The utter inadequacy of the truth
by John Crotts, Faith Bible Church
The Bible is the most important book in the world.
In its pages, God reveals himself. But as important as the Bible is, knowing its contents is not enough to be a faithful Christian.
As fallen, rebellious creatures, our understanding and even perspective of life is seriously distorted. We can’t figure out where we came from, what we are supposed to do, and where we are going on our own.
Although creation reveals that there is a Creator and our sense of right and wrong impresses us with the fact that there must be some kind of God, in our sinfulness we try to suppress that knowledge in unrighteousness. If God did not reveal himself to us in the Bible, we would be left with enough information to condemn us, but not enough to save us.
Thankfully, God did reveal himself to us.
In his mercy he also had the Bible translated by people from Hebrew and Greek into English that we can understand. We have privileges that millions of others have never experienced.
With access to such a treasure, it makes perfect sense to devour the Bible’s contents. We should try to master the big storyline of the Bible, figuring out how each section relates to Jesus Christ. We should seek to determine the flow of individual books of the Bible. For example, do you know what Genesis is about? Joshua? Matthew? Ephesians?
Then we must try to synthesize individual sections of the Bible together to determine its major teachings, or as they are sometimes called, doctrines.
What does the Bible teach about the holiness of God? To answer that question, you have to compile the contents of several sections of the Bible like Isaiah 6, Psalm 99, 1 Peter 1 and many other places. What does the Bible teach about spiritual gifts? Parenting? The same process must be applied to answer these types of questions.
It would also be good to get to know the key sentences in the Bible — often included in single verses. There are promises to fuel your faith, pillars to build your life upon and prescriptions to follow.
The Bible is vital to know God and his ways, but it is not enough to know the facts of the Bible to be the kind of man or woman that God expects you to be.
A lot of so-called Christians know a lot about the Bible, but they are obnoxious. They use their knowledge of the truth like a club to assault those around them with different beliefs.
Although it may have taken them years to understand a point of theology and develop their convictions, impatiently and aggressively they pounce on others who delay for a few minutes in agreeing with them.
Paul warned that some in the Corinthian church had large amounts of theological knowledge dangerously divorced from their practice. He said, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up,” (1 Corinthians 8:1b).
In Israel, the Dead Sea is the lowest spot on planet earth. It receives input from the Jordan River, some meager amounts of rainfall and streams that provide small seasonal offerings, but the Dead Sea has no outlet. Water comes in, but it does not flow out, which results in death, because of the toxic chemicals below the surface.
Spiritually, if a person has a great zeal to take in and understand the truth, but does not also have an outlet for that truth to work itself out in loving relationships, the result will be an inflation of spiritual pride and ultimately spiritual death.
Later in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul used hyperbole to emphasize the profound importance of Christian love. In three overstated examples, Paul goes from extreme high to extreme low in his efforts to make his point. He said, “If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all that I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
According to the Apostle, a person can fluently speak the language of angels, know all spiritual mysteries, and sacrifice every single thing they have for others, but if those extreme virtues don’t also come with love, they accomplish nothing, they count for nothing, and that person is nothing. Love is that important to the Lord.
Now what is the antidote to the crisis of truth zealots, who club people over the heads with their Bibles? Is it for them to dial down their passion for understanding the truth of the Bible? Absolutely not. The rich contents of the Bible must work through their minds and down into the rest of their hearts and lives.
Jesus’ brother James said, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). The Bible tells us about God and his ways. It tells us that God is loving and kind, and that all of his followers should be loving and kind as well. We must put that truth into action.
We can’t love in the ways God wants us to apart from the truth, but we must never try to separate God’s truth in our minds from God’s love in our lifestyles.