The Bible is an amazing book, and to the bible-believer it is the final authority for all matters of faith and practice and ultimate source of all truth. However as we know this is not the same view shared by people or even christians. The beauty to how God created us however, is that we are all unique and different. With different upbringings, life experiences and world views. Thus our perspectives of the Bible is unique and different.
The point I’m trying to make is that our own unique approach to the Bible determines our expectation, produces the outcomes of our Christian life and uniquely shapes our worldview. Today I’d like to take the opportunity to consider some approaches to the Bible – their benefit and the impact of that assumption.
Before we begin, let’s highlight how we all have some level of assumption in all that we do, whether consciously or sub-consciously.
We all make assumptions.
If you were flying to Japan you would need to make certain assumptions:
- The Pilot knows how to fly the aero-plane
- The plane will arrive safely
- The immigration at Japan will honor your passport
- You will be able to accomplish your intended purpose in going
Thus in taking any journey whether physical or spiritual, one must first have a certain level of assumption.
Let’s begin by considering 4 such assumptions in regards to the word of God. It’s important to note that sometimes these assumptions happen on a subconscious level and are seen by our outward behaviour toward scripture. These assumptions (conclusions from observations) come from Matthew 13:1-9.
1, ¶ The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
2, And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3, And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4, And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5, Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6, And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7, And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8, But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
9, Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Assumption 1: A Book I’d rather not read (Matthew 13:4)
- The Way Side: These are the seeds that fell on the way side that was gathered by the fowls. The seeds don’t even land on the earth where they have the potential to grow. And even the opportunity for them to be carried to the good ground, is negated by the fowls devouring the seed. This is basically the assumption that the bible is a book not worth reading, or that it is better not read and so God’s Word is plainly rejected.
- Benefits: The benefit is living life as you want, on your terms, without accountability to Christ. There is a supporting old adage for this – “ignorance is bliss”.
- Impact: Eternal condemnation of one’s soul and a false reality of life and eternity. Ephesians 4:17-18 echoes this – “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:”
Assumption 2: Great book, great to hear but nothing more (Matthew 13:5-6)
- Stony Ground: Here the sower sows, but the seed lands on stony ground. In fact there is not much earth for the seed to take depth and grow, and so it never does. This speaks to those who see the Bible as a good book, hear it’s word, but their respect of the word and hearing it never have any lasting effect.
- Benefit: Onlookers believe that you are religious, moral and a Christian. People believe you something you not. You get to have your cake and eat it too, being religious and living like the world.
- Impact: Your religion is merely a form, nothing more, an empty shell. On the outside the person appears moral or even religious. But religion is merely an adornment. It’s fashionable. 2 Timothy 3:2-5, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”.
Assumption 3: A Book from God But Written By Men (Matthew 13:7)
- Thorny Ground: The sower here sows the seeds but the thorns come up and choke them. This speaks to those who have heard the word, but instead of seeing the words from God as the final authority, they allow men to interpret truth and it’s application to their own lives. Their trust is first in man or something else; rather than God.
- Benefit: The responsibility and accountability of scripture is shifted to someone or something else. “A bad carpenter blames his tools”.
- Impact: The person never matures in the word, and ends up living on milk instead of meat. Hebrews 5:11-14, “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12, For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13, For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.14, But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age,4 even those who by reason of use5 have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Assumption 4: The Bible is God’s words on paper (Matthew 13:8)
- Good Ground: In verse 8 we see that the seed finds good ground, and as such brings forth fruit. The assumption here is that the person sees the words of the bible, as the very words of God. As opposed to the contrast of course, that if the ground is corrupt (has thorns or is stony), then it is not good ground and thus does not bring fruit when the seed meets it.
- Benefit: Firstly, the individual gets to bring honor and glory to God, by bringing forth fruit. Secondly, the person’s view about scripture, gives them confidence to trust what it says on a day to day basis through the midst of life storms. Thirdly, it gives hope for tomorrow and a sure anchor in which to ground their lives. 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17, That the man of God may be perfect, throughly5 furnished unto all good works.”
- Impact: You take responsibility for your walk with God, and the awareness of a pending day when He will judge you for your life lived. 1 Corinthians 3:9, “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry,3 ye are God’s building. 10, According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11, ¶ For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ 12, Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13, Every man’s work shall be4 made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”
Ultimately whether we like it or not, we are making assumptions in our approach to scripture. And so the questions stands today, which assumption are you making, and if so what needs to be changed?