Howard Hendricks used to tell his students at the Dallas Theological Seminary, “The goal of scripture is not to make us smarter sinners but to make us more like the Savior.”
But the reality in too many churches and in too many of our Christian’s personal lives is that there is a whole lot of getting smarter with Bible information while remaining in sin, and not enough of sinners becoming more like Jesus.
So, what’s the problem? Why such discripency?
Let’s set something straight. I write these things as a sinner struggling with becoming more like Jesus thing and not as an expert who’s gotten it.
I struggle with being more like my Savior thing. It’s not because there isn’t enough want to. I have plenty of want to. The problem with me is that the pull and longing of the flesh is so strong. If you don’t struggle with the pull and the longings of the flesh, tell me! How did you do it?!?! But if you struggle with the pull and the longings of the flesh as much as I do, keep reading.
I ache and long for my flesh to submit and surrender to the Spirit. I long for this more than life itself. How I long and ache for the day when without battling and fighting, my flesh just aligns itself to the will of God. What an amazing thing that would be.
The question is, “How?” How does this happen?
I think the key has something to do with how we relate and view the Bible. Again, I remind you, I don’t have this figured out. But, I’m pretty sure it has a lot to do with how we relate to the Bible.
Too often, for too many of us, the Bible is a book that provides us with information.
- It tells us things about creation
- It tells us things about how God rescued Israel from Egypt
- It tells us things about the kings of Israel
- It tells us things about Jesus
It’s a book with lots of information. Most of it quite helpful and interesting. But it is just data. And, as Howard Hendricks used to tell his students, as data, it has little power to transform and only succeeds in making us smarter sinners.
You see, I don’t think God is as concerned about our heads (data and information) as he is about our heart (character, integrity, will).
The problems you and I face aren’t solved by knowing more things, but by being changed from within. The issue isn’t knowledge and information but changed hearts and changed beings.
Jesus pointed out over and over the problem with sin wasn’t about deeds. The source of sin lie in the hearts of men and women, and until we deal with that source, we will continue to manifest what’s in the heart.
- “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28)
- “For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19)
So, instead of seeing the Bible as a source of information, what would happen if we began viewing the Bible as a source of “IN-FORMATION”? That the primary purpose of the Bible was to change the insides of us by transforming the inside?
And should we see the primary purpose of the Bible as the source of “IN-Formation” how would that impact our lives?
- First, I would read it as if my life depended on it. And wouldn’t you know it, my life – the quality and the tenor of it – really do depend on it
- Second, I would read it constantly. I wouldn’t want to take any time off or away from the Bible. For these words are the source of “In-Formation”
- Third, the Bible wouldn’t be just information but the blueprint for “In-Formation”. Do you see the difference? I wouldn’t be reading it for gaining more knowledge and data. I would be implementing and doing what the Bible says
That’s what Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).
It is my sincerest prayer for God to change my insides, my guts, my heart so that it would align itself with the heart of God. I commit to “Let the word of Christ dwell in me richly.” I need a gut/heart transformation.