What do you see when you look at your Bible?

Published by: Pam Larson
March 28, 2012

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.—Hebrews 4:12 ESV 

Justin Taylor quoted from David Powlison in his recent blog post, "Is Your Bible Crammed With Relevance?"

In David Powlison’s article “Do You See?” (The Journal of Biblical Counseling, XI/3 [1993]: 3-4) he asks his readers what they see when they look at the Bible:

What do you see when you look at your Bible? Do you see a book crammed with relevance? Do you see a book out of which God bursts as He speaks to what matters in daily life? Is your Bible packed with application to the real problems of real people in the real world: inexhaustible, immediate, diverse, flexible? Or is the Bible relatively thin when it comes to addressing human struggles?

Powlison identifies these people, with their relatively thin Bible, as having a vision defect.

Their Bible is seen as a child’s eight‑key, tin toy piano. Those eight white keys may be of central importance in music theory: the key of C‑major, beginning with middle‑C, sounds the basic do‑re‑mi after all. They’ll do for the Sunday School songs. But you can’t play much of depth and interest. No sonatas. No fugues. No concertos. You can’t sound the nuances, the variations, the minor keys of life. And no mature pianist would bother plunking around on an eight‑key tin piano. There are more interesting and flexible instruments around.

He then goes on to describe the other type of Bible-believer:

But for the other sort of Bible‑believer the Bible is a grand piano. In fact it’s a grand piano, plus the rest of the orchestra, plus the great composers, plus the great pianists, plus the great conductors. It sounds all the notes, all the tones, all the rhythms, all the keys, all the special effects, all the nuances. That’s the vision biblical counselors have of the Bible. It’s crammed. The Composer, Conductor and Musician is active. When people with thin Bibles hear people with crammed Bibles talk about the sufficiency of Scripture for counseling, they hear, “Something thin and incomplete is sufficient for a very complex job.” That sounds ridiculous. Biblical counseling sounds absurd, doctrinaire, obscurantist, the rantings of small‑minded know‑nothings who glory in their ignorance. But when people with crammed Bibles speak of Scripture’s sufficiency they mean—or ought to mean—”Something living and active, inexhaustibly rich, comprehensive and relevant, is sufficient for a very complex job.” That sounds reasonable. And when in the trenches of face‑to‑face ministry the Lord Himself speaks to people, that profession of vision is vindicated.

Hebrews 4:12 is the theme verse for Women's Ministry this year, and the 2012 Spring Conference will focus on the powerful, living, active Word of God. The conference is full, but we hope to post the audio on this site as soon as possible after the conclusion of the conference.



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