At the heart of the ministry of The River is a commitment to helping people learn to read and understand the Bible for themselves. We seek to awaken the realization that most readers already bring to the Bible nearly everything they need in order to make sense of the Bible. They might just not know what they already know!
It’s not an issue of an inability to read and understand the Scriptures; it’s a matter of not seeing that they can read and understand the Scriptures. Let’s look at a what that means.
Much of the Bible is narrative. Narrative is the recounting of events that occurred; the report of something that actually happened. Bible readers sometimes struggle with “making sense” of a narrative passage, because they are not sure how to draw an application from the account.
Unfortunately, sometimes the way the Bible is taught the impression is given that there is a “secret way” to read, make sense of, and apply a narrative. Many church-attenders have had the experience of hearing a message and concluding, “I would never have been able to find that idea in that passage.” And, they might be spot on! The idea being taught might not really have anything to do with what the passage actually says.
But you already do know what you need to know to read a narrative well. You do it every time you look over a family Christmas newsletter, or listen to your children recount what happened at school, or give attention to your spouse as he or she tells you about the day.
Narratives convey truth, but typically not in a propositional way. Narratives inform us, but don’t commonly provide instruction. You listen to or read a narrative to learn about certain events and what those events tell you about those who were involved.
This is the case with biblical narratives as well. We read biblical narratives to learn about the One who makes Himself known through the events He brings to pass in the lives of people.
We need to lose the fear of reading and making sense of narratives. We need to recognize that what we naturally do in reading and listening to a narrative will serve us well in reading Scripture. When we come to those realizations, the adventure begins! We discover that we can read and make sense of Biblical narratives.
(We invite you to learn more about what you already know about reading the Bible by joining us for our upcoming “Reading Scripture” class beginning June 30th. You can find the details under the “Course Schedule” tab on The River‘s homepage.)