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Monday, April 18, 2016

The ultimate purpose of the Bible


Some people beat the Bible. Some thump it. Some read it. Some ignore it. Some believe it. Some scoff at it. Some treat it like an idol. Some twist it. Some follow it. Some try to debunk it. Some use it as a good luck charm. Some misquote it. Some quote it correctly. Some use it to promote their ultimate purpose. Etc. ...

What is the Bible's ultimate purpose in our lives? Does it even have a purpose? 

What do you do with the Bible? What should you do with the Bible?

Jesus said to His future killers ...

Some Jewish leaders were giving Jesus a hard time, and wanted to kill Him, because He'd healed a man on the Sabbath and was calling God His Father, making Himself equal with God. Jesus said to them,

"You have never heard [God's] voice nor seen His form, 38 nor does His word dwell in you, for you do not believe the One He sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me, 40 yet you refuse to come to Me to have life." (John 5)

In verses 39-40 Jesus reveals to them, and to us, the ultimate purpose of the Bible (Scriptures).

The Bible testifies about Jesus. But filling our head full of facts about Jesus isn't its ultimate purpose. The truth the Bible reveals to us about Jesus is given by God to help us come to Jesus so we can have life. Not just the physical life you are currently experiencing, but spiritual life from God - spiritual life you can only get from Jesus.

You can dissect the Bible your whole life. But if you refuse to come to Jesus to have life, you've missed out on the ultimate purpose of the Bible.

God's goal for us is to know the Bible and know Jesus. If we only know the Bible, like Jesus' future killers, we have this ...
Knowledge puffs you up with pride ... (1 Corinthians 8:1 - NCV/New Century Version)

And where does pride get you? The Bible says,

God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. (James 4:6 - NIV)

Stuck in the womb ...

The spiritual life that Jesus gives us when we come to Him is like a brand new birth. It's a fresh start. It's a new beginning that transforms and transfers sinners, who are all former enemies of God, into His family as His adopted children.
Those puffed up with knowledge get stuck in the womb.

And this new birth is absolutely essential to experiencing the life Jesus gives.

Jesus said in John 3:3 to Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader,

“I tell you that unless a person is born again from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (CJB - Complete Jewish Bible)

Like a baby leaving the cramped darkness of the the womb and coming into the spacious freedom in the light outside, the sinner is transferred by Jesus from the kingdom of darkness (a "womb," if you will) - where they are encompassed and enslaved by sin -  into the freedom of the kingdom of light.

In the same way that a baby knows only the womb, those without Jesus aren't aware that they are living in a confined dark place. It's all they've ever known. Satan has blinded them so they think the life they are living is the only available option. They've never experienced life outside the restrictions of sin and darkness. They are, in a sense, dead to the reality of life in the light, and all that comes with it.

Like a baby eventually outgrowing the womb and having to exit, a sinner will outgrow darkness and sin. The dark womb of sin will no longer be satisfactory. Sin and all of its consequences wear out their welcome and are no longer attractive. The individual must have room to grow. Through the drawing of God, the sinner begins to seek new surroundings and a new life - the sinner begins to seek after God.

... but not stuck forever

Eventually - whether in this life or the next - the sinner is carried out of the dark and into the freedom of light by Jesus. Jesus said,

"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to Myself." This He said, signifying by what death He would die. (John 12:32-33)

Jesus was lifted up from the earth on the cross. The completion of the first part of His statement guarantees the completion of the second part - drawing all to Himself. The word draw in this passage literally means to drag. The same Greek word is used in reference to a fisherman dragging to land his net full of fish (see John 21:11).

God will use His spiritual forceps (and biceps) to drag you out of the spiritually dark womb and into His kingdom of light. God will use love, kindness, power, consequences, judgment and whatever else He needs to use to drag you into His family. And once you're there, you'll thank Him for it.

The way is too narrow for fat heads

Jesus said in Matthew 7:14, "the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life."

God, Who opposes of the proud, refuses to deliver big-headed people from the darkness of the spiritual womb. They must first be humbled, and their heads shrunk. And this will happen, one way or another.

"... whoever promotes himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be promoted." (Matthew 23:12)

Humble yourself, or be humbled by God. Then your head can fit through the narrow way that leads to life. 

Let's be honest - the dark side can be fun

I've lived in the darkness of the spiritual womb and in the light. 23 years on the dark side, 24 in the light.

I'd be lying if I said sin wasn't fun. Some of it is. But some sin being fun doesn't make any sin right.

The fun meter can't be our only measuring device in life. From my experience, and the experience of millions of others, sin eventually wears you down and loses its shine. But while the shine remains, even if it has dulled considerably, we don't want to leave the darkness.

This leads us to another reason Jesus gives as to why some stay in the womb of darkness.

"This is the judgment—that light has entered the world and men have preferred darkness to light because their deeds are evil. Anybody who does wrong hates the light and keeps away from it, for fear his deeds may be exposed. But anybody who is living by the truth will come to the light to make it plain that all he has done has been done through God." (John 3:19-21 - PHILLIPS)

Some refuse to come into the light because they prefer the darkness. Satan offers a lot of attention-getting stuff to keep us in his dark kingdom. He keeps us from the light until God breaks into our life and opens our eyes and mind to see the truth of the awesomeness of the light. Until then, some quite enjoy the dark.

Who has power over you?   

We humans tend to think we have unhindered free will, and that no one tells us what to do.

When Jesus humbled Saul, the fat-headed Pharisee, and brought him into the light, He gave him this mission,

"I send you to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God Himself, so that they may know forgiveness of their sins and take their place with all those who are made holy by their faith in Me." (Acts 26:18 - PHILLIPS)

Those in the darkness Saul was sent to probably didn't think they were under "the power of Satan," but they were.

As Chief Deceiver, Satan doesn't want you to think he's even real. If he can anonymously have power over you, and keep you believing you are the one calling the shots in your life, then he's got you right where he wants you - in the dark and under his control.

Do you want to be under Satan's power or God's? There is no third option.

Satan isn't your friend. He wants to keep you from God and all that God has for you. He does this through deception.

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 - NIV)

BUT, here is the remedy,

... the holy Scriptures, which can open the mind to the salvation which comes through believing in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15 - PHILLIPS)

For we must never forget that He rescued us from the power of darkness, and re-established us in the kingdom of His beloved Son, that is, in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:13 - PHILLIPS)

God uses the Bible to open our minds to the truth of Jesus, Who can give us life and rescue us from the power of darkness.

Image result for Bible with money imageMore important purposes of the Bible for you

Once a person comes to Jesus and gets life, they should continue to read, study and interact with the Bible. Unless you're a perfect person, you'll need to be in the Bible your entire life to continue growing.

The Bible is used by God for our ongoing transformation into the likeness of Jesus. 

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, The Message)

My experience is that when God uses the Bible to expose my rebellion or correct my mistakes, He does it gently. Though the truth He sometimes reveals to me hits hard, I don't feel beat up. That's because His ultimate goal for me is good. And His motive for correcting me is His supernatural love for me.
The Bible goes where no blade has gone before - to the very depths of our soul. 

The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Do you realize that when you read the Bible you are reading the only living book on the planet? It's not just ink on paper in your hands. It's the living, supernatural words of Almighty God right in front of you.

Here's how God uses the Bible in my life. I'll read a passage in the Bible that I've read dozens of times before. But on this occasion something jumps out of the words that I've never seen before. The words on the page didn't magically change. God opens my mind to understand the Scriptures in a deeper way. He uses ancient words to reveal new things to me as He chooses - as He sees that I'm ready for deeper understanding as I grow. I also believe that these "growth spurts" wouldn't happen if I ignored God's words in the Bible.

We grow in our relationship with Jesus as we live day by day with Him. Talk with Him, study His words in the Bible, do what He says. As we do what He says He blesses us. And when He blesses us and we experience His work in our lives, our faith and knowledge grow.

... you should grow in grace and in your knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18 - PHILLIPS)   

Never stop growing.


P.S. If you don't already know Jesus, what are you waiting for? Call out to Him today - right now. You'll be amazed at life in the light of Jesus' kingdom.