If you were raised going to church and Bible class, you grew up hearing stories from the Bible. You may have even had a Bible Story Book at home or had a nightly Bible story told to you by a parent or talked about in a family devotional. Nothing captures the imagination of children like Noah’s ark, David and Goliath, and Jesus walking on water. Because we have seen the Bible as a series of stories, we tend to see it as a narrative, a spiritual history book, or a legal document from God – with illustrations of course. We grow up thinking of the Bible as God’s message to man, the Gospel, and the Word of God, but do we ever wonder why God gave it to us? Yes, of course it’s about His plan for saving us, and yes, it’s about how He wants us to live and be obedient children of His, but what is the bottom line of WHY GOD GAVE US THE BIBLE?
The Bible is first and foremost what God wants us to know about Him! Everything in the Bible is there because it tells us something about God. Even the great stories of the Old Testament are about about Him not about floods, Patriarchs, and nations. How many times have you found yourself saying, “Man, I sure wish we had more details about this story?” It wasn’t about the story it was about what that event tells us about God! We get to see how God reaches out, guides, and deals with His people over centuries of interaction. We see His patience, His love, His holiness, and His trustworthiness. If God makes a promise – God keeps His promise. We get to see Him doing that over and over again for thousands of years, and He never failed to do whatever He said He would. So today, when I read that if I am faithful to Him He will give me a crown of life, it’s better than money in the bank! It’s as sure a thing as any sure-thing can be!
The first rule of understanding/interpreting scripture must be what does this tell me about God? What does this passage teach me about His character, His purpose, and His expectations for me? Since God is perfect and perfectly loving, everything about Him is consistent and dependable. If I come up with any conclusion about God and what I think He wants that is not consistent with His character, I have reached an incorrect conclusion. For example, God is love. Love is always a choice. God’s desire for us to love Him is always a choice. Any doctrine or conclusion that removes the prime foundation of choice is an incorrect conclusion. God can’t take away choice and still want love. It violates his character, and that needs to drive how we interpret scriptures that seem to say things are predetermined and unchangeable.
One of the things that can and should help us see the Bible through the eyes of God is to regularly go back and read and remember what He wanted and intended with the first people He created. Once you have the fall of man and the transition from the garden, man is the one who changes God’s fundamental plan over and over again.
Everything we read and study in the Bible needs to begin with asking what it tells us about God. The stories are great, but the Creator is greater – and it is His book after all.