About a year ago, a book written by Dan Kimball called How (Not) To Read the Bible came out. When I got the email that this book was coming out, I pre-ordered it and planned to do a teaching series based on it at Madison Church. We talk about the Bible weekly during our gatherings, but this study was different because of its name.
We weren’t just studying the Bible. We were telling people, provocatively, how NOT to read it.
Most people came into the series with an open mind and humility, and they left with a new and vibrant relationship with the biblical texts.
Misunderstanding the Bible
There’s so much misinformation about the Bible out there. If you have a smartphone, a tablet, or a computer, if you have any way of getting connected to the internet, you have experienced some of that misinformation. Misinformation hurts our faith and belief in God.
Some people have abandoned their faith because they started reading the Bible. Most atheists I know didn’t become one because they woke up one day and decided they didn’t want to believe in God anymore. They were reading the Bible, didn’t understand something, and walked away from God. The Bible has been a stumbling block for some, and I believe this series can help remove it.
The books in the Bible have thousands and thousands of verses. It’s human to pick one or two out that we love and build an entire theology around them. This is a mistake. Don’t take one Bible verse and put more weight on this one than all of the others.
What Is The Bible?
What is the Bible? The Bible translates that word back into Greek as a collection of writings similar to the one they use for the library. A proper understanding of the Bible is a library of books. It’s a collection of writings by over 40 authors over 1,500 years.
Another thing we need to think about is that the Bible was written FOR us and not TO us. This slight change in the vernacular is crucial. Think about this…
Unless you live in the first century, none of the New Testament was written to you.
You’re not sitting at a church in Galatia.
You’re sitting at a church in Madison.
And the last I checked, there’s no letter written to the Church of Madison, by Paul, in our New Testament.
5 Acts of the Bible
During the first week of this series, I taught from a page in the Bible that I’m sure most people have never heard taught from, the table of contents. I did so to give people an overview of God’s story. To better help us understand any biblical text, we must know where it’s at in this narrative.
Act 1 is Genesis 1-2 when God creates. In this act, we see that we see that God makes everything, and it is good. God dwells with humans in a garden.
Act 2 begins in Genesis 3 when humans rebel. People are given free will, and despite having a lot of good choices, they choose their will over God’s. Doing so breaks their relationship with God.
Act 3 begins in Genesis 12 when redemption is initiated with Abraham. God starts a rescue mission for anyone who has ever lived. He doesn’t abandon us because of his great love for humanity. 1000’s years go by. Redemption still needs to be completed when there is an intermission in which God goes silent for about 400 years.
Act 4 is Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John when God is with us in the person of Jesus.
Act 5 begins in Acts and runs all the way through Revelation 21. Despite what a lot of people think, this is different from where the story ends. We may feel like we are in an intermission again, but this is not true. We’re still in Act 5. This is God’s mission to the world through his Church.
When we get to Revelation 22, we see redemption is completed. It is a return to a better Act 1. This is when Jesus returns, and all things are renewed or made new.
That’s the (short version) of the Bible.
The Bible & Jesus
This leads us to a critical note about the Bible: All biblical texts point to Jesus. That doesn’t mean every word or every specific little sentence speaks to or about Jesus.
When you read the Old Testament, read it in light of the coming Messiah. Whether you’re reading Joshua, Judges, or Zechariah, read it in anticipation of Jesus.
And when you read the New Testament, look back at Jesus. When Paul is writing to the churches, we look back at the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
And when you read the end of Revelation, we look forward to Jesus being among us again.