Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rule Book or Love Letter?

I have talked with people who think that the Bible is a rule book for Christians to follow. I want to challenge you to have an open mind to the entire Bible being something totally different than a rule book by which one lives.

Yes, we see in Exudos 20 Moses was handed the Ten Commandments. We know and understand that the first 8 verses are about putting God first and then the other verses are about how to treat others.

We go into the Levitical laws, the first part about serving God, the second part health codes, the third part is about how to treat one another. God gives man these rules not for us to be hardened, rigid and legalistic. He gives them to us so we won't get hurt. Like a child who wants to touch a hot stove, we as loving parents tell our child, "Don't touch that stove or your going to get burned!" So, God gave us the law out of love for us.

So, many of the laws in the Old Testament are just plain common sense. I remember my wife telling the girls in the youth group, "You don't have to experience something to know it's stupid." The same goes for the rest of us. We don't have to experience it and thus are free from the negative consequences.

If fact, we are more free than the world because we do have that freedom from the negative consequesnces of the sins that we don't commit and the freedom from the ultimate negative consequence from any sin we do commit.

In Ecclessiastes, we see Solomon declare in 12: 13, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."

It is a respectful fear that I have towards God as he is my Father who loves me unconditionally. Listen to what Paul tells us in Romans 8:38-39, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come nor height or depth, nor any thing else in all creation shall seperate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

In the New Testament, Jesus gives us a command to love. In John 13:34, "A new commandment I give you , that you love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another." As children of God, he wants us to love each other, just like every parent wants their children to love each other and not fight, but it goes way deeper.

1 John tells us, that He is love in Ch. 3:7. In verse 20, it tells us, "If someone says, 'I love God.' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen." God want us to love each other, because God is love.

I know that we cannot keep all the commandments in the Bible. It just can't be done as Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." I John tells us in chapter 1:10, "If we say that we have not sinned , we make Him a liar, and the truth is not in us."

I believe that if you read the Bible from cover to cover, it is God love letter to us rather than a set of rules.
In the beginning, we have God creating man in his likeness. Instead of destroying man after the fall, he takes care of man. Gen. 3:21, "Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin and clothed them."
After the fall, he saves Noah and his family. God shows his love for man by redeeming man again and again. He leads the Hebrews out of Egypt and feeds them. He is with them through battles.
"For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son," John 3:16. Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to die for our sins. As you read through the pages, it is inspiried with love. Going into Revelation, we find the final victory is available for those who love Him and take hold of the grace offered (Ephs 2:8-10, Acts 2:28, Gal. 5:22-25, 1 John 5:13).

The Bible is a wondrous love story of hope, forgiveness and salvation, of a God who would go to extreme measures to have a relationship with you.

So how do you view the Bible? A rule book to live by? A love letter? What is the benefit of seeing either way? why or why not? Is it wrong to see it one way or the other? Are the two mutually exclusive?

What do you think?
Share you thoughts.


Blogger Liz Moore said...

Great thoughts! I have enjoyed catching up! I agree, I don't think the Bible is a rule book. I think we sometimes use the Bible to try and justify our actions or to try and tell people how "they" aren't following "the rules". When instead, we should be using it to show those around us the love, compassion, peace and joy that God and His book have to offer us. Thanks for making us think! Blessings!

11:59 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thanks Liz for your comments.
I appreciate you adding to the discussion. You know that you are always welcome here.
I hope you have a great weekend.

12:07 PM  
Blogger jel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Why can't it be a love letter to live by?

In addition, why can't our lives be a love response to His grace, truth, and guidance?

If there is one thing a study of the Old Testament shows me, it is that God knows what is best for me, if I'll only seek His counsel.

Jesus and the disciples were certainly not rebels who flaunted the rules of the day, yet they would fulfill God's law with love, not obligation.

How much better would our existence, our service, and our Christianity be if we did what we did as a response of love... not of obligation.


6:07 PM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

The law Christ wants His people to follow are "written in our hearts", it is the law of love. The Holy Spirit "pours out" in our hearts the love of God. The fruit of the Spirit is #1 "Love".

A life that is not marked out by love for God and for even ones enemies is not one surrendered to Christ.

Kenney, see my comment re: your comment at Grace Digest.

His peace,

12:21 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I do think you had a great point. I hope you will share it with us again. I think it really added to the discussion.

4:53 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

You big about a great point. A love letter to live by? hmmmm.... Good point. Something to think on. :-). I like the response of love not obligation. Excellent thought and point I think.

4:56 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thanks for your comments brother and your reply to mine as well. It is appreciated. I agree with you that God has written the law on our hearts and it is the law of love. Why? Could it be because of who God is? Love?

4:58 PM  
Blogger David Kirk said...

A love letter to live by...I like that! Your site forces me to think, and I like that too! Have a great day!

10:36 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

I'll add my "amen" to "love letter to live by." There certainly are commands in scripture (someone might call them rules). Jesus said all the law and the prophets hang on the two greatest commands about love. The OT commands were based on love, but they absolutely were commands. Jesus said "If you love me you will keep my commandments." The two are inseparable.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Maybe sometimes we do not need to see this as a either/or, or not even the right question to ask. It is so much more than this. It is the testimony of a people who desire to obey the Lord. As Christians, I want to continue to participate in this story.

9:53 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thanks, I am glad to make yoou think brother and glad you add to the discussion. A love letter to live by is a great way to look at it. Not out of obligation or command but out of our love for God and what he has done for us through His only son Jesus Christ

10:56 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

It has been a while. It is great to see you again brother. I always appreciate your comments and adding to the discussion on my blog. You are right the two are inseperable. I believe so many try to seperate the two and you just can't. Great point!

10:58 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Great point. I do believe we do need to look at it and to see our selves as a witness to it as well. Jesus tells us that we are a witness to it. That, "All men will know that you my disciples if you love one another." Great point as well. Thanks for adding your thoughts to this discussion it is appreciated. What a wonderful journey it is. :-)!

11:01 AM  
Blogger Monalea said...

Love letter and a book on 'how to survive'


3:48 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Wow. So true and wonderfully put.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

communication of God to be taken into the heart through the Holy Spirit.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Tammie's Thoughts said...

I like Jim's thought...a love letter to live by...that sums it up for me! So much better than a book of laws to beat people over the head with!

8:04 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thanks for leaving your comments. You are always welcome here.

10:17 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I am never for bashing people over the head with the Bible or the Word of God. I don't see Jesus doing that with any of the people he came in contact with who needed salvation. From the woman caught in the act of adultery to Zacheuous. Graceous. Loving.... An example?...:-)

10:21 PM  
Blogger David Heflin said...

I view the Bible as his specific revelation to mankind, though even more so in Jesus Christ. The Bible is made up of many different genres. Some of those genres read more like a rule book (i.e. the Levitical code) and other parts more like a love letter. God's love might be the dominant theme of the Bible even in the more rule oriented portions. However, to call it a love letter diminishes its diversity, in my opinion. The Bible is God's story of creation, fall, and redemption. We are invited to join God in that story and that is certainly a result of his love. But there are many plots and sub-plots in this grand narrative. A love letter just doesn't do justice to all of them. Also, this is even more true when calling the Bible just a rule book.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Sorry for the the off topic comment. But, as we turn our hearts toward family and friends during the Christmas holiday, I wanted to let you to know that I am thankful for blessing of many new friends I’ve come to “know” here in blogland. The tie that binds us is our shared love for and devotion to the Savior whose birth we remember during this special time of the year. May your days be full of holiday blessings; and, may your heart be filled with the warmth of His presence.

Spiritual Oasis Blog

7:20 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Great point.
Thanks for your wonderful point of view.
It is always refreshing to see as always.
Thanks for sharing your point of view to this discussion.

11:22 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thanks for your comments and holiday wishes brother.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and happy new year. Your blog has been a blessing to my life as I have grown and have been challenged by reading it almost daily. I want to thank you so much for your insight in the scipture and challenging us with various topics that are relavent to everyday life. God bless you broher. Thanks for all you do and have done. It is appreciated.

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