Sunday, August 30, 2015
Making (Mis)Use of the Bible
The Bible has a lot of things to say about a lot of different subjects. The sacred book has something to say about how every thing we see around us all began, and one day, how it will all end. And the Bible has a lot to say about a bunch of things that happened and should happen in between the beginning and the end of all things as we know it. And since the Bible has so much to say about so many things, it isn’t surprising to see so many people use the Bible to do and say so many things themselves. People sure do put the Bible to work to do a lot. And the sad reality is that a lot people treat the Bible, especially in our culture, as if it is there to do their bidding, to fight their war, to improve their life, to propel them to loftier places, and much more. For many Christians, the Bible isn’t a book that is there to shape their life, but instead, they shape the Bible in such a way as to make it seem that God has spoken on matters for them specifically that God has indeed not had anything at all to say.
The study of Scripture is a spiritual act. It is a spiritual discipline. There is nothing that is more important to the Christian than Scripture. Scripture informs us, cleanses us, renovates our minds, renews our hearts, transforms our lives! Scripture tells us who Jesus is. Scripture brings us the gospel. Scripture brings us life! Eternal life! Scripture ensures that we will never be deceived. How? Scripture is the truth. So long as we have the truth, we can never be deceived. Is it any wonder that Scripture is at the very core of the non-Christian attacks against the Christian movement? The record of the OT is used to indict the kind of God it portraits, and therefore, undermines itself according to the opponents of Christ. Every Christian must know the Scripture, must know it’s history, must know something about its transmission, must surely know its content, and must know how to let Scripture defend itself. I cannot think of anything more important in the life of the Christian than Scripture. We know nothing about the Christian faith, the Christ who redeems, the Spirit who fills us apart from Scripture.
John MacArthur tells us, “if you are one of those who questions whether truth is really important, please don’t call your belief system Christianity, because that is not what it is.” [The Truth War] Jesus said that God’s Word is truth. For the truth believer there is very little as important as studying God’s Word seriously. [The Hermeneutical Spiral] Calvin said, “At any rate, there is no doubt that firm certainty of doctrine was engraved in their hearts, so that they were convinced and understood that what they had learned proceeded from God. For by His Word, God rendered faith unambiguous forever, a faith that should be superior to all opinion.” [Institutes] Michael Kruger in his excellent work Canon Revisited writes, “What is needed, then, is a canonical model that does not ground the New Testament canon in an external authority, but seeks to ground the canon in the only place it could be grounded, its own authority.” [Canon Revisited] Clearly, the Bible has a place of prominence in the life of the Christian. And with the recent trends in certain cultures, especially Europe and America, it should be obvious to any intelligent Christian that a proper understanding and use of Scripture is as important today as it was in the time of the Apostles. So much for the great downgrade of the significance of theology, the languages, and doctrine in our churches. Any discerning Christian ought to be able to figure out that God was serious when He spoke to us in Scripture. And if we are serious about God, about our relationship with Christ, we will take more than just a passing interest in what God has to say.
Yet, many Christians seem to be almost entirely uninterested in respecting the Scripture’s message and record, willing to take the Bible as a tool to defend their own attitudes, philosophies, and behaviors. Prov. 29:18 is one example. The KJV renders this text, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” More than a few Christians have used this verse to support the idea that we have to “cast a vision” for the mission of our local church, various ministries, and even your own personal career. A text actually means, as the NASB tenders it, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.” The idea is where there is no “prophetic word” immorality dominates, and this to the destruction of people’s souls. In other words, where God’s Word is not proclaimed to the community, there is little to no moral restraint. Yet we use it to support our own modern motivational talks. Such recklessness should produce embarrassment and shame.
Sadly, some Christians are far more interested in having God speak to them outside of Scripture than they are in attempting to understand what God is speaking to them in Scripture. These Christians have no clue that God does not speak to men outside of Scripture. This is why Scripture is called the Word of God. If you want to know God’s will for your life, read the Bible with as much energy as you can muster and pray for enlightenment. If we want to know what God wants our church involved in, we can know that by reading Scripture. Other Christians just want to use the Bible for their owner personal agendas, whatever they might be. Perhaps I want to feel better about myself, be a better parent, excel at work and so forth. All these modern, psychological approaches to Scripture rest on a faulty presupposition that the Bible was given to me so that I could use it to become a better me according to what I think a better me is. Scripture was given to make us holy, to shape us into the image of Christ, to transform and renovate our minds so that we have the mind of Christ.
Scripture is the standard by which all men will be measured. Scripture informs us of our sin, our guilt, and our condemnation. For this reason, men want to destroy it, to rip it to shreds, to reduce its credibility. They do not want Scripture to be accurate when it condemns their adultery, their homosexuality, their treachery, their lies, their greed, their idolatry, and their murderous ways. So they attack it on every level and those attacks are relentless. But Scripture also brings glad tidings of good news. Through Jesus Christ, and through Him alone, there is light, life, and eternal peace. Scripture alone brings the knowledge by which we know the truth light, the true life, the true Redeemer of the world.
If you know nothing else, know Scripture. If you can talk about nothing else, be able to talk about Scripture. If your apologetic is weak anywhere, let it be weak anywhere else but in defending Scripture. The entire Christian walk centers around the Jesus Christ who reveals Himself in Scripture. Ignorance of Scripture equals ignorance of Christ!