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Pointers along the way #645

Misreading the Bible

- Jacob Ninan

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1Jn.5:1). This seems to make things extremely easy for someone to be born again; all he needs to do is to believe in the identity of Jesus. Another verse says, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Ro.10:9). "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved" (v.13). Again, very simple! Sad to say, many people take verses like these and assure themselves and others that everything is fine, they are children of God. What is going wrong here?

Doesn't Satan also believe that Jesus is the Christ or that God raised Him from the dead? But has he been born again? Isn't it easy to 'believe' and 'confess' many facts like this, without that actually affecting one's heart and mind? Just accepting facts as being true does not change a person. These facts must take hold of the person in such a way that he repents from his old sinful ways, sees Jesus as the only One who can save him from his sins, and puts his life entirely into the hands of Jesus with a determination to obey Him. This has not happened to Satan, and to many thousands of people who are deceiving themselves thinking that they are children of God. The sad thing is that they are basing their assumptions on verses like the ones quoted above.

Aren't these verses in the Bible, and isn't the Bible inspired of God? Yes. But God inspired certain people to write the words of the Bible, and so there is also a human element in the text of the Bible. Different authors have used different sets of vocabulary, grammar, styles of narration, idioms, colloquial phrases, etc. When we interpret the Bible, we need to take such factors also into consideration if we are to understand properly.

The above verses cannot be taken as standalone truths but only as parts of the truth that is coming out from all over the Bible. Those who are born again will believe that Jesus is the Christ and that God raised Him from the dead. These are true aspects of born again people. But just believing these facts does not cause someone to be born again.

3 John was a letter from John to Gaius. In v.2 we find a greeting at the beginning of the letter. It is wrong for people to take this as a promise from God of health and prosperity! In Pr.18:21, in the figurative language of proverbs, we find a warning to be careful about how we speak. But some people mistakenly assume that God's word is defining a fact about the supernatural power of a tongue! There are many examples like these where mistakes come because of a wrong assumption that since the Bible is the word of God, every word in it is accurate and precise just as in scientific or legal statements. No. God has allowed the human authors to express things in their own ways, while at the same time getting His truths across. We must keep this in mind as we read and meditate on the words of the Bible.


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