Why We Don’t Want to See The Gospel on Every Page of The Bible

Last week I mentioned that we ought not seek an allegorical or “moral of the story” from Old Testament passages that we can seek to apply to our life today. (“Dare to be a Daniel!”, “Find your ‘five smooth stones’ to face your ‘Goliath’”, etc). I mentioned that most of us evangelicals have been taught to do just this by good-hearted Sunday-school teachers (and some well-meaning preachers), but that this is simply an incorrect application of scripture. However, even if we do realize this error, I believe there is yet another, larger, hurdle that must be overcome to grasp the purpose of the Old Testament.

We are resistant to the idea of our need for God’s grace. We would prefer to be the hero, and to be able to muster up courage like Joshua, to stand firm in the face of impossible odds like David. The problem is that we can’t.

My resistance to this idea initially was not simply a theological problem. Once the “data” was transferred to my head about the correct way to view the Scriptures, I had to wrestle with my heart. It was not until I realized the vastness of my sin-full-ness that I realized my immense, everyday, moment-by-moment need for God’s mercy and grace.

But it was also not until I realized the magnitude of God’s Holiness that I realized the depth of my depravity. God, in my head, was too small. Of course, this will always be the case. Christian sanctification is, among other things, growing in your understanding of God and drawing closer to him personally.

We humans naturally (that is, in our sin) don’t want to be close to God. We want to control how close He is to us. We want to put Him in a nice little box that we can understand and manipulate. We want action steps we can accomplish! We want lists we can check off! We are scared of a God who owns us completely and has the complete right to command us according to His will and whim.

We are scared, because like Adam and Eve, we are tempted by Satan to believe that God is less than perfect, less than all wise and loving, less than all powerful, and that He has anything less than our ultimate good and His ultimate Glory in mind with His plan.

The more I lean in to this, the more I come out of my hiding in the bushes and let myself be terrified by His GOD-ness, the more clearly I see my sinfulness (depravity, to use the old word), and the more clearly I see my need for His Grace. The more clearly I see my need for it, the more eager I am to find it. The more eager I am to find it, the harder I look. The harder I look, the more clear it becomes that it is, indeed, on every page of the Bible.

The more clearly I see the Gospel on every page, the less patience I have for allegorizing and moralizing. Or to put it another way: the less taste I have for anything but pure living water.





2 responses to “Why We Don’t Want to See The Gospel on Every Page of The Bible”

  1. Brian Peterson Avatar
    Brian Peterson

    I think we should read all of Scripture with the backdrop of the gospel in the front of our mind (and the gospel is much more than God’s holiness and our depravity–it includes Jesus physically reigning over the throne of David when he claims His inheritance and establishes His Kingdom). From the OT, we see God progressively dealing with Israel, or we recognize many Messianic prophecies from the prophets and psalms, but this is because we are privileged to view such events from a birds eye view, and with the bigger picture of God’s revelation in mind. As far as seeing every page as a testimony to God’s holiness and our depravity, well, I guess you can say that because we are privy to the whole breadth of Scripture. But, of course, not all passages are teaching on the doctrine of God, or the nature of man– we try to develop our understanding of such issues based on a systematic approach to interpreting all of the sacred writings.

  2. Daniel Gardner Avatar

    Great post, Matt. I needed to read this.

    Part of the ‘hero complex’ is the idea that a pastor can get up behind the pulpit and inspire his community to obey God. As if obedience were something that springs from ourselves. The hero likes to believe he can strum up obedience using his own will power.

    But a clear view of grace changes all that. We expect obedience of ourselves, but not FROM ourselves alone. My ability to follow my Lord comes from the GRACE of my Lord.

    That liberates us to see Christ as the fountain of living water — the well of grace that never dries up.

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