Don’t look at a map. Which way do you have to drive from Reno, Nevada to get to San Diego, California? Do you need to go north or south? Do you need to go east or west? Think about it. Got your answer? Keep reading to find out the truth. [Read more…] about The Bible Isn’t Tidy OR 1 of Our Top Struggles with Bible Study
We are at war. We may not be able to see the advance of infantry, armory, and cavalry; but we can see the advance of heathenism, hedonism, and individualism. We may not be able to see bombed and burning buildings; but we can see broken and battered homes. We may not be able to see prisoners of war caught in torture camps; but we can see sheep without a shepherd, distressed and downcast, caught in cults, false teaching churches, and dead-end philosophies. We may not see the injured, crippled, and maimed lying in hospitals; but we can see the walking wounded, lying down spiritually because they have no strength to go on. We are at war. And as such, we must learn how to suit up for battle.
I am totally psyched up about a Bible study tool I purchased this weekend. I not only purchased it for me, but I purchased one for each of my kids as well. I have no doubt this tool is going to take my personal study and my family study to the next level. I couldn’t wait to get back here and share this with you. The tool is called the Journible™.
What is the Bible? No doubt I could talk about the collection of books. I could mention it’s two major sections, Old and New Testament. I could talk about the number of writers, the different languages, etc. But with all this, we still wouldn’t know what the Bible is.
Matthew 13:44 likens the kingdom of heaven to a treasure hidden in a field. I want to piggyback off that simile and present the Bible as the treasure map. It is the guide to get us to the right field, to dig in the right spot so we can have the right treasure. As II Peter 1:11 says, we want to enter “the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” However, the way to eternal life in that kingdom is not cheap, easy or natural. Matthew 7:13-14 says we must “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
God has given us the Bible to be our guide. It lights our way (cf. Psalm 119:105). This should affect how I read and apply it. Think about how we use any other map. Just a few weeks ago, I took a trip from Spring Hill, Tennessee to Chillicothe, Ohio. I pulled out my map to show the way. When I pulled out my map, I wasn’t trying to learn how to be good enough to get to Chillicothe. I simply had faith that my atlas would show me the way that worked. By following the roads the map showed, I wasn’t trying to earn my way to Chillicothe. I just wanted to go the right way or I wouldn’t get there. That is the way we should read the Bible. We can’t be good enough to earn heaven. The Bible wasn’t given so we could be good enough to earn heaven. If we gain eternal life in the eternal kingdom of heaven it will not be because we are good enough, but because God is good enough. Instead of reading the Bible so I can be good enough, I should read the Bible and apply it because God’s way works. God’s directions will really get me to that treasure.
This should also impact how we discuss the Bible with other folks. Let’s just say I made a wrong turn on my Chillicothe trip. For instance, let’s say I turned south on I-65 instead of north. How should I have responded if my wife said, “Hey, Edwin, you just made a wrong turn; you need to turn around”? Maybe I might say, “Why you judgmental, narrow-minded, nitpicky little Pharisee. Who gave you the right to tell me how to get to Chillicothe? Wow. You just think you’re the only person going to Chillicothe, don’t you.” That doesn’t make any sense at all, does it? The fact is, I can travel south on I-65 from Spring Hill and I’ll never get to Chillicothe, Ohio. I can call the person who tells me the right way all kinds of names, but that won’t make me get to Chillicothe. When someone says I’m going the wrong way, I just need to get out the map and see. If I’m going the wrong way, then I need to turn around or I’ll never get there. The same is true with the Bible. Instead of railing with all kinds of names, anger and hatred at those who tell me I’m going the wrong way, I need to just pull out the map God has given me. If they’re right, then I need to change, because if I’m going the wrong way, I’ll never get to my treasure. If I find they are wrong, then I can show them the map.
Of course, I know some of us seem to see the map differently. That saddens me, but I know it will be this way. After all, Jesus said only few will find the way to life. In this case, I simply pray that God will help me understand His guide. I can’t change just because someone else says I’m reading the map incorrectly and I don’t expect everyone else to change just because I say they are reading it incorrectly. However, I think we can have these discussions without all the fighting and hatred that comes up. We can let God do the judging. Granted, we may not be able to walk hand in hand because we are going different ways, but as we discuss these differences we can do it with love and compassion. In fact, I have the idea that if we all started reading the Bible as God’s guide to our treasure instead of the debate guide to argue our favorite point and prove we are right and others are wrong, we might just learn the key to figuring out the right way to eternal life. Let’s just surrender to what God has to say. He buried the treasure. He knows where it is and how to get to it. Why don’t we just do that? Not because we are earning the treasure. We can’t do that. No, it’s just because if God says the treasure is that way, we need to go that way or we’ll never get the treasure.
I’m ready to get that treasure, so I’m busy getting in the Word trying to figure out which way God is telling me to go. What are you doing?
By the way, in related news, my other blog, giveattentiontoreading.com, started a journey through the New Testament today that will last six months. If you’re interested in joining us, I invite you to hop over there, read and talk with us. We’re striving to learn God’s way to the treasure together.