Jump Start # 3002
Acts 17:11 “Now these people were move noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”
God’s word—the Bible, it is the foundation of our faith. Without the Bible, we do not know God. The Bible explains the will of God, illustrates the saving work of Jesus Christ and is what gives us hope and assurance. Currently, I’m teaching a class called, “How to Study Your Bible.” I’ve found that we make that assumption that people understand how to study the Bible. Is reading the Bible the same as studying the Bible? Many use the Bible like they would a biology textbook. Others read the Bible like a newspaper. Some get so confused and lost when they read the Bible that they just give up. We dads joke that we’d toss our child into a swimming pool and he’d either sink or swim. That may sound funny, but it doesn’t work that way. The child would sink and the dad would go to jail. Swim classes teach how to hold your head above water, dog paddle and kick with your legs. Class after class and then that child can swim the length of the pool. More classes and that child is jumping off the diving board. The same is true with driving a car. You don’t toss your teenager the keys and tell him “go drive.” You’ll be calling your insurance man by the end of the day if you do that. There are some lessons, instructions, warnings, and tips that you share with your child as you show him how to drive.
Why is it that we think just baptizing a person ought to be enough for him to understand the Bible? Where does one begin? What’s prophecy? What’s literal? What’s figurative? Why four gospels?
As I work lessons in this class it occurred to me that there are four challenges we face when we come to the Word of God.
First, letting someone else tell me what the Bible says. That’s an easy crutch to lean upon. Just ask the preacher, he knows. There are times that is necessary. The Ethiopian didn’t understand without the help of Philip. This is especially helpful when we are young in faith. But some never move past this. They take whatever is said from the pulpit as the truth. When we look at our mixed up and confused religious community today, and realize that a vast majority of people would not know if Malachi was in the O.T. or N.T. or if he was a king, prophet, apostle or good guy or bad guy. Staying in regular Bible classes and doing your own study will put you ahead of most of the world when it comes to Bible knowledge. The majority of our people in the pews knows more about the Bible than those who are preaching in mega churches today.
The easiest way for error to get introduced into a congregation is for people just to take the words of the preacher and accept that anything he says is so. Error does not stand a chance when people know truth. These noble Bereans were checking things out in the Scriptures. They heard things, now they wanted to verify if those things were consistent with Scriptures.
Second, a greater challenge is for us to know the facts but not be changed by the message. Bible knowledge can soar among us. Our middle school kids know the facts. We know the stories, but have the stories made us more patient, gracious and kind? We know Jesus, but have we been changed by Jesus? This is the great challenge among us. Teaching the ins and outs of the Bible is essential, but it fails if we are not a better people because of that. The point of the Bible is not to give God’s perspective of human history. The purpose is to bring us to the Lord. We need to be a righteous people because of the word of God.
Third, yet another challenge is to allow our culture to shape how we see the Bible. American eyes can often miss some valuable lessons in the Bible. Our culture has no tolerance for masters and slaves. Yet, that was a part of the Biblical world. When Jesus told the parable about the wise and foolish virgins, we must not put the way we do weddings into that story. They did things differently. Rather than bringing the Bible to us, we need to put ourselves in the Bible. Jesus used the word “dog” in talking to the Canaanite woman. Jesus referred to His mother as “woman.” Those things do not set well with us. Moderns believe Jesus was cold and even insulting. They miss it. They try to understand those passages through our culture and by so doing, they miss it. They miss it by a mile. Our culture is moving very rapidly away from God. Let them go. Don’t try to interpret the Bible through the lens of moderns.
Fourth, another challenge is to think that the truths and principles of the Bible cannot help my situation today. We are left believing the mountains of problems we face each day and we have no real or practical help from God. What worked then won’t help my situation. So, we live as if we are on an isolated island, all to our own. No one understands. No one can help. Nothing will ever change. But such a faith is false. God’s word is living and active. It’s moving. It’s doing things. It’s changing lives every day. It can and will help you. Don’t expect miracles. Don’t expect God to do it all. But through the pages of this Divine word, we find everything pertaining to life and godliness, just as Peter promised. I might not understand your situation. I might think my problems are greater than yours. But never give up on God. And, never close His book. Broken homes, broken promises, broken vows, broken lives can all be mended and made whole through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Following God’s word, obeying His commands, putting the kingdom first in our lives, introduces the changes that can bring real change in your life.
God’s word is challenging—it needs to be. It’s realistic. It’s life. It doesn’t sugarcoat the problems we face. It doesn’t offer quick and easy solutions. But what it does is take us to the amazing Lord of Heaven and Earth. He has the whole world in His hands. He alone can do what no one else can.
If you haven’t made the Bible a daily part of your life—it’s time you did.