“A MISREAD COMPASS” By Pastor YAU
Text: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 July 4, 2010.
1) A misread compass: William Scoresby was a 19th century seafaring explorer who responded to God’s call to the ministry later in his life. Yet an interest in the workings of navigational compasses stayed with him during his work as a clergyman. His research led to the discovery that all newly built iron shops had their own magnetic influence on compasses. This influence would change at sea for various reasons that led crews to read the compass incorrectly. This could lead to disaster.
2) A misread Bible: There is a striking parallel between a misread compass and the misread teaching of the Bible. In 1 Timothy 1, Paul warned against “fables and endless genealogies”, (v. 4) man made changes and false interpretation of God’s word. People who falsely teach doctrines are like “shipwreck” in their spiritual condition, Paul concludes. (19) Today many churches, theologians, leaders of denominations are misreading the Bible and add many man-made interpretation to the Bible, cater to the corrupted society, and mislead many otherwise good and genuine Christians into falsehood.
HOW PEOPLE MISREAD THE BIBLE:
1) It is a religious classic: Many literature scholars and people of higher education see the Bible as classic religious collection. That’s why we see Bibles are in almost all libraries around the world including the most prestigious ones. People who have the knowledge of language and literature know the value of the Bible in its literary and linguistic unique features. Particularly the Books of Moses in the Old Testament and the Pauline Epistles in the New Testament, they are worthy of respect from scholars on linguistic and literary values. But listing the Bible a treasure of literature, in fact, is a step of misleading its fundamental purpose: a revelation of God to man. It will then lower it to be one of the classics of all other classical writings, religious or secular. The Bible is high in linguistic and literary value, but it is much more than that.
2) It is a moral collection: Many non-Christian writers often quote the moral teachings from the Bible to support their thesis or teaching. They particularly love to quote the words of King Solomon from the Proverbs and the words of Jesus in the Gospels. But most of religious books also contain many great teachings on ethics and morality. This is part of the Bible and is an important part. But the main theme of the Bible is much more than moral teaching. It is about the new life in Jesus that produces moral thoughts and deeds.
3) It is an out-of-date book: Some people who do not know the Bible think that it is only a book for ancient Israelis on religion and morality, therefore it is out-of-date in today’s society in many areas of social and personal life. This trend of thought causes many to ignore the universal circulation of the Bible and the ever relevant and applicable of its teachings in all kinds of culture, tradition and ethnic society regardless of time and space in the past 2,000 years of history. The Bible is the living word of God. It will never become irrelevant nor out-dated.
4) It needs to be progressive: This is the view held by some liberal branches of the Christian churches. From leaders of some main stream denominations to theologians of liberal schools, they truly believe that the Bible needs to be updated from time to time with the trends of the society in order to be relevant to the people of the day. They want to see God and His word follow the needs of man instead of man obeys God and His teaching. To these people, the Bible needs to progress in pace of the changes of the society. But who is the Lord who has the right to set standards and guidelines? Do men need to follow God or God needs to follow men?
WHAT IS THE BIBLE ALL ABOUT:
1) It’s about eternal life: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life.” (John 5:39) People who treat the Bible as a book of literature, language or as any great book in history will miss the most important value of this book: it is the revelation of God to men for salvation of their souls, eternal life. This is about eternal life with God through the Savior Jesus Christ or eternal death of torment in hell. So, do not mistreat the Bible or overlook the message in it.
2) It’s about your soul: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7, KJV)Here we see clearly that there are two parts of a man: his body from the dust of the ground and his soul from the breath of life of God. Any one with a normal capacity of wisdom will know that the most important part of a man is not his body but his soul. But we see that most books written, teachings in schools and learning in the society are all about how to improve the quality of the body and its well being. Only the Bible talks about how to improve the quality of the soul so man may find his way back to his creator God. If you misread the value of the Bible, you mistreat the value of your soul.
3) It’s about faith in Jesus: “If you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)Unlike all other books of religion, the Bible is not teaching lists of codes of conduct by that man may earn their salvation through discipline and efforts. The Bible teaches a path to salvation by putting your faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death on the cross so you will be saved. Treating the Bible as a blueprint of salvation by human efforts misses the only door to achieve it.
4) It’s about a new man: “If any one who is in Christ, he is a new creation (man), the old (life) has gone, the new (life) has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) For those who mistreat the Bible as a book of moral teaching, they miss understand the cause and effect of morality. The Bible teaches that true moral life is the result of a new life in Jesus Christ as a witness to the world. True morality is not putting a coat of nice paint on the filthy and corrupt nature of the old sinful life. The Bible is meant to lead people to a new life in Christ because without that there is no true moral life.
THE FUNCTIONS OF THE BIBLE: (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
1) It is a book by God: “All Scripture is God breathed.” (3:16)This is the NIV version. The KJV translated the Greek text as “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” Either way it is clear that the Bible is inspired or breathed by God, from God’s idea or with God’s breath or life. This sets the Bible apart from all other books in human history, religious or secular. With all books written or inspired by men the Bible is inspired by God. Anyone who tries to read the Bible, to understand the Bible or say anything about the Bible needs to start from God, not from man. Without the fear of God, the knowledge about God and better a personal relationship with God, all comments about the Bible is irrelevant at best or obsolete at worst.
2) It is a book for our good: “And is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (3:16b) Here we see God wants us to know that the Bible is useful and important for our good. Many people, including some Christians who do not see the Bible as useful or important. Most Christians do not read the Bible or try to know the Bible because they don’t see it as useful or important to their life. But God says the Bible is useful to help us become better people, better Christians by teaching us, rebuking us, correcting our wrongs and training us to be real soldiers for Christ and good witnesses to the world.
3) It perfects man of God: “That the man of God may be perfect.” (3:17, KJV) God desires all His children to be perfect. This is the standard or goal God set for all of us, to be perfect. This is an important part missed by the NIV. While we all realize that it is impossible to be perfect in anyway, but God wants us to know that we have a high goal to attain. Until we attain God’s goal, no one may stop striving to meet His standard. Some may call this the process of sanctification, an everyday pursuit of growth as Paul says in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
4) It equips us for good work: “May be thoroughly equipped for all good works.” (3:17b) Here we see the function and the goal of the Bible. The function is that the Bible may thoroughly equip us, furnish us, (KJV) provides us tools, guidelines, principles and steps to achieve the goal which is for us to do all kinds of good works, works God sees as good. The standard of good works is not judged by men but by God. We learn from the Bible what to do and how to do works God sees as good. Apart from the Bible, no one knows what is good in the eyes of God. We need to use God’s value system to see all things in our life if they are good or bad, never by our own value system.
1) The compass of life: You may never need a compass if you are not a ship captain. But you certainly need a compass to steer your life through the stormy sea in this world. Read the Bible and learn from it all the teachings, principles of correction and training so you will be safe to sail your lifeboat through without incidents. God has given us the wonderful book, make the best use of it. Invest time to know God through knowing His word.
2) The choice is yours: Life is too complex for anyone to handle it alone. God promises us He will be our Lord and Savior if we ask him to. Be humble to ask Jesus to forgive your sins and let him guide you into your future. Trust Him with your heart and let Him be the compass of your life.