How to Approach the Bible

The Bible comes from God; God doesn't come from the Bible.

Our knowledge of God is a different story. What we know about God, definitively and redemptively, comes from the Bible. And that is, the Bible that comes from God, who himself comes from nothing.

These are the foundational pieces to understanding the doctrine of revelation, and therefore, the doctrine of Scripture. God, utterly independent and essentially revelatory, has made himself known. This is stunning. And it helps to read the Bible with it in view.

D. A. Carson writes,

To approach the Bible correctly it is important to know something of the God who stands behind it. God is both transcendent (i.e., he is "above" space and time) and personal. He is the sovereign and all-powerful Creator to whom the entire universe owes its existence, yet he is the God who graciously condescends to interact with human beings whom he has himself formed in his own image.

Because we are locked in time and space, God meets us here; he is the personal God who interacts with other persons, persons he has made to glorify him and to enjoy him forever. . . .

The point to emphasize is that a genuinely Christian understanding of the Bible presupposes the God of the Bible, a God who makes himself known in a wide diversity of ways so that human beings may know the purpose for which they were made — to know and love and worship God, and so delight in that relationship that God is glorified while they receive the matchless benefit of becoming all that God wants them to be.

"Approaching the Bible," Collected Writings on Scripture, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 19–21.

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Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their four children, and is the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary .