Thus far this summer has been quite busy as I try to get ready for the fall. In all of it, however, I am struck once again by the tremendous privilege that is mine to study the word of God. There is no book like the Bible. There is not even a book that comes close to the Bible. It is in a class by itself. We who preach and teach the Bible must read lots of other books, not because the Bible is inadequate, but because we are so dense and the inscripturated revelation is conceptually profound and the practical ramifications many. But no matter what else we read there is no substitute for the Bible itself. It is necessary for us to read it over and over again if we are to remain balanced and aware of its internal theological structures that must constrain our interpretations.
I was recently reminded of the importance of grasping the larger biblical picture when reading Christ and Culture Revisited by D. A. Carson. It is a well-written and carefully balanced book that seeks to wrestle with how we as Christians relate to the surrounding culture. In the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:21, how do we give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God? What becomes apparent is that there are no easy answers to that question. I am not saying that there are no answers at all, because clearly there are if we search carefully and with a humble, obedient spirit that wants to do the will of God. But there are no easy answers. We have to read the Bible carefully. We have to understand the differences between the biblical world and our own. And yet, for all of this, it is wonderful to think God's thoughts after him, and to know the joy of pursuing from our hearts the will of God for our lives. So I come back to where I started. There is no great privilege than that of studying the word of God and the gospel of the Lord Jesus which is at the center of God's gracious revelation.