January 2, 2011 by Dwight Bernier
Most of us want to hear from Jesus – but often we want that to happen through some supernatural experience or sign. But the way that God communicates to His people most regularly and consistently is through His Word (which is still supernatural by the way).
When someone comes to me with a problem or issue they are having spiritually, the first diagnostic questions I ask is how they are doing hearing from and talking to Jesus about this? This hearing from and talking to Jesus comes through the forms of being in the Word and praying (another important one is being in community). But more often than not, I am finding that people are just overwhelmed with reading the Bible. They don’t get how to work through passages. And if that is you – you are not alone! What I wanted to do was point you to a few resources and give you the questions I ask myself as I’m seeking to hear what Jesus is saying (and we must note that hearing and listening to God in His Word is different than reading).
My rhythm of hearing from Jesus is to typically work through the Bible in a year. But this year, I am studying Ephesians (January-April), the Penteteuch (May-August) & Revelation (September-December). As I work my way through these Scriptures, I am asking myself four major questions and two resulting questions. These questions must point me back to Jesus because He said that all Scripture is really about Him (Luke 24).
1. Who does God say He is in this passage? (Gracious, Merciful, In charge, Jealous, full of wrath, all-knowing, powerful, etc.)
2. What has God done/will do? (Given command for sacrifices about sin, provided for Israel, destroyed his enemies, promises to return, made a people for Himself, sent His Son, sent His Spirit, etc.)
3. Who am I as a result of what God has done? [this is an identity question – so this is a very important one for us to get] (Forgiven, freed, child, slave of righteousness, righteousness of Christ, etc.)
4. What am I called to do in light of this? [this is where gospel defeats religion and we get to live out of who we are] (we are merciful BECAUSE our Father in heaven is merciful – this implies that we’re able to do this because of our identity in Christ; we are to love BECAUSE we’re loved; we are to bless BECAUSE we’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus; we don’t need to be anxious BECAUSE our God is in control of all things; etc.)
Two questions that follow these for reflection and to place emphasis on our need for Jesus to truly be the hero of all of Scripture are:
– Who am I without God in this passage?
– Could I do what this passage is calling me to without Jesus?
We must retreat from the realms of reading our Bibles to gain approval before God, to further our self-righteousness over others who don’t, to complete a checklist at the end of the year – and we must run towards the land where we sit with God and hear from Him in His Word so that we can know Him, see what He has done (especially in Christ), better grasp our identity in light of who God is and what He’s done, and then see what we are called to do. We must be heavy-set on understanding the indicative (who God is, what He’s done, who we are) before trying to see the imperative (what we’re called to do). If we get those reversed, the gospel will not be the motivation for our spiritual disciplines.
Over the next week, I will post a series of blogs which walk through how to implement this type of Bible-reading/listening. I will do this in Ephesians 1.
May we read to hear from Jesus in 2011 about who He is, what He’s done, who we are & what we’re called to.
FOR MORE BIBLE READING: