Faith & Reflection
As a boy, I recall being impressed by how much scripture a man in our community could quote. My father explained later that this man spent a great deal of time reading and memorizing the Bible so that he could mock and refute it.
A friend recently shared a profound statement that his teenager made. He said, “Dad, when Grandpa reads the Bible he soaks it in and honestly tries to see how it applies to his own life. But when uncle reads it, he seems to try to find how it applies to everyone else but himself!”
What a remarkable difference between the two approaches to the Word of God!
Mark Twain, who was not incidentally, by any truth of the imagination, a Bible believer, also noted this difference. A ruthless businessman once told Twain, “Before I die, I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the 10 Commandments aloud.” Twain replied, “I have a better idea. You could stay in Boston and keep them!”
There is indeed a significant difference between the acquisition of Bible knowledge and the personal application of Bible truth. Roy Zuck, in Basic Bible Interpretation, states, “Neglecting to apply the Scriptures reduces Bible study to an academic exercise in which we are concerned only for interpretation, with little or no regard for its relevance for and impact on our lives. It is wrong to think of the Scriptures as only a sourcebook for information, as a book to be examined merely for the knowledge we can gain from it. Of course, knowledge of the contents of the Bible and correct interpretation of it are essential. But more is needed. We must have a responsive heart, a willingness to appropriate the truths of the Scriptures into our own experience.”
The apostle James (considered by many to be the half-brother of the Lord Jesus) wrote, “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it” (James 1:22-25).
Evangelist Rodney (Gipsy) Smith counselled a man who said he’d received no inspiration from the Bible, although he’d “gone through it several times.” Smith told him, “Let it go through you once … then you will tell a different story!”
— Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.