Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Why We Look into the Word

I pray Psalm 119:18 nearly every time I begin reading the Bible.
"Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."
This is a prayer for spiritual sight. I want to behold the glory of God revealed in his word, with the eyes of faith, aided by the Spirit.

The goal of reading the Bible is not to earn blessing points with God, as if time logged could be cashed in for stuff or better circumstances. The goal of reading the Bible to behold the glory of God. And the glory of God is an end in itself. We don't use God as a stepping stool to get on to bigger and better things.

So, we need to see his glory. Because if we're blind to his glory, we'll fixate on all manner of fool's gold "treasures" that this world offers for our satisfaction. And we'll end up with lots of sand in our mouths as we run after each mirage and land face down in the desert of unfilled promises.

So, I commend the prayer of Psalm 119:18 to you, along with the sharper focus that is provided by 2 Corinthians 3:18:
"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
If our Bible reading is aimed at seeing the wonders and glory of God, the sharper focus is found in the face of his Son. If we want to see who God is and what he is like, we must look at Jesus.

In context, the glory of "the Lord" here is the glory of the Lord Jesus. We need to see "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, ... the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 4:4, 6). And we need the Spirit's help to do so. "For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."

The blessed result of this kind of "seeing" or "beholding" is that we become like the One we admire. "And we all...beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed in the same image (the image of Jesus), from one degree of glory to another." We are changed. We are transformed. The word there is the one from which we get our English word 'metamorphosis'. That same word is used in Romans 12:2 (emphasis mine):
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Now pull it all together. We look into the Word to see the glory of God. The glory of God is most clearly and radiantly revealed in Jesus. When we behold that glory, we are changed. Our values align with the infinite worth of the Son of God. We turn from the fool's gold offers of this world and we trust in and treasure Jesus. We are no longer conformed to this world. We are transformed by the renewal of our minds. We begin to reflect his glory more and more ("one degree of glory to another"), and we grow in wisdom and walk in the good will of God. And we more clearly show this dark, blind world -- by radiant, Christlike lives -- the glory of our God. We help them see what we've seen.

So, why do you look in the Word? Why do you read the Bible?

Read The Book to behold The Glory. Look for wondrous things! Look for glory! Look for it in and through Jesus. Don't merely look for intellectual stimulation, as if new and interesting Bible data could change you. Look for a greater glimpse of the glory of Christ. You're going to need the Spirit's help for that to happen. Pray for it. Seek it. Ask, seek, knock. And find the One you've been looking for all your life.

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