Jesus said to the Pharisees of his day, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46).
Pharisees were committed to Scripture. They obeyed the law scrupulously and argued its fine points vigorously, but they missed its main point: The Messiah, son of David, was also the Suffering Servant of Isaiah and the Psalms who would die for sinners and only those who believed on him would continue to be part of faithful Israel and receive the promises of God. They were experts in Scripture but failed to recognize the one of whom Scripture spoke.
Scripture is the very word of God, produced by the breath of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Jesus quoted Scripture and said it is what God said (Matthew 19:4-5). Every word of it (Matthew 4:4), every grammatical nuance (Galatians 3:16), every implication God put in it (Matthew 22:31-32) is important. Carefully searching the Scripture in order to understand it and live by it is to be commended.
However, if we end up with the correct view on every divisive issue; if our linguistic scholarship enables us to correctly parse every verb and diagram every sentence; if we memorize a thousand verses; if we trace historically the interpretation of every significant doctrine from today’s theologians to the earliest church fathers; if we trace historically the interpretation of every significant doctrine from today’s theologians to the earliest church fathers; if through it all we missed knowing, loving and appreciating Jesus Christ, and especially if we miss trusting him for the forgiveness of our sins; then the whole of our studies is vain, fruitless.
Some “personal relationship with Christ” talk suggests a mystical, touchy-feely, sensate-ly experienced something that has nothing to do with Scripture. Jesus Christ is a person and any relationship with a person is personal. We do not have a physical relationship with Jesus because he is no longer physically present, but we can have a personal relationship similar to what we have with a loved one from whom we are geographically separated.
In this personal relationship we realize that a written communication is not arbitrary words from an impersonal entity but living words from a loving Savior. We eagerly read his words and talk to him in prayer. We want to please him; so we search his word for what he wants, and when we are satisfied that we have found it, we do it.
The Bible and Christ... It is vital that we see beyond Scripture the Jesus to which Scripture points, but it is equally vital that we understand there is no Jesus except the one Scripture reveals. An imaginary Jesus, a figment combining elements from today’s culture and man’s fertile imagination, is not real, not a person, and one cannot, therefore, have a personal relationship with that. Scripture points us to Christ, but we must accept and trust the Christ to which it testifies
In Scripture, both in the gospels and in the epistles, we learn of Christ. As we see, admire and trust him there, we are transformed into his glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).
- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com