I’m just another Lutheran, and this is just another Lutheran blog.
We’re a bit peculiar, I know. A little misunderstood. Not Catholic, but not quite Protestant either, which is ironic because the appellation of “protestant” was first applied to us. Weird, eh?
Lutherans, for the most part, still cling to the theological distinctives that set us apart from all other Christian bodies. Our consciences are kind of bound in that matter; we cannot lay aside these distinctives because to do so would be to set aside some parts of Scripture as if they were untrue, and thus render all Scripture uncertain.
And that might just be THE Lutheran distinctive – our approach to the Scriptures. What one understands the Scriptures to be – their purpose, their central message – is going to profoundly affect not just how we approach the Scriptures but also how we receive and understand them. If you get this wrong, you may just get everything that comes after wrong as well.
Jesus Himself tells us how we ought to approach the Scriptures.
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
You caught that, right? The Scriptures are about Jesus. They are God’s revelation to man about the salvation He has provided through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Without this revelation from God, we would have no way of knowing the means by which we have salvation. You can look at the world around you and at best, without revelation, the most you could reasonably conclude about God is that He is The Creator; and, perhaps, that His creation, while good, appears to be inherently flawed. Beyond that…? If all we had to go on was the world around us and our experience of it, there is NO WAY anybody would conclude that the salvation of mankind is found in a first century Jewish criminal hanging dead from a Roman cross. Not unless God revealed it as so. Think about it – no one could possibly know by natural means that God has already provided salvation for us.
In the 16th chapter of Matthew, when asked by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?”, Peter makes this miraculous confession, “Jesus, you are The Christ, the son of the living God.” What makes this confession so miraculous is the fact that “Who Jesus is” was not revealed to him by flesh and blood – that is, he didn’t figure this out by his natural reason or by looking at the world around him – it was revealed to him by the Father. While others -using their natural reason and drawing their own conclusions – were saying that maybe Jesus was John The Baptizer, or maybe Elijah, or maybe Jeremiah, Peter trusted the revelation he received from God as true. He simply confessed Christ.
The Bible is not, as many would say, “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”. For sure, there is plenty of instruction for the Christian found within the Bible, but if you approach the Scriptures looking for what YOU ought to do, you’re missing the point. We search the Scriptures looking for JESUS, and what He has done in our place.
That is the lens through which Lutherans approach all of the Bible – what does this Scripture reveal to us about God and about how He has provided for our salvation? If you read it apart from that, there is a very real possibility that you’ll end up reading Scripture as if it were about the Christian and not the Christ.
That’s our starting place.
I invite you to come along with me and explore what the Scriptures say with fresh eyes. No, you will not find a different God or another Gospel, but I guarantee you will come away with new insight for the Scriptures and how they apply to your Christian life.