Is the Bible a Rule Book?

Today I’ll contrast two ways of looking at the Bible.

 #1. The Bible is God’s divine rule book. Life improves when we study it diligently and find rules to obey. The Bible gives us a life under law.

#2. The Bible is God’s special revelation to us. It leads us into a vital Spirit-led personal encounter with Christ, who gives us wisdom and guidance as we seek to do God’s will. The Bible is a guide to life under grace.

If #1 is true and the Bible is a set of rules, then my ability to follow such a set of rules well is highly dependent on my own will power. If I have strong enough will power, I may do quite well at keeping the rules.  But the more I succeed at this rule keeping, the more I will develop a superior attitude towards those who do not follow the rules as well as I do. Indeed, I may take a perverse enjoyment in comparing my performance to theirs and either rebuking them to their face or secretly treasuring how well I am doing!

Rules are a way of transforming the free grace in Scripture into dead laws.

Look at these differences:

Grace

Law

Express gratitude and thanks in prayer

The longer you spend praying each day, the better

Time spent reading the Bible is a delight

You must have a Bible reading plan and stick to it each day

You please God as you help your fellow man with good deeds

The more ministries you are involved in and the more hours you spend on them, the better.

Often, these rules go beyond what is written in the Bible into a series of prohibitions:

Grace

Law

Wine is good, but do avoid getting drunk

No drinking whatsoever.

 

Use careful spirit-led discernment in your entertainment choices

Don’t ever watch R-rated movies.

 

The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel gave a preview of how grace works:       I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26)

Life under law is what leads to a stony heart. Life in grace gives more leeway and much liberty…. but not freedom to do whatever we feel like.

So instead of a blanket prohibition of R-rated movies, we can have an honest prayerful wrestling with which movies to see or not see. The Passion of the Christ was rated R …. is it OK to see it ? 

We move from rules to guidelines. A new guideline I’ve adopted is to not watch a series that has an intimacy coordinator[i]. One result:  I won’t watch the next season of the series BridgertonBut I can’t make this into a rule and bind your conscience by saying “You’re in sin” if you watch the next season of it.

Reading the scriptures in a Spirit-led way, we gain patience with others who don’t see it our way. Instead of shoving rules down their throats and binding them to stuff that is not commanded in scripture, we model to them what a life in grace looks like.

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intimacy_coordinator

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