Jump Start # 2141
John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
This verse came to my mind yesterday. I finished reading a book that is subtitled, “Rethinking how you read the Bible.” That implies that we have not been reading the Bible correctly. A new way. New approach. New ideas. That also implies that generations have not read the Bible correctly. Are all of our spiritual forefathers lost and wrong because they did not know how to properly read the Bible?
There is a section about women in the ministry. The author really tries to find ways to “rethink” this. The Bible, he claims, was written by men and the Bible tells stories from the standpoint of men. Chapter after chapter, builds his claim for women preachers and leadership roles in the church. He claims that Jesus’ teaching and the book of James, was shaped by Mary. He finds her influence in both. He claims the opening chapters of Luke came from Mary. But, very subtly, there is this sentence: “I cannot prove that either James or Jesus got these ideas from their mother.” Words such as, “perhaps,” “could,” “we cannot be sure,” fill this section. When addressing Paul’s warning about women being silent in the church, “we are not completely sure what kind of special silence he has in mind.” When looking at women being saved in childbearing, from 1 Timothy 2, he says, “Once again, no one knows for certain what this verse means.”
What we walk away from such books like this, and they are falling off the shelves in bookstores, there are so many like this, is that the “rethinking how you read the Bible,” is nothing more than think the way I think. Inspiration and the role of the Holy Spirit has been left out. Speculation and assumptions without any proof fill the pages. And, there is the omission that no one knows what some of these verses mean. I know folks who have bought into these ideas. This is why I read this. They have left plain Biblical teachings for the land of speculation, ideas without proof and hoping to find ways to do things that they never could before.
Our verse today reminds us that Jesus understood that truth is not vague, fluid and ever changing. You can know it. You can follow it. You can understand it. The truth Jesus had in mind was His words. Now, there are certain things a person has to do to know this truth.
First, they need to try to understand the context and the intention of what is said. Each of us have our own ideas, ways of seeing things, backgrounds, issues and baggage. Yet, through all of that fog, a person can not only know the truth, but that truth will be the same for you and for me. What I see and what you see will be the same if it is the truth. Truth for me and truth for you will not be different.
The very nature of truth is that it is singular and exclusive. One and one equals two. That’s a truth in mathematics. Two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen makes water. That’s a truth in chemistry. You throw a ball up in the air and it will come down. That’s a truth in physics. When I was in grade school, a long time ago, educators came out with what was called “New math.” But that new math didn’t change the truth about one plus one equals two. That remained the same. Truth doesn’t change with time. Truth doesn’t change with location. If I throw a ball up in the air in my backyard, it will come down. If I threw a ball up in the air, while in a foreign country, the ball will still come down.
Second, we need to understand how God uses words. Using an American dictionary often hinders our pursuit of truth rather than helping it. The dictionary will show the various ways a word is used and defined. They may not all be Biblically correct. Look at how God uses those words in other places in the Bible. Use the Bible to help you understand the Bible.
Third, truth isn’t formed by our agreement or acceptance of it. God states things. These are truths that are necessary for us to stand holy and righteously before Him. These truths often compel us to change. They can be difficult and even exhausting on our part. The author of the book I finished reading wants women in the pulpit. Instead of letting the Bible guide him, he manipulated passages and made assumptions without proof to build a case for what he wanted. The same can be done for many cultural themes today. Social drinking is an example. Those that want it, find ways to support it. Homosexual authors have claimed that the sin of Sodom was a lack of hospitality, not homosexuality. They build their cases, stuffed with ideas and assumptions and feed the masses who read them, ideas that are not true. Let the Bible speak for itself.
Fourth, the freedom that comes from this truth, as Jesus spoke about, is found when we embrace it and are changed by it. Truth itself just lies there. Until it is received by faith into our hearts, it will not set us free. The freedom is from Satan, sin, and the bondage of ignorance and error. How many homes today have a Bible? Yet, how few are changed by the pages of those Bibles? Owning a Bible will not help me unless I open it, understand it, and follow it.
I wonder how people back in the 1300’s were able to walk with God and please Him, when they didn’t know about “rethinking how you read the Bible”? It sounds arrogantly, that we now have something that no one else ever had. We have found a new way and a new thought that changes every thing. Solomon’s words, “There is nothing new under the sun,” sure makes one think.
Too many folks, especially younger couples, are eating up books that tell them how to think, how to see and what to believe. Rather than spending so much time reading modern authors, we’d be better off just opening up the Bible and spending a few moments reading it.
Peter could explain the Christ in his Acts 2 sermon by using the Bible. The Ethiopian could understand who was being discussed in the Isaiah passage when someone used the Bible to show him. When tempted, Jesus used the Bible. Over and over, all throughout Biblical history, the Bible was used, understood and changed lives. It worked then. Why can it not work today?
I put my stock in the inspired word of God and not the call by moderns to rethink how we ought to read the Bible. The truth be, the author of that book ought to rethink what he is thinking.
Truth—it’s there. You can find it, know it, believe it and follow it. You don’t need another book to explain the Bible. You just need to open it up and spend a few moments every day, reading slowly, looking up words, see who is speaking and why and then let it sink deeply into your heart. It will change how you think. It will cause you to do better. It will give you greater reasons to love God. It will give you hope. It will answer questions and drive away doubts. It will, open the prison doors and set you free!