1. Every Text a Road to Christ
2. Setting Up a Devotional Time
3. The Gospel in All of Life
4. How Not to Read the Bible
5. Hear the Music, Don’t Learn the Steps
6. Jesus: God’s Word Made Flesh
7. Getting to Christ in the Old Testament
8. Christ and Him Crucified
9. Faith and Repentance
10. Post Script: ‘Gospel-Centered’ Is Not Just a Fad
Introduction to a 10 part series. View series intro and index.
Do you ever sit down to have a “devotional time” with God and wonder, “What the heck do I do?” Ever flipped through Bible pages to see where you land and pray it’s not Leviticus? After reading a chapter of Luke have you gone to watch TV because you are bored? This is more the rule in American Christianity, than the exception.
A couple weeks ago I posted a journal entry from my morning worship in the word, and I will post more. My aim in making some of these journal’s public is to teach two main things: 1) to show how I orient every passage around the gospel, and 2) to show how to take notes (aka “journaling”) while working through a passage of Scripture.
When having a “quiet time” or “devo time” or “time in the word” (or whatever you want to call it), it is important to remember that quickly reading a chapter in the Bible, writing out a prayer, and being done in 10 minutes is not enough. That might sound legalistic, but I’m willing to bet you would not say it’s legalistic for me to tell you to eat three meals a day. ”Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son fo Man will give to you” (Jn. 6:27). You make time for hundreds of other trivial things each day and week. So don’t tell me you don’t have time.
While reading any passage of Scripture, the primary thing to look for is not ‘what does God want me to do?’. When you read your Bible, you must look for where it exposes our fallen nature and how it orients life around the gospel (i.e. the person and work of Jesus Christ).
Bryan Chappell, president of Covenant Seminary, has written a book called Christ-Centered Preaching that is helpful even for the layperson who wants to spend daily, gospel-drenched time in God’s word. Chappell writes that in every text Christ is like an acorn or an oak tree. He expounds: “You do not explain what an acorn is, even if you say many true things about it (e.g., it is brown, has a cap, is found on the ground, is gathered by squirrels), if you do not in some way relate it to an oak tree. In a similar sense, [you] cannot properly explain a seed of biblical revelation, even if [you] say many true things about it, unless [you] relate it to the redeeming work of God that all Scripture ultimately purposes to disclose.”
In some passages, Christ is so small (like an acorn) that you have to do a lot digging to see the gospel. In others, Christ is completely apparent (like an oak tree) and deep digging is not necessary. In between those two extremes are varying levels of how “big” or “small” Jesus and his gospel appear in any given biblical text.
There are a lot of things I want to get to/through on this blog, but a detailed series on Christ-Centered devotional times is more pressing than others. Too many Christians spend their time in the Bible looking for a rule to follow or an encouraging verse to “get them through the day.” If that’s how you read the Bible, you won’t last a week.
I will flesh out my thoughts and ideas over the next several months. Perhaps these posts will be helpful to you, and if you are already studying the Bible this way, then pass this along to a friend. Who knows whether God might use this to give someone a passion for his word!