The New Testament is full of stories, just like the Old Testament. In fact it is 60% stories. While stories are fun to read, those in the Holy Bible are more than mere tales to entertain us. There is a lot more to them then just the words on the pages and the images they describe. The Gospels tell the story of Jesus Christ and the Acts of the Apostles is the story of the Holy Spirit’s movement within the early church.
Several weeks ago we looked at the importance of narratives in the Old Testament. As we read the Old Testament we see that it is not about the human characters nor is it about us. Within the last two weeks a man I know from the men’s (Bible study) group from my church told us his approach to reading any part of the Scriptures, “What does this passage mean to me?”
While that is not a bad question, it should never be our first question. Who is the Bible really about? We saw that the Old Testament is about God as main protagonist or hero. The New Testament is also about God, in the person of Jesus Christ.
In his video clips on the study Read the Bible for Life Dr. George Guthrie emphasizes four points any Christian can and should use when reading God’s Holy Word. Paraphrasing in my words, they are 1. keeping it in context, 2. the reason why the authors wrote, 3. their main emphases, 4. remembering the Gospels are about Jesus, and 5. the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection.
When we read the stories of the New Testament, primarily the four Gospels, how many of the points above come to mind before what does it mean to me?
When we have a better grasp of the original meaning of the story then we can have a better appreciation of the meaning of the text, even a better understanding of what it means to me. How does one get a grasp of the text? Any Bible scholar or pastor can give you a list of tools they use. The ones I have used in the past and plan to use when we do the “In God’s Holy Word” study are the following:
- A good study Bible
- Bible dictionary (a lexicon for more advanced study)
- Bible backgrounds commentary and Bible atlas
- Bible commentaries
Reading the New Testament in our daily devotionals can be helpful. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (1 Timothy 3:16-17, HSCB). But when we take the time to dig deeper into God’s Holy Word we can see a lot more and God can use us to teach rather than just being taught. God wants to use His people in the church, all of His people, to teach and train up more people to teach and train the next generation.
A friend’s church as a saying, “Making disciples to become disciple-makers.” Reading the Holy Bible is more than us reading it, it is God communicating with us so we can show others “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).