Thursday, March 22, 2007

thinking Biblically

I remember reading sometime in the past about how the Puritans (a bad word, I know, but that tradition in spite of its problems is maligned and misunderstood) oozed out Scripture in what they said and in how they thought (I add and my paraphrase). Back in the time of their hay-day they may have not been occupied with much more than their Bibles and John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. We have more Bibles now than ever. But it seems like Christians know their Bibles less than ever before.

We need to learn more and more to think Biblically. When I say that, I don't mean only picking apart one verse. I also mean seeing that verse in light of the entire story of God found in Genesis through Revelation. We must understand the beginning of this story to appreciate the ending. And we must see how the story gets there as well as our place in the story.

Thinking Biblically involves finding our identity in the Story. Yesterday at Jesus Creed there was an interesting post and discussion on who "clergy" and "laypeople" identify with when they read Scripture, particularly in the gospels. In this Story we can find our own story and learn to understand our identity, who we are and what we can become in Christ.

I think it's important in reading Scripture to seek to identify with the people in the Story such as Peter and John, Jesus's mother Mary, Zacchaeus, the rich young ruler, etc., etc. Though we may not be able to step in their shoes, so to speak, we surely can see something of ourselves in their words and actions. We're capable of participating in the great goodness of God, but we're also capable of participating in the great evil of fallen humanity. And in Christ we should be more and more seeking to identify with him. Remember, Christ himself identified fully with us and because of that can fully empathize with our struggles against sin and with all our humanity.

If we're not thinking Biblically then by default our thinking is worldly in the sense of a fallen world. And how we think directly impacts how we live.

Let's ask God to help us find our place in is great ongoing Story. And let's open our Bibles daily to that end, as we continue on in the experience of our lives.

Any thoughts here? How do you work at thinking Biblically, or what might this mean for you?


Kim said...

One of the verses that I've taken to heart is "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord" Isaiah 55:8.

This says so much about the difference between my natural tendencies and God's.

As you say, we need to think more Biblically (meaning like God thinks).

I think the difficulty I must overcome is that God thinks of others more than Himself. He is gracious. He is forgiving. He is patient and kind. He is strong when others are weak. He is good and gentle and faithful. I am not naturally any of the above. My part in the Story would be that I would appear less and less and He would appear more and more. Like John the Baptist I'm seeing that He must increase and I must decrease.

That's difficult, but as I am allowing Him in, I'm finding that those closest to me are positively affected and are drawn to me as never before. I'm finding the Story to be rich and satisfying. Thanks for your blog, Ted.

Peace, Kim

Alan Knox said...


Perhaps we do not "think" biblically because we do not "live" biblically. We "know" what the Bible says, but do not "do" what the Bible says. A friend of mine posted a related quote a few days ago in this blog post: "Quoting Again".


L.L. Barkat said...

Does it count to identify with a donkey? (I think you probably noticed that in the Psalm 139 talk. :)

I love scripture. I love to find myself and others in the stories. I love to find God there. I get a kick out of looking up original-word meanings, which takes everything to a whole different level. The bible is the most amazing book I've ever read.

Ted Gossard said...

Kim, You're so right. Among other things in the Luke 6 sermon on the plain passage recently, I was challenged by its ending in context: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

Great to hear how God is helping you in your life. And thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

Alan, Great thought and great quote! I have been challenged recently by Jesus' words in Luke 6: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" Searching words for me. As you say, if we're to think Biblically we'd better approach Scripture with the mindset to live Biblically. Thanks!

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., I need to find that. I think I may have seen or read it before. You have some great stuff connected to your blog that I need to take some time and read.

I do think of donkeys as humble and find Jesus riding on one as he does, as Scripture says there making the point that he a meek and humble king. I like that and hopefully identify with that increasingly in my life.

And as you say, Scripture is rich and full. Plenty there for us to dwell on and grow in.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Thanks for your comments about the Puritans; they have endured much bad press and misunderstanding throughout the centuries.

Ted Gossard said...

Allan, Yes. Just like any other group, we all have our deficiencies. And they happen to have some remarkable strong points. I remember John Wesley used to value their writings.

L.L. Barkat said...

Ted, the donkey I was speaking of is the one Jesus rode into Jerusalem. You may have read about it in my Psalm 139 talk... the part about "untie this soul." Or maybe you just read the McKnight article? I can't remember!

Anyway, a digital camera on the way!!! Have fun. The world is a beautiful place.

Ted Gossard said...

Thanks, L.L. I look forward to reading that and more on your website. And about the camera too, yes, thanks. That should be fun, a new hobby I want to take up or try (taking pictures).

andre said...

Thanks for the exhortation to open our bibles and actively engage the gospel story.

KM said...

Ahhhhh Ted -- awesome! :-) You hit it again:

Immersion in the Word, not paddling in the pool!

And y'know, when you do immerse yourself, you really do get to hear Jesus, fresh and clear like someone just turned up the mic all of a sudden. (I'm reading over Matthew with a couple friends online now.) And it's so vivid: Jesus didn't joke around! Sometimes you're like "Yeah, Jesus; get 'em!" And sometimes you say "Find me a rock; let me hide!" But sometimes about all you can say is "Wow."
The people were right to be "astonished."

When God speaks, it is well said. I'm so grateful for all His revelations to us!

Ted Gossard said...

Andre, Good way of putting it, engaging the gospel story. We need to see it right down to where we live. An ongoing challenge to our faith and life/lives (together).

Ted Gossard said...

KM, He continues to be fresh (and even astonishing) to us, as we continue immersed in a gospel like Matthew, seeking his revelation for us in our lives. I've gone over it a good number of times. On one level, I admit, I can be bored at times. But as I push beyond that I get into depths related to my own life with a passage, I've probably not been in before. Also to balance out the "boredom" (probably speaks about me) as I get older, having been longer in Scripture, I see it probably in a fuller way. And that can make only for more awe over and reverence for God and his Word.