Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. -John 5:39-40
I can clearly remember when I would on occasion listen to a sermon or even attend a Bible study. I thought somehow that I earned points toward God’s approval by picking up a copy of His word once in a while to peruse it — much in the same way one might have thumbed through a Sears catalog back in the day (picking and choosing what caught one’s eye to look at).
I remember sitting in the Lutheran Church of my childhood looking through a copy of Good News For Modern Man, published by the American Bible Society and wildly popular for a brief time about 50 years ago.. It didn’t read like the stodgy old RSV I was used to hearing from on Sundays and compared even less to the old King James Bible I have come to love so much as an adult believer. In it I learned the story of Christ and saw Him as believable as the Son of God. At the time I equated my conclusion to saving faith in Him. While belief in a character from history is one thing, faith in that same person is quite another. That came some time later (and continues to build as time passes). At the time, I believed in God — I just didn’t have any solid relationship with Him.
There is an important message here to be understood if we are to be part of God’s family and heirs to the salvation He procured for us on the cross: we cannot intellectualize our way into a relationship with God. It must come from the faith we are granted when we are regenerated and saved by Him. The Holy Spirit will direct us to realize that Jesus is so much more than a “believable” character from the pages of history. He is someone we must come to and meet in the present day.