Tuesday, April 5, 2011

FHCO: Your Future in the Bible (Part 7)

Future Hope Conference Online
Your Future in the:
Bible - Tribulation - Rapture - Millennial Kingdom - Heaven - Q&A

Steve Howell
Steve Howell
Adult Education Minister
Tonganoxie Christian Church


If something was true in the past, that's great. But, is it still relevant for today? Truth carries forward from the past into the present. Why does present truth matter? Well, let me tell you!

In just a number of months we face some big elections in this nation. People all across the nation are going to be voting for congressional appointments. To win their votes, politicians are out there telling their people a number of things. This one over here is going to help create jobs. This one over there is going to be a fiscal conservative. This one over here is going to reject Washington politics. And, this one over here is going to do the same thing, too. For us to make the choice correctly for a politician who reflects our values, we have to consider the present truth of their claims. Are they telling the truth for now? Or, are they just saying what they think we want to hear? By the way, the answer is "B." They are just saying what we want to hear, just in case you were wondering.

The bottom line is that we need to have truth about present events, because how true something was in the past, if it doesn't carry forward into the present, well it just won't work. It's like a broken light bulb. If it worked in the past — great! But, if it doesn't work now it is useless.

This is important when we look at the Bible, because if the Bible has past truth but has no relevance for modern life then we can relegate it to history. We can put it in the library. We can forget about it. But, if it is true for today, the implications for our life are huge.

So, can we trust the Bible's claims about the present? That is our big question. Again, there are some everyday tests of truth that we can use that can help us out.


Test #4: Is the info a fairy tale?

The first test has to do with the unexpected. Is the information a fairy tale?

If you watch TV for any length of time, you are bound to see some products that are just amazing. They are going to make you thin, and strong, and smart and funny. That stain that is on your pants that's been there for the last 10 years, well it will take that right out, too. It's great!

I have a well meaning friend of mine that actually bought one of these products for us after the birth of my daughter. My daughter turned two in January. You might have seen this product. It's called, "Your Baby Can Read." Have you seen the commercials for that? They're great! The commercial shows success stories with babies reading flashcards at extremely young ages. They show people asking, "What's this one?" The baby answers, "Turtle." They respond, "That's right!" "Elephant, chimpanzee." "Great!" These babies are reading and it's amazing, and it's all because of these wonderfully scientifically designed videos. So, our friend sends it to us and we get the package in the mail. I see the product and I'm immediately skeptical, but I say, "Okay, fine, it sounds like a fairy tale, but we will give it a try." And so, we pop in the video and my daughter sits down and starts watching this thing. She watches the videos and you know what? Um, our baby can't read. We tried, and on a good note, she's addicted to videos now. But, that's what I expected along the way.

I expect claims that are too good to be true to be fairy tales. The truth itself, well that would be really unexpected. I'm still waiting for an ad to say that this product will clean a lot, but grease stains, not so much. I am waiting for them to reveal that some people lost 50 pounds on this diet, but you have no will power so it's probably going to get you to lose about three or four pounds. That is what I want to hear!

I believe some things because no one would make them up. And so, what happens when I apply this maxim to the Bible? It gives me the unexpected.

Test #4: Is the info a fairy tale?
A) Fun Stuff is Excluded

Fun stuff is excluded. If the Bible were a sham, I'd expect it to be at least more exciting, right? There are lots of pagan religions out there that made life fun. You get to worship God by having sex. You get to take vengeance on your enemies. You get to do all sorts of things that we'd like to do.

Instead, the Bible is filled with commands that I don't get. It's stuff that we like that's getting regulated such as sex, speech, desires and pride. We're told not to engage in certain activities except within the boundaries that God puts there. And we say, "Wow, I mean, that's hard. He's excluding a lot of fun stuff from life." Why would we make that up?

Test #4: Is the info a fairy tale?
B) Difficult Stuff is Included

I also see that difficult stuff is included. If the Bible were made up, I think we'd make it easier. Instead, it has some really difficult teachings in it, such as love your neighbor. Well, that's fine if your neighbor is a nice guy. But, love your enemies, what!?! You know, like that jerk from accounting. That's tough! Give to the needy? Okay, I can chip in a quarter when I am passing by the homeless guy, sure. Tithing 10%, seriously!?! That's tough. These commands in the Bible are hard and difficult stuff.

Test #4: Is the info a fairy tale?
C) The Focus is Not on Me

I also find out that the Bible is not about us. The focus is not on me.

I would think that something made up would be about how it would benefit us. A lie would put us at the center, but the Bible puts us on the periphery. The focus of the Bible is on God, not on us.

We are told to put aside the things that we want most in order to do the things that He wants most. We are told to take up our cross, and to put to death our own agendas and follow Him. We are to keep our focus on Him through everything. Even Heaven — the thing that we think should be the culmination of human experience, pleasure and joy — it's not even about us. It doesn't even tell us much about what we are going to be doing except worshipping God. He's the focus of the whole thing. That doesn't make a lot of sense.

Is the info a fairy tale?

Overall, I would expect a fairy tale for the present when I read the Bible if it's a lie, but instead I find the unexpected. I find challenge. I find a focus where I don't expect it. And, consequently I say, "You know what? This doesn't seem made up. This seems trustworthy. This seem true for the present."


Test #5: Is the info functional?

Another test for the present that we see is functionality. Is the information functional?

I am not a doctor. I don't even play one of TV. But, I'm reasonably confident about treating some illnesses that I have along the way. I believe that when I have a headache, I should take some ibuprofen. I believe that when I have allergies, I can take a Claritin and that is going to help me. I believe that when I have a toothache, I just need some cocaine (see Part 2). Officially, I don't have a diagnosis for these problems along the way. Officially, I can't state what chemical reaction takes place when I take an ibuprofen and it goes to my head and helps dull the pain. I don't know how that is happening, but I believe in these treatments because they work. I believe some things because they are simply helpful. In everyday life I look for things that work.

What happens when I take this test and apply it to the Bible? I find out some things.

Test #5: Is the info functional?
A) It Shares How to Make Relationships Better

I see that the Bible shares how to make relationships better. If this book is from our Creator, it should explain how we function better with others, and it really does. It is filled with ethical teachings like do not steal. It is filled with relationship principles, like husbands and wives should submit to one another and love each other. Societal ideas take care of those who are in need. It talks about taking care of the alien, the fatherless and the widow. I hear from people all the time who have tried to put these principles into practice who say, "It works. It was hard, but the biblical teaching improved my marriage." It works!

Test #5: Is the info functional?
B) It Shares How to Make Finances Better

The Bible also shares how to make finances better. If this is from our Provider, it should explain how we function better with our resources, and it does. It is filled with teachings about stewardship, like how to properly manage the things that I have. It is filled with teachings about generosity and how we are supposed to give things away to help others. I hear from people all the time who have tried it, who have put these principles into practice, who say, "It works. It was hard, but biblical teaching helped me get my money under control." Great!

Test #5: Is the info functional?
C) It Shares How to Make Me Better

The Bible shares how to make me better. If this is from our God, it should explain how we function better with Him, and it does. It is filled with instructions and encouragement for our spiritual lives. It spells out how we can have a relationship with Him despite our sins. It tells me how I can prepare for a life with God. I hear from people all the time who have tried to put these principles into practice who say, "It works. It was hard. But, do you know what? This really improved my relationship with God."

Is the info functional?

From a functional standpoint, this stuff seems true. The Bible seems trustworthy in practice, so I have to consider that to be evidence of its truth for the present.

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