When you were little did any of your siblings or your friends ever tell you that “Mom said we could do this…” or “Yeah, my dad said we could use that…?” I remember a good friend of mine who we went out cruising with. It was fun — until we got busted because his mother didn’t actually say he could use her car. In fact, she had really told him she would call the police if he ever did. To his surprise that’s exactly what she did.
Most of the time we would be a whole lot better off if we would check to see if “so-n-so” actually said whatever it is they reportedly said.
But let’s not just point to children regarding such things. Most of you who have worked for companies for any length of time have probably heard similar things. “Oh, sure, that’s the way the boss wants it done. Plus it is much easier that way.” “Oh yeah, it’s OK if we take an extra 30 minutes for lunch. No big deal.” It seems to be Murphy’s Law that the boss doesn’t catch the guy who told you that; it seems he usually catches you.
As I said before, most of the time you would be a whole lot better off if you would check to see if “so-n-so” actually said whatever it is they reportedly said. I wonder why we don’t check? Usually it’s because we don’t want to look like the odd man out. We want to fit in. Plus, we usually like the direction the supposed saying allows us to go, so we simply choose to believe it.
It’s not just things that your mom or your boss supposedly said that people make up. We also hear a lot of things in our culture about what God says in the Bible. People say that God says we can do this, or that we can’t do that. They say that God says this about who we are, or they say what God will or won’t do for you.
Be warned! You need to check these things out for yourself. What God said or didn’t say can have a far greater impact on you and your eternal existence than your mother grounding you for two weeks because of something stupid you did when you were 14.
Lately at our church, we have been talking about what many people claim the Bible says, but that in fact it doesn’t say. Such things as, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
“Since we are saved by grace we can do what we want.”
“We are all God’s children.” “God wants you to be happy.”
“Money is the root of all evil.” Or “God helps those who help themselves.”
Do these things sound familiar? They should, as you likely have heard them more times than you can count. But are they really what God teaches in the Bible?
For example, the Bible makes it clear you can’t handle anything in a godly way on your own, but that you can handle all things through the Lord who strengthens you! The Bible is very clear that even though you are saved by grace, God nonetheless expects you to obey Him. That’s why Jesus asked, “Why do you call me Lord, but don’t do what I say?”
Our society promotes, and many “popular” preachers teach, that God wants you to be happy. But God’s Word teaches us that He wants you to be blessed. Certainly sometimes in life we are happy, but many circumstances can dispel our happiness. But even in the midst of tragedies you can be blessed of the Lord, and be filled with His comfort and joy.
The Bible is the Word of God that tells us what He wants for us, what He requires of us, and how He wants us to treat others. Deuteronomy 32:47 says that God’s Word is life to us. The Bible is a lamp unto your feet that helps you to see where you are, and a light for your path so that you can see what is ahead of you. This way you can keep from stumbling, or from being fooled by the world when you are told things that God didn’t really say that can actually be to your detriment.
The other day I was talking with some people about the Holy Spirit reminding us of things God has said. But I had to point out to them that the Holy Spirit doesn’t “remind you” of something you didn’t already know; He reminds you of something you learned in the Bible that is useful at the time He reminds you.
If you want to do those things that God calls you to do, or avoid the things God warns you about, you need to read His Word for yourself. Spend time in the Bible each day. It is just as important as the food you eat. That is why Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
It is foolish to be surrounded by so many Bibles but not know what it actually teaches. It is wisdom to read the Bible, understand it with God’s help, and apply it to your life. That is like the person who builds their house on a foundation of rock, and not on sand.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.