Last week I wrote that many Christians try to handle the Bible as if it were God’s great encyclopedia—a topical index of human problems and divine solutions. But you won’t get very far or deep with that strategy.
Take marriage, for example. Most of what the Bible has to say about marriage is not found in the passages that explicitly discuss marriage. Using Scripture as an encyclopedia would probably cause you to miss these following passages which pertain to marriage:
- Psalm 73 exegetes one kind of struggle that every spouse living in the fallen world will experience.
- 1 Peter 1 lays out what God is doing between our salvation and his second coming—the period within every marriage exists.
- Revelation 5 allows us to eavesdrop on eternity and clarify the values that must structure every Christian marriage.
Instead, we need to treat the Word of God as a narrative. In this grand origin-to-destiny story of redemption, we discover everything there is to know about God, ourselves, and the purpose and meaning of life.
When we use the Word of God as a narrative, here are seven blessings that result:
1. A comprehensive worldview that addresses everything. Scripture is not exhaustive in that it directly addresses every subject, but it is comprehensive in that it gives information for understanding all aspects of reality.
2. Practical perspectives on every human problem. The Bible has something to say about everything necessary for human life. It gives us an essential understanding of these things and how we should respond to them.
3. Life before death. The Bible doesn’t simply promise that someday in distant eternity, we will know life. Instead, the Bible invites us to embrace a quality of life now that would otherwise be impossible without the person and work of the Lord Jesus.
4. Real hope of self-knowledge. You do not have to be trapped in the prison of personal spiritual blindness. You can see, know, and understand yourself, even to the thoughts and motives of your own heart.
5. Practical help for the most profound issues of the human experience. In the Bible, I discover the Creator who made me and therefore knows everything about me and the Savior who walked on earth in my shoes and understands everything about my experience. The Bible faces the deepest issues of the human experience head-on, with bright hope and practical wisdom.
6. Real hope for lasting personal change. Because Christ has come, lasting change is possible. The Bible, in all of its shocking honesty, is also astonishingly positive and hopeful. There is not a cynical page in all of Scripture. There is no hint of giving up. The promise of radical and lasting personal change brightens every dark corner of sin found in Scripture and our hearts.
7. Real comfort. The more you read the Bible, the more you realize that no human experience is outside the Gospel’s scope. God understands it all, and his Son has covered it all. So every day, we can allow ourselves to be comforted with the amazing biblical reality that provision has been made for everything we will face.
The Bible is not a collection of topics or a catalog of wisdom statements but rather a single story running from cover to cover. The Bible is the story of Jesus. Every passage looks forward to him, looks back to him with gratitude, points to what he alone can fix, and places our hope in him—both today and forever!
Paul David Tripp
1. What are you currently experiencing that the Bible does not address with as specific detail as you might like?
2. Are you seeking to understand this experience from the vantage point of Scripture, or are you looking elsewhere for wisdom and practical solutions?
3. Throughout this experience, are you remembering to examine yourself in the always-accurate mirror of the Word of God? Or are you tempted to only look outward at your environment and neglect the responses and desires of your heart?
4. Have you identified any areas where personal change is needed? Where do you need to confess and repent? With the help of the Holy Spirit, be as precise and detailed as possible.
5. How can you act based on the hope and help found in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? Why can you be optimistic and courageous, regardless of what you are facing?