Our primary authority for living a Jesus-Centered life is the Bible, a long book written in two languages thousands of years ago by dozens of people throughout hundreds of year. Good luck making sense of all that!
But if we want to deepen our trust in Jesus and our understanding of God, ourselves, and humanity, there’s no greater resource. Early in our faith journey, our knowledge and understanding of God is informed—right or wrong—from many sources. As we continue our journey, God replaces untruths or partial truths about his nature through the Bible, community life, and experiences with the Holy Spirit (aka, the Spirit of Jesus).
A good start to making sense of the Bible is recognizing that our assumptions about God shape how we read his Word. If we assume God is good, loving, passionate, and just—and allow God to define those terms—we’ll approach the Bible with excitement and expectation, and we’ll grow closer to Jesus through our reading.
Here are some healthy assumptions and why they’re important:
- God always makes the best decisions. Let’s be honest: Some of God’s actions seem confusing. We can explain away what we don’t understand, or we can study, dig, pray, and research. Those solutions are good, but we start our work by assuming the best about God’s character. God is for all humanity, and he wants all people to experience full, abundant, and eternal life.
- All of the Bible is important. The Old and New Testaments equally reveal God’s love for and plan to redeem humanity. The New Testament isn’t a new and different story; it’s the continuation of the same story of God’s love for his people and his plan to restore what sin had broken. The Old Testament is best understood through the lens of the New Testament (or more simply, through Jesus), but sometimes that’s tough to identify. Pick up a copy of the Jesus-Centered Bible, and when you read through the Old Testament, you’ll see passages highlighted in blue (almost 700 of them, along with explanatory blue boxes) indicating a reference to the coming Messiah, Jesus.
- God is the same throughout the entire Bible. There’s no “Old Testament God” and “New Testament God.” Jesus is present as one member of the triune God, eternally. He’s the same in the Old Testament and the New Testament, loving and passionate and seeking the “kingdom best” for all his creation. Our experience may change over time, yet God remains reliably the same.
Check out our Season 2, Episode 9 with special guest Tim Levert of Paying Ridiculous Attention to Jesus: Reconciling Old Testament God vs. New Testament Jesus
- All of the Bible is relevant for our lives today. For several decades now, church critics have denounced the Bible as old-fashioned and outdated at best, oppressive and regressive at worst. The idea that Old Testament laws are irrelevant indicates a misunderstanding of sound principles of biblical interpretation. The Bible, properly interpreted, is an authoritative source of guidance, inspiration, and life as God intended.
Why is this important? We live in a time when fewer and fewer people read the Bible because they’re overwhelmed by barriers to it. If we embrace some basic assumptions before we start reading the Bible, many of our questions become catalysts for growth and change as we deepen our trust in Jesus.
What do you think? What are your Bible-reading assumptions?