I remember the day I first heard the gospel, it was awesome. My faithful friend unpacked the message of the gospel to this weary sinner. I was pierced through. I needed a Savior and I knew it. As our discussion came to a natural end, my friend found out that I did not own a Bible. So as a good friend he gave me the one he was carrying. It was a green pocket New Testament with the Psalms & Proverbs. It comfortably was transferred from the pocket of his military cargo pants to my own. I was and am thankful for my friend John’s kindness and graciousness that day.
However, what I am a little bent about is that Bible. As I mentioned it was the NT, Psalms & Proverbs. It did not include the Old Testament Scriptures. This was a bit of a problem for me. I had zero Bible knowledge at this point. I did not know that the Bible had two testaments, I thought ‘Christ’ was Jesus’ last name, and couldn’t understand the purpose for all of these various letters (epistles). But I read my green King James New Testament as tried to get stuff figured out.
When I found out about the Old Testament I was left with the impression that it was old, outdated, and pretty irrelevant. So, why carry around this big book, with extra irrelevant chapters, when I can get the ‘good’ stuff to fit comfortably in my side pocket?
Sadly the pocket New Testament has become a fitting picture of how many Christians view the Bible. Too often we see the Bible as a collection of stories. By virtue of cultural, theological, ritual, and ethnic differences the Old Testament sadly becomes an archaic body within our canon.
Perhaps classic dispensationalism’s rigid walls of discontinuity have also prevented Christians from peering back into the Scriptures to see their relevance, beauty, and power for us today. In effort to try to make the Bible all fit together so nicely and neatly many have unwittingly unraveled its central structure and beauty; or at least made it more difficult to see.
The Bible is not a collection of many stories but an unfolding of one main story. The Bible is about Jesus. All of Scripture points to him. It points to him in anticipation, articulation, or reflection. He is the big point of everything. We see Jesus himself eager to show his disciples this fact in his 7 mile sermon on the road to Emmaus:
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.(Luk 24.27)
I understand that when people read the Old Testament with eyes illumined then the veil is removed and they behold Jesus. And it is through this beholding that believers are conformed into the image of Jesus (2 Cor. 3.14-18).
And this is the big picture of ministry: letting people see the glory of Jesus. If they don’t see it they won’t be transformed. Therefore I’m on a mission to see and preach Jesus from all of Scripture. I want to see and know some of the substance of what he unpacked on that 7 mile walk to Emmaus. My reading of Scripture indicates that we, to use a baseball analogy, are leaving a lot of runs on the field. There is far more to see and savor about our glorious Christ.
And so perhaps we need to stand on some walls and read from the entire Bible.
(originally posted in 2009).