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Looking for a Proof Text v. Proving the Text

posted Jul 31, 2011, 9:33 PM by Kelvin Leu   [ updated Jul 31, 2011, 9:37 PM by hbchurch org ]
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

The Jews who heard Paul’s preaching in the synagogue at Berea demonstrated an attitude toward the scriptures that we would do well to duplicate. They searched (examined—ASV) the scriptures daily, making sure that what Paul preached was in line with God’s will. Literally, they scrutinized or investigated (Strong’s dictionary) the text.

The disposition to examine or scrutinize the text is a rare quality. Precious few are willing to invest the time or put forth the effort to really dig into a text. Most people, including many Christians, would rather rely upon another (usually a preacher) for explanations and definitions, thereby saving themselves from the arduous task of “proving” a Bible passage.

So, after being equipped with an interpretation that fits personal predispositions, tradition soon becomes the rule. People get accoustomed to doing things a certain way and become very comfortable with it. As long as they have a “proof text” for their practice they are satisfied. For example, those who like to use instrumental music in worshiping God point to Psalm 150, et al for their “proof text”. Other scriptures on the subject that should be considered are ignored, dismissed or explained away; they have their “proof text” and are content, so why study any more? Satan loves complacency.

But there is a more subtle side to Satan’s version of “proof text” religion. Assume a person worhips at a congregation (call it “X”) which we would see as doctrinally sound. The members say they want to make sure that their practices follow the N.T. pattern. Bible studies and sermons at “X” are generiously and regularly sprinkled with familiar “proof text” reminders of why they do what they do and believe what they believe. So far, so good.

However, members at “X” become content, comfortable and complacent. Their Bibles are only depositories for a few precious proof texts, but they don’t “examine (investigate) the scriptures daily”. Their bodies regularly occupy a space at the assemblies. They might even be able to quote or paraphrase some of Mark 16:16 or Acts 2:38, but they would be horrified by the thought of taking their Bible and sitting down with a lost soul to explain the scheme of redemption.

Granted, there are exceptions to this scenario and you may be the exception, but beware. There is a vast difference between putting you finger on a “proof text” and being one “who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In the language of the Hebrew writer, it’s the differnce between being a “babe” and being “fullgrown” (Hebrews 5:11-14). Even small children know the differnce between a baby and an adult, but those adults were blind to their own spiritual infancy. Why? They were happy living on milk (v. 13) and had no desire to grow up. Apparently, they had some familiarity with basic principles (Hebrews 6:1) but were content with their “baby level” of knowledge. Enough time had passed for them to have matured (Hebrews 5:12), but they hadn’t. Their puny, immature faith made them an easy target for the contemporary twisters of scripture (The Judaizers). They were on the verge of apostasy because they weren’t “Bereans”.

Yes, we all start out as infants but we are not supposed to remain in that state. In fact, Christians are commanded to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord...” (2 Peter 3:18). Beware; don’t define your maturity by your comfort zone. The Hebrew babes may have been comfortable with their infantile faith, but God was not. Be a “Berean”.

by  Ken Dart
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