We intend to move forward without fear. Our mission is to learn, choose and inhibit our judgment. It is not for us to judge! We are (I Am) to teach what is good, correct and righteous. It is up to the student to determine the course they will take. Although we cannot be right all the time there exist a Book that can guide us. It is not meant to be read from cover to cover, but Spirit requires us to turn to it for relief. It is a tool of Spirit and we are guided to it where and when we need it. It is by the hands of His Angels that we will be lead to the chapter and verse of the scripture required.
I think there is an underlying issue here that begins with perception. What is our perception of God? The truth is that our perception is very warped. I guess much of it comes from the media. Movies like “The Ten Commandments” and like have contributed a lot to what we only think God is. Is God an old man in the sky? Is God energy? Who do you think God is?
One can only define warped if one knows what is straight. Sounds like you’re pretty sure you know what’s “straight” in this instance, so let’s hear it: I’m truly intrigued (if baffled).
One obvious question is: “How do you know the Bible ‘is not meant to be read from cover to cover’.” And how do you know of the Bible, “we are guided to it where and when we need it.”
The Bible repeatedly testifies to both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. I wish to propose, on the one hand, that to treat the Bible solely mechanically and methodically risks unbelief in the here-and-now work of the Spirit. On the other hand, to flip the Bible open at random on a deliberate and consistent basis is to test God or to fail in our responsibility to engage our minds and to exercise discipline in study.
May I propose that careful listening to Jesus requires engaging both heart and mind, both faith and discipline?
I guess we have to ask ourselves what type of book the Bible is (History, literature or spiritual)? Is it a complete work? Was it deliberately arranged and edited to its current form?
Of course, if the Bible is historical, it is not by that point necessarily un-spiritual. The Bible as literature is not necessarily to imply it is not historical … and so on.
I can only touch lightly on some of your other questions with points in bullet-point fashion.
The five books of 150 Psalms, for example, show evidence of deliberate organization and development — not in every detail, but particularly around the seams of the five books, right up to climax and conclusion.
Thus Psalm 1, which exhorts the reader in wisdom-literature fashion to meditate day and night upon the law of the Lord, forms a kind of introduction (along with the messianic Psalm 2) of the whole. Indeed, I think a coming Messiah is crucial to the overarching theme of the whole.
And the introduction to the Psalms handily gives us a clue to the nature of Bible study by way of a “how much the more so” today. Deep and wide meditation in the words God speaks.
Another illustration is in book form … if you care to read “The Pentateuch as Narrative” by John Sailhamer. The book convincingly shows how the Pentateuch is tied together, not as a modern novel, but in both subtle and overt ways strongly implying the structure as we have it is deliberate, progressive, and unified.
I have noticed deliberate connections between the ending chapters of Judges and 1 Samuel that follows.
The whole of Isaiah reads like a verbal tapestry, with many themes repeated by way of allusion or repetition throughout … and allusion to previous canonical and historical matters.
Jesus viewed the Law and the Prophets (or Law, Prophets, and Writings) as the word of God … what we would call the Old Testament … though Jesus Himself, John and the author of Hebrews seem to imply, is the apex of the revelation of God.
John tells us that Jesus appointed apostles, by means of the Spirit, to recall and record the words the Father told Jesus (and so on).
On occasion Jesus seems to have expected Jewish leaders and lay people to have had an intimate working knowledge of even minor details of the Scriptures.
The Gospel of John in places makes a great deal more sense when the whole it is re-read.
Paul notes that the sum of God-breathed Scriptures, the canon, is sufficient that the man of God may be adequately equipped for every good work (if you will pardon my King James-reminiscent language), 2 Timothy 3:17.
The apostolic letters to the churches were meant to be read in churches in their entirety.
For reasons evident in the above and elsewhere, I believe the books of the Bible in the form we have them have been deliberately constructed and provided to the church.
Thus the books of the Bible must be interpreted (primarily, among other considerations) as whole books and in context of canonical, historical, and theological development (never mind for the moment the Septuagint/Hebrew differences in OT order–texts themselves often refer to antecedent theology). With the Advent of Jesus, the completion of the canon is implied.
Nevertheless, God ordains all of history, even the bits in which we play our parts of the drama on this side of the cross. Oftentimes in the convergence of experience and Scripture text, the Spirit teaches and guides us. We know our heavenly Father in part because we have an earthly one.
“Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth.”