Tripp: "The Bible is not an encyclopedia, but a story of God's plan to rescue hopeless and helpless humanity."
We read this quote from Paul Tripp in last week's Biblical Theology Study Center. Amazingly, part of the quote was used again the following evening during testimony time from someone not in our class...someone who resonated with the quote in the midst of personal crisis. For those who are involved in biblical counseling, it can be really easy (and tempting) for the Bible to become little more than a 12-verse system designed to fix a life. Tripp reminds us that the Bible isn't a how-to manual, but a place where we find hope in a Person.
"As sinners, we have a natural bent to turn away from the Creator to serve the creation. We turn away from hope in a Person to hope in systems, ideas, people or possessions. Real Hope stares us in the face, but we do not see him. Instead we dig into the mound of human ideas to extract a tiny shard of insight. We tell ourselves that we have finally found the key, the thing that will make a difference. We act on the insight and embrace the delusion of lasting personal change. But before long, disappointment returns. The change was temporary and cosmetic, failing to penetrate the heart of the problem. So, we go back to the mound again, determined this time to dig in the right place. Eureka! We find another shard of insight, seemingly more profound than before. We take it home, study it, and put it into practice. But we always end up in the same place.
"The good news confronts us with the reality that heart-changing help will never be found in the mound. It will only be found in the Man, Christ Jesus. We must not offer people a system of redemption, a set of insights and principles. We offer people a Redeemer. In his power, we find the hope and help we need to defeat the most powerful enemies. Hope rests in the grace of the Redeemer, the only real means of lasting change.
"This is what separates believers from our culture's psychology. Because it has fundamentally turned its back on the Lord, the world can only offer people some kind of system. It reduces hope to a set of observations, a collection of insights, or steps in a process. We, on the other hand, meet people as the desperately dig and lovingly ask for their shovels. We gently turn them away from the mound, and joyfully turn them to the Man, Jesus Christ. This is the essence of personal ministry.
"But our inclination to replace the King with a thing does not die easily. It rears its ugly head even when we search for answers in Scripture. We approach the Bible with a "where can I find a verse on __________ " mentality. We forget that the only hope the principles offer rests on the Person, Jesus Christ. And we forget that the Bible is not an encyclopedia, but a story of God's plan to rescue hopeless and helpless humanity. It's a story about people who are rescued from their own self-sufficiency and wisdom and transported to a kingdom where Jesus is central and true hope is alive.
"We cannot treat the Bible as a collection of therapeutic insights. To do so distorts its message and will not lead to lasting change. If a system could give us what we need, Jesus would never have come. But he came because what was wrong with us could not fixed any other way. He is the only answer, so we must never offer a message that is less than the good news. We don't offer people a system; we point them to a Redeemer. He is hope." -- Paul David Tripp, "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands", pp. 8-9