Reading through the Bible? Encouragement from Bonhoeffer

I’ve been trying to read through the whole Bible this year, just about to finish Deuteronomy in my OT reading.  I’ve talked to many people who gave up trying to read the Bible after hitting the middle of Exodus (some multiple times).  I highly sympathize with them.  But I was encouraged by a quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that I discovered a few weeks ago, and thought I would share with the one or two of you who read my posts: (it’s a little longer…but if I could type it, you can read it!)

“Consecutive reading of Biblical books forces everyone who wants to hear to put himself, or to allow himself to be found, where God has acted once and for all for the salvation of men.  We become a part of what once took place for our salvation.  Forgetting and losing ourselves, we, too, pass through the Red Sea, through the desert, across the Jordan into the promised land.  With Israel we fall into doubt and unbelief and through punishment and repentance [we] experience again God’s help and faithfulness.  All this is not mere reverie but holy, godly reality.  We are torn out of our own existence and set down in the midst of the holy history of God on earth.  There God dealt with us, and there He still deals with us, our needs and our sins, in judgment and grace.  It is not that God is the spectator and sharer of our present life, howsoever important that is; but rather that we are the reverent listeners and participants in God’s action in the sacred story, the history of the Christ on earth.  And only in so far as we are there, is God with us today also.

A complete reversal occurs.  It is not in our life that God’s help and presence must still be proved, but rather God’s presence and help have been demonstrated for us in the life of Jesus Christ.  It is in fact more important for us to know what God to Israel, to His Son Jesus Christ, than to seek what God intends for us today.  The fact that Jesus Christ died is more important than the fact that I shall die, and the fact that Jesus Christ  rose from the dead is the sole ground of my hope that I, too, shall be raised on the last day.  Our salvation is “external to ourselves.”  I find no salvation in my life history, but only in the history of Jesus Christ.  Only he who allows himself to be found in Jesus Christ, in his incarnation, his Cross, and his resurrection, is with God and God with him.”

from Life Together, chapter 2.


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