Part 1 in a 10 part series. View series intro and index.
When was the last time you read 1 Kings or Deuteronomy and thought of Jesus? (Maybe I should just ask when you last read 1 Kings or Deuteronomy?) The sad truth is, most Christians read the Bible and have no framework for how to read it and what to look for–especially when it comes to the Old Testament. If I’m honest, left to my natural inclinations, the Bible becomes a book of rules or a guide to how to be more or less like a particular character or a giant fortune cookie with inspirational sayings.
But that is not how we are to read the Bible. In our introductory post, I argued that if you read the Bible this way, you won’t last a week. And if you read the Bible this way, you will miss the point of the story, namely the redemptive work of God accomplished in the person of Jesus Christ.
In Bryan Chappell’s book Christ-Centered Preaching he says that the great British pastor Charles Spurgeon always took a shortcut to Christ no matter what text he preached from. Chappell went on to quote Spurgeon:
Don’t you know young man that from every town, and every village, and every hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London…So from every text in Scripture, there is a road to the metropolis, Christ. And my dear brother, your business is when you get to a text, to say, now what is the road to Christ?…I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one…I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savor of Christ in it.
Meditate on that last phrase: “For the sermon [or in our case devotional time] cannot do any good unless there is a savor of Christ in it.” If you spend “time with the Lord” but do not actually encounter and experience the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, then what good is it?! If you spend “time with the Lord” but only think about how you can better yourself or how you can do this or that, is it really time with the Lord? No.
Here’s a news flash: The Bible is not about you. The Bible is about God working in history to rescue and redeem a people for himself–for his praise, for his glory, for his fame. Not yours. Therefore, if the grand story of the world is about what God has done, then the main character is God. Furthermore, because Jesus, God incarnate, is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb. 1:3), he is to be the blazing center of all Bible study, both personal and corporate.
Hopefully this post gets the gears of your mind churning. Late next week, we will flesh out what “every text a road to Christ” actually looks like when you sit down with your Bible. Before we get there, we’ll need to take a practical “how to” look at setting up a “devotional time.”