Comfort & Counsel

Home  Articles  Site map

Pointers along the way #701

Is that all we need to do?

- Jacob Ninan

Moses told Israel at the Red Sea, "Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today" (Ex.14:13). But is this a verse anyone can pick up now and claim that we don't have to do anything but wait for the Lord to act? Perhaps the Lord will speak this word to us in a specific situation but can this verse be offered to the general public as a promise from God for all time?

"Ask, and it will be given to you" (Mt.7:7,8). Why is it that many believe this and ask, only to find that they don't always receive? Even those who ask in faith and with a good conscience?

Preachers give out many promises like this, and there are also books listing such 'promises'. Many are excited when they believe them, but disappointed when things don't happen as they expected or as they were made to hope for. Sometimes this is enough to put off people completely from their faith.

All this comes from a misunderstanding of the Bible. Since the Bible is the word of God, people think that every word in the Bible can be taken at its face value. As a result, they don't look at the context and see if it is applicable to them, or if there are other passages in the Bible that clarify the meaning or provide the balance. There are those who underline every sentence in the Bible that has the appearance of a promise as if it is a promise. What is most disturbing is to see preachers handing out these 'promises' without making the necessary effort to check if they are universal promises that can be received by everyone. There are conditions attached to many promises (God saying, "If you do this, then I'll do that for you."), some promises were only for certain people in particular situations, and some are not promises at all.

For example, the verse quoted above from Exodus was for Israel at the Red Sea. But that was not everything they had to do in all situations in their life! When they came to different situations later, God told them different things to do. The verse about asking and receiving is in the context of asking a father for things, where we know that the father ultimately decides what is good for the child. Other parts of the Bible tell us that there is guarantee for us of receiving what we ask for only if it is according to the will of God (1Jn.5:14).

It is very much needed that we should not only read the Bible ourselves (and not just receive promises from others), but we should also learn how to read the Bible and interpret it properly. It is important that those who teach the Bible should teach their hearers practical methods to use when they read the Bible. The Bible should not be treated like a bag into which we can dip our hands and come out with a promise for the day.

The Bible is to lead us to know God in a personal way. It is not in itself the source of our strength. If we don't meet with God through the Bible and know His ways, the chances are that we are misusing the Bible as a 'magic book'.


Subscribe to the 'Pointers along the way' mailing list