A Revisionists Take on the Bible

It’s dizzying to think about how many people have read the Bible cover to cover, and how many different perspectives there are on it’s overall message.

Some read it as a legal document, laying out in great detail how one should in a way that makes God happy – pleased to lay His lightning bolts aside, momentarily. Some read it as a way to get into heaven, with little regard for life in the here and now – and only those with the proper theology are accepted. Others read it as a document of war, releasing them into the world to point fingers, judge others, and be an agent of God’s wrath, only to find themselves batting for the wrong team.

I was once asked to lead a study on the historical happenings of the Bible – the places, people, events, etc., of the Old and New Testaments. I rebelled and instead made an attempt to teach both Testaments as one story – which it is by the way, but I didn’t do a very good job. I started with 15 people and quickly whittled it down to 5. They were all really cool people to hang out with and journey through the issues – it was a good time.

In preparing for the class my perspective on the Bible, and ultimately what God really wants from us, was forever changed.

At the time, my wife and I were about to experience a huge life change, one that would bring challenge, hardship, and joy in one big heaping helping of a little girl named Hannah. So, we decided to go to Brazil, relax and spend some time together before her arrival. I read the Bible, uninterrupted, cover to cover, very quickly, on one very long flight, with boxed wine and airplane food.

I was taught in Seminary to pick each passage apart, to read the “original” languages, consult multiple resources, etc., before making a decision about what that passage might mean. Reading it like I did on the flight to Brazil was something I hadn’t done before.

There’s one theme that pops up over and over again, with alarming repetition, something I would call one of the most prevalent, if not the most prevalent, themes of the Bible. It’s one that, interestingly enough, doesn’t get alot of air-time on Sunday mornings.

Over and over again, in the Old Testament, and in the teachings of the New, God says to everyone He runs into, “Trust Me.” “I’m on your side.” “I want things to work out in your favor.” “Please, whatever you do, wherever you go – TRUST ME.” It’s hard to catch if you read the Bible slowly, but I dare you – read it fast, really fast, cover to cover, not stopping to ruminate over the parts that bother you, or the ones that don’t immediately make sense. And drink some crappy boxed red wine. Just go, you’ll see it, clear as day (if you don’t have a Bible, let me know, I’ll send you a really good one).

Sure, there are passages in the Bible that talk about God’s unconditional love, His unlimited power, and how He worked it out so that anyone that wants to go to heaven can go. There are statements about right and wrong, and instructions about how to live, but these are all subtexts in submission to the overarching principle that God wants us to trust Him.

Since my “conversion” on the flight to Brazil, I now hear God saying to me “I know more about what you want than you do. I won’t give you life on your terms, it’ll be on mine, because my way will get you where you want to go quicker and more completely than yours. If you’ll trust me I’ll write a story for you that will be amazing. We can do things your way if you want – you can write your own story, but I write better stories than you do. Trust me. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be great.”

If you don’t believe in God, that’s cool, I respect you. I have great friends who don’t believe as I do, not to mention the fact that they’re the ones who know how to really party. But imagine for a minute what would happen to the world if everyone believed that there was this thing “up there” that could do anything it wants, loves unconditionally, and is interested in everyone’s life the way a really good parent is interested in her children.

There would be peace.

Peace is the biggest issue in our world. Always has been. When people are set at ease about their lives, their finances, their relationships, how things will ultimately work out, etc., they’re less likely to do bad things, and more likely to do good. I know people of peace, people who look at God this way. They see what they have instead of stressing about what they don’t. They’re comfortable in their skins – it doesn’t matter what other people think when you believe that everything will turn out ok. They’re hard workers. They know work is good, but they don’t stress about it because they have trust, which, ironically, makes them more effective at what they do. Their peace derives from their belief that everything will work out in their favor, which is dependent on their view of God and ultimately their trust in Him.

God doesn’t want you to be a flaming, irrelevant, religious person by the way. The other guy wants that. It’s a truly crappy way to live. Remember that Jesus’ first miracle was to make 180 gallons of wine at a party full of already drunk people. He doesn’t want you to blindly adhere to a life-numbing list of rules and principles. He doesn’t want you to be unhappy. He does however want to change you – to remove the things that are keeping you from being free, from being the person you’re supposed to be. This process isn’t “easy,” or “safe.” Trusting Him will mean facing fears that you’ve had since you were three.

But when you believe that He’s on your side, and that He’s a badass who’ll fight for you, with you, and against you when you head in a direction away from freedom and peace, you can face anything.

Jesus said something akin to, “I have peace inside of me – My peace. God’s peace. This peace I’m giving to you. Therefore, don’t be scared. Of anything.”

There’s one hitch though. When God sets people free, He wants those people to go and free other people. God’s freed ones are to be like a vaccine in the jugular vein of a world that’s ever-hurdling towards more fear, anger, suspicion – ever decreasing peace. What we receive from God we’re to give to others, like Jesus did. That might sound like alot, but when you’re at peace, you’re also at strength – your resources aren’t tapped by fear, anger, etc. I think that’s why religious people look so tired all the time – always trying to bring good into the lives of others, but doing it from a place of obligation, not peace.

I had a very troubling conversation with a Gay woman several months ago. She was afraid that God hated her because she was Gay. It made her feel gross. Unlovable. I very quickly relieved her of that lie and laid on her the truth that God’s love for her has no bounds, conditions – no barbed wire. You wouldn’t believe how it changed her – the idea that God loves her, that she can now trust Him to walk alongside her. Boom. Peace. I have to go, she’s bringing a friend over for breakfast.

May Peace be with you, and extend far beyond you.

A Revisionists Take on the Bible


John 6:35

For thousands of years the Jewish people had a special script for their most important event of the year—the Passover. Brimming with drama and intensity, the Passover included a carefully prepared order of words, symbols, foods, tastes, smells, and actions. So if the father of the household went off script as he led the Passover meal, everyone present would immediately notice.

And that’s exactly what happened when Jesus gathered His band of followers as death loomed. The evening started like a typical Passover meal—they were celebrating the way Jews had done for centuries … until Jesus intentionally went off script and started talking about Himself. As the Savior took the Passover bread in His hands, He said something utterly shocking: “Take, eat; this is My body” (Matt. 26:26).


At every step, it is Jesus who initiates.

The Passover was all about deliverance for a particular people (the Jews) from bondage and into true freedom. But the entire storyline of the Bible pointed to an even deeper liberation from a more tragic bondage—deliverance from sin for the entire human race. As He held the bread in His hands, Jesus calmly announced that His broken body would be the one and only source of that deeper, universal deliverance and freedom.

“This is My body which is given for you” (Luke 22:19)—some church historians call this sentence “the words of institution” because our Savior was instituting, or inaugurating, a new chapter in the story about God and the human race. But notice that Jesus went off script so we would know this new chapter comes through His initiative, not ours.

Even as He was handed over to death, the Lord was graciously acting to save, forgive, and bless us. At every step, it is Jesus who initiates. Jesus writes (or revises) the script. Jesus gives us the Lord’s Supper, a meal to share with Him—the one who said, “I am the bread of life.”

And with a simple piece of bread, Jesus declares how salvation comes—not by our striving but by His grace, not as a human project but as a divine gift.

by Matt Woodley

Love’s Product

“That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:10-11)

Knowledge and judgment that are motivated by love (Philippians 1:9) are directed very carefully to certain end products that will fulfill our Lord’s design and desire for His adopted sons and daughters while they are still on Earth.

A repository of facts can be nothing more than a curiosity, and is often an arrogant distraction. A growing intellectual ability must be useful. It is no different in God’s kingdom. Our knowledge and judgment must be used to “approve things that are excellent.”

Paul’s challenge to the Roman church was that they use their minds to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). To his young son in the faith, Paul insisted that Timothy study to show himself “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

The “proving” (testing, affirming) has a twofold goal: that our life on this earth would be “sincere and without offence” and that we would be “filled with the fruits of righteousness.” Purity and productivity are earthly spiritual goals that are reiterated many times in the Scriptures. They, of course, are mere reflections of the holiness that our Lord creates in us when we are born again (Ephesians 4:24), but they are nonetheless an often-repeated demand for those of us who claim a kinship with Christ Jesus.

The Bible sums it up this way: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). HMM III

Infinite Excellence

Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. —Psalm 148:13

I once heard Dr. George D. Watson, one of the great Bible teachers of his generation, point out that men can have two kinds of love for God—the love of gratitude or the love of excellence. He urged that we go on from gratefulness to a love of God just because He is God and because of the excellence of His character.

Unfortunately, God’s children rarely go beyond the boundaries of gratitude. I seldom hear anyone in worshipful prayer admiring and praising God for His eternal excellence.

Many of us are strictly “Santa Claus” Christians. We think of God as putting up the Christmas tree and putting our gifts underneath. That is only an elementary kind of love.

We need to go on. We need to know the blessing of worshiping in the presence of God without thought of wanting to rush out again. We need to be delighted in the presence of utter, infinite excellence.

Lord, quiet my heart and minister to my spirit. I’ll take time to unhurriedly meditate on Your infinite excellence and worship You without asking for a thing! Amen.

Are You One Of God’s Overcomers?

These have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)

I insist that if we are burdened with genuine concern, we have the responsibility of examining the true spiritual condition of men and women within the church’s ranks.

We do live in a time of soft, easy Christianity. It is an era marked by a polite “nibbling” around the edges of the Word of God. There is a mindset within present day Christianity that supposes one should get into trouble or suffer embarrassment for Christ’s sake!

My brethren, what does it mean to be loyal to Jesus Christ? To confess that Jesus Himself is more important to us than anything else in the world?

Many find it hard to understand how large numbers of Christian believers could have died for their faith in our own generation! With a sense of distant admiration, we call them simple-hearted nationals. God calls them overcomers!

Professing Christians in our North American churches can hardly comprehend so costly a price for the faith we take for granted. Material prosperity and popular acceptance have sapped the vitality of our Christian witness!

Pause and remember

Did you ever think of the love which Christ will manifest to you, when he shall present you without spot, or blemish, or any such thing, before his Father’s throne? Well, pause and remember, that he loves you at this hour as much as he will love you then; for he will be the same forever as he is today, and he is the same today as he will be forever. “As the Father hath loved me, even so have I loved you;” and a higher degree of love we cannot imagine. The Father loves his Son infinitely, and even so today, believer, doth the Son of God love thee.