Fourth, when an increasing number of Christians have no ability to glean wisdom from the Scriptures and when an increasing number of Christians turn to mysticism, the net effect is not only disaster for individuals in their walk with the Lord and in their inability to have coherence and consistency in their lives, but disaster for the witness and effectiveness of the church as a whole. The weakness of the church in America today is owing to two or three major dynamics, not the least of which is the issue before us.

The fact is that we must go to the Scriptures for more than information concerning the Canaanites and the Hittites. What real application from the life of Zacchaeus can we glean for our lives? Pooled ignorance in Sunday School-type discussions and “what the text means to me” emphases must be rejected. Scripture must be understood in context and not used as a launching pad to disconnected applications or useless moralizing. The people of God are obliged to be able to know where to turn in the Scriptures when faced with a life situation that they might get God’s authoritative word on the issue. Where would you turn to find counsel on problems concerning overbearing husbands, feminized wives, poor communication, anxiety, depression, addictive behavior, rebellious children, harsh employers, a new job offer, financial calamity, what the world calls bi-polar disorder, ADHD, etc.?

By way of example, have you considered the fact that the book of Jonah is about more than a big fish? The message and application is rich. God’s perspective on His call and His will, His mercy to His people as well as to pagans, His love for all nations, His attitude toward self-focus, love for enemies, the sin of pride and prejudice, the necessity of evangelism, the downward spiral of bitterness and depression, the consequences of wrong attitudes and thought patterns, suicidal thoughts and God’s response, His providence and power in our lives, and so much more is to be gleaned from this little treasure of a book.

As Adams points out, we have to be able to move from the Scriptures to life and we have to be able to move from life to the Scriptures. This ability comes when we are committed to the authority of God’s word and when that commitment is real enough to drive us to it for answers to all of our questions theological, philosophical, and indeed every day practical. There is no other way to trust and obey but to use the Scriptures every day. Think about it.

Dr. Paul J. Dean is the pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Greer, SC, and hosts a daily, live, call-in radio talk show: "Calling for Truth." He serves as the Director of Applied Ministry at the Greenville, SC extension of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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