If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures (searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,) then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:4-5, Amplified/The Message)
“The Bible is full of contradictions,” a friend once told me. What followed was a great conversation about the Bible.
At first glance, the Bible does, at times, seem contradictory in places. How do you reconcile, “O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us – who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” with “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…Love your enemies…”?
Nowhere in the entire book of Esther is God mentioned. But that’s why there are 65 other books in our Bible. Esther was intended to be read and studied in light of “the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27) The reformer, Martin Luther, argued that James should not be a part of our Bible due to its seeming over-emphasis on works. But, read James in light of Romans, Galatians & Ephesians and it begins to make sense.
Cult leaders, power-hungry megalomaniacs, Neo Nazi’s and the KKK all specialize in half-truths and Bible verses taken out of context. Never forget – almost anyone can pluck a Scripture out of the Bible and make a half-baked argument to the masses that their particular interpretation is right. This is what the Pharisees of Jesus’ time did best, reducing the Word of God to legalistic “cold demands of rule-ridden perfectionism,” which is why Jesus fired back at them with a public scolding: “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” And it’s exactly what Satan did when he tried to manipulate the Scriptures to tempt Jesus away from what Christ had come to earth to accomplish. (Matthew 4, Luke 4)
So, how can we be better equipped to detect a misuse of Scripture? Systematically study the Bible – all of it. The Reformer, John Calvin, said, “Scripture interprets Scripture.” David wrote, “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding….” Take, for instance, the “unfolding” of Saul’s conversion experience. Recorded by Luke three separate times throughout the book of Acts , each time we’re given added insight to Paul’s story of meeting Christ.
Charles Hodge, the 18th century Princeton Theological Seminary professor, stated, “The best evidence of the Bible being the word of God is to be found between the covers. It proves itself.” Simply put, what you find to be true in one part of Scripture will be supported, tested and proven true throughout the rest of Scripture. “Every word of God proves true;…” (Proverbs 30:5)
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick