In his book, Praying, J.I. Packer discusses seven very useful ways to view the scriptures. Developing the ability to visualize either a panorama or an action scene (by reenacting the scenes of the Bible) in your mind as you read increases insight. You must view it in such a way that you can get both the overview (big picture) and the details and not get bogged down into the scenes so much that you fail to see the overall picture and purpose of the Bible. View the bible as the following images, each starts with an L:
- Library: View the bible as a library of 66 books covering a single story, inspired by the same person, the Holy Spirit, (2 Tim 3:16) written down by over 40 different human authors over a period of about 1500 years. See the entire bible as a revelation of God (mainly through Jesus Christ, but also through the father, and the Holy Spirit) to us whom God created in his image, for his glory, but who fell into sin and separation from God through Adam and Eve (Gen 1:26-27; 2:7; 2:18-25; 3:1-23). Notice God working from the beginning of the library in Genesis to the end in Revelation to restore man’s relationship to himself (Gen 3:15 Amp.)
- Landscape: As you read the bible, endeavor to see it as a landscape with many different scenes, many different cities, many different countries, and many different peoples. Enter the scenes with the characters, stop and smell the roses, hear the sounds, feel the heat or the cold they are feeling, ask them questions, learn from the strengths and weaknesses of the characters in the bible. The characters in the bible are not static, they are active and dynamic, have feelings and emotions, do right and wrong. Also enter into the presence of God when he appears into the scene and bask in his presence letting his light expose your sins and responding appropriately with reverence, obedience, and repentance.
- Letter: The bible is a love letter, one in which God tells you about his love for you but also rebukes you in love. In the Bible, God reveals his plan to redeem you. When you reflect on the letter (Bible), you will realize that every part of the plan was crafted in God’s unfailing love. The bible was not written to us, but it was written for us, every single word is for us, so love it, meditate on it, delight in it, obey it, and see how God will unleash his blessings upon you that you won’t have room to keep. So when you read the Bible, hear the voice of Jesus as he writes you this beautiful love letter through the experiences of the characters and authors completely guided by his Holy Spirit. Don’t hear Paul or Peter or the other writers when reading the books they wrote. See these authors as chosen characters together with all the other people in the accounts that God has used in this love story that he himself has inspired to be written for you. That’s why the bible is so cohesive. The spirit behind it is one, the voice behind it is none but the voice of Jesus. When you view things in this manner, you will view commands and principles that God gives you through the pen of Paul or Peter rightly as Jesus’ commands to you. Then you will understand Jesus when he tells you that “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”(John 14:26 NIV). You will not say, Jesus didn’t tell you something, so how can the Holy Spirit remind you? You will know that every time you read the scriptures, Jesus himself is talking to you directly and you are hearing his voice. Jesus is truly the Word of God. It is written “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-4 NIV). This Word that John is talking about is really Jesus. That’s why Jesus told the Pharisees who were rejecting him, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” The Scriptures are the Word of God which is Jesus. They studied the revelation of Jesus (the Word of God) but when they saw the real Jesus, they didn’t recognize him. They were in error because they didn’t really understand the scriptures or the power of God. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow.”(John 10:27 NASB). Jesus voice here is his Word. Believers here Jesus’ voice (his word), and they obey (follow him). Listen to God’s voice as you read!
- Listening Post: Jesus speaks to us through the bible. Heaven is our central command; Jesus is our commander in chief. The Bible is our listening post, which is a place in the enemy’s territory where we sneak to in order to get instructions from our central command (which is heaven). From heaven, our commander, King and Lord Jesus Christ gives us instructions through the Bible. We need these instructions to continue to fight in the enemy territory. His words are spirit and they are life and they allow us to live in obedience to him in this world whose prince is Satan.
- Lamp & Light: In this morally and spiritually dark and chaotic world where Satan is the prince of this world and prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, see the Bible for what it truly is, a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. You are an alien and a stranger in this world (1 Peter 2:11 (NIV)), passing through this world to a better place prepared for us by our father in heaven. Because of the pod holes , deep holes, land mines, and steep and treacherous terrain with sharp cliffs, deep valleys and dangerous crossings (which all represent the evil of this age orchestrated by Satan and his kingdom), on the road that we must travel, we need a light to help us navigate the terrain and avoid harm and destruction. The word of God, the Bible provides that light.
- Law: View the bible as God’s law that he has given not to harm us, but to aid us. A law that is not restricting or limiting but a law that gives freedom. We are God’s children that he not only created but bought with his own blood. We are now members of his household and he gives us the law or rules of the house that guide his many children on how to live in harmony, love one another like he has loved them, and show him the love that a loving father like him deserves. Everything in God’s law is for his children’s good, nothing is for God’s own good or benefit.
- Lifeline: View the Bible (Word of God) as our lifeline, our source of assistance in time of trouble.
The Psalmist agrees saying, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 KJV) To prepare for troubled times, we need to love God’s word with a passion and be able to say the Psalmist “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” (Psalm 42:1) or like Job “I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food”.( Job 23:12.) Be like the three Hebrew men in Daniel 3:1-30 (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) who chose to be thrown into the fiery furnace to die rather than disobey God. You must “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27 NIV) The Bible is how you get to know God and so this consuming love for God should drive you to the bible daily that by meditating on it, you can quench your thirst to meet him and hear his voice. Our attitude has to be that even at the penalty of death, we will grasp onto God’s word, hold it and not let go. If you try to preserve your life by leaving God’s word, you will lose it, but if you hang onto God’s word and do what he says, whether in living or in dying, all things will work for your good and you will come out victorious, but don’t you dare ever let go that word of God. The day you let go of it is the day you begin to slip away from him. Remember that God or his Word is not our lifeline only when we are in trouble, but we must love with everything we have when we are not in trouble as well.