Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Job 38:4
Even though we are Believers and followers of Christ, we seem to have the gift of selective application as we read the Bible (forgetting it is the Word of God). This is a version of Christianity that allows us to pick and choose what we apply to our lives rather than attempting to immerse ourselves fully into His Word by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Selective interpretation allows the reader to decide which verses are applicable to their life and which are allegorical or historical or, perhaps, applicable to specific people of a different time and place. This heretical approach gives the reader the power to challenge God’s word, picking and choosing which verses are “for today.”
The most obvious danger in this approach to reading the Bible is the reader becomes equal to God, deciding that they have the authority to eliminate or water down the precious word of God. Left unchallenged, they freely re-translate the Bible into ideas that are more convenient or less challenging. Imagine thinking that we can decide which Bible verses are pertinent to our lives rather than asking God to give us wisdom and understanding as we read His Holy Word.
A classic example of this dangerous approach to the Bible is taught by a popular, well-known pastor who has decided that the Spiritual Gifts, as described in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 are no longer applicable to Christians today. According to him, these miraculous gifts ended some time after the original apostles died. He says we no longer need such gifts because we have the Bible. If that is true, the Bible itself says all believers have gifts. In order to make such a decision, he has decided that 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 is no longer applicable. How can mere man make such a declaration?
2 Timothy 3:14-16 Yet you must go on steadily in all those things that you have learned and which you know are true. Remember from what sort of people your knowledge has come, and how from early childhood your mind has been familiar with the holy scriptures, which can open the mind to the salvation which comes through believing in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work. (J.B. Phillips)
The Bible is not a collection of stories, fables, myths, or merely human ideas about God. It is not just a human book. Through the Holy Spirit God revealed his person and plan to godly men who wrote down God’s message for his people. This process is known as inspiration. The writers wrote from their own personal, historical, and cultural contexts. But even though they used their own minds, talents, language, and style, they wrote what God wanted them to write. Scripture is completely trustworthy because God was in control of its writing, and its words are entirely authoritative for our faith and lives. (Life Application Bible Notes © Tyndale House)
2 Peter 1:19-21 So we have seen and proved that what the prophets said came true. You will do well to pay close attention to everything they have written, for, like lights shining into dark corners, their words help us to understand many things that otherwise would be dark and difficult. But when you consider the wonderful truth of the prophets’ words, then the light will dawn in your souls and Christ the Morning Star will shine in your hearts. For no prophecy recorded in Scripture was ever thought up by the prophet himself. It was the Holy Spirit within these godly men who gave them true messages from God.
Romans 15:2-4 Even if we believe that it makes no difference to the Lord whether we do these things, still we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves; for we must bear the “burden” of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others—of those who feel these things are wrong. Let’s please the other fellow, not ourselves, and do what is for his good and thus build him up in the Lord. Christ didn’t please himself. As the Psalmist said, “He came for the very purpose of suffering under the insults of those who were against the Lord.” These things that were written in the Scriptures so long ago are to teach us patience and to encourage us so that we will look forward expectantly to the time when God will conquer sin and death.
Job 38:4-11 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Do you know how its dimensions were determined, and who did the surveying? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
“Who decreed the boundaries of the seas when they gushed from the depths? Who clothed them with clouds and thick darkness and barred them by limiting their shores, and said, ‘Thus far and no farther shall you come, and here shall your proud waves stop’?”
If enough people agree on an idea it eventually becomes established as truth. Many of these so-called truths are actually myths, superstitions and outright lies. But, as we have all experienced in life, sayings learned from childhood establish themselves as fact in our minds.
Consider the Bible. Do you think of it as fact or fable? Is it absolute truth or partial truth with scatterings of myth for variety. Either you believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God or you do not. There is no middle ground; no neutral territory. By faith in God, the Bible becomes absolute truth leading us to forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God.
“I want your will, not mine” ~Matthew 26:39
Tony waited patiently until the final person left the bible study. He had a question for Alex, one that he’d been pondering for some months.
“Well, Tony, what’s on your mind tonight. You seem unhappy or perhaps disappointed.”
“You hit the nail on the head, Alex. I am disappointed and, I guess, unhappy,” he said, feeling a little foolish now, like a child approaching the teacher. “Why won’t God bless me? I tithe regularly. I even give extra when I see a need. I never miss church service or your bible study. Any time pastor mentions helpers are needed somewhere, if it meets with my work schedule, I volunteer. I pray, repent, forgive others. I am lined right up with all the things that should make me happy but God will not bless me!”
Pouring them both another cup of coffee, Alex said, “I think you need to define bless before I can help.”
“Alright, I mean better living conditions, more money, a better car, more friends, recognition from people for my efforts; heck, I’ve missed being promoted two times in the past year and my car is always breaking down.”
“I see. You believe God sent Jesus to the earth to experience humiliation, scorning, a horrific beating, and death so we could have more stuff?”
Tony was stunned to hear his obviously petty, selfish feelings exposed in this way. He wanted the earth to open and swallow him. Am I really this petty, he wondered.
“Breathe, Tony. It’s ok, we all have those feelings some of the time. The key to shaking them off is to dive into God’s Word and to ask God to give you understanding. For example look at Matthew 26:36-39 where Jesus is praying in the garden of Gethsemane. He knows exactly what is about to happen on the following day— he will be killed! He says, “My soul is crushed with horror and sadness to the point of death. . .” Then he prays, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
“So what do you think, Tony, was Jesus entitled to God’s blessings?”
“Of course. More than anyone who ever lived.”
“Yes. I agree. But then why was he treated so wickedly. Killed like an ordinary criminal, hanging on a cross? He is the Messiah after all.”
Tony couldn’t stop his tears. In a moment he composed himself and said, “In a way, I feel what Peter must have felt when the rooster crowed that morning. I feel petty and selfish.”
“I’ve never considered that analogy, Tony but I think you may be right. And you are feeling those things because that is how you’re behaving. Now, before you beat yourself with that self-pity club, you must understand we all struggle with this. Anytime we look at our lives and compare them to those who have more we’re using the world’s standards, not God’s. God is interested in healing our hearts, not our cars! Quite the contrary, actually. We must be like Jesus, totally surrendered and ready for suffering to continue and death to come if that is God’s will.
“Would you consider the Apostle Paul a man who followed God, Tony?”
“Of course, Alex.”
“And yet, in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, he begged God to take away his thorn in the flesh but God said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’ So, according to your list of things, can you say Paul was not blessed by God?”
“I’m stunned. I’ve never seen this so clearly, Alex. I am so wrong.”
“Let’s continue in 2 Corinthians, ‘So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
“Before we end this eye-opening moment, Tony, I want to look at one more Scripture: Philippians 3:10, ‘All I want is to know Christ and feel the power of His resurrection; to share in His sufferings and become like Him. (TEV)
“What do you think may happen in our lives if we pray this Scripture daily? How might we be changed over and over again, refined into the men of God Jesus died for? Tony, thank you for your courage to share with me tonight. I feel as though God has looked into my eyes and said, “Alex, are you willing to give all, to suffer for my name if I deem it necessary?”
Tony and Alex knelt together and prayed “Not my will but Yours be done.”
“In the beginning God created—” Genesis 1:1
“Did God create everything in six literal days?” This question has been asked millions of times since God spoke all creation into existence thousands of years ago. As a non-Bible reading person, the question seems logical. After all, the idea of the universe, man, animals, plants, earth, sky and water spoken into being over six days does seem incredible, even unbelievable. But is it impossible for God? According to the Bible, these are the things God created in six days:
Day 1 — light and time (Gen 1:3-5);
Day 2 — the sky and “separated” waters (Gen 1:6-8);
Day 3 — dry ground, bodies of water, and plants (Gen 1:9-13);
Day 4 — the sun, moon, stars, and planets (Gen 1:14-19);
Day 5 — fish and birds (Gen 1:20-23);
On the seventh day God rested from his work (Genesis 2:2-3).
God also reveals that the days of creation were six normal, 24-hour days. As God said for each day, “And there was evening, and there was morning” (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), and as Moses stated, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Exodus 20:11).
As the writer to the Hebrews says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Therefore, in the beginning God created the world and everything we see in the universe out of what you couldn’t see, out of nothing.
It is our nature to understand how things are done, created, built, manufactured. We’re naturally curious, seeking a reasonable answer. But God is beyond our understanding isn’t He? Otherwise He wouldn’t be God and could be understood by all humans. However, He is God the creator. He is Jesus the Savior. He is the Holy Spirit, our guide and counselor.
When we ask God why, He may answer, “Because I love you and have a plan for you.” Jeremiah 29:11. God could have created everything in one second but He didn’t. Likewise, He doesn’t need hundreds of millions of years either.
If we decide the creation account in Genesis, chapter one does not mean literal days, we are saying the Bible is in error. If that is the case, how can any of the Bible be accurate? We have opened the door to our own interpretation for all of it. What about John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” We may decide the actual meaning does not apply to people today. This was written for those alive at that time. The Bible is God’s written word for all people of the earth, regardless of location, age or culture.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
He who serves God from love. . .walks in the path of wisdom, not because of any worldly advantage, nor to protect himself from evil, not to inherit good thereafter, he does the right because it is right, though in the end the blessing will not fail him.”
Moses Maimonides 1135-1204