The Bible is Not an Encyclopedia

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Over the weekend, I found myself around a table discussing the nature and purpose of the Word of God with some other friends.
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The discussion eventually led to an idea that I have been thinking a lot about lately; mainly, whether I approach the Bible as a book of commands and doctrines, or whether I approach the Bible as a story of hope and redemption.
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So often I find myself reading the Bible on the lookout for some command that I can take with me and immediately apply to my life. I like to have solidity, 3-point sermons, 7 steps for how I can fight fear. But that is not at all what God intended.
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As Paul Tripp says,"The bible makes a poor encyclopedia. If that's what God intended, Scripture would have been arranged differently and included many volumes. As it is, there are many issues that the Bible doesn't address in a topical fashion. The Bible has nothing explicit to say, for example, about schizophrenia, A.D.D., teenagers, family television viewing... If you try to use your Bible as God's encyclopedia, you will either conclude that it has little to say about some crucial issues of modern life or you will bend, twist, and stretch passages to suit your purposes. Either way, you are not getting from the Word what God intended."
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Instead, says Tripp, the Bible is the great, redeeming story of history:
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"The Bible is a narrative, a story of redemption, and it's chief character is Jesus Christ. He is the main theme of the narrative, and he is revealed in every passage in the book. This story reveals how God harnessed nature and controlled history to send his Son to rescue rebellious, foolish, and self-focused men and women. He freed them from bondage to themselves, enabled them to live for his glory, and gifted them with an eternity in his presence, far from the harsh realities of the Fall."
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We are a story-formed people. It is the story of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit that transforms us and defines us as Christians, not a list of what to do and what not to do. We should not approach the Bible like an encyclopedia; because, quite frankly, it is not an encyclopedia. It is a story. A story that is living and active in our lives (Hebrews 4:12). A story of our redemption, restoration, and reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ.
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And as we read the Bible as a story, we begin to see how we fit into the narrative. As Bobby Gross writes, "When we submit our lives to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves."

So let us seek to delve deeper into the narrative, ask for the Holy Spirit to transform us through it, and look for the ways in which we fit into the grandest story of all.
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Comments

  1. I really liked this. I think that people definitely think of the Bible like the encyclopedia all the time!

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts!

    ReplyDelete

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