Stop Using the Bible

Here’s a thought: Stop using the Bible.

Don’t stop reading it. Don’t stop thinking it. Don’t stop speaking it.

But please stop using it.

But that is exactly what many in the evangelical world are prone to do with the Bible…make it practical and useful. Like a tool.

The Bible as an appliance.

Keep it around in a handy location until you need something done. Then fetch your Bible like a blender from the cabinet.

It slices, it dices, it makes life easy.

Oh, yeah, we even advertise our teaching of the Bible in this manner:


Because we all know that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Paul’s revelation concerning Israel in Romans and John’s prophetic poetry in Revelation are all very “practical.”

(You do know sarcasm when you see it, don’t you?)

Someone else tells me “the Bible is the owner’s manual for life.”

Well, isn’t that cute. Of course there’s no truth in it whatsoever. I’ve got lots of owner’s manuals — for just about every appliance I own — and none of them read anything like the Bible! (When was the last time you saw an owner’s manual full of prophecy and poetry?)

The Bible is nothing like a manual.
It’s an epic poem telling a story.
And the story’s not about you.
The story is about Emmanuel.

Using the Bible. There’s something very American about that. We Americans have a compulsion to make everything practical and useful — even God! We want to domesticate God so that we can harness Him to our agenda. We don’t want a God who is wild (like Aslan) — because wild can be dangerous (and very impractical). You can use what is domesticated.

But you cannot worship what is domesticated.

A pagan might worship a lion or leopard. But I doubt that even the most idolatrous pagan would worship a blender. It’s practical.

OK, so you’re still wondering, what’s wrong with using the Bible?

What’s wrong is it presumes that you know what needs to be done and that all you need is the means by which to get it done. What’s wrong is that it leaves you in charge of your own spiritual formation. What’s wrong is that it ultimately makes the word of God subservient to self.

Think about Luke’s account of the Temptation of Christ. In the first and second temptations Jesus counters Satan with, “it is written.” But in the third temptation, Satan says to Jesus upon the pinnacle of the temple:

If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
“He will command His angels concerning you,
To guard you,
On their hands they will bear you up,
Lest you strike your foot against a stone.”

If Jesus was “using” the Bible, he could have seized this promise, made practical use of it, applied to his life…and leaped from the temple.

And sinned.

Instead, Jesus simply replied:

It is said, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

No, we must not use the Bible as a tool to attain our own desired outcome, because in doing so we will be able to justify everything from tempting God with flying leaps to betraying the Gospel with genocidal crusades.

Instead we must present ourselves before the scriptures and allow them to form us. Allow them to form us, inform us, transform us. Allow them to say to us whatever they want to say irrespective of our wants and desires. Submit yourself to the scriptures instead of using Bible verses as fiats so that God can be taught to fetch.

Do you ever wonder just what God requires?
You think He’s just an errand boy to satisfy your wandering desires.

Here’s what you should do. Present yourself before the word of God day by day and let it so saturate your being that you don’t have to try to “use” the scriptures, but instead the scriptures have so formed your thinking and speaking that you find yourself being transformed by a renewed mind and moving mountains by spoken words — but not words that you use as a tool, but words that have formed you and become a part of you.

Is there a difference?

The difference between Jesus and the Pharisees.

Think about it.

I’ll say more Friday night.



Peri and I have been married for 27 years today.

I can’t imagine doing life any other way than as brianandperi.