On the Abuse and Proper Use of Scripture

God’s word says much about itself. It claims to be inspired of God (2 Timothy 3:16), able to save our souls (James 1:21), and forever enduring (1 Peter 1:25).

Powerful in its effects, it is like fire, like a hammer, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Jeremiah 5:14; 23:29; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12).

With such powerful benefits, it’s no surprise that Satan would oppose God’s word any way he can.

Influenced by Satan, there are those who:

  • Despise and reject God’s word (2 Chronicles 6:16; Isaiah 30:9-11).
  • Attempt to destroy it (Jeremiah 36:1-4, 20-32).
  • Distort it (2 Peter 3:15-16).
  • Use it deceitfully (2 Corinthians 4:2).
  • Invalidate it by human tradition (Mark 7:8, 13).
  • Add to or take from it (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6).
  • Prevent others from believing it (Luke 8:12; Acts 13:6-12; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).

In contrast, if we use God’s word as He meant for us to use it, we will:

  • Love it (Psalm 1:1-3; 119:97, 127).
  • Study it diligently (Acts 17:10-12).
  • Receive it humbly (James 1:21).
  • Receive it as a divine, not a human message (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
  • Obey it (James 1:22-25).
  • Teach it to others (Ezra 7:10; Acts 18:26; 2 Timothy 4:2).

How then have we been using God’s word lately?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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“For My Sake”

Three of Jesus’ promises

>>Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven . . . (Matthew 5:11-12 KJV).

>>He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it (Matthew 10:39).

>>There is no one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).

Weighing hardships against His promises

In each case Jesus speaks of suffering for His sake, but in each case He also guarantees abundant compensation. For the reviling, reward. For the losing, finding. For the leaving, receiving.

His faithful promises more than outweigh the pain (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Doesn’t this make the suffering for His sake well worth it?

By remembering Jesus’ assurance we can endure losses for His sake because we know He will take note and bless.

Of course, it really takes faith to believe this.

But He promised, didn’t He?

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“I am with you”

Comforting assurance

By using a Bible computer program you can type in the words, “I am with you,” and in just moments the screen displays every passage where this phrase is found. If you count all references to “I am with you” plus “I will be with you,” you will discover more than 20 occurrences altogether.

A study of these in context is impressive—and reassuring. Over and over God pledges His presence and His help to His people. Among those who received this assurance (and who really needed the encouragement) were Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Jeremiah, and Paul (Genesis 26:3, 24; 28:15; 31:3; Exodus 3:12; Deuteronomy 31:23; Joshua 1:5; 3:7; Judges 6:16; Jeremiah 1:8, 19; 15:20; Acts 18:9-10). God also encouraged Israel with this promise through Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Haggai (Isaiah 41:10;  43:1-2, 5; Jeremiah 30:10-11; 42:11; 46:28; Haggai 1:13; 2:4).

In time of crisis

God promised to be with them in view of their facing tremendous difficulties and challenges. The normal human reaction to such hurdles would be discouragement and fear. In fact in several of these passages God says, “Do not fear,” along with the promise, “I am with you.” In other words, Since I am with you, therefore you need not fear. And so we can say with David, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me . . .” (Psalm 23:4).

The promise of God’s presence and help is conditional on our cooperating with His will (1 Kings 11:38; 14:7-11). Let’s so live that God can always be with us.

God’s presence may be invisible, but it is real. His promise “I am with you” may be ancient, but it isn’t dated. We need to hear those words today as much as those in earlier times. We too face great trials as we obey Christ. But as Jesus said in giving us the Great Commission, “. . . I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

To the end of the age.


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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A “Why?” for a “Why?”

How Jesus responded

So often during Jesus’ ministry He had to correct the views of His opponents and even His own disciples. On several occasions when objectors asked, “Why?” Jesus replied with a “Why?” of His own.

When Jesus forgave the paralytic, some thought, “Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus replied, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?” (Mark 2:7-8). Jesus proceeded to heal the man, thus proving He did indeed have the authority to forgive.

Another time the Pharisees and scribes challenged Him: “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” Jesus countered, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:2-3). Jesus’ enemies were doubly guilty—not only did they unjustly accuse Jesus’ disciples, but they were blind to their own failures.

When Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus, His disciples objected, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” Jesus replied, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me” (Matthew 26:8-10).

Learning to see from His perspective

In all three of these cases, those who thought Jesus was wrong turned out to be wrong themselves, whether they were willing to admit it or not. Jesus has the advantage of the divine perspective. His words of truth expose our faulty human reasoning for what it is. His perfect life validates all He taught.

As we get to know Christ better, we so often discover that His heavenly values run counter to our own limited, sin-warped, earth-bound thinking.

Something has to give. Let’s trust our own thinking less, and His more (Proverbs 3:5-6).

After all, shouldn’t He always have the last word?


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Selective Vision

“Seeing is believing.”

So they say. But not always.

Israel’s experience in the wilderness proves that seeing doesn’t always lead to believing.

God was ready for Israel to enter the Promised Land, but they weren’t ready. Why not? Their eyes were focused on the wrong things.

Ten of the spies reported on the land they had explored: “. . . the people who live in the land are strong . . . . we saw the descendants of Anak there . . . . all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim . . . and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:28, 32, 33).

The high cost of unbelief

So God said, “Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet . . . have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it” (Numbers 14:22-23).

Because the ten spies had seen with their own eyes the power of God as demonstrated in the Egyptian plagues and the Red Sea deliverance, shouldn’t they have trusted Him? But because the giants loomed large, God’s far superior power was all but forgotten! As a penalty, they would never get to enter the land. They were disqualified by unbelief (Hebrews 3:19).

A lesson for us

The writer of Hebrews warns us not to do as they did: “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11).

Selective vision paralyzes whenever we focus on our fears instead of our Father. Selective vision empowers when we keep our eyes on God, trusting Him to help us deal with life’s challenges.

As the children’s song says, “Oh be careful, little eyes, what you see.”


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Use with Caution

Helpful, however . . . .

Many Bibles have only the text of Scripture, or perhaps some maps and a brief concordance in the back. A study Bible, however, is designed to provide various helps—such as introductions to each book, charts, diagrams, and comments on the text. A good study Bible can prove quite useful.

Since these extras are provided by fallible human beings, we do well to exercise caution and not necessarily believe everything we read.

Discernment needed

I have a study Bible, generally quite good, that depicts the tabernacle with some of the furnishings in the wrong place.

If I were to point this out to the publisher I would likely get a cordial reply acknowledging the mistake and promising to correct it in the next edition.

But what if I were to call into question some of the charts that reflect a premillennial bias—or the faith-only position it takes. These are not the result of poor proof-reading but of erroneous theology.

Another study Bible, commenting on Acts 2:38, asserts that baptism is not for salvation. Someone might read this uncritically and accept it as true. But shall we believe what some scholar thinks Acts 2:38 means or what the verse actually says?

Study Bibles are useful to those who profit from all the helps they provide, but who can also detect editorial errors as well. As the old saying goes, “Take the wheat, leave the chaff.”

Some study Bibles are “chaffier” than others. The discerning reader should be able to tell the difference.

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The Content of Our Faith

Faith is so basic that Christians are simply called “believers” or “those who believed” (Acts 2:44; 4:32; 1 Thess. 1:7; 2 Thess. 1:10).

To be saved we must believe (Mark 16:16), but what must we believe? That is, what specific truths must we believe? The New Testament is not vague on this question but clearly reveals the precise content of our faith.

”And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

What else must we believe?

  • That God sent Jesus (John 11:42; 16:27, 30; 17:8, 21).
  • That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31; see John 8:24).
  • That Jesus is in the Father, and the Father in Him (John 14:10-11).
  • That God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9-10).
  • That Jesus will return, and the dead will be raised (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

We must believe Jesus.

If we believe He is who He claimed to be, isn’t it logical that we will believe everything He taught on any subject (John 5:46-47; 8:45-46; 10:24-38)?

Jesus specifically asked the grieving Martha a very personal question about her own faith: “. . . He who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). Martha readily affirmed that she did.

Like Martha, each of us must make our own personal response to Jesus’ soul-searching question: “Do you believe this?”

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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