Yesterday, I wrote a post on how to ask questions that facilitate meditation and prayer when you are reading Scripture. In that post, the focus was on the character of God (utilizing the A-C-T-S acronym): What is God like? What does a text reveal about him? The questions below are related, but slightly nuanced: what does God require of us? This nuance gets at weight of the law and the glory of the gospel. It’s important to recognize this when reading Scripture, so let me briefly explain this concept known as “Law and Gospel.”
In some way, every Bible text is calling us to be something, feel something, believe something, or do something. This is law. (Note: This is often implicit, but because the Bible is a covenant document between God and his people, every part of Scripture is designed to conform us to be a certain kind of people.) Yet the problem is that we are unable to do what Scripture commands in ourselves. However, in his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus fulfills the law on our behalf, takes the punishment we deserve, and is raised to life triumphant. This is gospel–good news! Finally one has overcome sin and death! He has earned God’s favor because he, unlike us, did obey God’s law. And he has turned away God’s wrath because he, unlike us, satisfied God’s wrath on the cross. When we receive this gospel and it takes root in our lives, we are transformed from the inside-out. We participate in Jesus’ victory with him and are now empowered by God’s Spirit to actually do what God requires.
Thus the law drives us to the gospel, and the gospel frees us to obey the law. As you read Scripture and come across laws, commands, exhortations, etc., ask yourself the following four questions.
- What am I required to be/do/feel/think, etc.?
- Why can’t I do this? How do I specifically struggle with this?
- How did Jesus do this in my place (think of specifics from the New Testament)?
- How does the Spirit now transform me to obey from the heart?
How would you phrase these questions? What ones would you add that have been helpful to you? Be sure to check back in a couple days for more questions.