Can the Bible Correct You?

I had a conversation a while ago with a friend who a Christian and is struggling through some difficult doctrines. In the midst of our conversation he said a few things I’ve been thinking about:

1. “I just don’t like it when people have an ‘I’m right and everyone else is wrong’ attitude.”

2. “I just don’t want to believe it.”

Ultimately, I think these comments come down to this question: Will you allow Scripture to correct your thinking. Here’s why I think this is the foundational question.

1. As Christians, we must be people who stand upon God’s revealed Word (the Bible) rather than our own opinions. 

2. When our opinion and God’s Word seem to be at odds, we need to be honest as we dig into Scripture to unveil the original intent (exegesis). Yes, there are cultural differences between our lives today and the culture of the Bible, but we need to be honest and have the integrity to resist merely saying, “Oh, well that was for them, not for us.” We need to honestly examine why it was for them and not for us and dig deeper than “Because that’s how I want it.”

3. When we refuse to believe what the Bible reveals, what we claim to believe about Biblical Authority and what we really believe are at odds with each other. It’s good to affirm the inspiration and authority of Scripture, but if we will not allow God’s Word to correct us then we do not really believe what we think we believe.

4. Truth brings joy. Yes, there are times when it is difficult and painful to believe some things in Scripture, and there are times when I wish I could believe differently because it would be a whole lot easier. But God’s truth brings joy… eventually. Once we see God for who He is and we understand what He has done and what He is doing then even in the midst of the difficulty of faith, we rejoice in who God is and what He has promised.

If you are wrestling with something in Scripture that you do not want to believe… that’s ok. I think we should all be in that position, because it shows that we’re being honest about our beliefs and our preferences and we’re bringing them before God.

A few tips on wrestling with Scripture:

1. Pray. Ask God to increase your faith in Him and not in yourself or in your own preferences. We need to be people who are finally and ultimately devoted to God. We may know that, but are we truly willing to be that kind of person?

2. Interpret Scripture through Scripture. That may sound confusing, but the best way to understand difficult things in the Bible is by understanding what other verses/portions of the Bible have to say about that same thing. Interpret what is obscure or unclear through what is consistently and clearly taught. This also means we should interpret the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament (but that’s a whole other blog post for another day).

3. Dig Dig Dig. God gave you a brain, he wants you to use it. Study, research, and read what has been written. There are many sites online that provide free Bible Study tools (crosswalk.com is probably the most well known; GotAnswers.com has great Q&A type of articles too).

4. Don’t think you’re alone. You are not the first person to ask the question your asking or to study the passage you’re studying. Read what others have written, but also talk to other Christians about this. Maybe they’re wondering the same thing but think they’re alone… study it together.

5. Finally, have faith. There are some things we will simply never fully understand because we aren’t meant to. That’s not an excuse to avoid intelligently pursuing truth. Instead, it’s a call to remember that God is infinite and you are finite. God is mysterious, but He has made Himself known… in part. If you think you can explain everything about who God is and what He has done (and will do) then either your wisdom is infinite or you have made God finite. There comes a point where you may need to humbly say, “I don’t know everything I want to know, but I know enough to confidently trust God.”

One of the greatest ways we can honor God is by trusting Him when we don’t want to.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1

When Faith is Necessary

Faith isn’t necessary when you live in comfort, only doing things you can do “without” God. When you’re securely in your sweet-spot, you can live as if God doesn’t matter.

Yes, God is still necessary because He is the sustainer of life and yada, yada, yada. But, outside of common-grace, “Faith” is not necessary when God isn’t needed.

This is why Atheists and Christians can live so similarly most of the time. Because most Christians live so comfortably in their own bubble that faith in Christ is only saved for death or for seasons of suffering and difficulty, but not for daily life.

I don’t want to live like that. I want to live by faith, because I know that God is real, that he loves me, that the Gospel is true and that faith has meaning both for eternity and today. Will you join me in walking by faith?

We walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corithians 5:7

I’m not thinking about the “BIG” things in life… I’m thinking about the little things throughout the day/week.

  • This could lead us to be more generous when generosity doesn’t make sense, because God doesn’t hold back in providing for us.
  • Or we could attempt simple things that are difficult for us (even if they’re easy for others!), because we are trusting God to give us the strength we need to accomplish them.
  • Speaking up in that conversation because you’re trusting God to give you the right words and the right (humble and gracious) way to say them.
  • Taking the initiative in restoring a strained relationship, because you’re thankful God took the initiative to restore your relationship with Him.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What are some other ways that walking by faith can make a real difference in how you/we live.

Note: I haven’t read “The Christian Atheist” by Craig Groeschel yet, but it looks good… if you’ve read it, please let me know what you thought. Many of these ideas were spurred years ago when I first studied Bonhoeffer’s “Letters and Papers from Prison” where he writes about the “World Come of Age.”