I recently received the question, “should a person live by the Bible generally or by the letter?” Essentially what this person was asking is, should we just look at the big picture, or focus on the minor details?
My answer to the question is this: we should study every minor detail of what seems to be the general concept. Honestly, there is nothing “general” or basic about the Bible. Every detail speaks deeply when deeply studied, which is one thing I find so fascinating about scripture. Nothing in it’s text has zero purpose as, all scripture is God-breathed which is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) We may not always completely understand God’s word, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless. It simply gives us incentive to further our faith in knowing God’s ways are higher than our own.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you understand the main idea of our faith; For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son; that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal Life. (John 3:16) If you are reading this and you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, this verse simply means God sacrificed His only son to endure the punishment for sin so we would not have to. Essentially, this verse is the heart of what we believe as followers of Jesus. It can also be described as the foundation of our faith. Here’s the issue; simply understanding the general idea of scripture does not produce fruit, discipline, and closeness with the creator God. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. How can we correctly handle the Word of truth (the Bible or God’s Holy Word) if we do not know what it says? God tells us in Matthew 11:29 to take His yoke upon us and learn from Him. We can not learn from God if we do not hear from and study God. Do you walk into your math class on the first day of school ready to take the final exam? No. Preparation for the final exam takes an entire year of listening, studying, and intense effort in order to fully understand the subject. I am not trying to relate Christianity to Math. In fact, I personally don’t care for math. What I am trying to point out is, just because someone knows that math exists, doesn’t mean they understand it. Likewise, just because you write John 3:16 on your bathroom mirror does not mean you have cultivated a deep understanding of God’s word.
Keep in mind the topic of John 3:16. Jesus taking on death so we would not have to. What this verse screams is, “I LOVE YOU.” We serve a God that deeply loves us. Because He loves us, He desires a deep and personal relationship with us. If John 3:16 means exactly what it says, then why in the world would we not desperately seek to further our knowledge on the One that loves us so deeply. I believe it is impossible to legitimately understand the “general” concept of the Bible and not have incentive to dive deeper. When we begin to zero-in ON the big picture, we grow a desire to zero-in ABOUT the big picture.
Really think about that last sentence.
My goal for this post is not to beat you up or cause you to feel conviction. My goal, is to
encourage you to soak up the details about our faith involving attitude, prayer, health, sex, marriage, wealth, parenting, discipline, and many other areas of life. Allow those details to soften your heart and transform your life. Everything you read in scripture points back to the cross of Jesus Christ in some way or another. The general idea of the Bible may produce faith, but it’s the small truths that produce growth; both of which are vitally important.
“The truth produces faith; faith produces incentive; and incentive produces growth.”