Receive the Word (5)
Then the LORD answered me and said:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2.2
The purpose of Scripture
The Bible has two related purposes as God’s Word.
First, it is the primary resource which the Spirit of God uses to transform us, day by day, into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18). As this occurs, we do not lose our individual identities; rather the light of the indwelling Word of Christ is refracted through our unique personalities, experiences, and opportunities, such that, as Jesus increases in us, we become more the unique individuals in Christ we have been created to be.
Related to this is the second purpose: God has given us His Word to prepare us for lives of good works, works like Jesus did while He was here on earth, and like what He’s doing now as He reigns at the Father’s right hand (Eph. 2.10; 2 Tim. 3.15-17). It makes sense that as we read, meditate on, and study the living Word of God, it should begin to reshape our souls – mind, heart, and conscience – so that what comes out in our life is going to look increasingly like the image of Christ which is taking shape in our souls.
In our reading, meditation on, and study of the Scriptures, therefore, we always need to be paying attention to the specific ways God is instructing and equipping us to live the living and powerful Word in our everyday experience. How can we do this more effectively?
A guidebook for the journey
Scripture is like a guidebook for the journey of life. Imagine yourself on a journey in some new and exciting country. You’re traveling through interesting but unfamiliar terrain, but you have a reliable guidebook which knows everything about where you are and where you’re headed. As you consult your guidebook, your purpose is not just to understand what’s in it. You’re trying to discover which way to go, to observe the most exciting places on your journey, and to get to your destination.
Scripture is like that. Scripture is the Guidebook for life in the Kingdom of God. We read the Scriptures so that we can run the race God has set before us (Heb. 12.1, 2), taking in as much as we can of promises this journey holds out, and experiencing increasingly the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Spirit which awaits us at every point along the way.
This involves two things: a clear fix on where you’re headed, and the ability to discern every next step.
A twofold focus
To apply the Scriptures in meaningful and transforming ways – to read to run – we need to make sure we understand where we’re headed, what we’re supposed to become.
We are seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and we are being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Matt. 6.33; 2 Cor. 3.12-18). Is it clear to us what that means? Is your vision of the Kingdom clear and compelling? Do you love Jesus, even though you don’t see Him, so much that you long and hope, read, meditate, and study, so as to become more like Him every day? (1 Pet. 1.8, 9)
Nothing is more important in the life of faith than “seeing” Jesus, exalted in glory, and advancing His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. This is a work of faith (Eph. 1.15-23), by which, through searching the Scriptures, talking with others, and consulting other sources – such as books, hymns, works of art, and so forth – we are able to gather an increasingly clear sense of the beauty, majesty, goodness, power, glory, truth, and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. And seeing Him, we train our thoughts to grow into His mind, our heart to increase in His love, and our conscience to approve every aspect of His will. We must always pursue reading, meditation, and study of Scripture, mindful of the fact that Jesus is the central theme of the Bible, and we should seek Him throughout the pages of God’s Word.
At the same time, we want to discover the good works of Kingdom living which, as we do them this day, will help us to make progress toward Christlikeness. We need to envision what the unfolding of Christ’s Kingdom will look like as we continue our journey in Him. How can righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit, love for God and neighbor, and beauty, goodness, and truth increase through me today? We must keep in mind, as we are reading and meditating, the events and people we will be involved with each day. We should listen to the Word to instruct us in specific ways we might show Jesus to, and advance His Kingdom among, the people around us. How would God have us speak to them? What gesture or work of love can we perform? How can we improve our personal demeanor in every area of our lives, so that the glory of Christ can shine through us?
This is what it means to “read to run.” I can’t emphasize enough that the Word of God is given not simply to inform us but to transform us, from glory to glory, into the image of Jesus Christ. As you read the Bible each day, remember that you are preparing for the journey that is ahead of you. Let your Guidebook point the way and teach you what to expect. Read to run, and you’ll know the wisdom of God leading you on your journey, and the power of God carrying you throughout your day.
1. Jot down as many places as you can think of in Scripture – outside the gospels – to which you could turn to improve your vision of Jesus and your understanding of His Kingdom:
2. Meditate on Hebrews 12.1, 2, Colossians 3.1-13, and Matthew 6.33. How do these passages reinforce the importance of focusing on Jesus and His Kingdom?
3. Meditate on Ephesians 5.15-17 and Psalm 90.12, 16, 17. Think about these passages as outlining the day ahead of you. How might this help you during your time of Bible reading to prepare to “read to run”?
Next steps – Preparation: What does it mean for you to “read to run” today? Jot down some thoughts, then commit them to the Lord in prayer. At the end of the day, in prayer, review your “journey” for the day, and give thanks to the Lord for His grace and help.
T. M. Moore
To learn more about understanding and using the Bible, enroll in the course, Introduction to Biblical Theology. It’s free and online, and you can study at your own pace or with friends. To learn more and to register, click here. This week’s study is Part 3 of a series on The Word of God, and is available as a free download by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.