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Using Cross References to Let the Bible Speak for Itself

In an earlier article, we mentioned the fact that the best way to interpret Scripture is to let the Bible interpret the Bible. This current article focuses on the use of cross references provided by The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (TSK), a classic Bible study tool still widely used today. We will see how to use TSK cross references to let the Bible speak for itself. In particular, we will let the Scriptures speak to us about the revelation of God’s Son in the whole Bible.

The Value of Cross References in Bible Interpretation

In his introduction to The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, R. A. Torrey says that the best Bible commentary is the Bible itself. This makes a thorough set of cross references a tool of great value. Using cross references allows the Bible student to do as little interpreting as possible, but rather to let the whole Bible, in all its richness, explain what it means. The apostle Peter said, “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20-21, NKJV). Peter’s statement is a caution to us all about imposing our own thought and interpretation on the Bible.

The Treasury, or TSK, is a lavish set of cross references, originally published in book form, but currently available in electronic format through many sources, including Olive Tree Bible Software. If you are not familiar with this tool, or would simply like to see how someone else uses it, let me show you how I would use it to see Christ revealed in just one verse of the Bible.

Starting at the Beginning

What better place to begin than from the very beginning, Gen. 1:1! By studying this verse with me, I hope you will see how you can use The Treasury to unlock the riches of Christ in the whole Bible. I’ll be using, as I have above, verses from the New King James Bible, with the cross references available through Olive Tree on my pocket PC. So let’s begin, and as we do, remember that we will be attempting to let the Bible be its own interpreter.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Gen.1:1. If you are like me, you might be asking, “Where is Christ in this verse?” Let’s go now to TSK, keeping our Bible open at the same time.

When you get to Gen.1:1 in TSK, you will find a brief summary of the first chapter of Genesis. This type of summary will appear at the beginning of each and every chapter. Though the summary is helpful, let’s go directly to the cross references. Scroll down until you find the first bold word, beginning. Here are several cross references that illuminate the opening phrase of the verse, in the beginning. The first is Proverbs 8:22-24. When you click on these verses, a third window should open up. What you see will immediately begin to reveal Christ as the central focus of the entire Bible.

 

This cross reference links the word beginning in Gen.1:1 with the same word in Proverbs 8, letting the Bible interpret the Bible. What we see in Proverbs is that Christ was in the beginning with God, before anything was created. He was there with God as Wisdom personified (Prov. 8:12 says, “I Wisdom…,” indicating that Wisdom here is a person, the actual speaker in the passage).

The Wisdom of God

How can we be sure that Wisdom in this passage refers to Christ? One way is to go to the passage itself and look at the characteristics of the person referred to here. Pro.8:14 says, “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength.”

When you changed your Bible window to Prov.8:14, the TSK window should have gone with you. Click on Isaiah 9:6 in TSK and what do you see? Here is Christ, whose “name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The link between the two verses is the word counsel. Christ, the one whose name is Wonderful, is our Counselor. Now click on 1 Cor. 1:24 in TSK and what do you see? Here again is “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” The link between the two verses is the word wisdom, indicating that Christ is also our wisdom. Next click on Col.2:3, and you find Christ again, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Functioning as its own commentary, the Bible is telling us that the person referred to as Wisdom in Proverbs 8 is Christ, who was in the beginning with God. Corroborating this, Proverbs 8:30 says, “Then, I (speaking of Wisdom) was beside Him (speaking of God) as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.” Who but Christ was with God in the beginning and has always been His delight? When the Father spoke from heaven, He said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight” (Matt. 3:17, ASV). God delights in Christ, “Who became for us wisdom from God” (1 Cor.1:30, NKJV).

The Word of God

Now let’s go back to Gen.1:1 in our Bible window, for we haven’t fully exhausted that word beginning. (Of course, we never can, but let’s linger here.) Please click on John.1:1-3 in TSK. These verses say, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” The Word mentioned here is Christ, who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

Here we have a wonderful revelation of Christ as the Word, who was existing in the beginning with God, and through whom all things were made. John 1:3 says that God did not make even one thing apart from Christ. The very same Christ that is revealed in Proverbs 8 as the Wisdom of God, who was in the beginning with God, is also seen in John 1. Both passages pull back the curtains so that we can see what was really happening in Gen. 1:1 when “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” His Son was there with Him, and nothing was done apart from Him.

God Created the Heavens and the Earth

The next bold word you will find in Gen.1:1 (TSK) is God, and the many verse references that follow it are intended to illuminate the words God created the heavens and the earth. (Notice that it is not characteristic of TSK to have a separate list of references for every word, but rather for key words and phrases.)

A great many verses are listed here, many of which are from the Old Testament and refer to God as the creator. I propose we take a look at the New Testament verses, since the New Testament directly interprets the Old in plain words. So please scroll down and click on Col.1:16-17. Here we find not only the fact that God created the heavens and the earth, but we see the way, the means, and the reason for that creation—all of which are Christ. In Col.1:15, Paul states that Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” In verses 16-17, he goes on to say, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”

If we believe the whole Bible, we believe that Paul’s words are inspired utterances, interpreting for us the true import of Gen.1:1. Notice the words that I made bold for emphasis. When God created all things, He did it by Christ as the agent, through Christ as the means or way, for Christ as the reason, and in Christ as the sphere. Thus, we find that every positive thing in the created universe is an expression of Christ in some aspect: the air we breathe, the food we eat, the clothing we wear. If we had the time, we could find evidence in the Scriptures to support all these claims. From one cross reference, leading us to a New Testament apostle’s interpretation of the first verse of the Bible, we begin to see how pre-eminent Christ is in the whole Bible.

The Son, the Heir, and the Maker

Let’s examine one more New Testament verse cited by TSK as relating to the second part of Gen.1:1, “God created the heavens and the earth.” Please click on Heb.1:2 in your TSK window. Because verse two needs verse one to make a complete thought, let’s read verses 1-2: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” Just as John 1 tells us that Christ is the Word, this portion indicates that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is the summation of all His speaking, the appointed heir of all things, and the One through whom God made the universe.


What a revelation of Christ, made available to us by a simple Bible study tool, one that helps us use the Bible to interpret itself and to see the supreme importance of Christ in all the Scriptures!

 

Finding Christ Everywhere in the Bible

That we have found Christ in the very first verse of the Bible should not surprise us too much. It has been said that the whole Bible is the continuous revelation of this wonderful Person. Great Bible teachers like F. B. Meyer and A. B. Simpson have emphasized this point. But the Bible itself emphasizes this fact even more, and with incredible consistency.

How did Jesus Himself enable His disciples to make sense out of the Scriptures? Luke 24:27 says, “And beginning from Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Jesus guided them through the Scriptures from beginning to end, showing how the inspired writings were all about Him. In another passage Jesus said concerning the Scriptures, “These are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).

The apostle Paul, a scholarly rabbinical student of the Scriptures, began to learn this fact on the Damascus road when Jesus revealed Himself in a heavenly vision. After that Paul’s goal in handling the Scriptures was to unveil “the unsearchable riches of Christ” to the nations (Eph. 3:8). At the end of the book of Acts, we find him having a kind of Bible study with the guests in his home, “Persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening” (Acts 28:23). Clearly, Paul could talk all day about Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures, the only “Bible” people had at that time. Reading the aforementioned verses, we too should no longer be surprised to find Christ everywhere in the Bible.

A Burning Heart

We have examined one verse of the Bible, the very first verse at that, using only a small portion of the references available in the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. Imagine what we could find if we kept going. I hope that this short article has given you an appreciation for the value of this tool, and even more for the riches of the Bible, and still more for the wonderful Person whom the whole Bible reveals. No wonder the disciples on the road to Emmaus said, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”(Luke 24:32) Let us expect that as Jesus opens the Scriptures to us, by whatever means He provides, our hearts, too, will burn within us with an increasing desire for the “excellency of the knowledge of Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

I hope you have been helped to see what a priceless tool the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is, and I hope you will be with us for our next article in this Explore the Bible series.

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