My wife and I recently visited a city we lived in twenty years ago. It was fun discovering the new businesses, new homes, and new roads as well as finding the old places; the ones that hold special memories. We discovered that we had forgotten more than we expected. Without Google Maps we would have been lost in our old home town.
I see this very same condition taking place in church congregations today. It seems as if Christians, both young and old, have forgotten the framework of the body of Christ. It is stunning to me when I talk to people that have accepted Jesus as their Savior but they dismiss the cost of sin, they do not recognize the Church’s authority, and they look at the Bible as a smorgasbord from which they can pick and choose which parts they accept and which parts no longer align with popular culture and therefore are ignored or thrown away.
When I lead a person with this condition into the Bible it’s as if I’ve taken them to their hometown from which they’ve been away from for twenty years. They recognize only an occasional landmark and are unfazed by passages directly from the Bible that contradict popular beliefs. I find this especially disheartening with young people who discount the Old Testament. It’s passe, they say; nobody lives by the law, they say. What is even more disturbing to me is when I talk with someone that says, “I only believe in the red letters.”
Discussing this with a well-respected friend and Bible scholar, in mere moments they had an answer for these new-fangled ideas: Jesus said, mind you, in red letters, “You search the Scriptures…it is they that bear witness about me.” (John 5:39) And, Paul tells Timothy to “study to show yourself approved by God… rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Guess what the Scriptures are that Jesus and Paul are referring? It’s the Old Testament. The Law. Christ fulfills the Old Testament so we know Him better by learning from it.
If you’re a “red letter only” person then I’d like to point out that at the start of the ministry of Jesus He reads in the Temple from Isaiah, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled.” while Christ’s statement, “You search the Scriptures…it is they that bear witness about me.” comes afterwards. This shows that “fulfillment” does not mean retirement.
If ever there was a time when Christians need to study the Bible, discuss scriptures with other Christians to sharpen their handling of God’s Word, and challenge, respectfully, heresies when they hear them, the time is now!
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash