Archive for July, 2013
Back on July 18 I retweeted/reposted an article by Sally Lloyd-Jones “Teaching Children the Bible”
In the last fews days this article has been weighing heavily on my mind because I fear we might miss the balance between two extremes. The premise of the article is that the Bible is a story about God and should not be reduced to a simple “how to” manual of morality. The tagline seems to be “The Bible isn’t mainly about us, and what we are supposed to be doing—it’s about God, and what he has done.”
While this is a true statement and we can all use the reminder that the Bible is God’s story, His revelation of Himself to mankind, we cannot miss the fact that it is more than just that. By its own declaration, the Bible is sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart (Hebrews 4:12) and it is inspired by God and…profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17; emphasis added).
Under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the Bible stands in judgment over us for the purpose of conforming us into the image of Christ through spiritual maturity. Hebrews 5 informs us that we are to be moving from the milk of the word to solid food. Solid food is for the mature — for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. There is an assumed behavioral difference when Paul says, Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).
Yes, the Bible is God’s story of the redemption of man; yes, the Bible is Jesus’ story and not a lesson in morality; and yes, we cannot live the Christian life bound by all the rules and laws encompassed in the legalism of which the New Testament writers warned against, BUT… we absolutely cannot fail to ask ourselves this question when studying the Bible: How does God want me to live differently because of what He has revealed to me through the pages of holy Scripture?
I read a quote once by Phil Vischer (creator of VeggieTales) that gave a great perspective on morality and the Bible (after 2 hours scouring the internet, I finally re-found the article; quote from page 2: http://www.worldmag.com/2011/09/it_s_not_about_the_dream/page1):
I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality.
So, yes, we must not extract the moral teachings from the Bible to say “follow these rules” or “have the courage of Daniel” without first laying the foundation of faith in Christ which fuels life changes, but equally, we cannot ignore the Bible’s call to deny one’s self and follow Him as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) being conformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29, 1 Peter 1:15-16). When it comes to the purpose of Scripture being God’s story of salvation or instructions for life, it is really a “Both/And” and not an “Either/Or.”