B.I.B.L.E. This is the classic abbreviation for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth,” and I almost want to hurl just typing that.
Let me cover the disclaimer portion of my post prior to giving you my thoughts on the matter. Many times we Lutherans are labeled “antinomians” because we proclaim God’s forgiveness for wretched sinners with “no strings attached.” In our confession, we have a section that delves into 3rd use of Law. Section VI of the Formula of Concord:
“…we unanimously believe, teach, and confess that although the truly believing and truly converted to God and justified Christians are liberated and made free from the curse of the Law, yet they should daily exercise themselves in the Law of the Lord, as it is written, Ps. 1, 2; 119.”
So although many continue to paint us as “antinomians,” our confession directly talks about the use of law.
Getting back to the matter at hand, make no mistake about it, the B.I.B.L.E acronym is pure law and the problem with it is that it changes the focus of the whole Bible. It makes the lens that a person primarily uses to read God’s Word “all about me.” Sure, there are lessons to learn from the Bible, but the Bible is a story about Jesus.
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he (Jesus) interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” (Luke 24:27).
The promise of our Lord and Savior happens in Genesis just after the fall. Throughout the Old Testament there are foreshadowing indications that point to the redeemer to come and the New Testament is the revelation of our redeemer. When we insist on making the Bible into a rule book, we miss much of the redeemer’s work and foreshadowing by placing us in the story as the main character. An example of this is, “I can be David and triumph over my problems,” rather than Christ has defeated the enemies and redeemed His people.
Yes, a person can follow and find rules in the Bible to live by and that is a good thing. God’s law is holy and is not the problem—we are the problem. If a person focuses on the triumphs of man, they will miss God’s amazing grace and mercy displayed to His creation. Some will see the story of Noah and focus on, “See! With God, a man can build this big ole ark and accomplish God’s will,” rather than God saving and cleansing the world (1 Peter 3:19-22).
If you truly want to view the Bible as “basic instructions before leaving earth,” then let’s not lower the bar. Our example is not David, Moses, Peter or Paul.
The instruction is to:
“…be perfect…as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
The instruction is to:
“…love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
After all the great deeds of Moses, let’s not forget that God did not allow him to enter the Promised Land because of his doubt. Moses had to tap the rock twice! Oh, now you want to talk about grace and mercy?
In conclusion, I agree that great life lessons and instruction can be found in the Bible. But great life instructions can also be found in Dr. Seuss books, self help books, and on Oprah. The purpose of the examples in the Bible are not mainly to give testimonies of great people, but something much more. We can read about or view a pagan life and learn some moralistic life lessons. But in reading the Bible, the focus is and should be God! To be exact, the story is: we mess up, God redeems, we mess up, God forgives, we mess up, but God doesn’t abandon us.
Let’s be frank, the Pharisees were pretty good at using God’s Word as a basic instruction manual and look where it got them.
Peace, Mercy, and Grace,