Stopping Short With the Bible
For a large majority of Christians, the Bible is a book of passages to comfort them in time of trouble, to encourage them in days of depression, to give them promises for the future when the present is difficult, or to help them to decide their course in a time of perplexity. In a word, the Bible is for many a matter of the personal day-by-day life in seeking to do God's will. We open our Bibles perhaps in the morning, to get something to help us for the day - a promise, a bit of comfort, a bit of light, just something to help us through; and we do that every day. Perhaps we do it a little more diligently when things are a little more stressful: when things are not like that, perhaps we are not so diligent about the Word! Forgive me if that is a misjudgment, but I think that for many Christians the Bible resolves itself into that and not much more.
Now do not misunderstand me: I am not saying that that is wrong - the the Bible is not for that. It is for that! That is right and good, as we all know. But in this matter, as in many other matters, we stop short.
In the matter of salvation, for instance - our own as well as other people's - we so often stop short, as though that were an end in itself. Get people converted, get them to make a decision for Christ, get them to come to the Lord - put it how you will - and that is that. It is all done. Get on with others. Salvation is an end in itself. And yet, that is only the first step on a mighty highway of ever greater fullnesses.
In the same way we stop short with our Bibles. In these quite valuable, profitable and necessary things which I have mentioned, we fail to recognize that the Bible is not ultimately for that. If the Bible gives us comfort, gives us light, gives us guidance, gives us hope, gives us some uplift, on occasions, in the thought of God that is all related to something infinitely more. It is related by God to a vast, eternal purpose. You are to get your guidance, your help, your comfort, your light, your promise, whatever it may be, not just for the day or the hour or the moment, in order to get you over the stile that is immediately before you. It is intended by God to get you on the way of a great purpose which has been formed by Him in Divine counsels before this world was. The Word of God is a vastly greater thing than a set of encouraging sayings, comforting words: there is a purpose behind the whole, and every part, in the intention of God, relates to something more than itself. That we must recognize before the Bible can really become alive.
Eternal Design and Central Person
All that is in this book is of one piece. It is linked up with one great eternal design, which relates, not to so many individual Christians as such, but to a whole, corporate Body, chosen by God in Christ before the foundation of the world. It is only as we come into line with this that the Bible will really fulfill its purpose in our lives. Otherwise - well, we may go through a day helped by something that we read, a promise or a word of comfort; it may help us very blessedly over today - but is that all? Surely there is more to it than that! Individuals will only become enlarged unto all the fullness of God's purpose as they come into relationship with one another in that purpose: and the Bible is for that.
Yes: every promise, every bit of comfort, every bit of exhortation or light, is an integral part of a great design - and that design is centered in one Person - God's Son. If any part of the Scriptures fails to lead us into some greater knowledge of the Lord Jesus, it has failed of the very purpose for which it is there! You see, we are in keeping with our passage: "Understandest thou what thou readest?" Where does the answer lead you? It leads you to Christ. The understanding of the Scriptures is a matter of bringing us to understand Christ. The answer is found in a Person.
(continued with # 20)