READING THE BIBLE (1): As Divine Encounter

Embrace_WordsI want to repost a series exploring the many different ways the Bible intends to speak to us. Depending on the genre or book, style or authorial intent, the reader should be mindful of what response is most appropriate for the particular message at hand.  Not all scripture is designed to evoke the same response. For example, some portions of scripture display God’s glory and majesty (e.g., Isaiah 6; Job 38-39) where the proper response is worship and adoration; while other scriptures (e.g., Proverbs, Epistles) provide practical advice for godly living where the appropriate response is personal application, and so on. Let’s get started.

#1 – THE BIBLE AS DIVINE ENCOUNTER

There is a significance difference between examining God’s written Word on the one hand and having a personal encounter with the Living God through our reading of His Word on the other. It’s the difference between going through an old shoebox full of love letters from your spouse and sitting across the table with them for dinner and intimate conversation. We should be carefully how we approach the Holy Scriptures. When we treat the Bible only as an object to be examined, analyzed, probed, mastered, digested or applied to our lives, we have to some degree placed God’s Word under our control. If we’re not careful, the Word that is said to be “living and active” can become for us merely lifeless ink on a page.

I believe it is a good and healthy practice to approach our reading of Scriptures with the same holy reverence and personal respect we would approach a face-to-face conversation with the Living God himself. We should prayerfully invite and expect God’s real, spiritual presence to show up in power as we meditate on his Word and seek counsel from Him therein.  The real, active presence of God’s Spirit at work in our reading of the text is traditionally called “illumination.”

How does viewing the Bible as Divine Encounter change our approach to reading and studying the Scriptures?

  • We will learn to listen to the text and hear what God desires to say to us in our reading.
  • We will find our reading much more personal and intimate. We are not engaging in an educational exercise as much as we are having a personal conversation with the Living God.
  • As we encounter the God who speaks afresh through His written Word we will begin to respond and speak back in the mysterious language of prayer.
  • We will allow God to control the conversation and lead us in the direction we really need to go.
  • DISCLAIMER: All basic hermeneutical principles still apply so as to avoid any abuses of the text.  I.e, “a text can never mean today what it didn’t mean to it’s original hearers,” etc.

What is the proper response when we have experienced the Bible as a divine encounter with the true and living God? Answer: Attentiveness. When we have an encounter with God in our reading of Scripture and He brings it alive, impressing His specific message to us on our hearts, the best response is to keeping growing ever more attentive to His powerful presence in His Word.

QUESTIONS: How often does your reading and study of the Scriptures lead to a divine encounter with the Living God behind the Scriptures? How well do you listen to the text? Do you approach the Bible with the same respect and reverence as you would approach God himself? Is your time in the Bible more impersonal and educational OR intimate and conversational?

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