Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

08 November 2012

How to read ALL of the Bible # 9 - What this is and what it isn't

From The King, the Snake and the Promise
What I have presented in posts two through seven of this series is a very broad outline of the key events of the Bible.  I have left out all sorts of detail.  This is just a skeleton. You have to read God's words in the Bible to give it flesh and muscle and to make its heart beat – to see God’s majestic plan for creation, to see the relentless examples and impact of sin, to see God's endless grace and mercy found on every page towards sinful humanity, to see why Jesus had to come to die on a cross and be raised to life again and to see what that all means for all eternity. THAT is the story of the Bible. And it’s told through all the separate stories of individuals and communities through the pages and chapters and books of the Bible...which is why it is important to read all of it.  It all matters.

I have always tried to read all of the Bible.  In the early days I would be fed by the stories I recognised from childhood, the other bits I could make sense of and understand and then through the long sections that had me flummoxed, the occasional verse that would jump out at me in God's good providence.  About ten years down the track I did an “Introduction to the Bible” course.  I had been sitting under good teaching in good churches during those preceding ten years and reading through the Bible all that time but somehow the big picture had eluded me.  When I did that introductory course it was like the  proverbial scales falling off my eyes.  I remember saying to various people, “Where have I been these last ten years?  What have I actually been doing?  How did I get this far without knowing all of this?” 

Once I knew the big picture, the next few years of reads through were about watching that big picture unfold and beginning to learn the detail - whose myriad parts came together to form the magnificent whole.  Then for a few years, with the big picture essentially under my belt, I was noticing the theme of God’s sovereignty in all of my reading.  A few more years on and I started to notice the theme of God’s mercy in all my reading.  Every page of the Bible, even some of the most terrible bits, is filled with the mercy of God.  At the moment I find the attributes of godly, faithful people coming to my notice - people whose decisions, words, reactions and responses take my breath away. 

These posts have not been about showing how God’s mercy and sovereignty, grace and justice is revealed in every single page.  Those wonderful discoveries are made by reading the Bible.  Rather, these posts are about explaining the big picture – about providing a few landmarks along the way – to give it some order and make this big and complicated book easier to navigate.  With every prayerful pass of the Bible there is more to see and learn - and God will provide for you and bless you everytime and at each stage.

Three posts to go.  Next – a guide to the contents page.


Sharon said...

For me, it was a course Matt Malcolm did at the new students' weekend away just before Jeff started at Trinity, his Bible Overview course. I had done a few whole Bible intro courses before that, but I remember sitting in that room at Moore River just stunned at seeing everything really fit together for the first time. As it happens, I'm leading the ladies' Bible study at my church through this same course at the moment, and really hoping they have the same response. Understanding the message of the whole Bible really helps you see how each of the parts work together.

I find it interesting that you first noticed the Sovereignty of God and then the Mercy of God in your successive read throughs. I see the Sovereignty of God on every page of the Bible as well, and reading the writings and prophets lately I have really bees struck by the combination of sovereignty and mercy.

Grace and peace,

Meredith said...

Thanks Sharon. Sovereignty and mercy - what an amazing combination. When you say it like that it takes my breath away.