Posted by: Brad Stanford | June 1, 2010

Deep Insight Into Scripture: When Passages Leap Into Your Heart

Many things change our perspective on Scripture. Age, maturity, or life experience can all change the way we perceive the any given passage.

But there are times when God reveals more of Himself, or the future, or answers a specific question from Scripture. Sometimes what He reveals applies to others. Sometimes, just to us. This type of Bible reading may be different than what you’re used to, and that’s OK. God speaking providing a different meaning to a given passage than the obvious or accepted one does not render the basic meaning of the text useless. Instead, it shows just how incredibly creative and complex God is, using the same words to apply to multiple situations in multiple ways.

To be open to this concept, though, we have to be confident.

Confidence In God, Not Yourself

Hebrews 8
1The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.
3Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.
7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said: 
   “The time is coming, declares the Lord, 
      when I will make a new covenant 
   with the house of Israel 
      and with the house of Judah. 
 9It will not be like the covenant 
      I made with their forefathers 
   when I took them by the hand 
      to lead them out of Egypt, 
   because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, 
      and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. 
 10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel 
      after that time, declares the Lord. 
   I will put my laws in their minds 
      and write them on their hearts. 
   I will be their God, 
      and they will be my people. 
 11No longer will a man teach his neighbor, 
      or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ 
   because they will all know me, 
      from the least of them to the greatest. 
 12For I will forgive their wickedness 
      and will remember their sins no more.”
13By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

Life by the law is obsolete. Life by the Spirit is the New Covenant. The law gets fulfilled by the faith of Jesus, who, as the most Spirit-led man that ever was and ever will be, obeyed to the point of death.

Note that the whole problem with the previous covenant was with the people (vs 8). God is saying out loud, “There is not a law system in which people can be successful. Sin was Adam’s fault, sin is your fault, and now it has been dealt with.” This isn’t about rues. This is about God’s scandalous forgiveness.
Obedience is not eliminated by life in the Spirit. It is magnified to a level of obedience that can not be reached by human will. If you want to obey like Jesus, your focus will be on relationship with the Father, rather than on keeping score according to the law. Your confidence is no longer in your abilities, but His.

Switching From Defense To Offense
Once God allows this truth to touch our hearts and it gets absorbed into our DNA, only then does all heaven break loose. We change from a defensive posture (protecting ourselves from breaking the law at all costs) to an offensive posture (pursuing God at all costs). The former lifestyle busies itself with accountability groups and building walls to prevent an attack. The latter runs the race as if to win, fights the good fight, and lives life as a bride rather than a widow.

When living by the Spirit, the Bible becomes a battle plan rather than a rule book. The only rules you see in it are the rules of engagement. And as such, you will begin to approach passages and ideas from God’s perspective. Here’s why:

I Corinthians 2
However, as it is written:
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him” — 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
16″For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Only in the Spirit can you discern what the Bible says. If you meet a professing Christian who teaches that the Holy Spirit does not work in men today, I would suggest not listening to their interpretations of the Bible. It makes complete sense that a person outside of the Spirit’s influence would tend to incorrectly interpret passages about the Spirit’s influence!

Having passages jump off the page is all about seeing through God’s eyes, rather than yours, or those of a commentary writer. The truth is, walking in the Spirit will change the way you see, hear, and react.

Seeing His Meaning(s): Types Of Interpretation
While there are interpretations that are naturally drawn out of God’s words, the application is sometimes lacking. Sometimes God will reinterpret a passage using props from your daily life or relationships so that it makes sense to you. The result is a forehead-smacking “A-HA!” moment. You’ll know this is happening when you have the unbridled desire to tell somebody what you just learned.

There is also prophetic interpretation, be it about you, someone else, the church, or the world. Same passage, but suddenly you understand that it has current or future implications. Remember: “prophesy” has to do with speaking or communicating on behalf of the Lord. To do that, He downloads things that you formerly did not know. Sometimes He does this through Scripture.

Then, there is personal interpretation. Sometimes God will show you answers to specific prayers or worries when you’re reading. You can not go and preach this interpretation to anyone else as if it applies to them. These apply only to you, and they are a gift, trimmed with faith, hope, and love.

I’m not sure that’s an all-inclusive list, but those are the high points we’re shooting for.

Next Steps
The goal this time is to not let passages instantly populate our minds with “answers”. We tend to play the “passage relation game” when we read. For each passage, we’ve already decided (or someone has decided for us) what that passage means. With faith like a child, we will pretend for the moment that we have no idea what God is talking about. We want to sit at His feet, and let Him tell us the implications of His words, sans assumptions.

What It Looks Like
Don’t reach for that Bible yet! First things first: agree with God. Agree with Him that His answers are better than yours. That even if He leads you to an understanding that is outside of your denomination’s beliefs, you will follow Him wherever He goes. Remember, sometimes He leads you through things, not into them. (That statement will only make sense on the other side, by the way.) You have nothing to defend, and life to gain, so agree with God that he is perfectly able to save people and direct His affairs without you. In this way, you will position your mind to join with God, rather than trying to make God merge with your belief system.

After you’ve meditated on how impossible it is for you to be God and direct your own salvation, and you’ve agreed with Him that He has all the answers, then grab your Bible, but don’t open it. Sit in the presence of the Lord, and just fellowship with Him. Talk about your dreams, your worries, your joys, always being thankful. Then listen. Be still. Play some worship music if that helps. Soak in the Spirit.

When you feel ready, open the Scriptures as “randomly” as possible. Wherever it opens, read it. Read only a verse or two (back up for context if necessary), and ask God why He wanted you to see that passage. Listen. Meditate on what the words say (meditation is like positive worry – imagining a scenario or idea over and over and pondering the implications if it actually happens).

Remember, you are not God. He holds the interpretations, not you. God loves to sit with you and tell you stories of His kingdom, past present and future. The Scriptures apply to all three of those states of time. Listen, and He will explain it to you.

If reading Scripture has become difficult over the years, it’s probably just been willpower-led rather than Spirit-led. If you knew that every time you opened Scripture you would receive answers and power from God, would you ever put the book down?

The truth is, it’s like any other exercise. You can build up and maintain muscle, or you can be flabby. And if you’ve been flabby for awhile, it’s difficult to be disciplined about building muscle. But take comfort! Expect God to meet you where you are, and lift you up to where He wants you to be.

He is not angry! He is eager!

Hallelujah!

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Responses

  1. Awesome! I enjoy your writing. Maybe among other things because our interests are similar. Thanks for what you do!


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