Word Is the Filter
by Pastor Derek
A great way of thinking about the Word (the Bible) is as a coffee filter. Coffee filters work with hot water (the Living Water) to strain out the parts of the coffee bean (us) that detract from the best essence in the coffee bean (who we were created to be) to make great coffee (to bless others). Another way to think about that core value is by familiarity. Familiarity with Scripture enables you to hear God’s distinct tone and voice in a world full of voices. I like to read Lee Child’s novels (Jack Reacher series). Lee Child has a distinct tone when he writes. Hard to describe, but you know it when you read it. Scripture familiarizes you with the tone of God because it grounds you in the truths of God. It allows you to determine if something is coming from Him or is something attributed to Him.
Knowing the difference is the crucial to the decisions you make; the attitudes and actions that determine your health. From the letters of the New Testament, we find that there were people (sometimes in the church and sometimes outside of it) who sounded truthful but were attributing things to God that weren’t from God. These are the false teachers. Those with unsound doctrine. People looking to create a group or cult based on a conviction of truth without the basis for that truth.
Bryan Duncan wrote a song called, “Recognize a Lover from a Thief.” It’s a great song. Here are some of the lyrics:
One’s educated, one has been to school
Who is the genius, who is the fool
Well, it’s hard to tell one from the other
They both have all the answers
One gives a promise and the other his word
One is a teacher and the other is heard
They’re both calling your name,
And the offer’s the same, yeah
But only one delivers
Here are some principles to watch for in telling the difference: (1) Scripture is consistent with itself. God doesn’t disagree with Himself. So, always factor in context and what Scripture says elsewhere in Scripture about what you’re reading. (2) Don’t create a major tenet on a minor point. Sometimes someone will read something that isn’t a theme in Scripture and build a whole mountain of theology on it. People do this with end times prophesies all the time. They wind up reading into one small thing not really understood or that is somewhat unclear and then bend everything else around it. Imagine doing that with your home! Imagine taking a non-bearing wall closet wall frame and deciding that will be your new home foundation. Your house may stand for a short time, but it will suffer over time. So, begin with what is plain and obvious. Start with what is clear and easily understood first. Begin with the Resurrection. Jesus is the Cornerstone. Then build from there. (3) Read consistently. There’s no substitute for knowing the Bible. It’s the only book you’re asked to know intimately over a lifetime. Some people can quote Harry Potter novels because they’re so familiar with them. Stephen Colbert is a huge Tolkien fan. He can quote poems and speaks the elfish in the novels! He even hosts challenges for others to try and stump in on Tolkien lore. Why? Because that was the world he went to in the years following his father and brothers sudden deaths. It was a world of solace, comfort, adventure, and help. And that was fiction! How much more important to know the Bible?! There’s no substitute for putting the time in. Let’s be honest here, the real reason a lot of people don’t read the Bible is because they find it boring. So…start with the non-boring parts. Begin with the stories of men and women of faith. Read a genre (poetry? Check (see Psalms). Pintrest-style truths? Check (see Proverbs). Romance? Check (see Ruth or Song of Solomon). Adventure? Check (see Joshua, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Samuel). You get the idea. One of the benefits of the Bible is its literary diversity and consistency over such a long period of time. The further into the Bible you go, the bigger the world that exists there.