By Jeff Boldt
Everything speaks about God’s existence, about Christ’s redeeming love, and most of all about Christ’s redeeming love for you. In fact, there’s a theme in Scripture about a “book of life” that lists the names of all the saved. “Everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued,” writes Daniel (Dan 12:1). The book of life, however, is more than a guest list for heaven. It’s no other than the book of Scripture. And the book of Scripture is more than a history book. It actually maps out where time is going.
God obviously had to think about what he would create before he spoke it into existence. His thoughts are the beginning of all things, including you and me. There is a thought in the mind of God that corresponds to each of us in particular. From that thought, we came to exist. And through that thought, we are given our purpose and calling in life. Those thoughts that correspond to each of us would otherwise be inaccessible if they were not written in the “book of life” –– the Bible.
Why does this matter? Because modern Christians have trapped the Bible in the past. When we read the Bible we think we’re “reading someone else’s mail.”
But the Bible isn’t “old-timey”; it isn’t stuck in the past; it isn’t just a book of principles that we apply to new circumstances. It’s not just a book of “life lessons” with “morals to the stories.” Rather, because the Bible is God’s eternal thought, it speaks at all times to all persons; it speaks right now to every person. In Scripture God is issuing you commands; right now he is asking you to follow him; at this very moment he is extending forgiveness to you; offering you hope, and telling you who you are as God sees you. Scripture incarnates the infinite mind of God and his personal knowledge of you. And he speaks to you through Scripture.
The Jews are an enduring witness to creation because they celebrate it on a weekly basis as the Sabbath. We would do well to pay attention to their way of thinking. One such idea: that the Hebrew language isn’t fully translatable because it is the language God spoke to create the world. Now, don’t get hung up on how literally to take this. The point they’re making is that God’s word overflows with meaning. One Jewish prayer book says: “the words of God are so rich in meaning that each word has many varied and legitimate explanations.” But this is what the Psalmist says:
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand (139:17–18)
Not only are God’s thoughts more numerous than the grains of sand, they are incomprehensible, as Isaiah says:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts (55:8-9).
Because God’s thoughts are so high, he put them in a book, brought it down to our level, gave it to Israel, and Christians received it from Israel. This is the book the Psalmist talks about when he says,
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16)
Most traditional Jewish interpreters believe this verse is about God’s creation of Adam. Before breathing life into him, God formed Adam out of dust taken from the four corners of the earth. His descendants would “outnumber the grains of sand.”
St. Paul had a similar way of characterizing God’s entire plan for creation, which is for the unity of Jews and Gentiles in “one new man.” By this he means that Christ has become the head of a new Adam, of which we are members together with Old Testament Israel.
Yet, the significance of Israel is unique. Because they came first, God uses Israel as a “type” of the Church.
Now these things happened to them [Israel] as types and were written for our admonition, to whom the ends of the ages are arrived (1 Cor 10:11).
What is a “type”? “Typology,” is the primary way Christians have put together the OT and NT. A type foreshadows things to come. The earthly temple shadows forth the heavenly temple (Heb 8:5). Israel foreshadows the Church, the first Adam foreshadows Christ, the second Adam, and Adam’s members in the OT even foreshadow us in NT times.
So from God’s end, he condensed his infinite thoughts into a book, a book that contains the archetypes of all things. The question is, from my end, how do I crack the code? How do I find myself in Scripture?
The only way to come close to touching one of God’s thoughts is to put on “the mind of Christ,” the mind that thought up those thoughts. This mind isn’t about “head knowledge,” it’s about how love configures our bodies; it’s about how love crucifies our bodies just as Christ was crucified:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:5–8)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In the end, the Creator was formed in a womb; born in a barn; lived in a backwater town; died like a slave. But he was raised from the dead and re-ascended the throne in heaven. And from there he sees, knows, and loves all of creation. The secret of all things is contained in his mind, the book of life, and is only known to those who share the mind of Christ.
If you are known by God, you are already in Scripture. God told Abraham, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore” (Gen 22:17). You are one of those grains of sand. You are in the Bible.
However, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book’” (Exodus 32:33).
That’s what’s at stake in our reading of Scripture. But by putting on the mind of Christ we can find out God’s intention for ourselves and for others, and his intention is love. The mind of Christ helps us hear what he is saying right now. He calls you to give up everything and follow him. Why? because his eternal intention is for your good. The Christian life is hard; life is hard! But Jesus says, “‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Rev 3:5). On the other hand, Jesus also says,
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you” (Matt 7:21–23).
Many Christians don’t know that Jesus knows their name and instead follow impersonal principles. But old-timey principles in old-timey books can be dismissed and manipulated, God can’t. Old-timey principles in old-timey books can’t love you. The Creator does. He is eternal; God’s thoughts are eternal; God’s love is eternal; God’s book is eternal. So, become who Jesus eternally thinks you are. Search yourself out in Scripture.
Jeff Boldt has a ThD from Wycliffe College and serves as a priest at Trinity Church Streetsville in Mississauga, Ontario.