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Scripture & Spiritual Formation

Have you ever been overwhelmed trying to read the Bible? Have you ever given up on your reading plan, somewhere in Leviticus? Have you felt like you can’t hear God? Then join Chris Cruz, young adult pastor at Bethel Church, to gain a fresh approach to reading the Word! Chris shares how the Bible is really all about God revealing Himself and …

His Primary Goal for You - “Time: 2:20-10:32”

  • What does it mean “to live in the kingdom of God as a reality?” “What does it mean to live in an entirely different reality that is as true as gravity, that is as true and real as air? . . . Living in the kingdom of God is not about an abstract thought you had . . .”

  • “One of the great risks” creatives face is to “read the Bible primarily as a way to find source material for your creative ambitions.” “I’m not saying it’s wrong to engage with the Bible for creative purposes, I’m saying it’s wrong when it’s the only reason you go, or the primary reason you go.”

  • On that note, Chris says, “He doesn’t have the goal of making you a great worship leader that will go around the world. That’s a great dream, it’s awesome, it’s great. But it’s not His primary goal. . . . He’s not against that goal, but it’s not His goal, primarily, for you. . . . His goal is for you to know for yourself the kind of life that was brought to full vision in Jesus. . . . He wants to form you into the likeness of His Son. That’s His goal.”

  • “God has a goal of making your insides like Jesus. And when I say that I’m not thinking just that you would do the things Jesus did, I’m saying that you would have the same character of Christ.” As Chris elaborated on this he mentioned “that you would have the same level of peace, hope, joy, that you’d be anchored in an unseen realm, that you would have such an affection with the Father that you’d be confident, not needing any of the praise of man” and so on. Chris references Galatians 4:19 where Paul speaks of “laboring until Christ is formed in you.” 


Relationship - “Time: 10:34-16:24”

  • Chris read John 20:30: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His name.” Chris extends this statement to the Bible wholistically: “this is the reason this was written, that you may believe in Jesus Christ.” Chris defines believing as having a “trusting relationship with Jesus,” a trust paired with action: “I take steps towards that reality being realer than what I am currently experiencing.”

  • We can look at the Bible “as a platform to life in God, or life with God. That we look at this as a way for us to encounter God. That we would begin to engage with the Scriptures as an avenue for us to know God first.”

  • The Bible is a revelation: “it’s God revealing Himself.” From Old Testament to New Testament, “God is moving a group of people forward in them understanding Him.” Human beings knowing God is a crazy idea, unless He says “I want to be made known.” “And so the idea that you can know God is based off God’s desire to be known.”

  • “God didn’t make you because He needed you. He made you because He wanted you. God creates out of want, not lack.” The same is true of worship. God doesn’t need our worship, He wants it because He wants union with us. 


Reading the Bible - “Time: 16:26-22:20”

  • Because “the Bible is God’s overarching story about revealing Himself,” through the lense of “What is God saying to me through the Bible?” This is instead of asking “What does the Bible say?” (which is an approach largely based on commandments and information). We must take what is said within context and its place in the overarching story. The question “What is God saying?” leads to more questions like “What is He trying to get at?” “What is He trying to show us?” “What is He trying to reveal about Himself here, that I didn’t see before?”

  • Chris quotes Scot McKnight saying, “The relational approach distinguishes God from the Bible. God existed before the Bible existed. God exists independently of the Bible now. God is a person, the Bible is words on paper or on a screen. God gave us this papered Bible to lead us to love His person, but the Person and the paper are not the same. The distinction between a person’s word and the person is an important one. . . .”

  • Chris quotes Dallas Willard when he says that the Bible “reliably fixes the boundaries of everything God will ever say to humankind.” So, if you feel like you can’t hear God, read the Bible. You will probably hear Him! (It helps to start with something reasonable, like Psalms or a New Testament letter)


Nuts, Bolts, and Strategies - “Time: 22:23-31:31”

  • “It’s a big book. So the idea that you don’t know it [the Bible] front to back, back to front, is okay. Your goal is not to know more of it. Your goal is to know more of Him through it.”

  • “His speaking voice makes His written Word have life on it.” The Bible “is by far the most influential literary document in history, but just as words it doesn’t mean anything.”

  • “So, the Bible is this massive, ancient library full of all kinds of books.” Therefore, we learn to read a particular passage in relation to the genre it represents. For example, we don’t take poetry literally. 

  • “But the Bible, in and of itself, with the Holy Spirit . . . this is the most reliable tool for spiritual formation. You read it and it checks you, versus you reading it to find what you’re looking for.”

  • Three simple ways to read the Bible: 

    • Devotional: “what it means to me.” It can be just one verse.

    • Study: Not everyone is “meant to be theologians, but you are absolutely meant to study the Bible.” Study needs to be with others, because “truth is always a communal thing.” In study we ask the question, “What does it mean?” On the study note, when writing lyrics based on scripture, Chris says, “you need to be accountable.” 

    • Meditate: “how I get it inside me.” This includes reading a verse or passage repeatedly, praying it, and looking at multiple translations. “So when you meditate, you’re not emptying your mind, you’re actually filling your mind with what God has said.

  • “Don’t start thinking quantity over quality.” Start with reading bite-sized portions. Then “stretch yourself and read an entire New Testament letter in one sitting and watch what happens.”



“Father, I thank You that Your Spirit leads us into all truth. And I ask that Your Holy Spirit, right now, would begin to change the way that those people in this room think, that they would begin to experience You in a new way and they would be shaped from the inside out. That scripture would be an incredible aid to their spiritual formation and an incredible avenue to know You. In Jesus’ name, amen.”