Is the Bible relevant today? Of course, I say yes – absolutely. The Bible is relevant today! But then there’s the question of why? Why should anyone believe the Bible is relevant today? After all these thousands of years, how can the Bible still apply to our life in today’s world? All good questions. Unfortunately, maybe not the ones that are easy to find answers to.
To that end, I’m going to do a series on something written for secular people. 23 Things Successful People Never Do, from bestlifeonline.com. It’s an interesting approach. I was surprised how much the general thoughts line up with things Christians should do. The only real differences were in the actual examples, not in the concepts. In a way, maybe not all that surprising.
Jesus came to earth to die for us, and one of the results of that is that His followers can have “life to the full”. Let’s examine that passage. After that, we can better understand why a Christian might want to look at a secular list of things to not do.
This is basic and important stuff for every Christian. We should be following Jesus, not anyone else. That’s what He’s explaining here. This passage, like so many others, does show the Bible is still relevant today.
Jn 10:1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep.
Jesus is the one who enters by the gate. But anyone who comes in by another way is a thief, trying to take the sheep. That’s the difference between us following what Jesus taught, and what someone else teaches – even if they are using His name.
3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
It’s important that we really know what Jesus actually taught. Just reading the Bible a few times a year cannot do that. Truth is, doing one of those “read the Bible in a year” plans won’t really be enough either. Not that reading the Bible is bad. It’s not. And even something is better than nothing, especially if it leads us to want to know more. To be able to tell the difference between what Jesus taught – and when someone introduces false teaching into the mix. Otherwise, we can and probably will follow the thief.
Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jesus repeats the previous thought. A technique used throughout the Bible to let us know that the thought is really, really important! And, we read the part about us having life to the full when we follow Jesus.
Jn 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Now, something on the dangers of following the thief. And going all the way back to Eve, being able to tell the difference between Jesus and the thief. Between Jesus and Satan.
Jn 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Jesus says again that His sheep know Him. Question – do you know Jesus enough to tell the difference between Him and someone else? Does Jesus know you? Or are you a stranger to Him?
16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Jesus died for us. Because He loves us. As Christians, we won’t want His death to be in vain. We must learn His voice. His teachings. And, let’s not forget, we will want to follow Him.
9:38-40 pp — Lk 9:49, 50
Mk 9:38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
Mk 9:39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”
Jesus said – whoever is not against us is for us. That means when we hear someone trying to lead us somewhere, we must be able to determine whether they are against what Jesus taught. That’s not the same as trying to see if there’s any truth in what they say. As Eve found out, some truth mixed with some lies equals lies. Please see Truth + Half-Truth = Half-Lie = Lie for a real life example. No – what we need to do is look for false teaching, and then …
The Bible is relevant today? Answers from a secular source?
Let’s look at that last sentence again.
what we need to do is look for false teaching, and then …
Many Christians would complete that sentence with … and run!
For some, maybe even many, that’s not a bad idea. But I often want to look deeper, and find the corrupted truth behind what was said. Remember, God creates. Satan corrupts. So if there is false teaching, we must recognize it. Maybe the best thing to do is run. For some, we’ll want to examine it – see what’s behind it – and then use it. Maybe use it to show what the truth really is. Or maybe to see what the person saying it might really be looking for, as Paul did in Greece:
Ac 17:16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
At first it seems like Paul’s just wasting time. Reading – All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest idea – doesn’t sound like anyone’s really looking for God. Or anything. Other than just to hear themselves talk. And yet, there’s an opportunity. So Paul takes it.
Ac 17:22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
The inscription is to an unknown God. There are lots of times when I hear someone or read something that, if we look below the surface, sounds like someone looking for something. Like whatever they have isn’t meeting some need, so they’re searching.
Often times the basis for their search is a lie. Like looking for something in a person, a need that can only be met by God. I feel that if we look below the surface, and can identify that need, maybe we can show that God will take care of that need. Will satisfy the desire, the hunger within them. It’s worth a try. But again, it requires the ability to know the difference between truth and falsehood.
Ac 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
And so, Paul launches into his impromptu sermon to the men who are looking for this unknown god. Even if it seems pointless. He shows that the Bible did have answers to their questions. And it still has answers to ours today. The Bible is still relevant.
Ac 17:29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”
Ac 17:32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
Yes, it seemed to be of no value. A waste of time and breath. And yet, even for the sake of a few, Paul did it. I dare say, even for the hope of one, Paul would have done the same thing.
23 Things Successful People Never Do
Through this series, we’ll look at those 23 things. See if there’s anything that might point us to the truth in the Bible. Anything that might point us to verify a statement that yes, the Bible is relevant today. Not that we want to necessarily do those exact 23 things. But we will take a look and see if there’s any correlation between those 23 things and what’s taught in the Bible. For instance, many things that are considered common sense today are actually in Proverbs. That alone shows how the Bible is relevant today.
But there’s so much more than just proverbs. There are life experiences that, if we understand and adjust for cultural differences, are just as meaningful today as they were relevant in Biblical times. We just need to look. And take the time to see how relevance in the Bible has been “adjusted” to become relevance in the secular world. Then turn it back into what it was originally meant to be.
Should be an interesting journey. Hope you come along. And learn.
By the way, the first one will be: successful people never speak negatively about themselves.