loving parent, God the Father, tells us is for a purpose, and is good for us to adhere to.
    Ignoring His warnings is also never a good place to be.
    We already know we have His blessing, because we have His love and His word tp prove it. We even have the hard parts that we do not want to hear.
    Those pesty little do’s and don’ts are everywhere throughout His word and they are there for a purpose.
    Just as His blessings we all find so appealing and know they are there for a purpose.
    We should not lessen any of His commands or words by ignoring any of them, or add to or give them any greater command over us than what He gives them.
    As you would probably agree, we all need to read the whole word, knowing they are all important for us to hear, understand and follow, or apply to our becoming more mature and Christ-like.

  24. poohpity says:

    Gary, I hope you heed your own advice one day. I have been praying for that over 2 years now. ;-) Not to many believers even read the Bible to have 2 ways, it would be nice if they would just do it. Those that do will see the differnces that Mr Olson was talking about in invitation and indictment.

  25. BruceC says:


    Just yesterday in church our pastor preached on 1 John ch. 2. 1 John is also where I happened to be in my reading of my Life Application Study Bible/KJV. The letter was a letter to many churches in general and not addressed to any one in particular. He wrote it to refute the false teachers (Gnostic’s) that were creeping in and deceiving people in the Body of Christ. They believed that the body did not matter and was only temporary and material and that the spirit of the man was everything. Therefore they said you could do anything you wanted in the body, eat and drink like crazy, having many sex partners, or abstain from everything if you wished; etc., etc. They were intellectual elitists that taught that salvation came about through enlightenment or knowledge. So even then false teachers came in and taught an “anything goes” teaching to deceive. I too see this in many liberalized “churches” that accept and justify anything the culture throws at them. Standing up for the Lord and declaring His Word sometimes results in some empty pews and less money in the collection plates.
    You are spot on about teaching in balance.
    It is not wrong to grow weary of hearing false teachings either. That is why I limit myself to just a few Christian programs on TV as many today are “name it and claim it” or “get your miracle here” (and don’t forget to send us your $$). Our money should go to do the work of the Lord and not give a person a lifestyle of luxury.
    That is why John wrote his letter of warning; so we would be on guard against false teachers.
    Your point was excellent. Those Gnostic’s taught that salvation could be earned ( accumulating knowledge) and some today think it can be earned through works also. They taught that “sinning intentionally” was ok and there was no need of confession to God or repentance’ and that Jesus was not man at all. And then there are those that think that because one has difficulties in defeating a sin that they are not saved; or that Christians never sin after salvation. You are 100% right about balance. And I think that shows up in Scripture.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  26. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    Bubbles, in your post of 9:24 p.m. last evening you ask:
    “God is holy. Are we as the church losing sight of who He really is? Are we losing an understanding of how He sees sin?”

    This is a grand question, repeated again and again throughout history! How can a holy, high and exalted God be in fellowship with a sinful humanity? God’s word reveals that God hates sin so much that God destroys it. God is a burning and eternal love – and God calls each and every one of us into a close, intimate relationship. Over and over in the prophets, writings and wisdom of the Bible, with all the ways God’s character is illustrated, we may see how deep God’s love really is. (Ex 20:6; Psalm 136:1; Jeremiah 31:3) There are way too many descriptions of God’s holy love to list!

    I long to understand God’s holy love – but it is hard to understand. It seems to me we can draw near to God:
    “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
    Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
    Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

    ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,’
    declares the Lord.
    ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:6-9)

    At last the Messiah Jesus appears as a humble baby in our world. Out of heaven comes the description of Christ:
    “…him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Revelation 3:7-8)

    Can it be God sacrifices his only Son as the way to bring his humble and obedient ones close, washing away our sin and destroying our death?


  27. narrowpathseeker says:

    Pooh, I often agree and understand many of Gary’s comments. What I don’t understand are your frequent responses to discredit him. I haven’t read the bible a gazillion times so maybe that is why I don’t understand why pointing out what you consider to be Gary’s flaws in understanding scripture seems to be so important to you……especially when it often comes in the same message about the ills of judging others.

  28. remarutho says:

    Mart, you wrote:

    “Yes, we’ve rebelled, but God longs to forgive and to restore us so that we can declare to the world His story of rescue and renewal.”

    Therein, it seems to me, are the seemingly contradictory attributes of our God. Paul describes the analogy of an olive tree whose root is holy (our origins in God’s perfect creation) If Israel is that tree, the Apostle says “Branches were broken off so that I (that is a Gentile) might be grafted in.” (Romans 11:19) In the course of the lesson that we should not boast in our status in God, Paul says, “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.”

    If the unwillingness of humanity on the whole to acknowledge God’s authority over us has persisted since Eden, it may be that the only conditions under which God will have our full attention are the chaos, anarchy and full-out rebellion of the last days. It seems to me the Lord will have our full attention any second now. Is it not the eleventh hour?


  29. remarutho says:

    I quoted Romans 11:22 above without citing my source. Apologies. Those who have pursued the reasoning and teachings of Romans already recognize the passage. Maru

  30. foreverblessed says:

    Maru, I would say: if we as christians would do a much better job in loving one another as Jesus has told us, instead of fighting over scriptural differences, we would bring many more to Jesus John 13:35,34

    My upbringing with the bible was one of warning, emphasis on the Law, and advice to try harder. 2 Timothy 2:15
    You can get all these verses in the bible, because they are all there. So you might say it is biblical. Being biblical is such a hard word: you can get anything you want out of the bible, anything you have in your mind, that is what you can get out of it. In fact, that is what Jesus said Himself, you study the scriptures that talk about Me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40 (NIV)

    In my upbringing there was hardly the message of Grace. Grace was needed when you sinned, but if you headed the warnings, you do not sin, and so no grace is needed. There comes a time when you get weary, you can’t take it any longer. It is work work work and brings you nowhere.
    I too, like Swagner, had to break free, loosen all the ties that bind to a wrong church. But God was graceful to me, and came to me personally when I left. It was as if God was closer at that time as ever. I was just the same as in Jesus’ time: Jesus immediately came to a man who was thrown out of the Synagoge. How gracious Jesus was to that man. John 9:35
    I could hardly read the bible, the warnings would unsettle me again. So I read christian books, that shows God as one who Invites us, life Mart tells us here! And that was longer then 3 years. Reading the bible does not save me, did not save me. It is the Living Word, that is Jesus that saves me, and with His Spirit in me, I slowly could read the bible, little by little again. It was a slow process, it was not the bible that brought me back, it was Jesus Himself, His love for me, His grace that flowed through my heart and started to relax me.
    Now I read the bible, but it is still only done with much prayer, otherwise the condemnation theme comes in again. Fear. But if I have faith in Jesus, and follow Him with all my heart, I have to say that out aloud, and fear will go away. It is love perfecting in me, that will drive away all fear. It is love that conquers all, Gods love.

    What is balance: I would say, 20 sentences of how wonderful Jesus is, how Great God is, how strong Love is, that Love conquers everything… well on and on in such a way for 20 sentences and at the end one line: let us reach out with all our might to stay in touch with Jesus. And of course, end it with pointing towards Jesus and His love, again.
    I would say that is balance.

  31. goldengirl says:

    Thank you Gary for your encouragement. All the comments after yours were helpful too. I continue this walk with the Lord. No He has never left me, it was I who moved, that would be true.

  32. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Narrow!

    This morning over and over one little Scripture has come to my mind again and again:

    “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued in my faithfulness to you.”

    From time to time I withdraw from this forum because the exchange can become shrill and critical. I hope I never join in that kind of conversation ever.


    PS My deepest apologies to my host, Mart De Haan!

  33. swwagner says:


    Thank you so much for sharing your story…I am weeping as I type. Like you, Jesus did personally embrace and love me. And, Like you, I have to be so careful in Bible reading and study. Even after so many years, the screaming and condemnation attached to some of the verses come flooding back…and I have to fight to ignore it so that I can get the correct teaching from the Holy Spirit. It is hard to explain how reading the Bible can be so painful. The still small voice of Jesus is so dear to me as He brings scripture and truth to my mind and heart. Once you have “heard” Him, you know that He is the most wonderful friend, savior, guide and protector.

    I suppose some personalities need to be yelled at and beat up in order to heed the message. I think of Jesus making a whip and driving the moneychangers from the temple in His anger. But, mostly I think of Him gently dealing with the fallen and downtrodden and telling them that He did not come to condemn them.

    Love and understanding will melt me into realizing my sin much more quickly…I don’t know anyone who doesn’t respond to a kind word even if the message is hard to hear. The harsh reality of sin resulting in death and separation from God can be told gently with tears.

    God is all powerful and His word is a two edged sword…I do not discount the punishment from a Holy God that must take place. When I think of standing before God I am frightened because of the sins that are against me…but instantly Jesus reminds me that he has already paid for my sins and will cover me with His righteousness so that I am pure and clean in the sight of God. What a Friend We Have In Jesus!

  34. short357 says:

    To me the bible is the only the greatest stories ever told, but the greatest example of love God went through to invite his creation man-kind to return back into a right loving relationship with him, because he knew the fall of sin would take humanity down the long road of ugly destruction of ourselves and each other without His help. The invitation of God’s love and the sacrifice he made for us, really has no true words to describe that awesome love for us. Jesus totally transforms your life with his kind of love, even if you miss it, he just chasing after you to turn you in a better direction to be helped not destroyed.

  35. swwagner says:

    Indeed Jesus chases after us. I think that those who reject His gift have to step on Him and over Him to get to hell…He is not willing that any should perish.

  36. oneg2dblu says:

    goldengirl… any learning curve is cyclical in nature, we take one step forward and sometimes we fall back when we are learning tgo walk, and only by being tested by trial, do we stand to be approved.
    Our faith grows through the same type of testing, where it too is approved through constant testing and application.
    There is no final perfection of flesh or our faith in our lives until we are dead to this world and living in our newly perfected bodies.
    Even Job who was according to God to be found without fault, was then tested to limits that would surely succumb us all.
    Or, how many of us would lay our only son on a bed of wood made up for a burnt offering or sacrifice of a life for God?
    Yet, God used such extremes to test and approve the faith of others.
    Today, living in the Age of Grace, we are not sdubjected to such but we are all tested just the same.
    Their are periods of separation, which are testings for sure, and separation for sin is just how God brought even King David back to Him to restore His relationship and faith.
    Faith that is not tested can not be trusted.
    You came back, and your testimony stands as a witness to your passing that paricular test.
    Be Blessed, Gary

  37. oneg2dblu says:

    Maru… Yes, a study of Romans has many words of wisdom awaiting us all, to discover them for the first time even after many readings, or after being presented by others which may be needed to finally fully understand them.
    Christian authors certainly do many a good work and God can use any interpretation to bring about what He has in store for us.
    Although, our doctrine is to come directly from the word to be a most authorative and true finding.
    Romans 8:22,23 is very telling for us today about how we should be feeling if we beleive what we actually read.

    We would all certainly be quick to embrace what we actually read in Romans 8:28 even when we feel we have to also must be subjected to reading those hard parts of the word.
    Love is expressed on many levels and not always with tears and gentleness as we might prefere, sometimes it comes from the most loving of us, as harsh warnings as well.

  38. foreverblessed says:

    Maru, I hope that I did not disappoint you by my remark, it was not to gainsay you, I always look forward to what you have to write! Thanks a lot for your contribution!
    Goldengirl, so terrific that you are here: and that you are sharing your struggles. If you would hold on in calling to Jesus, He will respond! Sometimes He waits a long time to answer, but do not give up.
    When I started to call on Him, I was telling Him all the time: sorry for having misunderstood You, sorry for having listened to people who make Your Word sound like a conditional love. While You loved us while we were yet sinners, then You died for us. I was so sorry for all the wrong thinking. That I had missed the point of true Grace, It is all God’s work, the only thing we have to do is to respond and answer the call for a relation with God our Maker.
    Sometimes I got strangled in Jesus, and God, who is who, but now I see that God and Jesus are one, so if I call on God I call on Jesus. All One Great God, who invites us, and does all to show His love for us.
    I pray that we as christians would do the same, that despite the fact that we see some things differently, we still love each other.
    Goldengirl, keep it up, and keep attached! I pray for you. And for Maru, and for Swwagner, and for Gary, and for all of you! God bless you all, and show you His great Mercy, and Grace, and peace, as much as you can handle!

  39. oneg2dblu says:

    swwagner…I would think that if it was God’s will that none should perish, then none should perish. Right?

    But, would God then not be able to rule with any true justice or accountability which is also His will according to His Word.
    Truth is, He will be just what His word declares, a loving and justice seeking God.
    If His word declares, “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” Does that utterance alone then save all people, or is it only by receiving His gift of faith that one gets saved?

    It sounds to me that God will not force any freely given gift upon us, and those that reject His freely offered gift, reject Him, and He will reject them as well, even though none should perish, His word declares many will.

    So, not all will be saved as many now believe.

    I would think that the only confession of faith God truly honors and rules as both true and righteous, is that confession of faith in Jesus Christ that God alone has first placed in us, and we then accepted in our heart, not just the words heard by our mind through the hearing of His word.
    But, the faith deposit that only God provides.
    “Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God.”
    So, just by having any tongue confess anything at all, that is not the true rendering of one’s heart, and God alone sees the heart, and then He alone judges it.
    There may be Two Ways to read the bible, but only One Way to truly read one’s heart, and by faith alone we’ll just have to leave that part to God.

  40. swwagner says:

    I agree that we can’t always have gentleness and softness. Just like when you finally have to get tough with your own children when they won’t listen or behave. The Lord has disciplined me many times and I have to live with the consequences of my sin everyday. But, I have never felt unloved by Him…He is willing to fellowship with me and helps me confess my sin daily. We have a wonderful time together.

    As far as people being evil, and hating God…I don’t understand that mindset. And, I don’t understand people being hateful to others in the name of God. But, I think of the Apostle Paul and know that those souls can be saved by God as well.

  41. swwagner says:

    The Bible is God’s written communication to us…we may interpret some of it wrong, but we can understand enough of it to be convicted of sin, agree with God about our sinful nature, throw ourselves on His mercy and receive the gift of eternal life. However, I agree that it is the Living Word, Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life. When all else fails He and He alone will remain. It is Jesus who paid for our sins…and the written word is a way for us to learn of His great sacrifice.

    Gary, the Bible says in 2 Peter 3:9 New King James Version (NKJV): “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

    Thank you to all for such great conversation and help.

  42. poohpity says:

    For those of us who lived in a home where harsh criticism of never trying hard enough, never meeting the high standards that our parents set before us, with no encouragement but disappointment expressed continually, judgement of thoughts and actions not being good enough, always being wrong, being called stupid, saying you will never amount to nothing are the things that indictment brings. That crushes a spirit, a mind and a soul. One starts to believe that what they say is truth, unless that type of treatment is recognized as abuse they may go through life shamed, depressed, and rejected. Living like that one may tend to read scripture with those thoughts in mind and lead one to think that is how God is. Isaiah 57:16 NIV

    Having a contrite spirit does not make a person think they are worthless. It makes us depend on God not ourselves or others to know we are worth a lot. It is not self debasing, victimization which is what indictment brings upon us and satan who is the master of indictment, not God. Isaiah 57:18 NIV; Rev 12:10 NIV

    To me we are given an invitation to live in vital union with God not an invitation to continue to live like we did before we were saved that is ludicrous. Before we did not even acknowledge God unless we were in trouble but now we recognize our human condition enough to realize our need for forgiveness when we see that then we understand God’s amazing mercy that is ever present everyday of our lives.

    It is God who invites us to sup with Him and has also given us the means to do that. When we depend on always trying to please God I do not think we fully understand that God, even tho we may sin, looks at us through the sacrifice and atoning work of the Cross. A contrite spirit is what seems to keep us humble not thinking more of ourselves than we are, it does not crush someone so bad they do not feel like they even deserve to be loved.

  43. fadingman says:

    I see God’s message to mankind as both indictment and invitation: we are indicted so as to see our need for the invitation. Churches that focus only on one or the other tend to miss something.

    If indictment is the only message, then ‘try harder’ might be inferred. But the message in Revelation is not to clean up your act, but to humble yourself before God.

    If invitation is the only message, then “I’m not all that bad” might be inferred. But the message in Revelation is that we are worse than we think.

    Neither view by itself presents the whole picture. Both are needed to appreciate God’s grace. And as Steve said earlier, limiting ourselves to just these two ways of looking at the Bible is insufficient also.


  44. swwagner says:


    Very well said…we have to have both sides because the Bible gives both sides as the truth about God and our relationship with Him. The Bible is true and right even if I don’t like what it shows me about myself. Or, even if I don’t understand the punishment and hardships that have been recorded in the pages for us to learn from…God is God and His Word will stand forever.

    Flowery speeches only about love make for a dangerous and insufficient message about God. In fact, those kinds of messages tend to make me want to wash my mouth out with a mixture of Listerine and detergent.

    Harsh speeches only about condemnation, evil, punishment, and being backslid if you didn’t make it to Wednesday night prayer meeting are just as insufficient and harmful. Those kinds of messages make me want to curl up in bed and weep for all the people who think that God only wants to hit them over the head and laughs as He shuts them out of heaven.

    Perhaps I need to make it more clear that my argument is not with the Bible, but with man’s egotistical misuse of the Holy Scriptures…how sad that we take such a beautiful/powerful revelation and distort it so much. May God have mercy on my feeble attempts to share His love and judgment. Praise Him that He still brings souls into His kingdom in spite of my failures!

  45. cbrown says:

    Just got back from Prison Ministry and I wanted to share about two men that have accepted the invitation and one that has not yet. The first man is the one that was included in the beginning of the Blog “Mercy 2”. He does not have access to a computer and was blessed to be included in our discussion about mercy.The second man I met tonight and he said that he had always known of God but he accepted God as his Savior in April of 2011.He said he is getting out of prison in 1 year and when he gets off the bus he will have $50 in one hand and his Bible in the other. The 3rd man was very intelligent and said he did not want to offend me but he did not believe the way I did. He said he is not an atheist but takes a scientific approach. I will pray for him.

  46. poohpity says:

    Matthew 11:29 NIV invitation or indictment? That is the same God of the whole Bible. Just because people read the bible differently because of their own bent or life experiences does not mean that God is different. Same God who deals with each child differently. One can look for the indictment in any situation because that may be how they think does it mean that it is really there? An angry person accuses others of anger when it may not really be there but because they think that way they think others do to. Thinking of the bible as an indictment is it because that is how a person looks at things or is it really what’s there and if that is the case then why do some see invitation and some see indictment reading the same words? What if one reads over and over their view changes as the Spirit guides them but the words are no different, still the same words only the thinking has changed. So is it what a person brings as they open the pages, if one has believed that God is angry and harsh will they see that as they read but another sees God’s great mercies then will that be how they read it?

  47. SFDBWV says:

    I read yesterday that Syrian rebels had killed 11 Christians at check points in Syria. I also have been following the news in Egypt about the Muslim Brotherhood killing Christians and burning churches.

    What do you think Christians in that part of the world think?

    I wonder if they care about the philosophical differences between indictment and invitation.

    I think we should be about praying for our brothers and sisters in these places and seeking a way to help them however possible.

    I am alarmed and disgusted at how detached we are from the other people in our faith, other parts of the Body of Christ.

    Indeed we are in the last church age as referenced by Mart in his inclusion of Revelation 3:14-20. As I feel indicted for our indifference and invited to *do* something about it.


  48. swwagner says:


    Thinking along those same lines as I also read the headlines this morning.

    What would I do under such persecution? I have no real idea what it means to suffer for my faith.

    How can I be so absorbed in my own little life while others are in the “fiery furnace”?

    Does anyone know what can physically be done to help?
    Am I willing to say, “Here am I, send me”?

  49. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… thank you for breaking the chains that bind us to forever argue or position against others, your premise is both an indistment and an anvitation to change our current path. You have risen the dialogue above the fray.
    Be Blessed, Gary

  50. oneg2dblu says:

    God wrote what He wanted to write, just the way He wsnted to write it, that is what He wanted us to read.
    How we read it depends on whether we read it, His way, always staying well within His will, or ours, remaining chained to our self-seeking self-serving flesh.
    If the Spirit directs us, we read it both ways as an indictment and an invitation, because that is how it is written.
    If the flesh directs we are probably reading it only one way, which ever way suits ours!
    “Give us your eyes Lord, that we may see Jesus!”

  51. oneg2dblu says:

    swwagner… If we are to be more Christ-like we need only say, “I am willing!”
    Then, we surrender to what God wants us to do, we extend the hand we have in the way we can, to be what we can when we can.
    Christ extended His hand, and He healed the leaper.
    He extened both His hands on the Cross, and healed the entire world who will accept Him and His invitation.

    What miracles we will see in our attempts remain to be seen, or maybe go unseen and must be beleived by faith, that we have not wasted our time, or His will.

  52. oneg2dblu says:

    I wonder if any of us truly knows why God would send us here and why we extend the hand we do?
    We certainly have all extracted our own ideas, but are they motivated by His will alone?
    Are we just trying to be politically correct, or socially acceptasble, flowery in speech?
    Are we pretending to be something we are not, or have we discoverd our weaknesses and our pride issues, finding that that may well be why we are here?
    I am confident that no one comes here and leaves without having “seen or felt” something in themselves, and something in others as well, whether we find it appealling, appalling, a blessing of invitation or a conviction, which is also a blessing, or not depending on how we react to it, and if we grow through it, it either changes us, or we deny even ourselves.
    But, if we share His word, we know it is not ever to return void.
    God can bless others through us, even if we are bent not to be able to bless them. Gary

  53. oneg2dblu says:

    Hello…indistment and an anvitation ?
    Okay my typing skills and proofreading abilities improve after I post, so they are not on the same page. :0

  54. fadingman says:

    “If the Spirit directs us, we read it both ways as an indictment and an invitation, because that is how it is written. If the flesh directs we are probably reading it only one way, which ever way suits ours!” Very well put, Gary. I’ll have to remember that.

  55. poohpity says:

    Thinking about the Christians around the world how they would give all they have to have a copy of God’s Word and the many who have given their life for that very reason. To even have just one page. No matter how they read it as an indictment or an invitation. So many have given their lives to teach with the one they may have between several hundred people as they read it together and discuss all that is contained within it’s pages while those who have an abundant supply use them to collect dust on the self or sit it in the corner as a family heirloom.

    The countries where people are killed everyday if they are found with the Bible. Most have to memorize the scriptures so they can think about them all day long as they go through horrible living conditions. Most of them would gladly give their lives to get God’s Word and all those who have left their lives to live among people who speak different languages so that they can interpret the Bible into their tongue.

    The Bible that most take for granted in an affluent society and take for granted the privilege to discuss some of the topics we discuss on here as easily as picking up the phone or booting up the computer yet they lose their lives for even speaking about it.

    So there are many Christians who care about what is going on around the world probably more than those who do not. I would think they do not get into foolish discussions about ways to read the bible but if that is what it takes to get someone to read the Bible then it may not be that foolish at all.

  56. SFDBWV says:

    The definition of a Prophet is someone who speaks for God, Isaiah is reported to do just that and in the 58th chapter of Isaiah, God tells us all that He doesn’t want our religion or philosophy He wants us to love and care for those who need it.

    The Ministry of Jesus of Nazareth says the same thing and both are an indictment, invitation and urging to do just that.

    It begins with prayer. Pray like Elijah did for the fire and the rain and God will show up.

    Listen to what God directs of you and He will not only provide those in need, but the resources you need to help them with, be it time energy or money.

    If you belong to an internationally organized church they should have outreach ministries that you can volunteer through or aid in how ever capacity you can.

    If you do not belong to a large denomination pray and look for ways you can help, be it to the Christians in Islamic countries or those in need in your own back yard.

    Those of us under an indictment/urging/unction from God need to accept His invitation to join in the work God has placed before us, with a happy joy filled heart, filled with enthusiasm.


  57. foreverblessed says:

    This morning I was going to write about a Muslim man who I saw on tv, he was shouting from a rooftop that the muslimbrothers had not set the church in his city on fire. That when the fire started muslim neighbours came to help stop the fire! We are brothers with the christians he shouted, we live in peace together!
    THis message really touched me!
    So I also pray for our fellow men in Egypt, the people who want peace, who want to live peacefully together. I also pray the more blessings on those who do not want to live peacefully together, that they, like Saul will come to their senses, and become a Paul, a messenger of God, a prophet of the cross!

  58. poohpity says:

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn/indict the world, but to save the world through Him. (invitation) Whoever believes in Him is not condemned/indicted, but whoever does not believe stands condemned/indicted already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Compare legalism/indictment to grace/invitation.

    Who has much joy living under legalism which brings condemnation, judgment and criticism? I read the Bible after I was saved with a desire and invitation to get to know the God I love. Sure some things seemed rather harsh to me but within the very same chapter God’s mercy was revealed. I can not think or reason like God does nor can I judge His way but since I have known Him all I have found is so much compassion, mercy, grace, love and acceptance of someone who knows that I certainly did not deserve it. I deserved indictment but found an invitation.

  59. poohpity says:

    Isn’t being lukewarm combining them both indictment and invitation? Is it not like having one’s foot stuck in two worlds?

  60. Artle says:

    The most important message is very simple. John 3:16. If we stop there, we know all we need to know. Living in the world as we do, sometimes it’s not so simple or we think it’s not so simple, so God has graciously provided 66+ books of instruction. I love those books we call the Bible. It’s the story of my life that began before I can remember and will never end. I learn about me and who I really am with each chapter and verse. I like who I really am better than the me I thought I was. The me I thought I was still lives here, but who I really am longs for Home because I’ve read about Home and need to be there; and will be there some day for a really long time. I understand all are welcome and the application process is simple. John 3:16

  61. fadingman says:

    Virtually all of the historical accounts of gospel presentations to the lost are given in the book of Acts. I studied all of them a few years ago, and found the number times people were indicted to be about the same as the times they were invited.

    Peter’s first evangelistic message both confronted his listeners with their sin (Acts 2:23,36), and invited them to be saved (Acts 2:38-39). Peter’s second message did the same (Acts 3:13-15,19-20), as well as his third (Acts 4:10,12).

    Elsewhere, sometimes only the indictment was recorded (Acts 5:30), and sometimes only the invitation was recorded (Acts 16:31). Personally, I would say indictment isn’t needed if the Holy Spirit has already convicted the person. I think this was the case with the Philippian jailer.


  62. fadingman says:

    I have been approaching this topic from an evangelizing-the-lost viewpoint. God doesn’t condemn those He has saved (Romans 8:1, John 3:18, 5:24). Yet, believers may still be open to indictments, such as those given to most of the seven churches of Revelation. These indictments are not condemnations, but revelations of blindspots in the church, pointing to the need for repentance even among ourselves. Indictment and invitation can apply just as much to believers as unbelievers.

    I think what turns Christians off from indictments is when it is done in a condemning way. Jesus confronted the churches with their sin, but He didn’t do it to condemn but to restore. He also warned them of the consequences of ignoring His invitations.

    “As many as I love, I reprove and chasten.” (Revelation 3:19)


  63. poohpity says:

    The way Jeff Olson as Mart quoted, seemed to be that although there is conviction (feel disrupted, heavy-hearted and forgiving) he compared indictment as being (angry, harsh, condemning, shaming) that was what I was basing my difference on. I know a lot of Christians that indict, judge and then sentence but I have just never felt God was like that. If conviction (feelings of disruption or making a heavy heart) and it leads to conversion or repentance that is all good but Jeff was saying that some view God as far off, angry and harsh rather than merciful.

    I look at it all in an evangelical way and that is how I have always presented God to others. Not in an harsh, condemning, angry, shaming way and if I believed God was like that I would not have been truthful as I have led others to Christ.

  64. oneg2dblu says:

    Andrew… I guess those people back then, the ones in Acts that you spoke of, must have had their foot stuck in both worlds. Unlike us, the saved today. Yeah right!
    No… wrong! …we are those very people who need to be told sbout both worlds and warned and shown how to overcome the daily battle that rages within us, because those worlds both constantly compete for us, and the world around us.
    We are given access to this repentance that others may not exercise or know about, or believe is required for them, because they are rongly thinking they are already saved, so it does not matter. Everything to them is invitation even their sin invites them daily.
    So, your point about how important the whole message is, and to even the church/saved today, is the right choice and way to read those verses, in my opinion.
    Because I do not have to avoid the hard parts, the indictments, I need to see them as they are, and respond to them accordingly.
    They are written to us all and for a purpose, and that is why the bible is not a one verse book, or to be taken as a one sided look. Gary

  65. poohpity says:

    I guess I may be the one confused I thought we were talking about a suggestion from a licensed Christian Counselor, Jeff Olson, about our differing views about God which effect they way we read the Bible and that would probably effect how our Christian life is whether we are on fire for the Lord or just lukewarm. I would venture to say since we are also called to witness to others how that will effect that as well.

  66. poohpity says:

    When I first accepted Christ I was broken, crushed, filled with guilt, lost, shamed but Jesus pursued me and lifted my head to know that I am loved, shown grace, mercy, forgiven and given a new identity that is why I see so much mercy and invitation in scripture. That is still how He lifts my head up everyday. I hope more will stand on the side of grace and mercy reading the bible in that light.

  67. foreverblessed says:

    I guess the Indictment is for those who do not want to repent.
    Think about God as a husband who looks for a wife,
    How does a husband treat his prospect wife:
    With indicrment?: If you do not obey me, then there will be great trouble.

    I thought a husband looks for a woman He is in love with and who is in love with him.
    I thought is was love that does attract us to God.
    With cords of love…Hosea 11:4
    God so loved the world, (as others have written here already)

    Why do we stay with our spouse, I hope it is out of love, not because some indictment is needed to get me stay close.
    Imagine, a husband telling his wife: you stay close to me, or otherwise, woe to you, you will suffer the consequences.
    What kind of loving marriage is that?

    The warnings in Revelation 2 and 3 to the churches, are they not disciplining warnings!
    Anyway, I do not get much out of this. If God wants to get to me back using indictment, then I must have wandered way of. But if I am not, in fact I am wanting with all my heart to be close to Him, love Him with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind, what do I have to do with this indictment?

  68. oneg2dblu says:

    I though the church is “still awaiting” the return of the bridegroom for His bride.
    The parable of the Ten Virgins was a clear warning about one’s ongoing and needed personal responsibilities, but I may be wrong in using that or any other parable that speaks of anything but us already being in saved forever.
    So, how could any warnings in scripture actually be written for us, or those virgins, if believers are already married?
    I thought the door was closed to those who were hopefully still waiting upon the bridegroom, and unfortunaately were not properly prepared.
    I should have seen only the invitation I suppose.

  69. poohpity says:

    The oil I need to keep in my lamp is the Lord’s love, mercy and grace and the only reason it runs out is because I am not giving enough of it out.

  70. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh…If that answer you gave were true to the parable, or in context, then why didn’t those who had the oil (the Lord’s love, mercy and grace) in their lamps, share their oil with those who did not have any?
    You thinking about another context, like Evangelizing, and the parable is about being prepared and responsible.

  71. royalpalm says:

    Hello, Mart and BTA family,

    The Bible is God’s story about Himself – His character, attributes, and activities. How I or somebody else “ read” it does not alter the truths that God reveals to us. One of these is the fact that Adam’s sin brought judgment and condemnation on all mankind. God’s word reminds us of man’s sinfulness throughout its pages because we need to be constantly aware that our sin separates us from God but He has also provided for the atonement for our sin. Gen. 2:17 John 3:19. Heb. 7:26,27 Otherwise we will not see our need for a Saviour or appreciate God’s love in sending Him and His invitation for everyone to believe in Him.

    The apostle John gave the reason for writing his book, “…but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31

    John further wrote, “ These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:13

    This is purpose of God’s word – to lead us to faith in the Son of God and to live our lives in that faith. Hab. 2:4, Heb. 10:38

    May our hearts always overflow with praise, worship, thanksgiving and love unto Him who first loved us and gave His Son to die for us even while we were still sinners and may our lives bring glory to His Name!

  72. foreverblessed says:

    Amen royalpalm!
    May our lives be to His glory,
    Maybe a sidepath, but this verse in Psalm 103:1
    Bless the Lord o my soul
    This verse kept me busy, wasn’t it the other way around, God blessing us.
    Yet David commands his soul to bless the Lord. And it is not meaning praising the Lord, no:
    bless the Lord

    I have bben thinkg about it for some time:
    But now I am at this point, it is pleasing to the Lord when our lives are for His glory, that we display the life of Jesus in our own lives;
    Instead of talking about who God, is show in our lives who He is
    The God at eventide of today writes about the same thing.
    Then we bless the Lord.
    ANd in this way we draw a lot of people to Jesus, not by warning but by invitation, a blessed life that encourages otheres to seek the well of our blessednes: God Himself through faith in Jesus.

  73. foreverblessed says:

    Sorry for all the typos, should have checked before sending.
    God bless you all, and may you all bless the Lord!

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