I've believed for a number of years, now, that a subtle but dangerous undermining of confidence in the Word of God is taking place among the people of God.
If I'm right, I believe it could very well be part of what the Apostle Paul forecasts for the Church in the end times in II Timothy 4:3-4.
Just one way (of several!) I see this taking place is the implication made over and over again that the Bible just does not hold all the answers we need for life.
An author I happen to like very much writes, "The Bible doesn't have a chapter and verse for every decision you have to make." He goes on to explain how the Bible gives us principles we need for living a godly life, but "is no magic map." It will tell us what to look for in selecting a spouse, but "there is no chapter and verse for blonde or brunette" if you have to choose between two who both fit the qualifications in every other way.
He is not at all attacking the Bible, or suggesting we don't need to read and meditate on it daily if we want to know and walk with God. In fact, it's hard to disagree with what he says, or find anything objectionable to it at all.
But I'm seeing more and more statements like this in things I read, or messages I hear. If I wanted to take the time, I could type out several similar statements from other popular Christian books and periodicals I have sampled recently.
The cumulative effect, I feel, is to promote the general idea, which is gaining ground daily, that we just can't rely on the Bible to supply the answers we really need in life.
Now, that is certainly not what this author intended; I'm sure of that! I'd like to be very clear I'm not impugning his motives or casting any aspersions on his character!
I'm talking about what I believe is happening in the collective mindset of God's people in an age when we all live at such a frenetic pace, and are bombarded daily by too many choices, too much stress, and not enough time. We want quick answers to the problems and pressures we face every day. We've got to meet that next deadline; we need to answer all those emails and texts, and delete all those other ones, and, of course, keep up with the latest on FB 😆, and we simply don't have time for long, extended ruminating on the Word of God.
We can accept that the Bible just doesn't have all the specific answers we need in black and white; just tell us that, loud and clear, please, so we don't waste a lot of time looking!
But what about all those things we heard from Sunday school? What about Psalm 119:105: "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path?"
What about, "The B-I-B-L-E, Yes! That's the Book for me!"?
I fear what this does is erode our confidence in the Bible as our sole rule and authority "for faith and practice."
You may think I'm overreacting. But the inspired Word DOES say it's coming, doesn't it? And how many prophecies made in scripture should we expect NOT to come true?
I would like to suggest this: Yes, it's true, the Bible does NOT give "chapter and verse for every decision we have to make." The writer I'm quoting goes farther than some in maintaining that there are certainly "principles" in God's Word to guide us, even where there may not be specific, detailed instructions, AND we believers have the indwelling Spirit to depend on. We are to exercise FAITH, he says (and I very much agree!).
But all this reveals what I believe is a common, but fatal, misconception of how the divine Author actually intended this to work.
I don't believe God ever intended to give us a cut and dried "instruction manual," with an exhaustive list of what to do in each and every situation life presents.
He intended for His children to come to a truly INTIMATE acquaintance with Him, and to know and absorb HIS OWN MIND through constant, prayerful, Spirit-enjoined IMBIBING of His inspired, preserved Words, which He, Himself, claims are both SPIRIT and LIFE (John 6:63).
Through careful, extensive TIME spent, in faith, taking in His "living and powerful" Word, in living communion with the Author, we come to have "the mind of Christ;" we learn and grow to think as He thinks, and gradually, as our minds are transformed in the process, it becomes our nature to respond as He would respond, because His Word has taken root in our hearts and minds, and "abides" in us (Psalm 1:1-3; Proverbs 2:1-5; John 8:31-32; Romans 12:1-2; 15:14; I Corinthians 2:15-16; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 3:16; I John 2:14, 20, 27).
This is a seasoned saint as God intended EACH of us to be; one who walks consistently and intimately with God through the simple means He has provided; trusting in Him, looking to Him, and cultivating a close connection through ongoing confession of personal sins (I John 1:7, 9), and the steady, believing intake of His Precious Word.
When my Dad died in 2008, my sisters and I assembled in Michigan to see to it all was properly taken care of for his burial, memorial service, etc. Dad had given some certain, specific instructions, but there were still a lot of pieces missing. We needed to come together and decide on a number of specific details; such lovely things as which casket, what kind of grave stone, what epitaph to inscribe on the stone, what kind of stationery to use, etc., etc.
For these things, my father left no specific instructions.
But it was just plain amazing how my sisters and I would each walk up and down the aisles individually, examining all the possible options, and, time after time, would invariably come to one and the same mind in every case, completely independent of one another's counsel.
"This is what Dad would have wanted," were the words we spoke over and over again.
We may not have had "chapter and verse" for each individual detail, BUT WE KNEW OUR FATHER; we had had enough close, personal fellowship with him, and had heard his pronouncements and preferences enough times, on enough different subjects and in enough different contexts, that we could say with some confidence just what he would choose in these specific instances.
There is only one way to get to that place in your relationship with anyone; you simply must LOG TIME, and lots of it! And that takes one very special ingredient: LOVE.
In Hebrews 3:10, God gives His complaint concerning the children of Israel that failed to enter into the promised land: "Wherefore I was grieved with that generation and said, They do always err in their heart, AND THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN MY WAYS."
I submit that they did not "know His ways," because they did not care enough to invest the time it invariably takes to "know His ways."
The Scriptures say, "The law of his God is IN HIS HEART; NONE of his steps shall slide." Psalm 37:31
If our steps are sliding, it's not because the Bible doesn't have the answers.