A Mistake We Often Make When Reading the Bible

by Michael Kelley May 28, 2019

If you want your life to change, read the Bible.

If you want to know God, read the Bible.

If you want to grow in your faith, read the Bible.

If you only have a minimal interest in spiritual things but want to fuel that flame, read the Bible.

Read the Bible. Read it again. Simmer in the truth; submit to God’s authority; memorize its truth. Read the Bible, Christian, and you will grow.

But as you read the Bible, keep in mind that there is a way we can read it wrongly. For example, we can read the Bible from the perspective that we are the center of the story – that the Bible is primarily about us. It’s not – the Bible is primarily about God. Of course, we see ourselves in its pages, but we see ourselves in the bigger story of who God is and what He is doing.

Or we might make the mistake of reading the Bible without its context. We might forget that each book of the Bible was written for a specific purpose at a specific time in a specific situation. We need to remember that the Bible doesn’t say something now that it has never said. As we interpret it, we must do so with an eye on the original context.

One other mistake we might make when reading the Bible is applying its truth singularly, i.e. to "me" and me alone. Why is this a mistake? If we remember the original context of Scripture, we will remember that the Bible was primarily written to be read, understood, and obeyed by the people of God. Of course, there are exceptions to that – there are some of Paul’s letters written to an individual like Timothy or Titus. But, by and large, this is a community book.

See, God has always been on a mission to not just redeem individuals, but to build a people – a family that extends beyond traditional lines of race, social standing, and national origin. This is where we’re headed – not merely to our glorification as individuals, but towards being a redeemed people:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away. (Rev. 21:1-4)

Notice the plural pronouns here. Live with “them.” “They” will be his peoples. God will be with “them.” God is making all things new, and one of those new things is this new community. Among other things, this means we fall short when we look only to an individual application of the Bible. We would do well to ask the question together:

“What does this mean for us?”

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared at Michael's blog, Forward Progress, and is used with permission.