The week after Thanksgiving has become the most refreshing week of the year for Tanner and I. That’s because this is the time every year that we attend PAO’s Increase Conference. This event provides a place for professional athletes to gather together and to learn from gifted speakers and teachers concerning how our Christian faith should be impacting our relationships, finances and careers.
This year, David Platt and Ben Stuart were the main speakers, and the main message that seemed to keep coming out of every session was the necessity of reading your Bible. Platt reminded us on his first night that we need to “soak in Scripture like your life depends on it because it does, and we need to spread the message to others like their life depends on it because they do.”
That being said, I was recently asked to write four short devotionals for Sports Spectrum Magazine, and based on my time at the conference, I decided to write on why the Bible is so important and what the Bible is actually trying to do.
WHAT IS THE BIBLE TRYING TO DO?
Everyone is trying to find salvation. They may not use that term, but everyone has some sense that they need something that will finally make them feel fulfilled, satisfied and accepted. Some people try to find fulfillment from their relationships with friends, family, children or spouse. Some people try to find satisfaction from a certain level of success, income or social status. And some people try to find acceptance from certain social groups, causes or religion.
Everyone is trying to find salvation, but unfortunately many of us end up looking in places that cannot truly deliver what our heart desires. This is one reason why the Bible declares that the good news of what God has done through Christ is the only thing that truly possesses the power for salvation. Because it is in the good news of the biblical story that we can discover who we were intended to be, why we feel like something is missing, what we need to fill that void and why we can have hope that one day everything will be made right.
It’s unfortunate that many people are missing out on experiencing this power of salvation because of their misconception or misunderstanding of what the Bible actually is. Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible is not a religious manual that tells you how to live your life differently; it is an epic story that tells you to look at what God has done in human history that should change your life drastically.
The Bible is a collection of ancient writings written over a period of 1500 years by many different authors in different locations who even spoke different languages, and yet from cover to cover it manages to tell one unified story. This one story is the epic story about the Creator rescuing his creation through the Christ. And remarkably, this story continues to be just as relevant in making sense of our lives today as it did in the ancient world in which it was originally written.
The Bible offers its own answers to some of our biggest and most basic questions concerning life. Who are we? Why are we here? What’s wrong with the world? And what’s the solution?
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT US?
The Bible tells us that God created humanity in his own image. This means that God gave all of humanity the incredible gift and privilege of ruling his world on his behalf as his special representatives. Many people need to rediscover who we are and what it means to be human.
To be a human being is so much more than to be a mammal who has gained incredible mental capacities through a random selection of natural processes. As creatures made in God’s image, we will only find fulfillment by growing in a relationship with our Creator and by caring for his creation according to his commands.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT LIFE?
The epic story of the Bible begins with God creating a good world full of unlimited potential, and then God appointing humans as his special partners to rule his world on his behalf. But God also gave humanity a free choice regarding this partnership and how they were going to carry out the mission that he had given them.
Would humans use this privilege for the common good and for the glory of God or would they use it for selfish gain and their own glory instead?
Tragically, we only get to the third page of the Bible before we see humanity deciding to disobey God and desiring self-rule instead of representative rule. Humanity turns away from God’s ultimate authority and decides to define what is good and evil for themselves. And this is a rebellion that we all continue to participate in on some level because we all continue to make decisions that contribute to this world of broken relationships, conflict and injustice.
Instead of living and doing things God’s way, human beings have chosen to try and rule this world our own way, and the consequences have spread to every aspect of our lives. We have lost the fullness of life that we were created to experience, and in a way we are now living subhuman lives in a world that we ourselves have corrupted. This is why we often feel so lost in our own skin, and why we instinctively feel that life in this world ought to be different.
HOW DOES THE BIBLE OFFER US HOPE?
Human beings were created to live in a relationship with God and to rule the world on behalf of God, but we chose to rebel against God and began to ruin everything. We have stained the image of God and violated our partnership with God, and we continue to feel and experience the consequences. We are not who we should be, and we feel it. We are at home, but it doesn’t feel like home and we know it. Fortunately for us, the story didn’t end there.
Throughout the Bible, we see over and over again, God’s plan to rescue humanity from its rebellion, to reconcile humanity back into a right relationship with its Creator and to restore humanity back into being what we were originally created to be. And as we see this rescue plan unfold, it reaches its climax in the person and work of Christ. God restores his rule by sending his Son and graciously restores us back into a position of partnership with God by paying the price of our rebellion on the cross.
The penalty for our disobedience and sin is death and eternal separation from God, but in his grace and mercy God has provided forgiveness for our sin through the substitutionary death of Jesus — who paid the penalty that we deserve. God has offered eternal life for everyone who confesses that Jesus is Lord, and he has given us assurance of all these things by raising Jesus from the dead.
The good news of the Bible is that you can be forgiven by God for your sin and receive the gift of eternal life. All you have to do is embrace Jesus — confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God has in fact raised him from the dead. Turn away from just living life your way and turn back to the God who created you and loves you and wants to give you the life that you were intended to experience. You see, it’s in this epic story that we discover the salvation our hearts truly desire.
This story ends with the promise that one day Christ will return and God will gather his people from all over the world and the whole earth will experience a full and final restoration that will give us a new reality for all eternity. And it is only in this new life with Christ and our Creator that true fulfillment, satisfaction and acceptance will ever be found.
So let’s read our Bibles and rejoice in the good news that it’s trying to tell us. Let’s soak it in like our lives depend on it and share this story with others as if their lives depended on it too. I’m heading out of the country this week for that very purpose. I look forward to updating all of you on that trip, and I also have a Bible Reading Plan for 2019 that I will share in the couple weeks.