Have you ever been the victim of a sound bite, a short phrase lifted out of a broader conversation? Sure you have, and when it happened you moaned in frustration, “That’s not what I said!” How would you feel if you were God, had penned an incredible manuscript of thousands of words, and then someone grabbed a bite of it and ran off in their own direction claiming you authorized it?
We owe it to our Father, and to ourselves, to listen closely when someone speaks for God. If the context is lacking, God may be saying, “That’s not what I said!”
Isolated verses, obscure passages, hidden meanings, new revelations. These are flags you should not let fly in your heart until you have examined them against their context, the clear word of truth, the simple message of Scripture, and the age-old story of God’s redeeming love. The Bible is cohesive, start to finish, and carries the scarlet thread of redemption throughout. Anything short of this is heretical.
While the Bible is inspired and infallible, it is also ancient. It is not fair to impose modern requirements upon it and judge it against those standards. To expect the writers of the Scripture to adhere to modern scientific or historical standards and thought is narrow and presumptuous. Yet, this occurs all the time in media, classrooms, and critiques where the Bible is referenced.
A small fraction of what ancient history has to reveal has been discovered—perhaps 10%-15%. Of the artifacts uncovered archaeologically, only a small fraction of these has been fully evaluated.
Bluntly, there is a lot of ancient history awaiting discovery. Before you adopt a perspective that disparages Scripture based upon some piece of evidence, ask yourself if there might be additional information available yet.
Centuries of critics have sought to discount the record of Scripture. Centuries of critics, many brilliant, articulate, and highly educated, who professed themselves wise are dead. Scripture stands.
Another wave of aspiring skeptics are charging the Bible’s ramparts as you read these lines. Having witnessed the futility of their predecessor’s charges, like the charge of the Light Brigade, or like Pickett’s Charge, they trudge forward upon their fallen predecessors. They fail to consider that Scripture is proven to hold the high ground and have the advantage. Its statement of resolution has been challenged, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever” (Is. 40:8), but remains undaunted.
Be shrewd and discerning. The next time you hear an authoritative voice claim trumpery over divine writ, or claim an intellectual/scientific/archaeological/literary insight just realized that casts aspersion on Scripture, you might think twice before putting your money on the newcomer.
Pay close attention to who you pay close attention to. I am not the fountainhead of all truth, neither is your pastor, and neither is the person on the TV. Know the Book and know the person who is speaking to you about the Book. You are looking for consistency and reliability.
Neither Scripture nor the character of God contradict themselves or each other in the final analysis (ref. Jm. 1:17). Again, the best teacher is one who does not bring meaning into Scripture but gets meaning from the Scripture.
Finally, if the interpretation of the Scripture you are considering will not apply to all people throughout the world, you have missed the message. Jesus did not come to save America. He came to make an offer of salvation to those lost and in need, and that is every one of us regardless of our address on the planet.
Don’t forget that Satan quoted Scripture to Jesus while tempting Him. While Satan is a liar, he is also a deceiver. That means many of his lies are half-truths that contain an element of truth in them. Even when someone references the Bible, make certain the take-away points align with the balance of Scripture’s message.