Meeting with God in the Bible
I spoke on this subject several months ago at our Sunday service here at IHOP-KC and the theme keeps coming up. It’s very simple. It’s a “meat and potatoes” message so to speak, some of the basics of our Christian faith. The point is to engage with the Person of God while reading the Bible. This must remain our goal in Bible study.
If you’re like me many times I feel the pressure to get through the study, complete the chapter, or get to the next book of the Bible. It’s like an unspoken presence that insists I get done so I can check the box that I completed my study or devotion for the day. At that moment I must ask myself what my goal is in the Bible study. Is my main goal to complete the devotion so I can feel good about my accomplishment? If so this will lead us to a Christianity based on rituals, rules and disciplines that lead to no true life in God.
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 You are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40)
This is a very straight forward verse about not relationally connecting with God in the Bible. Jesus is speaking to the many religious people of His day that had a rigorous lifestyle of studying the scriptures. He tells them they have missed the mark. Their goal was something other than God. They were deceived in thinking that the ritual of reading the scriptures could replace encountering God personally. The fruit of their search, no life in God.
We must make it clear. We are approaching the Bible to encounter a real, living Person. His name is Jesus. He is the Author that lives by His Spirit in us. We must use the scriptures as our primary conversational material with Him. He is our goal. He is our purpose of reading today, tomorrow and so on. We have such a higher goal than completing the devotion, reading the Bible in a year or finishing the chapter. The goal is to have a meaningful, heartfelt meeting with God in the Bible.
I’ve attached some notes that I used when speaking on this subject. I also have the audio version available at the IHOP bookstore if you’d like. The title is “Words of Life.”
- approach the bible rightly
All scripture is God-breathed…(2 Timothy 3:16)
It is the Spirit who gives life…The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)
But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
- We must approach the Word of God with right understanding, expectation and motive.
- We must approach our times with the Word as if we’re meeting with a living Person. I make a mental note that I’m having dialogue with God Himself when I read the Bible. His Words are more than historical facts. His Words are present and active today.
- The Bible contains the very revelation of God. As we read, we grow in thought of who He is. It’s profound that such literature exists; a book that contains information about the Creator of all things, a book that God gave direct inspiration to.
- We are discovering God when we read! As we read the gospels we grow in profound insight as we watch God relate to humans as a human.
And the Word (God) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory…(John 1:14)
- I must read the Bible as if it were God’s personal letter to me, because it is.
- It’s important that we come to the Bible expecting to learn and grow in our relationship with God. In the same way we grow stronger in our relationship with our spouse or a friend after a meaningful conversation so can it be with God. Expect to encounter God.
- Bible study must create an active dialogue with the Person of God. Scripture gives us the “conversational material” in our talks with God. Using the Word makes prayer easier and more enjoyable.
- We may not always “feel” the encounter or sense the relationship strengthening immediately. This is normal. In due time the fruit of God’s Word will be seen and felt. Stay the course with faith that our inner-man is being renewed.
- Each time we say what God says, it marks our mind and spirit and changes us.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…(Romans 12:2)
- I constantly feel the pressure to get through my Bible plan or to get to the next chapter as if my main motive or goal is to complete the study. Our motive must be to first meet with God and then secondly complete the study. We may need to realign our motive as necessary.
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 You are not willing to come to Me (dialogue) that you may have life. (John 5:39-40)
- It would not be good if my main goal in spending time with my wife were to complete the time with her, to check the box that the time was completed.
- Christianity is about personally connecting with God through His Son Jesus. It is not a set formula of rituals.
- The Christian practices are not the goal in and of themselves. The goal is to personally encounter God in the midst of the practices.
- The Life of his word
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3)
- The most substantial way in which we bolster our spiritual strength and revive our heart is by feeding on God’s Word. Many are spiritually in the ICU with a sick heart and a diminished spiritual appetite.
Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you
My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word. (Psalm 119:25)
And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
- God’s words are spirit and life. They impart God’s life to us. Each time we say what God says we receive a small impartation of His life that illuminates our mind and tenderizes our heart.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63)