How you read the Bible is important. The whole of the Bible is pointing towards Christ and the Gospel including those books that seem to be nothing but geneaologies and other minutiae. Unfortunately a lot of us tend to limit seeing the Gospel to the New Testament, some Old Testament prophecy, and perhaps some Messianic psalms. It takes some rewiring of the way we read the Bible to see the Gospel no matter which book we might find ourselves in.
While reading the latest issue of Worldwide Challenge, the magazine of Campus Crusade for Christ, I came across a simple method to help in this endeavor. When reading a passage look for the following four things:
1) Fallen condition – Look for where the passage “reveals human nature in deep need of redemption.”
2) Redemptive solution – ‘The redemptive solution is more specific than just answering “God” – it’s how the Bible passage reveals God’s nature and attributes that He uses to demonstrate undeserved favor, or grace.’
3) Theological big idea – “Identify the nature of God’s saving work as a whole, toward all people.”
4) Response – Act on what God has shown you
As an example the author used the famous passage re: David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.
1) Fallen condition – The Israelites display the fallen condition by doubting God’s ability to save them. (1 Samuel 17:10,11)
2) Redemptive solution – David, “…the unlikely young shepherd – the one trusting in the knowledge of God’s power.”
3) Theological big idea – “In 1 Samuel, I see that God is trustworthy and protects the Israelites, despite their non-belief in His power to save…This theological big idea shows me that my personal understanding of God does not limit who He is or what He is capable of.”
4) Response – “After studying 1 Samuel 17, my response is to pray for more awareness. Although not an Israelite, I am prone to admitting defeat instead of embracing a radical, faithful trust in God. I doubt God’s provision, protection, and victory in my life. My response? I’ve begun to pray that in each of these moments, God would catch my thoughts and show me where I am lacking.”
Obviously every passage you read is not going to be as easy to decipher as 1 Samuel 17.
1) Be careful not to make your passage too small. – You may need to read a bigger chunk of text than you are used to to get a good feel for the redemptive story.
2) Don’t neglect the response! – It’s easy to get satisfied with understanding a text without responding to that knowledge. We all have to strive to be not just hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word.