It’s not all about me?
Most mornings I sit down in my big leather chair, spend some time in prayer & then read the Bible looking for inspiration & encouragement. Not a bad way to start the day. It’s the “Christian” thing to do. Right?
Isn’t the New Testament the easiest source of encouragement, like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)?
Outside of Psalms & Proverbs, the Old Testament is sometimes viewed as not applicable to modern day life. Reading about sacrifice & land wars doesn’t help us deal with our work situations or our children’s misbehavior. Sometimes we wrongly assume that the Bible was written for our personal interests or just to make us feel good.
Early church kept Christ central
After Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, the early church formed & began to spread the gospel. Their primary Scriptures were the Old Testament, gospel writings & some letters.
This first “Christians” or “Christ followers” viewed the Scripture differently than we tend to today. Christ was central. Willing to be persecuted for the belief that Jesus was the Messiah, they clung to the Word that He was the Son of God.
Reading the Old Testament gave them encouragement of the legitimacy of their faith…Christ was the fulfillment of prophecy. They read the Bible Christologically.
“The New Testament apostles interpreted the Old Testament scriptures Christologically; that is, they understood and made sense of the Old Testament through the lens of Christ, specifically through the person, work, and mission of Christ. They used Christ to explain the Old Testament and they used the Old Testament to explain Christ. We must learn to do the same if we intend to rightly understand the Bible.” -Hexon Maldonado
When Philip (an apostle) was traveling and came across an Ethiopian eunuch reading Isaiah 53, he helped the Ethiopian see Christ in the Old Testament:
“And the eunuch said to Philip, ‘About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” Acts 8:34-35
A greater context
One of the best classes I attended at our church was an overview of the entire Bible, God’s plan from Genesis to Revelation. It gave me a fresh perspective for when I read the Bible.
The Old Testament came alive, as I understood the connection of the sacrificial system to Christ’s death on the cross. When I understood that the battles over land correlated to the covenant God made with Abraham, a covenant including a land and a people.
Kathy in her post “Context is King” gave us great tips on looking at the context of Scripture. In addition to looking at the immediate context, we need to consider the greater story. To see the entire bible as one book, not 66 separate books.
“The Bible is a collection of differing voices that may be heard in concert insofar as they are heard to be witnesses of God’s singular and saving act in Jesus Christ. “-Christian Smith
Even Jesus encourages leaders to read the Law of Moses Christologically:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life… For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” John 5:39-40; 46-47
Next time you read a portion of the Bible ask yourself, “What does this teach me about Christ?” and “How does this fit into God’s redemptive plan?”
*Thank you Eldy Eldhose from Dallas Theological Seminary for consulting with me regarding the content of this post.
Is it wrong to read the Bible for encouragement and personal insight? Have you ever read the Bible Christologically?