Does your life help or hinder people’s understanding of the Bible?

Posted: August 20, 2010 in Church, Theology, Thinking
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I am writing today with eagerness – encouraging whoever reads this to examine your life and what effect it has on those around you. The best passage of scripture I can think of using to illustrate my point today is 1 Timothy 4:15-16,

15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

We have to, as Paul says, “keep a close watch on [ourselves] and on the teaching. Persist in this,  for” or because, “by doing so [we] will save both [ourselves] and [our] hearers.” What is this passage really saying? What are we to persist in? How do we save ourselves and our hearers? What does this mean? Let’s look at the ESV Study Bible note, because it states it clearly and concisely. It states,

“Timothy’s perseverance in sound doctrine and practice will save him, i.e., it will lead him to persevere in the faith, confirming his salvation. This type of ministry will be effective in preserving his hearers as well.”

This verse and it’s implications are quite clear to me. What we believe about the character and nature of God (sound doctrine) and how our beliefs transcend into daily living have an affect on the people around us. My question is does our life help or hinder people’s understanding of the Bible? What I mean by this is if someone were to talk to you and observe how you live, and then pick up the bible and read it for themselves, would what they read in the Bible make sense based off of what they have been taught by you (through your actual verbal teaching and through observing how you live), or would the Bible be even more confusing?

If you are a pastor, a small group leader, or simply a Christian you are going to have people looking at you and then looking at the Bible. If you say that God is not angry, people will then read their Bible and see verses like John 3:36,

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

So when someone tries to cover up or ignore God’s wrath, it hinders people when they read the Bible because people are going to bump into more verses in the Bible that discuss God’s anger and wrath than His love. A.W. Pink states, “A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness.” Don’t create a new god and then make believe it is truly Yahweh. People will encounter the true God when they read the Bible in its entirety and it will be an earth-shattering experience for them, because they watched and learned from you.

There are a ton of other examples I could talk about. People nowadays are saying that God is okay with homosexuality, the Bible says the opposite (Romans 1:26-27). People say God doesn’t know all of the future because if He did then our human choices wouldn’t matter. The Bible says God knows everything – period (Isaiah 46:10). People say you can lose your salvation. The Bible teaches that God keeps His own (Jude 24) by causing us to walk in His ways, causing us to obey all His commandments (Ezekiel 36:27), and willing and working in us for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13, Hebrews 13:21); not to mention that He promises to finish what He has started – namely our faith (Philippians 1:6). People say that God only chooses those whom choose him, yet the Bible teaches that God chooses people based solely on his own sovereign choice (Ephesians 1:5). I could say a multitude of things that cults say that are in direct contradiction to the Bible, but for the sake of brevity I won’t go there.

The point is, we need to be thinking and teaching correct things about God, so that when people sit down to study God, they aren’t trying to figure out who they should listen to; us or the Bible.

One example of this in my own life, is when I started to see things in the Bible that really made God out to be a lot bigger than I gave Him credit for in the past. I had a lot of questions that were arising from my own Bible reading. I asked some people their thoughts on the subject, and they completely disagreed with what I clearly saw in scripture. It just felt like the truth, and I couldn’t twist the Bible to mean something else. Every time I tried to change the clear meaning from the text, I felt so convicted and I couldn’t do it. People in my life were making my own personal study of the Bible confusing. They would say things like, “that is not like my god,” and, “I couldn’t worship a god like that.” But this is the only God that makes sense with the rest of the Bible for me. And the people who disagreed with me couldn’t explain how my view of God was not biblical, yet they couldn’t explain how theirs was. Praise God that there were people in my life who did see the same glorious God in scripture and helped me understand Him more accurately. And when they did, it made the whole Bible come alive to me.

Does your life lead people to love the Bible? Not in the sense that they worship the Bible, but they love the Bible because they find their soul’s completely satisfying Savior within its pages.

In closing, I want to look at one more text. Psalm 119:79,

“Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.”

I think this verse completely speaks to this topic. David is saying that he wants people who fear God to look at his life, because when they do they will understand God’s word. Those who fear God know that if they don’t know God correctly then He is dishonored. God is strongly to be feared, especially when we attribute to Him less than God-honoring qualities. The person who fears God, knows this. And David is saying that if these type of people, who want to know God accurately, turn to him, they will be brought to a deeper and more accurate understanding of God. I pray that this is the case for myself, and anyone else who is reading this, so that we save ourselves and our hearers.

Know, preach, and teach the things of God accurately, so that God is honored and people are edified.

  1. […] blogs to status updates on Facebook and Twitter. I have also read an inspiring blog called Does your life help or hinder people’s understanding of the Bible?, which speaks of the same message I was trying to express.  Does my life reflect a “rejoicing” […]

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