Many today want to throw the Bible out completely. They try to discredit God’s people by saying we’re intolerant and mean-spirited when we call for a biblical standard. Attempting to destroy God’s Word is nothing new, but God will preserve it and one day judge those who try to destroy it just as He did in Jeremiah’s time.
While we can rejoice that God will deal with evil men who reject His Word, we may need to examine our attitudes toward Scripture, as well.
How do we view the Bible? Do we see it as a cafeteria line where we can pick and choose what we like? Do we cut and paste it at will? Do we view it as merely a book of nice suggestions for living? Or do we view it as God’s Word and allow it to direct every area of our lives?
Jeremiah 35 & 36
1 Timothy 4.1-16
Do You “Cut & Paste” the Bible?
Jeremiah 35 & 36:
Cutting Off What We Don’t Like
Chapter 36.22-26 says:
22 Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning on the hearth before him. 23 And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. 24 Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words. 25 Nevertheless Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah implored the king not to burn the scroll; but he would not listen to them. 26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them.
The king was sitting in his house, warm and comfortable, and—with a complete disregard for the Word of God! When the Scriptures were read to him, he simply cut them off the scroll and threw them into the fire!
I once heard about a liberal theologian who literally cut the first few chapters of Genesis out of his Bible. Others today throw out the whole Bible as being the work of men. Still others, claim they are followers of Christ, but pick and choose what to believe.
Some talk about how Jesus loves everyone, but forget that He ordered the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Some claim to love God but don’t do what He says, forgetting His words, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14.15). And others say it’s a book of principles alone. They deny its truthfulness in the area of history and science and eliminate the whole creation account.
Then there are those who cut and paste the Bible with other religious ideas. They take what they like from Christianity, add a little Eastern religion, and toss in some mysticism. Or they say they’re Christians but add other books or some so-called higher knowledge. Still others deny the Deity of Christ, the virgin birth, or the reality of the Trinity.
The Bible is not a cafeteria where we can pick and choose the parts we like. Neither is it just one of many ways to God.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14.6).
And 2 Timothy 3.16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
That word inspiration means “God breathed it out.” All Scripture was breathed out by God, not just the parts we like or choose to believe!
God is a God of mercy and grace, but He is also a God of justice. Jeremiah 36 goes on:
27 Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words which Baruch had written at the instruction of Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: 28 “Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. 29 And you shall say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, ‘Thus says the Lord: “You have burned this scroll, saying, ‘Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and cause man and beast to cease from here?’” 30 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. 31 I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed.”’”
First, though men may try to destroy or discredit it, God will preserve His Word (v. 28) and, one day, judge those who try.
And we who call ourselves His, need to be sure that we’re not cutting out parts we don’t like or don’t care to obey. We need to be sure we’re not justifying sin in the name of grace or looking the other way for fear of taking a stand. We need to be sure we’re not replacing truth with political correctness. We need to remember that all Scripture is inspired by God and more precious than silver and gold (Ps. 19.10).
The cords of the wicked have bound me,
But I have not forgotten Your law (Ps. 119.61).
Today’s Other Readings:
He is Good
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
68 You are good, and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.
Notice verse 67 is followed by the psalmist’s declaration in verse 68, “You are good, and You do good.” Another verse says, “It was good that I was afflicted.” When God allows a test or trial in our lives it is not for our hurt, but for our good, no matter how it looks to us at the time!
Tribulation and Distress
“Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.”
9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Tribulation and distress include depression, anxiety, fear and worry. While not all negative emotions are the direct result of sin in our lives, when we are experiencing them, we should examine ourselves in light of God’s Word. Is there some area where we are failing to trust God or live obediently?
If so, we need to repent and ask God for His forgiveness and help.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”(1 Jn. 1.9).
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28.13).
1 Timothy 4.1-16:
Watch Out for False Teachers
This chapter warns us to watch out for false teachers, those who would draw us away from biblical truth. While it’s important that we don’t reject any part of God’s Word, it’s also important that we don’t add to it. Chapter 4.3-5 instructs us to reject any teaching that adds legalistic requirements.
How will we recognize false teaching and false teachers? By reading, studying, and seeking to understand God’s Word for ourselves and also by living it out in our lives:
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age,that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb. 5).
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about whether our faith is genuine, widows, laziness, the link between guilt and paranoia and more.
Be sure to sign up so you won’t miss any of these upcoming posts.
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This guide provides a brief, concise overview of personal Bible study for the layperson. Long-time Bible teacher Robert West gives insight into the types, tools, and techniques of personal study, offering both practical guidance and encouragement to pursue the command of 2 Timothy 2:15 (“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth”). Covering topics such as the inductive method, word studies, commentaries, dictionaries, and concordances, How to Study the Bible also emphasizes the personal benefits of private Bible time.
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Getting ready for 2018
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in. As an incentive, I’ll be giving away one daily Bible to someone who signs up between now and October 31st and another one to someone who leaves a comment between now and then.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.