As we approach a new year, I wanted to share a new year’s challenge that God has laid on my heart to share. It is something God began changing in my life two years ago. May these thoughts be used to revive your heart and create a burning desire for Jesus and the Gospel.
The Bible is NOT a Christian’s guide book. When we look at it as a manual for life, we go to Scripture asking, “what do I do?”, and we turn God into someone who is always relating to us on the basis of our behavior. The essence of the Christian life will be based on what we are doing for God. We frame our entire relationship with God through what we are to DO for Him. Scripture is now reduced to all God wants us to do for Him.
We fail to see that the Old Testament flows to the Gospels and what Christ was going to do, and the New Testament Epistles flow from the Gospels and what Christ had done. We forget to connect it all to the main story. The main theme.
It turns the Christian into nothing but a doer and God into nothing but an issuer of directives. This becomes: “I’m working for God’s favor, and when I fail, I expect God’s punishment.” Too many Christians, while they may think they are not, live with this mentality. This view causes a puffed up view of self where you begin to list all you are doing compared to others. It is a critical spirit that is a cancer to the body of Christ. With this mentality, the Bible is a book about me - what do I do - not about what God has done.
The Bible is rather a Redemptive Historical Narrative. When we approach Scripture, the very FIRST question we should ask is “Who is Jesus and what has He done? Who is God and what has He done?” This changes EVERYTHING! If we go to the Bible asking the wrong question, we will get wrong answers, wrong applications, and then wrong outcomes — the word of God was approached with a faulty framework.
Look at the Bible through the lens of what it truly is. Let it say what it was intended to say. It is first and most essentially a Redemptive Historical Narrative, and we must understand what is the WHOLE narrative.
It takes more work studying Scripture. It takes more time. We want to pull application before we see who is Jesus and what has He done. Approaching it correctly will change our relationship from what we DO for God to what God has DONE for us. It changes how we love, how we serve, how we live. It produces TRUE freedom in Christ. We aren’t bound by chains of what I do and do more, but rather released to live a life centered on the gospel because of what He has done.
Either the Bible is all about what God has done in the Gospel to redeem us unto Himself, or it’s all about what you do for God. The faulty mentality — It is about what He has done for me to get saved, and what I do for Him after salvation — is wrong. It is all about what He has done in you, and for you, and what He wants to do through you. The gospel has saved me and will sanctify me. My life is centered on the Gospel. Yes, the Bible will show us what God wants to do through us. It will show us how we are to walk in Christ and what Christ produces in our life, but the focal point of Scripture is not me and what I do. It is Christ and what He has done!
When God helped me see this and started reshaping my mentality on this, it changed everything! It changed my understanding of Scripture. It changed my study and how I served God. The Gospel wasn’t just for my salvation and for others to trust Christ, but rather the Gospel was daily shaping me. My life became centered on the Gospel. It lights your heart on fire in a way you can’t understand. It is a true revival of spirit.
I challenge you in 2024 to change your approach to Scripture. Stop going to God’s word with what am I supposed to know and what am I supposed to do. This produces a highly comparative and competitive Christian life. It is a pharisaical lifestyle. Living this way is easily evidence by this:
When your “service” for God has to be listed or given for others to see
When you criticize other ministries or Christians who are different from you
When you get frustrated that others are not doing as much as you are
When you point out what you think is a “lack of service” in another
When you misapply Scripture to say something it does not or mystify it
When you claim others are not as focused on getting out the Gospel as you are
When you think you are the only one doing something for God
When you make preferences doctrine and add doctrines where Scripture does not
When your focus is always on doing more for God
When you believe that blessings are a physical sign of pleasing God
When you go to Scripture and fail to see first what it teaches about who God is and what He has done
When you have a judgmental spirit
When you slander others because they are not serving God like you
When man-made traditions becomes the guide post and the only way
When holiness is reduced to dress, music, standards, rather than letting the Gospel and the love of Christ sanctify us
Challenge yourself to go to God’s Word asking “Who is Jesus and what has He done? Who is God and what has He done?” View the whole and not in part. See the big Redemptive Historical Narrative. Live in light of the Gospel and watch it create a revival in your heart, your teaching, and your lifestyle. You will serve out of a response of love for Christ, but no longer with the “do more” comparative and critical spirit. The Gospel changes everything!