Published August 14, 2008
There are some hard sayings in the Bible. Most of us who are conservative actually believe more than we obey. For example, it’s really hard to turn the left cheek to the ogre who has just smacked you on the right cheek (Matt. 5:39).
Furthermore, I don’t know of anyone who has had their right eye extracted in order to avert a lustful look; and I know of no one who has had their right hand amputated in order to curb any attempt to activate their avarice (Matt. 5:28-30).
In John 6 when Jesus had fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish He began to declare himself and delineate the terms of discipleship. Some of the disciples remarked, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60)
In John 6:66 the Bible says, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”
Many of the truths of the Bible are hard to take. The Bible presents a perfect ethical standard and sets forth the objective of holiness. It could be no other way, for God is holy and a holy God must have a perfect standard of ethics and holiness.
Interestingly, for centuries individuals have attempted to adjust the Bible to accommodate their own level of morality or justify their own theology or philosophy of life.
When I was at Southeastern Seminary in the 1960s it was extremely liberal, except for a few good and godly professors. One Wednesday at chapel we had a professor who so dissected and discredited the Bible that one student threw his Bible in the aisle of the chapel except for one page that he salvaged and ran out of the building screaming, “This is all I have left.” He was emphasizing the only part of the Bible that remained after the professor had demythologized and rationalized the rest of it into oblivion.
Thomas Jefferson attempted to summarize his views of Christianity by taking scissors and snipping out every miracle and inconsistency he perceived to be in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Then, relying on a cut-and-paste technique, he reassembled the excerpts into what he believed was a more coherent narrative comprised of 46 pages, resulting in what has been called the Thomas Jefferson Bible.
A couple of years ago the Western Bible Foundation in the Netherlands published a new Bible translation that caused great controversy, because they cut out difficult references related to economic justice, possessions, and money. Their goal was to “make the gospel more palatable.”
The chairman of the foundation, Mr. De Rijke, stated, “Jesus was very inspiring for our inner health, but we don’t need to take his naïve remarks about money seriously. He didn’t study economics, obviously.”
According to De Rijke no serious Christian takes these texts literally. “What if all Christians stopped being anxious, for example, and started expecting everything from God? Or gave their possessions to the poor, for that matter? Our economy would be lost. The truth is quite the contrary: a strong economy and a healthy work ethic is a gift from God.” The foundation wanted to “boldly go where no one else has gone before: by cutting out the confusing texts.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Colorado state legislature recently passed SB-200, a bill that places the preaching and teaching of the Bible in jeopardy and criminalizes beliefs that oppose the homosexual rights agenda.
The Liberty Counsel reported, “As homosexual activists push for more rights, the result will be their attempt to criminalize beliefs that oppose their lifestyle – especially Christian beliefs. The Liberty Counsel specified that this bill “outlaws communication that discriminates based on sexual orientation – in essence outlawing the Bible in that state.”
Outlawing God doesn’t lessen His power and voting the Bible unconstitutional or unacceptable doesn’t lessen its truth.
Another recent attack on the Bible has come from Bradley LaShawn Fowler, a gay man, who claims his constitutional rights have been infringed upon by Zondervan Publishing Co., and Thomas Nelson Publishing, both of which, he claims, deliberately caused homosexuals to suffer by misinterpretation of the Bible.
Fowler, age 39, is seeking $60 million from Zondervan and another $10 million from Thomas Nelson. The man from Michigan claims the intent of the Bible revisions that refer to homosexuals as sinners reflect an individual opinion or a group’s conclusion. He claims that the changes made to 1 Corinthians 6:9 “referring to homosexuality as a sin have made him an outcast from his family and contributed to physical discomfort and periods of demoralization, chaos, and bewilderment and has caused him and other homosexuals to endure verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence … including murder.”
I suppose some of us would like to eliminate some of the indicting, convicting verses of the Bible at times, but Matthew 5:18 specifically tells us that “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
A.W. Tozer said, “The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest rout to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”
I guess I wonder how Bradley LaShawn Fowler’s story could be different. I wonder if anyone ever extended grace to him. For indeed, the Lord who condemns sins and who will one day judge sin now offers abounding grace for healing and freedom from the bondage of sin.
No homosexual may like 1 Corinthians 6:9, but they may love 1 John 1:8-9. No one will have success in eliminating one syllable of the Word of God, but those who come to God will find salvation, satisfaction, and security by living in its precepts.
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