Why We Need to Stop “Using” The Bible


In my last post “Filled with Scripture and Ignorance” we discussed how it is not only possible to be filled with Bible verses and ignorance at the same time, but discussed the fact that it is quite common. If you have not read that post first, please go back to that one then come back here. We discussed in that post how Jesus spoke to the Jews in John 5 concerning the fact that they searched the scriptures… But they missed the fact that the scriptures were talking about Him.

This is a real and present danger that Christians face today, where we can search the scriptures, and still miss the point. What a terrifying thought! I know that I have been guilty of it in the past, and I would bet that many of you have been as well. Since we know that it is a problem… what do we do about it?


In future articles we will be discussing some principles for good Bible study to help keep us on the right track. But first, I wanted to spend a little more time dealing with why this topic matters so much.


What is meant by the title of this article? Stop using the Bible?!? Let me assure you that I am not, nor would I ever, encourage someone not to read, study, or apply the Bible. What I am suggesting is that we change our mindset, and we stop “using” the Bible. Stop the endless search for “proof texts” to prove that our “positions” are correct and others are wrong. (Side Note: Let’s stop “taking positions” in the first place. Let us strive to always be true to the text regardless of what that means for “our position”. We aren’t defenders of positions, we are proclaimers of the Gospel.)

Throughout my ministry I have been asked many questions concerning faith. Some of those questions can be quite revealing. Questions such as:

“What is a verse that proves Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins?”

“What scripture do I need to show my friend who believes that Hell isn’t real?”

How can I prove that God is real?”

“Which passage of scripture can I use to prove why the _________ church is wrong in their beliefs?”

These questions, and many like them have been asked repeatedly. I appreciate so much the love that many have for their friends and for God. Their desire to follow God, and teach others about His will is admirable, and we need more people like them in the church. However, there is a fundamental problem with all of these questions… They begin with the conclusion in mind.

When you begin “searching scripture” knowing exactly the answer that you are looking for, you are likely to find a verse that affirms your belief. Without fail, this leads to abuse of the text. I want to submit that we reframe the way we approach the Bible in study. We no longer “use” the Bible. Rather, we open our heart to it.

What does it mean to open your heart to the Bible? First and foremost, it means that you are willing to admit that you may be wrong in what you believe regarding a particular subject. Ask yourself honestly, “Might I be wrong about______?” If you conclude that there is no way you could be wrong, close your Bible. Individuals who “use” the Bible destroy their credibility in the eyes of all who hear them. Humble your mind, open your heart, and study.

There are many compelling reasons to reframe our approach and move far, FAR away from “using the Bible”, But for our purposes here, I want to deal with one reason.

“Using” the Bible, keeps us from seeing what God wants us to see

Often times in our effort to prove a point or to make a stand, we can strip passages from their true meaning, which is always far greater than the point we are attempting to make. More than 10 years ago, I attended a men’s conference that had a powerful theme, “Standing in the Gap”. The point of the conference was simple. There is a leadership void within the church today and God is looking for men to step up, to be leaders, to fill the gap. Don’t be like the people we read about in Ezekiel, because no one would step up and fill that gap!

It was a great weekend. There were some inspiring lessons that helped stir my heart and challenged me to be a better man. I have often wondered if the men who based their conference on Ezekiel 22:30 knew what the passage was and was NOT saying.


Ezekiel 22:30 ESV

30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.


This text was “used” to talk about God searching for someone to stand up and build, to stand in the gap (breach) of the wall, but no one would. No one would do what needed to be done. Today, we have many things that need to be done, God is looking for men to stand in that gap. It’s a good sentiment, certainly there are many things that need to be done, and few who are willing to do it. However, that isn’t what is taking place in Ezekiel. Let’s explore it briefly.

In J.R.R. Tolkein’s series, “The Lord of The Rings” he depicts a battle scene at a strong fortress known as “Helm’s deep”. The good guys knew that they were severely outnumbered. So they retreated to this strong hold. They set their archers up on the wall of Helm’s Deep and hoped for the best. Once the enemy was able to breach the wall, it seemed all hope was lost and the casualties began to pile up. Once they could no longer keep the evil outside, but it came inside the result was lot’s of pain and death. In the context of this passage in Ezekiel we know that the walls of Israel had been breached by sin.

Ezekiel was written a few years after Babylon began its seige on Israel. It’s around the time period of Daniel 1. Israel has already taken some major hits, and is about to fall completely. Ezekiel was in one of the first groups to be led away from Israel, and so the setting of Ezekiel is a dark one. We read earlier in chapter 22 of some of the many sins that Israel had allowed to go unchecked. Sins such as: The shedding of blood, disobedience to parents, extortion, various sexual sins etc. They were in a mess Then came the most grievous of all their sin, they had forgotten God (Ezekiel 22:12).

God was angry, He was brokenhearted. He couldn’t stand to see His children turn their back on Him and give their hearts to the world. He sought for one who could turn the tide.

Let’s examine the language of this text again.


Ezekiel 22:30 ESV

30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.


What was God searching for? Someone who would “build up the wall” someone who would “stand in the breach”… But notice what was significant about this posture the one who would stand in the breach would be standing Before God and for the land. Keep in mind that the destruction that was happening to Israel was happening because of their sin. God gave Israel over into the hands of their enemies. God sought for one who could stand “before Him” on behalf of, or “for” the land. In other words, who could stand between God (The oppressor) and Israel? The answer? No one.

This text is not an indictment against Israel saying that there were no good men left. In fact, at the time of this statement, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Jeremiah were all living. God was not saying that there were “no good men” God was saying, there was no one who could do what needed to be done in order to save them from destruction. What was it that needed to be done? Standing between God and the people. Someone that could take God’s wrath and spare the people. Someone who could be “in the middle”. Sound like anyone we know of? Jesus, the Christ. You see, what Israel lacked then, we do not lack now!

Now, If we strip this text down to teach that we need “real men who will stand in the gap” we are placing emphasis on ourselves, and our ability to stand in this gap. However, the text is clear… Even God’s chosen spokesmen could not do what needed to be done. For you and I, thousands of years removed from that story we can look back on that passage and rejoice in Jesus because we have someone who has stood in that gap for us, doing what we could not.

When we “use” the Bible, we often miss the true beauty of what God has revealed. Let us resolve to stop “using” the Bible, and approach this precious collection of books that God has given to us with an open heart and a humble mind.

in Him,

Troy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s