Summary: Exploring ways Christians have misused the Bible, and discover techniques for finding in the scriptures the messages God is wanting to convey.
The Wish Book
Thesis: Exploring ways Christians have misused the Bible, and discover techniques for finding in the scriptures the messages God is wanting to convey.
By now most department stores have sent out their Christmas catalogs and Wish books. Some stores sent them out as early as August.
Most of us who receive these catalogs look through them and circle the things they would like to have show up under their tree on Christmas morning. Knowing full well we can’t afford and don’t need what we circle.
Some people view the Bible as a "wish book". A woman named Barbara thought all she needed to know for the day was in the "promise box" she kept by her bedside. When things weren’t going well she would reach inside her promise box and get a promise that would keep her going. It gave her hope and direction. Nothing wrong with that is there? We all need hope and direction don’t we?
Barbara had a husband named George. Well George became ill. So Barbara reached into her little promise box and took out her promise of healing and her faith never wavered, even as George grew worse.
As the ambulance pulled away from the house with George in it Barbara paused just long enough to call her church prayer chain. She was still confident that God would perform a miracle. Barbara sat in the hospital chapel and prayed. As she opened her Bible she turned to Exodus 15:26. "If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and laws, then I will not make you suffer the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you" (New Living Translation),
This was the proof she needed that George would be healed. God had just told her in His Word. However only a few short hours later George passed died.
The problem here was not with God or His Word. It was with Barbara’s use of the Word of God. She had built her beliefs on verses that were totally unrelated to the situation at hand. She used her Bible in the time of great stress but the way she used her Bible was not entirely biblical. It never even occurred to her that some of what she was believing was totally different from the meaning of the intended message of the Bible.
With the help of friends and family Barbara was able to take a closer look at Scripture and rebuild her faith in God and His Word. However, there are many more Barbara’s out there. Some even sit in the pews here. They have developed entire sets of beliefs through incomplete use of the Word of God. The Bible has become your Wish Book.
I want you to understand Barbara was not wrong in believing God would heal George. He does heal people today. Miracles are not just for days gone by. Barbara was not wrong in believing the Bible contains promises for us to claim. Barbara was wrong in thinking that the Bible is some kind of fortune cookie. Break it open and you receive your magical message just for you. God can and does sometimes speak to us in this manner. Many can testify to this fact. However the danger lies in reading more into the biblical text than what is there or what was intended by the author.
John Wesley identified four interrelated tools to help us decide what to believe and how to live as Christians. This is called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. He said our Christian faith should be based on:
1. The Bible.
It is the undisputed, foundational source of our doctrines and beliefs.
The Bible as I’ve said before is not some collection of beautifully written stories or folklore. God speaks to us through the same messages that He spoke to Israelites. As Salvationists we affirm. That the Bible is the only reliable source of understanding about God and how He relates to His creation.
Our first doctrine states: "We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice."
Today there is a lot of debate as to how much God was exactly involved in writing His book. This debate does not grow out of examination of the Bible. It grows out of human assumption.
God did not dictate the Bible. The Bible is not merely great literature. It is not merely the work of inspired authors. Throughout history God revealed facts about Himself and humanity. He guided writers to understand the importance of those revelations. The writers used their own language, personalities and historical circumstances to communicate in their own ways the truths God gave them.