While on the outset you would think it would be obvious to keep Christ at the center it is actually much harder to do unless conscious effort is applied. In case you are unsure if you are missing Christ in your daily diet of God's Word or in your teaching, let me ask you a few questions:
- When you are finished, who are you or others left focusing upon: self or Christ? Much of our preaching, teaching, and Bible study at best assumes the good news of the gospel and at worst ignores it. When we focus solely upon ourselves in a text (what we must do, how we can improve, what we must copy, etc.) we are setting people off on a wrong foundation that will not sustain them long term.
- Do you see the "heroes" of the Bible simply as individuals we must emulate or as pointers to Christ? Don't get me wrong, we are to see people like David, Joseph, Abraham, Moses, etc. as faithful believers in whom we should follow in their footsteps but if we keep it at that we will miss the main point of the Bible. You see, each of these individuals pointed to Someone greater. The Bible uses these individuals to show us that as much as they did, they too sinned and failed God in many ways. Their rescue of others and obedience was but an imperfect picture of a greater rescue to come. Now, as we live our lives, we strive in the perfect merits, boldness, perseverance, and rescue of Jesus not self.
- Do you teach or study the commands of Scripture apart from the Gospel? It is so easy to get caught in a grocery list mentality when it comes to the commands of the Bible. In other words, we preach both to others and ourselves the idea that "here are the commands now go do them!" There is one problem with this, we fail them all the time! But there is hope! That is where the gospel comes in! Jesus in His life, death, and resurrection perfectly obeyed and fulfilled all of those commands on our behalf and then paid for our failure of those same commands by dying for us! Therefore, even amidst my failure I know Jesus, through His perfect life and work on the cross, is holding me up! Hallelujah! Are you giving others that hope when you teach! Are you giving yourself that hope! Jesus' commands are not burdensome because He is the One holding us up and living through us! (I John 5:3)
- Does your teaching or study of Scripture produce a greater passion in your soul because of what Jesus has done for you? We have to be careful on this point because feelings are never a gauge to truth. However, looking onto the truths of Jesus and His work will stir our hearts once it has gripped it! I have seen this so many times in my own life and in the eyes and lives of those who I can see starting to "get" the realities of the gospel. So many times we live passionless lives and have passionless Bible studies because we are not beholding anything to be passionate about! When I look at Scripture through the lens of myself it makes me want to run not rejoice! But when I study Scripture looking at the One who lived and died for me I rejoice in the relief, joy, and purpose that He brings to my life!
So how is it with you when you come to the Scriptures? If we are studying in a Christless manner we will live Christless lives. Are you consciously tracing the work of God in Christ throughout the Scriptures for yourself and others? As Jen Wilkin once wrote, "It is tempting to read the Bible as a road map for our lives or a guide for abundant living. But the Bible, strictly speaking, is not a book about us. It is a book about God. From Genesis to Revelation, it reveals and celebrates the character and work of God. We do gain self-knowledge, but only as we gain God-knowledge, learning to see our own character in relation to His." (http://www.crossway.org/blog/2014/07/5-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-bible-study/)
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