In my last post I mentioned my love for the Scriptures. That seems to be an unpopular position these days. We live in a time when the authenticity and authority of the Scriptures is in constant question. I think it’s easy for some people to question the Scriptures because we so often see them misunderstood and misused. I know people who claim to know God but who focus totally on the “dos and don’ts” of Scripture. They rush to judgment, making it look as if all God wants is for us to follow His list. They attack people who don’t believe the Scriptures, and worse, they attack people who do believe, if they follow differently. This isn’t biblical. Here is what God thinks of using our knowledge to attack others:
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
I’ve also seen the Scriptures misunderstood in this way: God is love, and He told us not to judge, so we need to keep our noses out of everybody’s business. What’s right for them is right for them. What’s right for us is right for us. Christians have no business determining what is right for someone else, and no right to talk about it. In this philosophy every person determines what is right in his/her own eyes. This is also a wrong interpretation. Without listing a hundred places in Scripture where Christians are confronted with their sins, let me quote the Apostle Paul, “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2 NIV). The New American Standard translation quotes it my favorite way: “May it never be!” In today’s terms, “No. way!”
Emotionally, living according to our own consciences may sound okay, but here’s a thought to ponder: If there is a God in heaven who created all things, shouldn’t He have the right to determine what is right and what is wrong? Doesn’t the creator have supremacy over the created? I’m afraid we dramatically underestimate who God is. Who of us can even fathom a God who can create everything we know–and everything we don’t? We so greatly underestimate His power that we live our lives as if we are great enough, wise enough, and powerful enough to make the rules. In short, we are self-centered.
So, how are we to understand the Scriptures?
First, I recommend using a guide that will help you learn to study. I highly recommend Living by the Book by Howard and William Hendricks. http://www.amazon.com/Living-Book-Science-Reading-Bible/dp/0802408230/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426284131&sr=8-1&keywords=living+by+the+book
It is practice in studying the Scriptures that helps us to understand what God has said. People who seldom read the Scriptures only understand the easy part (the church fathers called it milk). If we don’t study the Bible, we don’t understand the meatier stuff; We don’t understand God. We cannot because we are still thinking like babies.
I believe part of being a baby is relying on rules to say we know God. A small child might learn not to run out in the street because she might get hit by a car, but does that mean she knows her parent? Or does she simply know one of the ways her parent is keeping her safe? Another part of being a baby is wanting to feel good all of the time and not do hard things like believing what God has said about Himself and His authority. A small child always looks for his or her own needs to be met. When he is hungry he cries for food. When she is cold, she wakes her parent up in the middle of the night to ask for a blanket. But does this mean she knows everything about her parent? Of course not. She has a lot of growing to do before she can understand how the parent provides for her, the depth of parental love, or the dreams the parent has for the child’s future.
It is like that with God. If we remain babies we focus on the rules and on our feelings. We miss the benefit of growing wiser and knowing our Father more fully. We remain self-focused, narrow-minded, and shallow in our relationship with God. May I encourage you to get to know Him? By practice you will have your senses trained to discern what He is like.
Hebrews 5:12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.13For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
If you question the authenticity of Scripture, following are some resources to look up. The authors/speakers have devoted their lives to teaching about the reliability of Scriptures. They both began as skeptics and atheists and came to believe the Bible is reliable and true. Check them out:
Google YouTube, Lee Strobel: He has some great long and short discussions about the Scriptures. Here is a short one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-1zO7fz1OA website: http://www.desiringgod.org/seminars/why-we-believe-the-bible-part-1
Josh McDowell has a great website with wonderful resources:
Is the Bible True . . . Really?: A Dialogue on Skepticism, Evidence, and Truth (The Coffee House Chronicles) Josh McDowell