It wasn’t that long ago that I had the view of the Bible as an instruction manual for life. Everything I needed to know would be outlined in those pages, from being a good Christian, to being a good wife, and a good mother to instructions on how to handle various affairs and what the proper way was to worship, pray, etc.
To be clear, I believe that every word of the Bible is the Word of God, written down by man. I believe the history as accurate, I believe the miracles are actual, and the promises are true. I believe Jesus is exactly who he claimed to be, that he died on a cross, and was raised again, witnessed by those whose testimonies fill the pages of the gospels.
It was not in pride that I thought the Bible was written about me, but rather a guide for everyone. Have a problem, look it up. Need direction, look it up. I wouldn’t say I was one of those flip through the pages and see where my finger lands to reveal what God is teaching me types. I simply believed every story had a point for being in there, something I would learn from it in order to be a better follower of Christ.
I would listen to those who were more learned than I was for interpretation of the word, to understand those things that were not clear to me. However, I have never been one to take any teachers word as gospel truth. I have always returned to the scriptures, reading them for myself. A few years ago, a good friend of mine shared that she reads scripture with 20/20 vision. This means that when you are given a portion of scripture, be sure to read the twenty verses before it and twenty verses after it, this will put it in accurate context.
Truth is, and we see it every day, people can take a single line of scripture and twist it to support their argument for or against something. By making sure we always read our scripture in context, we can gauge the accuracy of the argument. This is how the Bereans were.
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
When presented with the message, they didn’t take the person speaking for gospel truth. They searched the scriptures to verify it.
As Christians we are charged with going out and telling all the nations about the gospel, sharing the scriptures. We are charged with handling the word of truth. That’s a pretty weighty job. You are accountable for making sure you do not not add or subtract from the scriptures based on your own opinions, biases or desires.
This isn’t a little warning either.
Deuteronomy 4:2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.
Deuteronomy 12:32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.
Proverbs 30:6 Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.
Revelation 22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
From the Old Testament to the New Testament, we are warned about adding to or taking from God’s word. This isn’t just about adding additional physical words, but it also includes our interpretation. If we spin God’s word to suit our needs, we are altering his word. We are not handling the world of truth responsibly.
We are warned throughout scriptures about false teachers, which is why the Bereans are noted. They are the example we are to follow about searching out the scriptures for the truth, when a new teacher comes to town. With TV, Radio and Internet Videos/Live Streams we can invite teachers into our living rooms to preach according to their beliefs. But, as time continually proves, false teachers are filtering their way through the cracks. It is more important than ever, with the bombardment of so many different philosophies, that we can discern the difference.
There is also another concern, we can’t over look.
There was a time, you can read about it during the book of Judges, where Israel had no real leader. Joshua had died, there was no king over Israel. And, basically, the generations that knew what God had done for them had passed away. Within these new generations, you had a group of people doing their own thing, doing what made sense to them, what sounded right to them. They were doing things from making idols to even making up their own rules about what was right. God raises Judges to help lead Israel and fix these problems, but as soon as the Judge would die, Israel would go right back to their old ways.
Right now we live in a time where the people of God are divided, much like the tribes of Israel during the time of the Judges. We have different denominations and different schools of thought. We have no clear leader to help reconcile all these different beliefs. So we continue on doing our own thing, what makes sense to us as religious groups, or individuals. Boy, do we need Jesus!
Because we want to believe our way is right, we begin searching the scriptures not for God’s truth… but for our own. Reading meaning into scripture that isn’t there, to justify our beliefs. What is worse, we begin to spread our truths to others as God’s truth. Without even realizing it, we become a false teacher. We become the thing we are supposed to be avoiding.
We begin to surround ourselves with others who believe like we do, because surely if more than one of us can see that “truth”… IT MUST BE SO, RIGHT?
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
It really isn’t hard to find someone who is saying what you want to hear. If you look hard enough, you’ll find it. If you want to read something into the scriptures that isn’t there, you’ll find a way.
Is that handling the word of God responsibly? No, not at all. And, we will be held accountable for that.
I used to read the scriptures as an instruction manual, about how we are to handle our day to day lives. I am very grateful for the men and women who opened my eyes, and showed me that I was missing the point entirely.
Every story, lesson, detail in the Bible is about Jesus.
Not me, not how I should live my life, what rules I am to follow, etc.
The Old Testament points to our need for Jesus. Every story. The Gospels reveal to Jesus to us, as the Messiah. The rest of the New Testament points us back to a reminder of why we still need Jesus & that He is coming back for a final victory.