Summary: We often use this phrase to defend our actions or to attack the beliefs or actions of another, but the Word of God requires more reflection beyond a simple adherence. Ultimately, we must look to the revelation of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.
“God said it, I believe it, that settles it,” is another phrase we hear tossed around a lot by Christians. So we are going to give some thought to this phrase today as we continue our sermon series, “Bible or Not,” where we explore the true meaning behind some phrases Christians and others say that sound Biblical but really are not. Last week, we considered the phrase, “Money is the root of all evil,” and we talked about how it’s not money that is at the root of much evil, but our love of money and material things. The week before that, we looked at the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves,” and how it is true that we have to put some effort into a lot of things, but that there are also times when we will be unable to “help ourselves”, and God is present with us and provides for us in those times of need. And if you remember, we began the series by thinking about the saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” We talked about how some things happen for a reason, either because of the choices of ourselves or others, or because of the sort of natural order of things, but that God doesn’t will all things in our lives, and especially God does not wish bad for us. God wants us to experience abundant life.
So this phrase, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it;” what exactly are we trying to convey when we use this moniker? I think for the most part what is implied by saying, “God said it,” is that the Bible says it. And this is the implication, of course, because the Bible is the “Word of God.” The problem is, the Bible is both the Old and New Testaments, and there are all these laws and regulations laid out, especially in the Old Testament, that aren’t applicable anymore and just don’t make sense in light of Christ’s revelation. And so it’s not so simple as to say, “God said it,” or “the Bible says it,” so “that settles it.”
We heard Jesus wrestling with this very thing in our gospel reading from Matthew this morning. In this series of teachings, Jesus lays out these various laws and regulations from the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament, but then with each one, he revises the ordinance. So it goes something like this: “You’ve been taught such-and-such, but really it should be so-and so.” “You have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, Don’t commit murder, and all who commit murder will be in danger of judgment. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment.” Or “You’ve heard it said that you should love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say love your enemies and pray for those who harass you.” So, we can see, even in the foundational teachings from Christ in the Sermon on the Mount that he is wrestling with this idea that “God said it, so that settles it.” And it should not be so simplistic for us, either.
Part of the problem with this phrase is that we use it to prove a point. To show that we are right, or that someone else is wrong. Let me share with you a rather funny example from the Bible. The truth is, there are several examples, but this one is particularly humorous. Back in the 1830s, indoor plumbing was beginning to emerge, and churches and others began talking about adding toilets to their buildings to replace the outhouses in use at the time. The problem was this seemingly obscure and pesky passage of scripture from Deuteronomy. Here’s what it says: “The latrines must be outside the camp. You will use them there, outside the camp. Carry a shovel with the rest of your gear; once you have relieved yourself, use it to dig a hole, then refill it, covering your excrement. Do these things because the LORD your God travels with you, right in the middle of your camp, ready to save you and to hand your enemies over to you. For this reason your camp must be holy. The LORD must not see anything indecent among you, or he will turn away from you.” Now, isn’t that interesting! So preachers started preaching from this text and arguing that toilets couldn’t be in the church because that was indecent, it would defile the Lord’s house. Thus, it was better to keep the outhouses out back, away from the building, the church. People were basically using this passage of Scripture to support their belief that the church needed to stick with the outhouses; thus, in a sense saying, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it!”