We have all had the experience of reading a title that promised more than it delivered. I don’t believe this is one of them. The word of God is powerful and it does not hide its goods to only those who possess the keys. There are no tricks or gimmicks. It does not have a code that when broken unlocks a hidden meaning. The power of the word of God is not locked away.
Consider then, that these keys do not open the door to where power has been hidden away. They open the door to where you have been locked away. These keys open the door to your freedom. The freedom to experience the power for which the Lord gave His word.
Know Where You Are.
In order to understand this first key, you must have the right perspective of the Word of God. The bible is a record of God’s acts of redemption in human history. It’s not a history book, though it is an historical book. But it does tell us the story of redemptive history. As such, this book has a historical trajectory. Knowing where you are in the story is essential to your perspective of the story.
The redemptive story begins with creation and the fall of God’s chief creation. Creation establishes the position and authority of God for the reader. The fall is monumental in the story because it explains the conditions that we would come to know as this world. The world as we know it was plunged into sweat and toil, thorns and thistles, as a result of the fall. It is the reason there are armies to stand against, storms to endure, and giants to slay. More importantly, the only answer for this world’s condition is the seed God promised to the woman in the garden.
We, however, are not there. These things happened, but it was for us a very long time ago. We are far removed from that moment in redemptive history. The greatest power for us in studying that time is seeing what God has done in redemptive history that we would come to have a place in the redemption. If Adam and Eve had died in the day that they ate from the forbidden tree, then there would be no seed to save us. The grace given to them was for us.
The story then centers on Abraham and his descendants in anticipation of the one promised seed, who would save mankind and redeem His fallen creation. From where we stand in redemptive history, we know the seed is Jesus. Without this in mind, our tendency is to believe the great struggle of the Old Testament is to be obedient. We miss then the greater truth and the grace of God preserving a disobedient people until the coming of the seed.
The real power in the David and Goliath story is that God preserved the seed through a ruddy shepherd boy against a giant among men, with a slingshot.Tweet
More than any other we mistakenly envision ourselves in the time of the coming of the savior. We listen to Jesus speaking in the story and assume He is speaking to us. We believe the power is in the words of Jesus. But, for where we are, the power of God is in the voice of the Gospel writer. As strange as it may sound you have to know When You Should Not Listen to Jesus.
Don’t Take It Personally.
One of the reasons we struggle to know where we are is because of this second key. We have been taught to take everything we read personally. We have been taught to read the bible like are narcissist. When the biblical writer says “you” we believe its us. While the bible has meaning for you, its not about you and it was not written to you. The more appropriate way to look at it to unlock the power of God is to take it historically.
Though the bible was not written to you it was written and preserved for you. The significance for you is in asking what it means to you that these things were written by the writer to his audience. What does it mean to you that Matthew tells you the things Jesus says to his disciples? Why does Paul write his letter to the Romans? The answers to these questions of significance are not always easy to find, but these answers will unlock the power of God in your bible study.
We read the bible like a high school year book. We open it to look for our picture.Tweet
Know What to Looking For.
There are two important things to say about this final key. First, the bible is a revelation of God in Christ Jesus. In order to unlock the power of God in bible study, look for God and not biblical principles. Some treat the bible as a book of principles to be mined for useful tools to live by. Many have found value in principled living, but the true power of the Word is that by it we come to know the Living God.
In the language of the bible, those who live by biblical principles, live by law. We are called to live by faith in the God we come to know in the bible.Tweet
When you study then, look for God.
Second, read enough of the biblical passage to know what the author is talking about. Look for the author’s subject. When you find what the biblical writer is talking about, you will have found the context. Nothing unlocks the power of God in the Word like being in context.
You may find these keys awkward to manage at first. Begin by reading the bible with them in mind. Then move to practicing them. Maybe just one at a time. Over time I believe the beauty of the redemptive story will take shape. And the more you understand the story the more you will understand the significance of the story for you. And in the significance of the story you will find the transforming power of God at work as you as you respond appropriately.