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2 Ways to Read the Bible

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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.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  • 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.

    Maru