Archive for June, 2009

Bible Study Buffet

June 29, 2009

This was written by Allen Dvorak for our church bulletin a couple weeks ago.  It was so good I just had to share it.  As you read it, please accept this advice: don’t get caught up in some little point of doctrine where you may disagree – focus on the main point of whether you happen to be picking and choosing yourself.

The American public seems to love food buffets, sometimes called food bars. Many restaurants include a salad or dessert bar in addition to their normal menu items. The appeal of the buffet, of course, is that you have a wide selection of different foods and can select the foods that you want. Order from the menu and the desired entrée may come with something that you don’t like, but at a buffet, you can ignore the spinach, broccoli or green beans and load up on fried foods! The food bar allows you to mix and match your favorite foods that don’t come together on the menu. Add the fact that food bars typically allow the patron to “eat all you want” and it is easy to understand their appeal.

Unfortunately, some Bible students approach the study of the Scriptures in a similar style to the food buffet. Even as one can pass by the foods in the food bar that he doesn’t like, so Bible study ala “buffet style” allows one to choose the verses/passages that he likes and ignore the rest.

Many Bible students like the passages that proclaim salvation to be a matter of grace, but dislike the verses which speak of the need for obedience. It is certainly true that we are saved by grace (Ephesians 1:7; 2:5, 8; Romans 3:24; Acts 15:11), but it is just as certain that we must do the will of the Father in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21; Hebrews 5:9).

They pile their figurative Bible study plate high with verses proclaiming the necessity of faith, but wrinkle their noses at those “water baptism” verses. Without faith, we cannot please God or be justified in His sight (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 5:1), but it is just as certain that water baptism is involved in our salvation. Peter wrote:

“who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us — baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 3:20-21).

It is clear that Peter wrote about water baptism (see the end of verse 20). He affirmed that water baptism is an antitype “which now saves us.”

Many people appreciate those verses which tell of divine love (e.g., John 3:16), but don’t like to hear about verses which speak of divine judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10-12) or the wrath of God (Hebrews 10:30-31; Matthew 25:31-46).

Other Bible students have great interest in those verses which command singing in worship to God, but don’t spend much time with admonitions about the danger of spiritual pride. Some Bible students fill their plates with passages relating to the local church’s organization, mission and “name,” but don’t have much of an appetite for other verses which affirm the need for individual benevolence and spiritual zeal.

Will God permit us to ignore some passages while embracing others? Does He not expect us to honor all that He says? Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16). Since God is the source of all scripture, it doesn’t make sense to accept some of scripture and reject other parts. Why would God reveal various truths if He did not intend for man to accept them? Can we expect that God will ignore portions of His own word at the final judgment? Will He say to us, “I didn’t really mean that part about obedience”?

Eating at food buffets tends to contribute to an unbalanced diet. The “buffet style” of Bible study causes us to have a skewed (unbalanced) view of God’s truth on various subjects. Of course, the proper method of Bible study is to accept and respect all that God has to say on a particular subject. Naturally, Bible students have to recognize the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The Old Covenant was given to the Jewish nation and was taken out of the way at the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16; Colossians 2:13-17). Those who live on this side of the cross are responsible to the New Covenant…all of it.