What if a doctor could order lab tests to assess our spiritual health?
Can’t you hear him now?
“I’ll send your blood tests off to the lab and get a full report on your spiritual health by next week. See the receptionist on your way out to make your follow-up appointment.”
What Would Your Test Results Reveal?
Many years ago my spiritual health test results would’ve come back positive. Or is it negative? Either way, I’m positive my Christian life had negative issues I was incapable of fixing.
Even though I was active in a great church and loved God, something was clearly off.
As a Christian, I didn’t belong to the world, but I sure looked like it. Fear, frustration, and pride gripped me just as much as it gripped my non-Christian friends.
No matter how hard I focused on being a good Christian, defeating fear, overcoming frustration, and destroying my pride in a single bound, I failed. Again and again.
“911. Can I Help You?”
A life of constant failure exhausted me. Confusion engulfed me. And, frankly, the Christian life began to bore me.
What kind of Savior could Christ be if He couldn’t save me from more than hell? If He couldn’t save me from fear, frustration, and pride, how powerful could He really be?
But if He could save me from them, why hadn’t He?
How could the God who created this stunning universe also create such a boring religion? Surely He didn’t. But if not, then why did I find Christianity lackluster and draining?
Something was wrong with either God or with me. One of us needed help. Want to venture a guess who?
I prayed and poured out my struggle, and God answered. But He didn’t order tests. He ordered surgery — Hebrews 4:12 surgery.
That day I read the Bible differently than I ever had. Before, I’d treated it as a resource for How to Live the Good Christian Life rather than as the living Word of God able to surgically transform my heart and mind.
This time, when I opened the Bible, I flipped to the book of Genesis and set out to find only one thing — God. I looked for God on every page.
As I noticed God’s character and His ways on each page, His truth cut into my heart and mind. And it began to extract lies I’d believed, such as:
Lie #1: Sure, God loves you because you’re good enough and special enough. But I’m not.
God’s Word showed me that His love for me (for us) is based on His character and His choice to set His love upon us, not on who we are or our worth or deeds.
It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers…
Deuteronomy 7:7-8 ESV
We don’t deserve God’s love. Nevertheless, He chose to give it. We don’t have to earn His love. We can’t. But we can receive it and walk in it with gratefulness that pours out obedience and devotion to Him.
This truth thrilled me and transformed my thinking.
Lie #2: The Old Testament is just a long foreword to the real story in the New Testament.
I’d thought the Old Testament was just the backstory to the real story that begins with the birth of Christ. I’d only focused on the New Testament when I studied the Bible.
But I discovered . . .
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures [the Old Testament] the things concerning himself.
-Luke 24:27 ESV
The Old Testament is a vital part of the whole story of the Bible that reveals our need for a Savior, the picture of what our Savior would look like, and the faithfulness of God that even though we’d continue to be His bull-headed, selfish enemies, He’d still be faithful to who He is and what He’s promised and would send His Son Jesus Christ to earth to seek and save the lost through the shedding of His blood on the cross for the sin of the world.
Whew. That was a long but important sentence — and the truth that my mom kept telling me:
You’ll never really understand the New Testament until you understand the Old Testament.
This truth exposed the next big lie I’d believed that lay at the root of why my Christian life had been anemic.
Lie #3: I don’t need to read the whole Bible.
Admit it. You don’t (or didn’t) want to read the whole Bible either. At least not at first. If you did, I’m jealous of you.
I couldn’t mentally overcome its massive size. But not any more. Now I couldn’t wait to read the whole Bible. I got it. I do need to read it all. And you do, too.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
Every Christian needs to read the whole Bible because, as in AW Tozer’s wise words:
Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.
A surgeon shouldn’t read only part of the patient’s chart. Patients shouldn’t read only half of their doctor’s pre-op and post-op instructions. And God doesn’t want us to read only a few of the books, chapters, and verses of the Bible. We need it all to understand the message God sent us through His inspired Word.
My journey through the Bible has created in me an intense love for God’s Word that has never waned since the first day I committed myself to it over 20 years ago.
I wish I could say by now that I look just like Jesus and not at all like the world. But alas, I’m still in surgery.
I’m not where I want to be, but praise God, I’m not where I was. Every day God’s Word continues to operate on my heart and mind with surgical precision.
If something feels off about your Christian walk — if it’s not exactly what you’d expected or hoped — your test results might be like mine as well as the prescrition:
You need the Bible. The whole Bible.
Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.
~ AW Tozer
PS — A Great Resource for Studying the Bible
God brought Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth of Revive Our Hearts into my life just as I’d discovered the difference the whole Bible makes in a life. Her love for sound doctrine and her knowledge of the Bible has made her one of my favorite Bible teachers.
In this interview, Nancy shares how she studies the Bible:
If you're frustrated with Christianity, the Bible is exactly what the doctor ordered. – Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian. #AWTozer #ReadtheBible #christianity #faith Click To Tweet
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