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Catching the Vision
God, in sovereign grace and outrageous love, has given us a written revelation of who he is and what his purposes are for humanity. And God has chosen to accomplish this great work through his people on earth. This written revelation now resides as a massive fact at the heart of human history. There is, simply, no book that is remotely close to achieving the significance and influence of the Bible. It is truly "The Book" (hay Biblos).
But the intrinsic power and greatness of the Bible often make it difficult for us to receive the life it offers. The average "Bible consumer," publishing research tells us, owns nine Bibles and is looking for more. This is mute but powerful testimony to a deep and abiding sense of lack -- a sense that we have not really achieved a grasp of the Bible that is adequate to our needs.
In point of fact, we can often use the Bible in ways that stifle spiritual life or even destroy the soul. This happened to any number of people who walked with Jesus, heard him teach, and saw him exercise the power of the kingdom of God. For many, their very study of the Scriptures prevented them from recognizing who he was and putting their confidence in him (John 5:3947). And later, Peter speaks in very grim terms of how people can "twist" Scripture "to their own destruction" (2 Pet 3:16).
Is it possible that this still happens today? Sadly, we must admit that it does. Think of the millions of people who say, sincerely, that the Bible is the guide to life, but who still starve to death in the presence of its spiritual feast. This tragic situation is obvious from the usual effects (or lack of effects) that the study of the Bible has in the daily lives of people, even among those who speak most highly of it.
The source of the problem is rooted in the two most common objectives of Bible study. The first is the practice of studying the Bible for information or knowledge alone. This may include information about particular facts or historical events, knowledge of general truths or doctrines, or even knowledge of how others are mistaken in their religious views, beliefs, and practices.
We know from experience how knowledge can make people arrogant -- even knowledge of the Bible and of God. It is not surprising, then, that study focusing on knowledge alone does not lead to the life transformation that is the real human need. No wonder we who love the Bible keep buying more editions of it, hoping to obtain what we know in our hearts is there for us.
The second common objective of Bible study is to find some formula that will solve the pressing need of the moment. Thus we seek out specific passages that speak to particular needs rather than seeking whole-life discipleship to Jesus. To be sure, these needs are important, desperately so when we are trapped in the harsh realities of life. These needs may involve comfort or forgiveness, physical healing, conformity to a particular denominational or political persuasion, special endowments or gifts of the Spirit, or works of social liberation. But in the end they always have to do with being "a good citizen," "a good spouse," or "a good something else" -- perhaps even "a good Christian" by certain interpretations.
What we must face up to about these two common objectives for studying the Bible is that we or our human instructors are in charge of the process. They are, in fact, ways of trying to control what comes out of the Bible rather than a means of entering the process of transforming our whole person and our whole life into Christlikeness.
If we want to receive from the Bible the life "with God" that is portrayed in the Bible, we must be prepared to have our dearest and most fundamental assumptions about ourselves and our associations called into question. We must read humbly and in a constant attitude of repentance. Only in this way can we gain a thorough and practical grasp of the spiritual riches that God has made available to all humanity in his written Word. Only in this way can we keep from transforming The Book into a Catholic Bible, an Orthodox Bible, a Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, or even a RENOVARÉ Bible.
What will enable us to avoid this soul-crushing result?
Excerpted from The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible by Suzy Renovare Copyright © 2005 by Suzy Renovare. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted October 26, 2005
During the development of this work, I followed from e-mails from the editors. I liked what they sent me. I like the results. This is not a study Bible like the Oxford Study Bibles. The commentary often ignores the most intriguing text (see the commentary on Jude for an example). However, the blend of traditional spiritual practices with modern expressions of those practices with social commentary makes this a useful tool for daily devotions.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 6, 2005