– John Flavel
Devotional: 7 Ways Christians Read the Bible Wrong
This is a very profound quote because it really goes into the heart of the Bible. The scriptures are intended to instruct us about God’s character and how to live on this earth in this day and age. Unfortunately, too many Christians misread the Bible and just approach the scriptures in such a way that it doesn’t really lead them to where Christ needs them to go.
Here are seven ways Christians read the Bible wrong:
It is not a source of flat one-liner debate support text
It’s not uncommon for Christians of different denominations and different faith traditions to essentially debate each other’s faith by running down certain verses from the Bible to support their doctrines or to support their teachings. While it is true that the Bible says we are to look to it for guidance, it doesn’t instruct us to use it as purely debate material.
The reason for this is because many Christians are often tempted to take a verse and twist it out of context. So many misunderstandings and so many unnecessary conflicts among Christians arise from this very human tendency.
The Bible is not there to enable people to ‘win’ arguments. The Bible exists to show the truth of Jesus Christ.
The Bible is not a set of incantations
There are many Christian believers that look at certain Bible texts and claim it expecting that once they claim and recite that text, it will become reality. While it is true that the Bible says that God’s word does not come back to him void, this is often twisted to support the belief that the Bible is really just a set of magical incantations that you only need to claim and keep repeating for it to turn into reality.
The reality is that God intended his word to lead to our salvation. That is his ultimate purpose for us.
Unfortunately, many uses of specific Bible texts are aimed solely at claiming things that we want instead of things we need. God knows that there’s really only one thing that we need and that is salvation. Everything else falls outside of that. Keep that in mind.
If you’re going to look at and claim Bible verses, make sure that they point towards the only thing that truly matters which is your personal salvation.
The good book is not a book of fables
There is a category of Christians that basically look at the Bible as essentially a collection of symbols. In their minds, there is really no reality in the Bible except that it shows inspiring stories of how humans can overcome and everything works together to show people the right way to live.
While it is true that the Bible is a text that instructs us into right living, it is more than that. It is God’s truth. The events mentioned in the Bible, as long as it’s not specifically or contextually established as allegorical or symbolic, are literal; and they are to be taken literally.
The Bible is not just a feel good manual or a symbolic manual. It is the truth.
God’s word makes for lousy home decor
Many Christians buy a Bible because it looks good in their bookshelf. They rarely crack it open.
In practical terms, they look at scriptures as basically home decor. It’s just for appearance. It just makes them feel good. And more importantly, it makes them feel that they look better in front of the visitors because they have a Bible in the bookshelf.
God’s word is meant to be read. It’s meant to not just to be opened from time to time or not just to be publicly viewable but actually read and most importantly, absorbed. In fact, there’s a verse in the Bible in Revelation where you eat the Word. That’s how intensely personal your relationship should be with the scriptures.
The Bible is not a dead book
There are Christian traditions that focus more on contemporary commentary regarding the Bible instead of the actual scripture of the Bible. This is very dangerous territory because the farther away you get from the actual word of God, the easier it is to twist, misrepresent, and outright distort the truths that the scriptures contain.
It is not a dead book. It is live. It has live meaning in this day and age. While it’s great to read commentaries, always look at the citations used in that commentaries to make sure that the conclusions are rooted in biblical truth.
The book of scriptures is not a fashion accessory
Finally, there are many Christians that love to carry their Bibles to church. There’s nothing wrong with this. You should bring a Bible with you not just to church but everywhere you go because you can never run out of opportunities to consult with and get a healthy serving of God’s word.
The problem is when you carry your Bible around primarily based on how it will make you look in the eyes of other people. The scripture is not a fashion accessory. Instead, it is a very crucial gateway to your salvation. So treat it with the respect and reverence it deserves.