Making the Bible “Relevant”

We often hear people talk about “making the Bible relevant.” It is so easy to begin looking at the passage for Sunday by asking how it applies to the people in my church. What practical application can I make? However, a quick, sometimes superficial, attempt to find the relevance of Scripture often encourages us to import our own ideas into the text and prevents us from listening to what it is actually saying. We do not need to make the Bible relevant—it is relevant—it needs to be heard and understood. We must grasp its consistency, grand story, and the over-all unity of its message (see Christian Faith in the Old Testament ). When we have truly comprehended the thrust of Scripture, we will not doubt the importance of its condemnation of sin, offer of redemption, and guidance for life.

There are many facets to the perennial relevance of Scripture. Yes, the Bible addresses the need of the human heart throughout the ages. Yes, the Holy Spirit is continually working through Scripture guiding the people of God. There is, however, one aspect of this continuing relevance that often eludes us. We know that the Bible finds its center in Christ. He fulfills the Old Testament. The New Testament bears witness to Him. We tend, however, to limit this Christ-centeredness to the Christ who lived on earth some two thousand years ago. However, the Christ who took on our humanity, lived an obedient life, offered Himself on the cross, and rose from the dead, is now seated at God’s right hand as our all-sufficient Savior! The Bible is relevant because it finds its fulfillment in and bears witness to an ever-contemporary reality.

This insight came to me through my study of (you guessed it!) the Book of Hebrews. Last September I had the privilege and honor of giving a lecture on this subject at the Henry Center for Theological Understanding, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. If you are interested, I invite you to listen to “‘Do not Refuse the One Who is Speaking’ (Heb 12:25): Hebrews and Contemporary Preaching” at I cannot adequately express my appreciation to Dr. Tom McCall, Geoffrey Fulkerson, and many others who made my visit to the Henry Center and to TEDS very pleasant.

One thought on “Making the Bible “Relevant”

  1. I watched your lecture at the Henry Center two nights ago. I greatly appreciate the time you have put into the study of Hebrews. These insights will be of great impact in my preaching in the future. They have revealed to me the tendency in my preaching and in my public prayer when opening services on Sundays to speak of Christ solely in terms of what he did in the past. Your lecture will be of great help to me in ridding myself of this tendency. Also, when you spoke of the risen and ascended Christ as the main point of the writer of Hebrews, it reminded me of the contemporary debate concerning the different models of the atonement. I wonder if your insights would lend greater credence to the Christus Victor model of Aulens.

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