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Posts Tagged ‘scriptures’

By Mike Edwards

The Bible because of certain views espoused from it about God may be a main reason people stay away from God. Women, gays, etc. are discriminated against or condemned because of what the Bible supposedly teaches. The truth is scholars who respect Scriptures as authoritative disagree what God thinks about gender roles, homosexuality, hell, etc. The problem is many don’t openly admit their interpretations may be wrong thus implying their interpretations are infallible.

Is the Bible inspired word-for word by God or did writers grow in understanding God?

My personal conviction is God did not inspire every word recorded in the Bible. How could God possibly approve of a wife having her hand cut off when grabbing another’s man genitals protecting her husband (Deut. 25:11-12). I’m convinced writers were influenced by surrounding cultures and grew in their understandings of a loving God over time. Others may disagree.

It is suggested that despite the hideous law above, it was a step up from other cultures that advocated even further mutilations such as gouging out eyes or breasts (See William Webb who doesn’t necessarily support the rationalization but reveals ancient near eastern practices, Corporal Punishment in the Bible: A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic For Troubling Texts, Chapter 4). Such a rationalization is hard for many to stomach, so those who believe all Scriptures is inspired might recognize they often go beyond/above Scriptures.

Many who believe the Bible is inspired already teach progressive revelation.

William Webb demonstrates those who advocate for corporal punishment of children according to the Bible go beyond what the Bible implies for the good of the child. Advocates typical suggest spanking be limited to young children but this isn’t found in the Bible. The two-swat method is suggested to avoid bruising, but the Bible suggests bruises serve a good purpose (Prov. 20:30). Biblical defenders of corporal punishment suggest hitting the buttocks but the Bible suggests the rod is intended for the back (Prov. 26:3). I am opposed to any kind of corporal punishment but bible-believing Christians often go beyond the Bible because it makes common moral sense.

How can Christians represent the Bible with an open-mind?

I am convinced God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God controlling a biblical writer’s impression of God. But, if you believe every thought is inspired by God you can at least consider if God intended us to grow in our understanding of God, even from what is recorded in Scriptures. For example if you think the Bible teaches wives should be submissive to their husbands in a way husbands aren’t to their wives, one could still consider if mutual submission is less conducive to atrocities women face at the hands of men.

How can God guide us?

Even the Bible suggests when Jesus left this earth that we aren’t guided by a Book but by God’s Spirit in discerning Truth (Jn. 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem overly concern that Truth requires discernment. We may need one another to arrive at what is wisest or most loving. Can’t we tell others who have issues with the Bible, no matter our view of Scriptures, that it is possible God would encourage us to continue to grow in our understanding of God even beyond views of biblical writers. God may turn out to be like what you imagine a perfect, good God should be like.

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If you are like my wife and me, you can remember from your first day in church being taught that the Bible was God’s holy word. The Bible was perfect and without mistake or any contradictions.

We felt the Bible was personally written by the hand of God through chosen men, and all the answers were contained therein. I truthfully think a lot of us Christian people have come to see the Bible as the fourth member of the God-head.

In fact, to even question if the Bible is inerrant was sacrilegious. It was like the familiar quote in the court system when being sworn in, do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We have come to believe the Bible is the truth, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible. Everything is contained within the written word, and God can do nothing outside of the written word.

Swear-In

Of course that way of thinking really limits the Holy Spirit, who lives within us and is our teacher and guide. If the Spirit teaches us something or shows us something, we immediately want to look it up in the Bible, and if we cannot find it there, then we think the voice of the Spirit certainly must be wrong.

Also like my wife and me, many of you have come to a point where you began to wonder if this inerrancy of the written word of God is really the case. I remember reading a section in one of my Bibles between the Old and New Testament that was about how we got our Bible. I remember thinking about how certain books were chosen, by men, as divinely inspired and others were not, which books to put into what we call the Bible and which books to leave out. It sure made me think about how this can be a perfect, inerrant group of writings. Of course at that time, I quickly dismissed my questions and moved on, lest I made God mad at me for questioning his perfect book. Or maybe I was more worried about making the pastor and other members mad.

Of course a lot of us were taught that the King James Version of the Bible was the true word of God and any other translation was wrong, and some translations were even an insult to God. My thought on that is how can any translation be considered the true word of God? They are all translations, even the King James. Truthfully, some of the stories I have heard about King James and his instructions on interpreting the manuscripts would make me want to stay away from the King James Version anyway. This is why we depend on the Spirit within us to bring the truth to light and not depend on any particular translation.

When we read John 1:1 and many other verses within the Bible, we come to realize that when we hear that the Word of God is living, perfect, powerful, inerrant and so forth, what is being described is Jesus, not a book.

The Bible was definitely inspired by God, and that inspiration was through men. We all know if mankind has a hand in anything it is going to be flawed. Being inspired to write does not mean you write word for word through dictation. I can be inspired to write a book about a topic, but it is still going to be me writing, and have my thoughts, feelings, and flare to it.

Just because the written word of God is not perfect, that does not negate anything about God. I always heard people say that if the Bible has errors in it or contradicts itself, then the whole idea of God must not be true either. I really do not understand that logic, especially since we know that Jesus is the Word of God. The written word, when viewed through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. The verse in 2 Timothy 3:16 does not say the written word is perfect.

In fact, when Christ walked on the earth, and the early days of Christianity, there was not even a written word like what we call the Bible available to the believers. There was the Word of God though, because Jesus has always been around.

My wife and I believe the Bible to be very valuable for learning and a means of hearing from God. We also believe the Holy Spirit within us and His still, small voice is even more valuable. We believe godly friends and wise people of God can be a help and guidance to us as the Holy Spirit speaks through them.

Jesus word of GodSo many of us want to fight and defend the written word we call the Bible. We divide ourselves into groups and denominations, we separate ourselves from the world, we fight, condemn and alienate ourselves over the written word because we think it is the inerrant words and ways of God, yet the true Word of God, Jesus, is standing right in front of us and we miss Him. Just like when Jesus was talking with the Jews and said in John 5:39 and 40 … ‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life’.

We see that life is in Christ. Jesus is not telling them to come to the Bible or accept the Bible, but to come to Him. Jesus is the true, powerful, inerrant, living Word of God. Read your Bible, let the Holy Spirit bring life to the words, learn and be encouraged from them, but realize the written word is not perfect. Look to the living, perfect Word who is Jesus, and listen for His voice through the Spirit.

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When we talk about the Word of God, we usually think of the Bible.

If someone says the Bible is just a book, we get all offended and ready to voice our opinion that the Bible is the Word of God.

Not to sound sacrilegious, but sometimes we can actually make too much of the Bible. People will hold it up and say it is the word of God and worship it more than we worship Christ. Christ is the true Word of God as mentioned in John 1:1. He is the living and powerful Word and His Spirit lives within us.

The Word

Many times we Christians focus so much on The Bible that we forget we have the living Word of God inside of us. The Holy Spirit, who is God in spirit form, just as Jesus was God in human form, lives within us.

In John 5:39 and 40, Jesus told the religious leaders “you study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life”. The religious leaders of the day spent so much time studying the scriptures that they missed the Living Word standing right in front of them.

There is certainly nothing wrong with reading the Bible, as it is God inspired. Through it we can learn from the past, we see the story of redemption throughout, we come to know the love God has for us and how he purchased our salvation through Christ. We learn what pleases God and we come to know that it is only by Grace that we are in right standing with God.

The Bible teaches us the Law and how we humans are completely unable to live a life pleasing to God through the law. The law was our tutor to bring us to realize that we need God’s grace through Christ.

The Bible teaches us of the freedom we now have in Christ and that only by His grace can we live a life pleasing to Him. There is nothing that we can do on our own to earn or deserve what He has done for us.

We need to focus on Jesus. He is the true and living Word of God. It is when we focus on Christ and listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit within us that the written words will come alive with power and meaning.

I like this statement by Mick Mooney, “Above all, trust the Spirit of God in you to guide you. It helps to remember that the Bible is a testimony of the life and finished work of Jesus, not the guide for your life; your Guide abides within you. Certainly the Bible has an important place in our faith walk, but it should never replace the work of the Holy Spirit in you. Christ in us is our hope. Christ in us is how we learn, and how we are led by God”.

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