Again, it all hinges on how we view Scripture. If you see the Bible as “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth,” then you most likely view the Bible as a book of rules. In other words, your focus is primarily the law rather than the gospel. Jesus told us that all of the Bible testifies about Him, so this must be our lens. With that understanding of the Scripture, here’s another example of viewing the Bible through a gospel-centered lens.
This example deals with the Psalms. In Psalm 119, it is written:
21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
22 Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.
Now, if we read this with a view of the Bible as instruction manual, then we leave ourselves in a bit of a pickle, because we’re asking God to bless us on the basis of our behavior. We’re basically saying, as did the rich young ruler, “I have kept your law. So, bless me. It’s what I deserve.”
Those of you with simple self-awareness are too conscious of the “sins ever before me (you),” so it becomes a very difficult request. If you’ve ever prayed through the Psalms, you might come to this Psalm and pray very boldly, “Remove from me reproach and contempt.” But when you get to the next part of the line, your confidence not only sags, but it completely collapses: “For I have kept thy testimonies.”
Ah, not so much.
The glory of the gospel is that all of Scripture is about Jesus. That’s why with a gospel-centered perspective we can pray this Psalm with full confidence. “Remove from me reproach and contempt, for Christ has kept thy testimonies in my place.” That’s the gospel. It’s about what Jesus Christ has done on your behalf, not about what you can do for God. It’s never about what you can do for God. It’s a common phrase cited by preachers of every stripe, but has it clicked yet when you’re reading all of Scripture?
I pray that it may, because we are filled with a greater confidence when we see Christ in this passage.