When I think of the Bible, Bible study, theological studies, etc…, at the forefront of my mind are the words of Jesus when he said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. ” All the study in the world means nothing without intimacy with Jesus . As I think about the years I spent earning a BA in Biblical Studies/Theology, pouring over biblical languages and so on, those same words echo in my heart. “You search the scriptures, but…”
I’m going to say something that may sound strange and even offensive, but I believe it needs to be said, and it is this: The Bible is not God. The scriptures are not an end unto themselves, but rather the words of God which are to lead us into abiding intimacy with the Word of God- Jesus. Think about it, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day had memorized (memorized!!) vast portions of scripture. They could quote it backwards and forwards, yet Jesus told them, “You have missed it all together!” Why had they missed it? Because knowledge without relationship is only religion.
Today, the word theology is taboo among many, and honestly, I can understand why. But really, all theology is is studying about God. What’s more, Jesus promised us that we would receive the Holy Spirit who would teach us what? Theology. (Nice observation Mike.) Our problem is that we have made theology a systematized, academic pursuit, and divorced it from the very thing it is to promote- relationship. “You search the scriptures, but…”
We’ve recently read the book of 1 John together, and one of the first things I noticed was John’s emphasis on the fact that true spiritual substance is inextricably linked to relationship. “You search the scriptures, but…” I’ll leave you with this:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”