I love the Scriptures. If you’ve read my blog for long, you know that I often quote Scripture and even exegete Scriptures in my blog posts. The last long series that I wrote was a verse-by-verse examination of Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
While I can toss around words like “authority,” “infallibility,” and “inerrancy,” I try to demonstrate the importance of the Scriptures by learning from them and living according to them. I learn from the narrative portions and the prescriptive portions. (To me, this is more important than the labels that I attach to Scriptures.)
So, I said that so that you will understand the context of the following statement: The Scriptures are important, but they are not the most important thing. Studying the Scriptures are important, but it’s not the most important thing.
Consider this passage, a portion of a longer section in which Jesus is explaining to a Jewish audience about the many witnesses that testify to him:
And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 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. (John 5:37-40 ESV)
Jesus admitted that his audience “search the Scriptures,” and that they seek to understand eternal life through the Scriptures. (Obviously, Jesus was talking about the Hebrews Bible, or what we would call the Old Testament.)
But, notice what else Jesus says. His audience did not have God’s word abiding in them. They do not believe/trust Jesus. They have reused to come to Jesus to find life.
They knew that the Scriptures directed them to the source of life, but they did not recognize that that source was Jesus, who was standing right in front of them.
This can happen to us, too. We can search the Scriptures and miss the one to whom the Scriptures point. It is even possible to study Jesus yet not know him and not trust him.
We can learn about Jesus by studying Scriptures, but Jesus is not a literary character in a book. He is a person. He is a real, living, present, powerful person.
When teach, encourage, edify, admonish one another, we can use Scriptures. But, we must always remember to point people to Jesus the person, not just to the literary character.
Life is found in Jesus the person. (And, before someone asks, yes, Jesus the literary character helps us understand Jesus the person.)