I want to continue where I left off here about how to properly understand the Bible. As I said before, many Christians, even respected Bible teachers, seem to read the Bible indiscriminately.
What I mean by this is that we don’t read the Bible with our Jesus glasses on–more precisely, we aren’t reading it through the lens of the finished work of the cross.
Before I go further, we need to be honest enough to admit that we ALL have an interpretive lens. To say you just “believe the Bible” is saying nothing at all. We all believe the Bible through our own interpretative lens. Even Bible translators with the purest intent, and safeguards, still translate Scripture through their cultural and religious paradigm (yes, even the King James translators). This is why there are so many different translations and paraphrases. And this is actually a good safeguard against interpretive bias. Only the Holy Spirit has the 100% pure translation of the original text.
Beloved, if we don’t see this, we will never grow up into Christ (Eph.4:13-15) We will stay stuck in yesterday’s revelation, old paradigms–stuck in our own heads. And that doesn’t work in any field of endeavor, let alone the Living Word of God.
I would like your input on this, but before that, I need to lay some groundwork, which includes the other post I mentioned.
Grinding out the right lens…
So how is this finished work of the cross lens ground out for us? Let’s review a few salient points to give this lens clear focus and definition.
– Every jot and tittle of requirements by the Law were nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ and “taken out of the way” (Col.2:14). Jesus is the end of the Law for those who believe (Rom.10:4). This must mean both the ceremonial and moral law (“ministry of death engraved in stones” – 2 Cor.3:7).
– Jesus only offers one sacrifice for sins forever, wiping sin out once and for all. Because of the blood of Jesus, God is no longer counting our sins against us (2 Cor.5:19; Heb.7:27; 9:12; 10:10). This means that Jesus isn’t up in heaven trying to get us pardoned for our sins anymore. He seems to think it’s finished. We should too.
– The New Covenant was cut between the Father and Christ. Since Christ fulfilled the covenant on the Cross, and it wasn’t made by us, we cannot break this covenant. We can only believe it by faith (Gal.3:17; 2 Cor.5:18).
– Christ not only died for us, He died as us. This means that our old Adamic sin nature was nailed to the bloody cross and died with Him. (Rom.6:6 ; Gal.2:20). We’re NO longer a part of the Adam’s family, but Christ’s family! (Eph.3:14-15)
– We were also raised with Christ, so now our life is Christ’s life (Rom6:4, 11: Col.3:3).
– We are made right with God by grace through faith alone (Rom.3:20-25; Eph.2:8). This means we cannot observe anything, do anything, not do anything, to change this.
– We are to live the Christian life, every moment of every day, the same way we were saved–by grace through faith with thanksgiving (Col.2:6-7).
– As a free gift, your righteousness is the same as Jesus’ righteousness, your holiness is the same as Jesus’ holiness (Rom.5:17; 2 Cor.5:21; 1 Pet.2:5, 9).
– As Jesus is, so are we in THIS world. We will do the works of Jesus (healing, miracles, setting the captives free) and even greater works (1 John 4:17; John 14:12; 20:21).
– We are NOW seated with Christ in heaven with God. Since this is true, we are also placed far above ALL principalities and powers (Eph.1:20-23; 2:6; Col.3:1-3).
– And unlike the Old Testament saints, we have total authority over all the the enemy (Luke 10:17). This God-given authority means we don’t beg God to do something He told us to do (Matt.10:7-8). Like Jesus, we command sickness, disease and bondage to go in His name.
– We are a NEW creation (2 Cor.5:17). “New” (kainos) means unique, of a different order. Before Jesus, this was not true. But like Jesus, we are an unprecedented species of God-inhabited men and women on the earth. This doesn’t mean we are Christ, we are literally placed IN Him. And we live both in heaven and on the earth simultaneously (John 3:13; Eph.2:6; Phil.3:20; Col.3:1-3).
– Jesus is the full expression of God (Col.2:9; Heb.1:1-3). Whenever we view God differently than Jesus, even in the Old Testament, we have a distorted image of Him.
Again, you can see more comparisons between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant here. If you haven’t read that post, I suggest you do so before continuing.
Doesn’t this change anything?
So, how should this change how we read the Psalms? Job? The prophets? And, certainly, the books of the Law?
The reason I ask this is that, surprisingly, most Christians are being told to drink from some strange bewitching brew whose fruit comes from the wrong tree. As I said in the other post, this strange brew is a mixture of the “old wine” in with “new wine.” They DON’T mix at all. Actually, JESUS said that first! (Mark 2:22).
And this intoxicating mixture is so alluring because we still haven’t stopped trying to save ourselves.
So when I read how most Christians apply passages in the Old Testament (including commentators), even in the Gospels, I often don’t see this discriminating view. It’s very puzzling to me.
– We read the Law like we’re still under some of it, that God’s approval is ever conditional and our right standing with Him is somehow based on our behavior and/or performance. No, it’s based on believing–period (Heb.11:6).
– We read the cries of the Old Testament saints for God to forgive them, like Jesus hasn’t already forgiven us–once and for all. Doing this is actually praying prayers of unbelief, even though they were appropriate under the Old Covenant.
– We read Job like we don’t have a choice when the enemy afflicts us. Worse, we say it’s from God! (That’s another subject)
– We read Elijah and the prophets, even John the Baptist, like we should judge people and nations the way that they did.
– We read the Old Testament cries to “rend the heavens and come down” when we are living under an open heaven 24/7 NOW, actually IN Christ at this very moment.
– We treat nations like Israel treated enemy nations instead of seeing them as people Christ died for, and that now our ministry is about reconciliation (2 Cor.5:18-19).
– We wait for heaven and wonder what it’ll be like when we’re finally there. Finally there? What??? We’re there already! We sound like the elder brother (Luke 15:31), living in a place we never avail ourselves to.
Do you see what I mean?
While we were sleeping…
So what happened? As Paul asked, who has bewitched us and enslaved us and put us in this dark dungeon? (Gal.3:1). Who has lulled you into eating this toxic fruit, Sleeping Beauty? (That’s you and me, by the way!)
We’ve inherited a cloudy, judgmental, Old Covenant Christianity “lens.” One that sees people with the proverbial jaundice eye–as “sinners in the hands of an angry God”–like that’s even scriptural.
But our heavenly Father demonstrated that He radically LOVES these “sinners” so much He was willing to pay the ultimate price for them–His Son (John 3:16). He has already made it right for them–PAST tense–forever! He’s not angry! Hello???
He’s the prodigal’s Father, not some angry sociopath! Didn’t we get this memo from Jesus? Weren’t we listening?
So will we please let Jesus–our Prince–kiss us awake again?
What do you think?
First, thanks for hanging with me on this long post. I would really like to know what you think about these things. How does the finished work of the Cross affect your interpretative lens?
With the understanding that we’ve inherited a very deeply entrenched, stainless steel legal Roman jurisprudence-based paradigm of how we relate to God that has prevailed for the last 1,600 years (Since Constantine). But cultural longevity does not determine truth, and this lens we’ve been looking through is NOT necessarily a clear lens of the New Covenant.
I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this. 🙂