In researching my spiritual warfare book, I re-read one of my favorite books, Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere.What stood out to me this time was his handling of Scripture in the believer’s life. I pray these quotes wash over you, bring you freedom, and ignite a passion in you to love the Writer of the Word. Here are five things we need to know about the Bible.
One. Don’t coddle your own opinion of a minor doctrine so much that you snub other believers.
My husband gives the helpful illustration of a target. In its center are those doctrines we’d die for: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the virgin birth, God as creator, the fall of man, etc. As you move away from the inner circle, you run into peripheral issues like alcohol or speaking in tongues. These are not central doctrines to the Christian faith, not worth separating from other believers about. Jack Deere writes about what often happens:
“Many Christians agree on the fundamentals of the faith, but are so confident that in the debatable areas their interpretation is the correct one that they separate themselves from those who differ from them.”(253)
Two. To interpret the Bible, it’s best to truly know the Author.
Deere says, “The author of the bible is the best interpreter of the Bible. In fact, He is the only reliable interpreter.” (257) The more I grow in relationship to Jesus, the better I understand His words and the words of His Father. The more I walk with the Holy Spirit, the more I discern the Scripture’s meaning.
Three. Interpretation and understanding are directly correlated to the heart of the reader.
I’ve known people without degrees, yet with deep, profound understanding of the Scriptures. Why? They’ve obeyed them. They’ve kept an available, teachable heart. They’ve become sensitive over the years to the things of God. Deere asks an important question, one we must ask ourselves: “What if the condition of one’s heart is more important for understanding the Bible than the abilities of one’s mind?” (257).
Four. There’s more to a quiet time than performing it rotely for the sake of checking it off a list.
I knew a man once who abused his family, bent toward tirades. But he made sure he studied his Bible, and made them do the same. Oddly, all that reading had zero impact on his behavior. Deere has met people like this as well: “I have known people who never missed their 5:30 AM quiet time of Bible study, and yet were meaner than junkyard dogs.” (310). There has to be more than simply reading words on a page. It must impact us, change us, woo us, entice us toward knowing Jesus better. Reading the Bible isn’t boring, but it can become that if we view it that way. Instead, it’s an avenue to an adventure with God.
Five. Our confidence must not be in our ability, but in God’s.
Deere asserts, “The Pharisees gave a lot of their time to Bible study, but their real confidence was in their interpretation of the Bible, not in God Himself. That’s why they were powerless. Our biblical interpretations don’t give us power. Only a Person can do that.” (124). Our ability to live powerful, victorious Christian lives depends on our dependence on a powerful God. It’s not that we are called to perfect theology (how in the world could we possibly attain that?). It’s that we are called to a Person, to Jesus Christ and His ability to unfold the mystery of God to us. We are small. Our brains are finite and inconsequential in terms of an infinite, vastly intelligent God. He alone brings inspiration, understanding, and power to live a life that honors Him.
What have you learned about the Bible that has changed your life?