As Tim Keller says, “Men are idol factories”. We are always falling in love with one created thing or another, and loving it more than the creator of the thing.
I have recognized that I do this with scripture.
The bible is genius! When I read that thing, after reading it for three decades, and make new connections or have some new insight, I truly love it. I am continually astonished at the wisdom that is contained in in, and wowed when implement some new practice of obedience and watch what happens. God was so smart when He wrote that thing.
But I also realized that I get so wowed with the text, and how actually ‘living’ it is, that I can seek exchanges with it over the God who wrote it.
I can become infatuated with the law and forget the law giver.
I think that this phenomenon is one that reformed believers should watch especially carefully for, as we tend to connect with God on an intellectual basis via scripture most frequently. It may be harder to notice if we begin to worship truth itself.
Terry Rayburn at Grace for Life offers me this good reminder:
One of the most important verses in all of the Bible is John 5:39…
Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of me”. The Pharisees and scribes were Bible scholars, but they missed the Messiah, Who was the Author.
I love the Bible. I love the Word of God. I believe it is all inspired (God-breathed) and “inerrant in the original”, and that we should let it “dwell in us richly”.
But having said that, here are four reasons why John 5:39 is such an important verse:
1. Relationship is more important than raw data. Dictionary definition of “Data”: Factual information, especially information organized for analysis or used to reason or make decisions. Jesus is not data. He is our Shield, Defender, Advocate, Savior, Lord, Brother, Friend, and Beloved. A relationship to Him is even more important than info about Him.
2. A Guide is more important than a Guidebook. Don’t think of the Bible as “The Owner’s Manual”, used for fixing up your life. See Jesus on every page, lovingly guiding as you walk this road of life arm in arm.
3. Life is more important than Lists. I love Bible lists as much as the next guy. The Kings of Judah, Wells of the Bible, Furniture of the Temple, etc. But Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) We can’t say, “He who reads the Bible every day, has life”. But we can say, “He who has the Son, has life”. (1 John 5:12)
4. Spiritual understanding is more important than scholarship. The “scholars” of the Jesus Seminar, or some Time Magazine article on who Jesus really was, are often blind. They are brilliant scholars, but “The natural [unregenerate, unsaved] man cannot understand spiritual things, for they are foolishness to him. He cannot understand them for they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
If we miss Jesus, then searching the Scripture is worse than worthless. It’s “always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the Truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). But if we search the Scriptures for Him, then we will know Him Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
The bible is after all a created thing.