In January 2006, someone remarked to us that the Bible had answers to many things but certainly not everything that we need. It might have been a casual remark, but it haunted us.
Yes, the Bible told us how to have eternal life, but did it tell us how to live?
- We knew we were supposed to have a good marriage, but did it tell us how?
- We knew we were supposed to be good parents, but did it tell us how?
- We knew we were supposed to love other people, but how should we act in specific circumstances?
- Why were there so many opinions—on music, clothing, styles of worship, and even denominations? Which were right, and which were wrong?
God brought to mind a verse:
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:3-4).
This verse was clear that the answers were in God’s Word, the Bible, because it said that His divine power had given us everything we need, through our knowledge of Him.
Knowledge of God isn’t an arbitrary thing. We should be able to open up our Bibles, search for an answer, and find it. If we didn’t have something we needed for life or godliness, it was obviously because we didn’t have a thorough knowledge of Him, as revealed in Scripture.
We decided to start in Genesis and read, with the intention of discovering instructions God had given us for life and godliness. It didn’t take long until we discovered a problem.
Much of the Bible just didn’t apply to us!
For instance, a friend of ours was involved in a type of “prosperity gospel,” and she was fond of looking at Deuteronomy 28 for assurance that God would bless her financially if she were a believer. However, it was clear from the context that these words were written as a national blessing to Israel.
And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of YHVH thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that YHVH thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of YHVH thy God…. (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)
“We are Christians, not Jews,” we said, “so these promises cannot apply to us.”
The problem was that we knew that almost the entire Old Testament was written to Israel, not to the Church. It would be taking it out of context to apply the Old Testament’s instructions or promises to us in the Church. Yes, there were principles. Yes, there were some good stories, poetry, and proverbs. Yes, it told about the coming Messiah, but it held very few instructions for us. In fact, as we read into the New Testament, much of that was also written to Jews, rather than to us.
Why did 2 Peter 1:3 tell us that the Bible’s promises would give us everything we needed for life and godliness, when so much of what it said applied to someone else in a period of time long gone?
And as we realized that very little of the New Testament had been penned or was available to believers when Peter wrote his epistles, we were even more frustrated. They didn’t have access to Paul’s epistles. The little we had read that was directly written to the Church certainly could not contain everything we needed for life and godliness.
It felt like we were taking scissors to the Bible… snip… snip… snip….