Friday, March 2, 2012

Ever Wonder?

I couldn't think of a better catchy title so please forgive the ambiguity.  What I wanted to "wonder" about is why the Bible isn't laid out with books on subjects.  Why isn't there 1st and 2nd Book of Marriage or the Book of Stewardship and Finances?  Why don't we find books that reflect the books Christian book sellers make millions on like discipleship, the Holy Spirit, prayer and spirituality?  I recently saw a section on environmental stewardship.  One wonders in today's atmosphere (no pun intended) why God didn't see fit to include a book about how to take care of the planet or maybe one on how to end world hunger.

I believe there is a deliberate reason why the Bible isn't presented to us as a manual for Christian living but instead it is primarily a historical narrative of man's fall and God's redemptive plan which centers on the Lord Jesus Christ.  In short we could say that the bible is about Jesus Christ.  The reason I find this important has to do with the way I believe pastors are to teach and preach God's Word.

It has become popular in the modern age to preach topically; that is, to preach like one would walk down a Christian bookstore's "Christian Living" section or the "Theology" section.  One Sunday he preaches on Love, the next on Marriage, the next on the Holy Spirit, then the 10 Commandments, etc.  Of course periodically every good pastor preaches on tithing, maybe even a series since the church has to have money to function, right?

Now, I am not knocking preaching or having classes that address subjects that all Christians need to know and subjects that the Bible does address from time to time.  But it is no secret that this type of biblical instruction is the norm rather than book by book, verse by verse exposition.  So my point is that there is a reason why the Bible is in the form it is in and preachers should take their cue from this.  There is a fundamental flaw in preaching on subjects out of their context.  If Christ is the subject of the Book then every other subject the Bible addresses cannot be properly understood apart from him.

For example, the Bible gives certain parameters concerning marriage.  It defines it as a union between only a man and a woman and speaks of male headship and the wife's submission among other things.  But usually when you come to such subjects, especially in the NT, you have had to read a lot of other things by the time you get there or at least it is treated in a context of Christ and the gospel.  We all want good marriages and to be financially responsible and good stewards and pray effectively.  But you cannot treat these subjects apart from Christ and the gospel.

It becomes a lot like trying to be sanctified by the Law.  You can lay out all the things that make a marriage good, give 12 steps to raising your children or how to submit to your husband.  You can preach on it until you are blue in the face but if you divorce these subjects from Christ it becomes a form of moralism but you never address the primary motivation for Christian living.  The only way a man will be a loving husband and father that nurtures his wife and family instead of oppressing them or using them is if he keeps before himself the fact that he is nothing but an undeserving sinner saved by grace.  And then the love shown to him by the Lord is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Spirit so he will treat others with the same grace.  He looks at his wife, not as his servant but as his partner given to him to serve the Lord with.  His leadership is not given just for him to exercise dominion but it is a responsibility to lead his family to Christ.

And so the principles of Christian living are spread throughout the Bible so they are never far from the teachings of Christ, our sinfulness and the glorious gospel.  We cannot properly understand what our duties are if we look at them apart from Christ.  Rightly does Paul teach us that Christ is our sanctification in 1 Cor. 1:30,  And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.  One grows in holiness as one grows in love and thankfulness to Christ.

So if you want to learn more on a subject, perhaps one in which you realize you are really struggling in, by all means study the Bible where it addresses these subjects.  I am thankful for those the Lord has given special insight to on certain subjects for us to learn from.  One such book is written by Elyse Fitzpatrick and her book on child rearing, "Give Them Grace".  Not only does she do a tremendous job on this subject but if you read it you would see her teaching on this subject by connecting it to the gospel every step of the way.

So my point is that whatever subject we are studying we cannot treat it apart from the over all subject of Christ and honoring him.  The more we are humbled by the gospel and the more we grow in our love for him the better husbands, wives, tithers, employees, prayers, etc. we will be.  We cannot understand and apply any subject apart from the understanding of God's redemptive plan and how we fit in it.


  1. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Amen!

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  3. I am not sure if you agree or not! LOL