Living the Bible

Living the Bible

Living the Bible.

Why did so many of the Pharisees get straight A’s in Old Testament Survey classes but flunked the Messiah course? After all, they were scholars of Scripture, they knew every word intimately. Yet they somehow missed the prophesied Messiah when He was staring them in the face. Maybe they were more interested in historical heritage than prophetic faith. Maybe they were more intrigued by the literal words than the spirit of those words. Maybe the Scripture evolved into being a closed system of rules and regs, rather than a more open source of relationship and life. Maybe they saw the Word as salvation itself, rather than pointing to the author of salvation. Maybe they saw the details of the Bible as a game of Trivial Pursuits, a religious stop on the Information Highway. Evidently they knew the facts, but they missed the Person.

Never mind, their minds were made up. The Messiah was going to look like this, not like that. The Messiah will save us, not them. The Messiah was going to do this, not that. The Messiah will appear then, not now. When the real Messiah showed up, many did not recognize the Living Word. Many didn’t believe the newness, the nowness of the Father’s revelation. Apparently, many Pharisees were not living out the Scriptures in the newness of life, did not see the Word as the Book of New Life.

Loving the Bible translates into living the Bible, applying it, fleshing it out, going in the direction in which it is pointing, being open to God’s new fulfillments of old truths. Living the Bible is joining the Messiah story. It is recognizing Christ for who He is, welcoming Him into your life story, and being transformed in the process. Living the Bible is taking it to heart.

The following quotes are centered on living the Bible, on faithfully experiencing traditional Scripture:

1.  “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.” (John 5:39, Message).

2. “Because you do not live your faith, your faith has ceased to be a living thing. It has become abstract – bodiless. Perhaps we shall find that the dis-incarnation of the Word of God is the real cause of all our misfortunes.” (George Bernanos).

3. “Always read the Bible with an eye for what would draw you to Christ.” (Martin Luther).

4. “Somewhere along the way, most of us pick up bad habits of extracting from the Bible what we pretentiously call spiritual principles, or moral guidelines, or theological truths, and then corseting ourselves in them in order to force a godly shape on our lives. That’s a mighty uncomfortable way to go about improving our condition. And it’s not the gospel way. Story is the gospel way.”  (Eugene Peterson, Leap Over a Wall).

5. “It is the man Christ Jesus we have to know, and the Bible we must use to that end – not for theory or dogma. In that light, it is the most practical and useful book in the world.”  (George MacDonald).

6. “The truth about God without love for God quickly becomes oppression.”  (Eugene Peterson).

7. “Whenever the content of Christianity is presented as factual or intellectual data without an accompanying call to commitment and change of life, Christian education loses its power to form character.” (Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Faith).

8. “For above all else, the Christian life is a love affair of the heart. It cannot be lived primarily as a set of principles or ethics. It cannot be managed with steps and programs. It cannot be lived exclusively as a moral code leading to righteousness. The religious technocrats of Jesus’ day confronted him with what they believed were the standards of a life pleasing to God. The external life, they argued, the life of ought and duty and service, was what mattered. ‘You’re dead wrong,’ said Jesus. ‘In fact, you’re just plain dead… whitewashed tombs. What God cares about is the inner life, the life of the heart.” (Curtis and Eldredge, The Sacred Romance).

9. “We live our lives before the wild, dangerous, unfettered and free character of the living God.” (Walter Bruggeman).

10. “Much of it hinges on your view of Scripture. Are you playing proof-text poker with Genesis plus the Gospels and Paul’s epistles, with everything else just sort of a big mystery in between – except maybe Psalms and Proverbs, which you use devotionally? Or do you see Scripture as being a cosmic drama – creation, fall, redemption, future hope – dramatic narratives that you can apply to all areas of life?”  (Mary Stewart Van Leewen).

11. “His word is in my heart like a fire, like a fire shut up in my bones.” (Jeremiah 20:9).

12. “We have lived for so long with a ‘propositional’ approach to Christianity we have nearly lost its true meaning. Our rationalistic approach to life, which has dominated Western culture for hundreds of years, is leaving us a faith that is barely more than mere fact-telling. Modern evangelicalism reads like an IRS 1040 form: It’s true, all the data is there, but it doesn’t take your breath away.”  (Curtis and Eldredge, Sacred Romance).

13. “To reduce revelation to principles or concepts is to suppress the element of mystery, holiness and wonder to God’s self-disclosure. ‘First principles’ may enlighten and inform; they do not force us to our knees in reverence and awe.” (Alister McGrath, A Passion for Truth).

14. “Behold, O God, you delight in truth in my innermost being. Therefore teach me wisdom in my secret, hidden heart.” (Psalm 51:6).

4 Replies to “Living the Bible”

  1. Love this one. I have always wondered about that as well and it is a great point that ‘they made their minds up about it’ long before and to the point they would not sway to it. We still sadly see this today and go on either extreme…accept everything or be stringent…I find myself just trying to use EVERYTHING in the Bible as a lens and not pick and choose. And most of all be willing to see where I could have misinterpreted.

  2. Love this, Steve. As I have been preparing to preach this Advent, I have wrestled with this question myself. I’m afraid that I miss Jesus’ daily coming into our lives all the time. I long for the day when there will be no more shadows dark enough to shroud His presence. The day when the Light of the World will be clearly seen by all.

  3. Great thoughts Steve. I wonder if, without the benefit of hindsight, I would have been like the Pharisees. Often think of this in regard to the book of revelation. Will we recognize it when it comes?

  4. Steve, this is fantastic. Thanks so much for your opening paragraph and the quotes….the QUOTES!!!

    I’ve spent my life trying to get free from the legalism of my childhood. Those “ought-to’s” and “should’s” are in every cell of my being.

    Your article is another “crow bar” for me to dislodge more lies I grew up with.

    Thanks so much!