Summary: Thoughts drawn from Chuck Swindoll on how to handle the Word correctly.
Biblical Abuse II Tim. 2:15
INTRO.: Charles Swindoll, in his book, "Growing Deep In the Christian Life". (p. 69ff) writes of biblical abuse. He sees mishandling the Scriptures so as to mislead others as abusive.
Imagine the disillusionment of finding out the information you were given from the Bible, which you believed to be true, was in fact erroneous. . . the result of gross mishandling of Scripture. This would be Bible abuse.
From the story of Ezra’s reading of the Word in Nehemiah 8, Swindoll suggests. four principles for properly handling the Bible:
I. Accurately handling Scripture starts with reading the Scripture:
A. Does this seem obvious? Not to many. 3
1. Some use it to store family records and recipes.
2. Some use it to press flowers.
3. As a written word, it expects to be read. There is nothing to be gained by having it unless you read it. Certainly, read it to your children.
B. Matt. 12:1-8 Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees of His day.
1. Twice He asks, "haven’t you read . . ."
2. These men were experts in the Law. They were "righteous" men. self-righteous. Respected as religious leaders.
3. No doubt they had read these Scriptures yet they had not read attentively. This happens. We read the words but our mind is somewhere else.
4. The people did not come together to hear Ezra, applaud in a performance, nor listen to any man’s opinion. We must read and hear the Word of God.
II. Properly handling the Word of God involves respect for it: 5
A. The people stood because of their respect for God and His Word.
1. This is a regular custom in most Mexican congregations.
2. Of course, this isn’t the only way to demonstrate respect. Their attentiveness showed respect.
3. Must recognize the importance of what God has said. When the book is opened, God is speaking. We do well to try to understand.
B. Jesus again confronts Pharisees in Matt. 15:1-14
1. They question Him about the conduct of His disciples not because they respect the Law, but to trap Him.
2. He responds by pointing out their disrespect. They demonstrate disrespect by handling the Scriptures dishonestly.
3. We can make the Bible say anything is we take its words out of context and twist them.
C. An example appears in I Cor. 10:13
1. We wrongly interpret this to mean God will not give us more grief than we can bear.
2. The context, if we are honest, means God will help us resist temptation to sin.
3. We know God does occasionally give us more grief than we can bear. This is because He wants us to turn to Him and seek help from His Word and His people.
4. We show respect for God and His Word by handling His Word honestly.
III. Properly handling Scripture means explaining it so all can understand. Neh. 8:7, 8
A. "making it clear" can also mean translating it.
1. Must remember, Jews had been in captivity for 70 years to Babylonians.
2. They were scattered everywhere in the kingdom and many of the younger ones would not know the Hebrew language anymore.
3. Then they gave the meaning of the Scripture.
B. Jesus also did this. Matt. 15:14ff
1. He went into minute detail to explain the meaning of what He had said.
2. There are other cases where He explained His teachings to His disciples.
3. It is always the job of the Bible teacher or preacher to explain the Word so others can easily understand it.
4. The Church must provide an opportunity for people to learn to understand the Bible.
IV. Properly handling Scripture includes obeying what God has commanded.
A. See the example of Ezra and the Israelites who returned from captivity:
1. They were told not to weep, but to feast and they did
2. They reestablished the Feast of Tabernacles to commemorate the exodus from Egypt as God had commanded.
3. They renewed their commitment to God and His Word.
B. God expects us to obey His Word today.
1. Not enough to read and understand what it says, we must be willing to follow it.
2. Matt. 7:24-27 shows difference between obedient and disobedient.
3. James 1:22 - Do not just hear and forget but obey.
A painter was working in the house of an 89-year old lady in Spokane, Washington. He noticed she had a large family Bible prominently displayed on the coffee table. The lady told him it was 116 years old and a priceless heirloom. He commented on how remarkable that was and added, "you know, it doesn’t matter how old the Bible is. It’s what’s on the inside that counts."
The lady said, "Oh, I know. That sure is the truth. Why, we have family records and births and marriages that go so far back, all recorded in that Bible. We could never replace them." - John Underhill