Over the years, I’ve heard it said that the Bible is a love letter from God.
It’s a beautiful sentiment, right? God is the one romancing his people, sending them an elegant, stirring love letter spanning millennia. We are the bride, getting swept up in the passionate love of the bridegroom who can’t help but pour out his unbridled affections.
Like a fairy tale, but real.
It puts some flesh and bones on verses like John 3:16.
And while there may be a bit of truth to the statement, I don’t think the Bible is a love letter from God.
Actually, I think that statement is misleading and (gasp!) even a bit unbiblical (cue record screech).
Perhaps I should explain a bit more. Is the Bible really a love letter from God?
The Bible Is A Love Letter From God…About God
A love letter is primarily about the recipient. The young man, heart aflame with delight in his beloved, uncorks his delight upon the page. He furiously scribbles line after line, regaling the woman with all the ways he loves her. Her radiant smile. Her tender heart. Her beautiful body. Her glorious laugh. It’s all about the recipient.
Here’s the crucial difference between the Bible and a love letter: the Bible is NOT about us.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly addressed to us, and we can locate ourselves within the sacred words. The Bible is also for us, able to teach, reveal, instruct, rebuke, and encourage.
As it says in 1 Timothy 3:16:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…
But the Bible is primarily about God.
It’s about his splendor and glory and works and deeds. It’s meant to point the spotlight on HIM, not us. Like a 10 million candle spotlight shining on a diamond, the Bible reveals the countless, breathtaking facets of God’s unmatchable character.
You could say that the Bible is a love letter from God…that’s about God. In other words, because God loves us so much, he revealed himself to us through the Bible.
The Bible is (trigger alert: theological word) revelatory. It tells us things about God could we could never know otherwise. It brings into the war room of God’s grand plan for salvation.
It removes the spiritual cataracts from our eyes and shows us who God is and how we can know him. It destroys our dull, unimaginative, patently stupid ideas of who God is and replaces them with the true, ferocious, category-5 hurricane God of the Bible.
The Bible is sweeping, starting before time and spanning into eternity, taking us through the lowest of lows when Adam and Eve were exiled to the highest of highs when God will dwell with his people and death will be no more.
And most importantly, the Bible is all about Jesus. In Luke 24:26-27, as Jesus is speaking to the brothers on the road to Emmaus, he says this:
How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken! Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Contrary to what we may so desperately desire, all the Scriptures don’t point to us. They’re not about us, they’re about Jesus. All of heaven adores Jesus, all of history hinges on Jesus, and all of Scripture points to Jesus.
Another way to put it is that the Bible is a love letter from God to Jesus.
Byran Chapell puts it like this:
All the subsequent [to Eden] history and messages of Scripture are elements in this unfolding story of divine rescue. Every battle, famine, disease, betrayal, enslavement, and evil is Satan’s attempt to hinder the work of the offspring of Eve coming to crush him. And every rescue of the weak, provision for the needy, maintenance of a remnant, restoration of the broken, protection of the defenseless, pardon of the prodigals, forgiveness of the faithless, preservation of a people, covenant with the undeserving, supply of beauty for ashes, and mercy for the repentant is an expression of the grace that will culminate in the victory of the divinely appointed Redeemer.
Not A Love Letter From God, But A Mirror To Heaven
The Bible is a mirror angled toward heaven. When we read Scripture, our gaze should first go up before it goes in. Yes, James talks about using Scripture as a personal mirror, but that’s not the context here.
When we pore through the sacred book, the glory of Jesus should be the first thing we behold. It should be what captures our gaze and rivets our attention.
If this isn’t the case, things start to get really distorted. Making the Bible about us is like staring at a mirror while standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon. It’s complete lunacy. The world becomes depressingly small and our vision of God gets smeared.
In fact, I’d venture to say that a lot of terrible doctrines (see: prosperity gospel) originate with people making the Bible primarily about themselves rather than God. God becomes a, “Right away, sir,” butler, rather than the one who causes the angels to cover their eyes and cry, “Holy.”
Instead of calling the Bible a love letter from God, it’s better to think of it as a mirror angled toward heaven, directing our gaze upward and outward.
Where Do We Go First?
When we read the Bible, our first question should always be, “What does this show me about God?”
How does this particular passage:
- Point to Christ?
- Reveal my need for a Savior?
- Reveal God’s character?
If we find ourselves the central character in any passage, we’ve probably misread the passage. We aren’t David slaying Goliath, we’re Israel cowering on the other side of the valley. We aren’t Moses, bravely interceding for God’s people, we’re Moses striking the rock rather than commanding it.
It’s absolutely right to say the Bible shows us God’s incredible, overwhelming, gale-force love for us.
But the Bible isn’t a love letter from God to us.