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June 3, 2016

Text:  “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching.” Proverbs 4:1-2

As to our title,  ask yourself, “Is what I believe about the Bible  what God said, or is it hearsay that other people have said about the Bible?”  Each of us builds his own beliefs and certitudes from many different sources. How credible is each of these sources? We sometimes believe that we are the “one (and only) in a million” that has gathered all the right “truths” for our “perfect” belief system. Are you sure you got the facts straight? Are the sources upon which you rely altogether  credible? From whence do your beliefs about the Bible come?

Some of our beliefs about the Bible come from the following examples.

Family members rank in the hierarchy of sources of Bible subjects.   “Well, my uncle says,..” And where did he get it? From his third cousin, twice removed! Families seem to have some wise sage ensconced in their ill-placed confidence. They quote him as if he had two doctoral degrees in Theology.  Families have a backlog of unreliable “Bible” lore gotten by conjecture and “reading between the lines”. Are we guilty of just “passing along” the family ignorance instead of pursuing truth? Find someone more qualified by reason of study and experience.

“Our preacher” is often supposed to be the next level of Bible knowledge.  I am a preacher, so I have a right to address their “issues”. At the same time I am able to take umbrage when they are slandered and/or ridiculed. It must be admitted, however, that preachers from time to time overstate their knowledge and flaunt their education.  A preacher may actually make a mistake. He may stretch his arguments to make a point. He may rely more upon what he has been taught rather than what he himself has learned. You must respect his efforts to do right. You may challenge his statement if the scriptures  prove him wrong (If you do it do, it in love). That is to say, don’t believe everything he says. Measure it by the Scriptures. Do not despise prophecies,  but test everything; hold fast what is good.” I Thessalonians 5:20-21 

There are those who will parrot things that sound good to them.  They jump onto the bandwagon if something sounds like it is is true. If a matter is expressed in a way that sounds pleasing, catchy, memorable, and “has the ring of truth”, if it is “down home” in presentation, or wraps it up nicely; then they will give  it the “rubber stamp”.  This kind of statement is welcome because it requires no thought or study. Like someone said, “He swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.” The classic Bible example is Eve when tempted in the Garden of Eden. Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.” Proverbs 23:23

Some reject what makes them feel bad and embrace what makes them feel good. I have a name for this phenomenon: the religion of  feel-good.  Some folk’s batteries get charged when they “go to church” and the band plays, the preacher bellows, and the audience jumps up and wave their arms. This is disorderly worship, not what God has in mind. The apostle Paul devoted  quite a few words  to worship in the First Epistle to the Corinthians. He sums up his argument thus:  But all things should be done decently and in order.” I Corinthians 14:40 Conversely, some messages from pulpits appeal to hearers’ interests by promising them that God will bless believers with riches. Others claim to heal ailments. Yet others propound advice to be followed to solve your health issues, make you lovable, or promise undue happiness. These messages appeal to listeners’ longings to find a “quick fix” to  their personal woes.  These appeals work on the level of feelings. The sixteenth century reformer Martin Luther once advised: “Feelings come and feeling go, and feelings are deceiving. My warrant is the word of God; naught else is worth believing”. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…” II Timothy 4:3 

Quickly, let us make three important rules for finding real truth in the Bible.

Do not be easily convinced.  Remain open-minded. Question everything. Satan claps his hands over easy marks.

Do not accept facile answers.  Ask yourself, “Is it really that easy?” (The Bible is  quite complex.) Study further.

Do not be afraid to embrace new truths. Question if you are wrong, If so, correct it! Dr. Hugo McCord, said on more than one occasion, “I used to think this about this subject. But after further study I now believe this.” Such a humble and memorable thought!”
A little learning is a dangerous thing ;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring :  Alexander Pope



One Comment
  1. Larry permalink

    Yes! Excellent analysis. And I did like the reference to McCord.

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