Hermeneutics: Interpreting and Understanding the Bible – Part 3
C. The Light
The Holy Spirit has a magnificent purpose in mind when he regenerates the elect sinner. “He provides spiritual sight in order to present a glorious image. He brings a flood of light into the sin-darkened mind because He has truth to reveal that must be understood and believed. And He touches the heart because He has a new object for the regenerated sinner’s love and devotion” [Cliff Bjork; “Searching Together” Vol. 22:1-4; 1994].
The first message that the Holy Spirit enables the newborn child of God to hear is the promise of forgiveness and life in Jesus Christ. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Eph. 1:13a). The first image impressed upon the regenerated sinner’s new spiritual sight is “…the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6b). The truth that Jesus is indeed “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16), is understood and believed by the newly enlightened mind. The result is that a new object of love and devotion grips the forgiven sinner’s transformed heart. “…Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:7b, 8).
The Holy Spirit’s work in hermeneutic activity is to exalt Christ (John 16:13-14). It is not merely an academic exercise, but rather a Christ-centered revelation that humbles us to worship the true and living God in spirit and in truth.
Though no believer would dispute the centrality of Christ when it comes to salvation, not every believer is as clear about the centrality of Christ when it comes to the interpretation of Scripture. In our study of the Scripture, we do not want to lose sight of the fact that this is a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Heb. 10:7; Luke 24:25-27, 44-45; John 5:39). May our hearts commune with him as we read and study. May he continually thrill us with himself and this salvation that he has gained for us. If we study on an intellectual plane only, we are of all men, the most pitiable. If the truth of the Scripture does not increase our love for our Lord and stir our hearts to worship him, something is wrong and we need to re-think our approach to the Bible. To study intellectually only is to miss the point of the revelation of the holy, only begotten Son of God. Unless there is love towards, and faith in, the author of Scripture, all our study is vanity. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Faith in the sovereign goodness of the author frees us to go where the Bible leads us. The Lord declares, “… But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isa. 66:2). Apart from such faith and humility, we might learn a lot of facts, but we will miss the point—the glory of God. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him!
In our next post, Murray will continue to explain the role of the Holy Spirit in hermeneutic activity, especially with regard to exalting and glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, he will begin to look at a number of areas that affect us in our role as students of God’s Word.