Jesus Was Not A Bible Believing Christian

Jesus Was Not A “Bible Believing” Christian

In as much as we use the term today Jesus was very far removed from being a “Bible believing Christian”.

Well He wasn’t even a Christian.

He was a Jew.

But that’s besides the point I’m trying to make here.

We in the church today have a religious fervor for obeying the “letter of the law”.

A Christian must be “Bible believing”. Which basically means if the Bible says it we must believe it at face value and apply it to our lives.

The problem…

We run into problems with this way of thinking.

I mean there are hundreds of things the Bible says we ignore on a frequent basis.

Not only that there are hundreds of things we think the Bible says that it isn’t saying at all once we contextualise the text.

Finally, when we look at the life of Jesus, this approach seems to fall apart even more.

I mean He quite frankly didn’t follow what the Bible commanded at times.

Breaking the law

He broke the law, for example:

  • The Bible says don’t touch lepers – He did.
  • The Bible says if a woman with an issue of blood touches you you must remove yourself from people till the evening – He didn’t, He kept on ministering.
  • The Bible says don’t touch dead people – He did that too.

And those are just a handful of examples.

Correcting the law

He also contradicted the law:

  • The Bible says an eye for an eye – Jesus says that’s a terrible model and tells us to turn the other cheek.
  • The Bible says stone a woman caught in adultery – Jesus says we all have sin, forgive her and give her another chance.

Again just a couple of quick examples of many times Jesus contradicted what a good “Bible believing” Jew would have taught.

So where does this leave us?

What does it mean to be a Christian? Because Jesus Himself at times didn’t adhere to the recorded word of God in the Bible. In fact He even went so far to correct it!

What does that mean for you and I?

First and foremost:

If we don’t it’s very easy to miss the entire point of scripture.

Secondly I think it should challenge us.

Because if you base your faith upon your ability to believe and follow the Bible then you are on rocky ground.

We all interpret the Bible through our own life. Our circumstances, relationships and beliefs inevitably get read into the Bible. So what does a “Bible believing” Christian even mean? One “Bible believing” Christian could oppose another one completely. Both accusing the other of not believing the Bible.

What are we really saying?

You see when we say “Bible believing” we mean… I believe my interpretation of the Bible.

The Pharisees and Scribes stood face to face with God in the flesh (Jesus). And He told them… You know the scriptures inside and out and yet God stands here in the flesh and you can’t recognise Him.

One who holds the scriptures in very high regard but recognises they only point to Jesus. And if we are too busy reading our own interpretations into the Bible they won’t even do that!

The only solid, constant we can stand upon is Jesus.

It is through Him, the “Word of God”, that we must interpret the scriptures.

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41 Comments

  1. Luke 6:29a To the one who strikes you on the [p]jaw or cheek, offer the other [q]jaw or cheek also;

    John 18:22 But when He said this, one of the attendants who stood by struck Jesus, saying, Is that how [b]You answer the high priest? 23 Jesus replied, If I have said anything wrong [if I have spoken abusively, if there was evil in what I said] tell what was wrong with it. But if I spoke rightly and properly, why do you strike Me?

    Any thoughts on this one? ;-)

      • Hi Phil, enjoyed reading your article.

        You quoted Jesus talking about the other cheek to illustrate He taught the Jews to contradict the law. Later on, when somebody slaps Jesus in the face, He doesn’t seem to turn His own other cheek, but instead even asks the guy why he slapped Him (sounds like applying the law perhaps?).

        Turning the other cheek is been said often in church, but since Jesus Himself didn’t apply this principle in this particular situation, why should we?

        • I can’t speak for Phil,but with your patience I would like to add this.The “turning of the cheek” was an example of “not returning evil for evil”. You may recall when Jesus was arrested, He scolded His disciples that He could have called legions of angels to His side.He could have stopped all of it, cross and all.He didn’t. He turned the other cheek.

          • Thanks for sharing LWT – that’s a great point – Jesus embodied the ethos of turning the other cheek from birth to death and I think that is the ultimate context through which we can see His statement in Matthew 5 lived out.

        • I think Steven it’s important to hold this one moment in context of what else is going on – i.e. the biggest “turn the cheek” of all time… i.e. jesus having done nothing wrong and staying silent to his death not at any point defending Himself but being led as a lamb to the slaughter.

          As for the immediate passage in question I believe Jesus was hammering home for the Pharisees the fact they clearly had nothing on which to kill Him… He really hadn’t done anything worth being killed over. (although you could argue otherwise with the same interpretations of scripture that the Pharisee’s had)

          We should also look at the context in which he tells us to turn the other cheek and that it was directly contrasting the passage an eye for an eye which was about getting vengeance for being wronged. Jesus doesn’t seek this in anyway shape or form.

          • Hi Phil,

            Thanks for your reply. Not taking vengeance makes sense to me too, reading all those scriptures.

            Can I conclude there are two options left, when people do wrong to you?

            1) Turning the cheek, which means something like let go just leave it to God.

            2) Confront them with their action and ask why they did you harm

          • Yes absolutely – I think it’s important for us to have boundaries in our lives and talk about the way people act and how it effects us. However I do think that our ultimate model is to turn the other cheek. Aggression and violence are never the ultimate answer… love and forgiveness is.

          • Hi Phil,
            I heard Rob Bell speak on “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile”. He makes a case that the Romans were allowed to strike a citizen on one cheek but not both, also that the Romans could order the citizens to carry their pack up to one mile. By doing this it actually meant the Romans were forced to make a choice to either back down or break their own law and risk being punished themselves.
            I’ve not found much evidence around turn the other cheek but have seen other sources for go the extra mile. I wondered if you’ve ever heard something similar and if it changes anything around why Jesus used a different approach when in Gethsemane?

          • Hi Paul,

            I to have heard dozens of pastors talk about this. The thing that makes me nervous about this is that I’ve NEVER seen a source verifying it. It is always modern pastors talking about this. I’ve never seen a document from the time period to verify these claims. Nobody can ever verify the source.

            It’s a bit like people saying the “eye of the needle” was a place in Jerusalem where people had to take all the stuff off a camel to get it through – I’ve heard that hundreds of times… it’s been proven again and again to be a made up fact.

            I’m not accusing Rob Bell or anyone of making up facts… I’m just saying that until people can show their historical sources there is nothing to prove it’s one made up fact that was accepted as fact and then spread like wildfire.

            I’d LOVE to see a source supporting this though so please prove me wrong if you do know of one.

            Until then though I have to take those statements at their face value… especially given the life of Jesus and the early Church very much supports that they took His words at face value as well.

            Great question though Paul – I’d love to hear more about the sources you’ve found on the extra mile stuff.

          • Hi Phil, good to meet you Sunday at Open Well in Liverpool.
            Here’s just one source (selected because it’s free)…
            http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=i8cvr70MIboC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
            Check pages 5 and 6. There are other sources (eg Tom Wright) but not sure if you’d call him a “modern pastor” or not (Bishop of Durham, Professor of Historical Theology at St Andrews). A simple google search will find a lot more resources for free… some are not backed up though with evidence.

    • I believe your question is a perfect example of taking The Bible too literally. The heart of Jesus teaching on aggression (getting hit) is to not respond with aggression. The Greek is a very limited language for expressing literal Aramaic, which is what Jesus spoke; not to mention the number of ways the Greek has been interpreted. So Jesus did as He taught. He was hit and did not run, hide, fight back or verbally speak anger. He spoke Truth and “offered” by his non-resistance his other cheek. If that’s not your question, sorry but I responded to the only problem I could hear in your words.

  2. We are such creatures of “either/or”… “All/nothing”… When we get on our soapbox of THIS IS HOW IT IS, we fail to understand that we have left the Holy Spirit out of our lecture. And when we obsessively use God’s Word to prove our foolishness, we are preaching a false gospel.

    Yes… 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

    But Jesus… SAVES! Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

    If we trade Him for our own version or combination, we end up just as destitute of the Way, the Truth and the Life as the Sadducees and Pharisees and anyone else who rejects God’s redemption of our lives.

    Soooooo, I agree Phil, if being a “Bible Believer” takes our eyes off of Jesus, we will soon suffer blindness.

    Thank you for the thought producing conversation.

    • Thanks Mary – glad you liked it. That was my goal to start a conversation – we need to realise that ultimately we are all Bible believing Christians… and yet we have different views on what we should believe about what the Bible says! haha

      That is a painful truth… we can’t write someone off as not believing the Bible because they have a slightly different view… although we frequently try!

      • Unfortunately there are those who call themselves “Christians” and see nothing to believe in the Bible at all…just a human set of stories and documents that reflect one culture’s efforts to make sense of the world. Anything divine or miraculous must a-priori be false. I would call those “Bible disbelieving Christians”.

        • This is true Tom – there is a wide spectrum of how people view the scriptures although I would say there are an extreme minority of Christians that don’t believe the Bible. So in my opinion this type of “Bible believing” language is still rarely used in an appropriate way.

  3. So if Jesus contradicted/broke/corrected the law on certain occasions then how did he fulfill it for us? I’ve never understood that. I thought he was the only one who kept it perfectly. Don’t if u break one then u break them all?

    • Hi Cookie – I’d really encourage you to watch this video – http://phildrysdale.com/work/christians-are-not-under-the-law-full-13226mins/ as it goes into the whole topic in much more depth than I could here.

      Ultimately we have a very big confusion in the church that thinks Jesus fulfilled the law by doing it all… but that’s not true. Jesus fulfilled the law by living in grace and walking in the Spirit. He fulfilled the law by doing away with sin and restoring us into union with the Father rendering the Old Covenant null and void in light of the New Covenant.

      The video will help tremendously though in comparison to anything I could say so briefly here in the comments. Hope it helps – thanks for commenting.

      • Amen Phil! I struggled with Cookie’s question for a long time – the light came on for me when I understood the purpose of the law. The law kept Israel until the Messiah came and fulfilled God’s plan to offer salvation to the world; then the law was fulfilled, it simply wasn’t needed anymore.

    • Cookie, I believe that only Jesus can interprete the law for man. I believe He kept it by always obeying who He was-the heart of God Himself. I also believe that each time he spoke of the law he spoke of the only true law-the heart of God. Just because we have a written record of the law does not mean we have the wisdom of God to understand His intention as Jesus did. I like to say Jesus is the law. He is the Word of God. So I see it as Jesus is saying, “I won’t change the instruction of God, because I AM the instruction of God, but I came to act out (a possible definition of fulfill) God’s law in the flesh. Notice the times Jesus tells the Pharisees something by beginnning “Your law says…but I say”. The law wasn’t on their parchments. He was The Wisdom of God. He knew what God’s law was and what it required.This is why The Word tells us Jesus is the end, the termination of the law, because He did what He said He would do. There is no aspect of the law (as Divinely perfect) that Jesus did not live perfectly on this earth. That is also why we are free from having the responsibility for doing that. He was meant to do it and He did. It’s nailed to the cross-done! The second Adam did what God intended Him to do-obeyed His heart perfectly.

  4. I read your article and I feel we need to be careful here how we pose our opinions… You make it sound as though the bible is all about the law of Moses. We have the old and the new testament and even in the old testament there are so much we can base our lives on. Here I’m not referring to the laws but to the words spoken by the prophets inspired by the Holy Ghost… So when you say “bible believing Christians” I want you to know that the clause is ambiguous… just choosing that topic stirs up confusion which doesn’t fulfill what Jesus has sent us to do. I am a bible believing Christian but I apply only those which are in line with the finish works of Christ. Jesus when tempted by the devil in the wilderness responded back by making references to the old testament. That doesn’t mean He accepts everything from the old testament but that at least believes in the scriptures and applies some of it to his life.

    So please focus on the important issues about reading the lost and edifying of the body of Christ. Picking up such controversial topics in order to explain a point doesn’t serve the purpose of Christ.

    • You misinterpret what I’m talking about here Akpevwe… I’m pointing out that we are ALL Bible believing Christians.

      So using the statement is actually really stupid! But many use the statement to backup what they say… as if the person who disagrees is not a Bible believing Christian just because they believe differently.

      You see when we say “I’m a Bible believing Christian” what we are really saying is – my interpretation of the Bible is the right one… so if you don’t agree you aren’t a Bible believing Christian.

    • Akpevwe, I know topics can stir up controversy, but they also opens minds to seeing the scriptures from a perspective other than what we may have been taught. I have my own revelation of why Jesus spoke the OT to His tempter, but that’s not appropriate for this topic. The Hebrew word translated obey means to hear, to comprehend. I obey the scriptures as I hear them from the heart of God by His Holy Spirit. There is so much of God’s Wisdom in The Bible but there are also many gaps in that wisdom because of the limitations of language and human understanding. Surely human understanding has misunderstood and mistaught God’s Wisdom from The Bible, but after The Cross and resurrection of our Lord, The Holy Spirit teaches the heart of the believer all Truth far more skillfully. It is good to share with each other what the Holy Spirit reveals because we can grow in knowledge. God can handle the debate and discussion. It doesn’t anger him. It makes us uncomfortable sometimes and churches can have a real problem with discussions that question their doctrines. Our bloodwashed hearts are capable of learning Truth from each other and with the Grace of Jesus in our heart we can learn from each other while being gentle, encouraging and gracious.

  5. Excellent!
    Amen, Christ’s New Covenant blood offered in the heavenly Holy of holies for our eternal redemption fulfilled the Torah with it’s 613 requirements, each with a curse or blessing attached.
    Blessings in Jesus!!

  6. Jesus was free.

    He was the only truly authentic human. Not afraid to skirt ‘the law’ to reach out to someone in love.

    We can never be like Him. But we are declared to be like Him…for His sake.

    Thanks.

  7. Phil, just a quick note: Your share function for Facebook has some errors. Thought you might wanna know. :)
    Here’s the copy of the text that would print on my timeline if I had shared it:

    We like to through around the temp “Bible Believing” but given how we use it Jesus most certainly wouldn’t subscribe to the term.

  8. Jesus did not break the law; he fulfilled it. We can’t take those instances as excuses to break whatever Biblical principles we choose. However, I fully agree with your point that we as followers of Christ need to be like him, not just study the letter of the law.

  9. Very good article. I have been one to make the Bible more holy than I should. The Bible is the inspired, written words of God, which means that man still had a part to play in writing it. A person can inspire someone to write something, but the author still puts his thoughts and spin on it. The Bible is worthy of respect, and to be used for instruction, but it is not to be worshipped as part of God. The true, living, perfect, all-powerful Word of God is Jesus, as John 1:1 tells us. Nothing wrong with reading the Bible and learning from it, but our true, living guide is the Holy Spirit who lives within us.

    • Just a quick comment! It amazes me that all who have decided to weaken the Bible by saying we can’t somehow trust it anymore to guide our lives. It has just to much cultural relevance and really is not for us to depend on, at least that’s what we are being told. But these same individuals use the Bible to substantiate their claims such as “DONE WITH RELIGION” says by using John 1:1. With the same mouth we are saying it’s just an okay book and with the other we are saying this is why I believe what I do using that very book to back it up! It’s all a bit humorous to me really!

      JUST SAYING! LET’S MAKE UP OUR MINDS FOLKS!! Don’t quote from it if its just a good reading book for some stories, but an unreliable source of what God says!

      Signed, “A BIBLE BELIEVING CHRISTIAN!”

      • Hi Don,

        I don’t think anyone (including Done with Religion) was saying the Bible is “just a book”… I think the point that many are raising is that the Bible is clearly a book that God had man write. We can see this in the very real and raw way it’s written. It’s laced with people’s emotions, their writing styles, personal requests to the people they write to. etc.

        The point they are bringing up is that the Bible is something God inspired in the creation of and speaks to us through today… BUT we must understand that it is a collection of letters and books written by many authors to many recipients… not one of those recipients was US!

        For example – I don’t see any Christians picking up Paul’s cloak and parchments as instructed in the book of Timothy.

        I hold very firmly to the Bible being extremely important and in no way do I intend to weaken the Bible’s authority… not sure if you were saying that of my article itself as I can’t see where you would get that. But I am simply saying that we can’t just apply every letter in the Bible to ourselves without first interpreting them correctly… and we must be honest and accept that we will probably NEVER in this life have a perfect interpretation of the Bible.

        We do however have a perfect PERSON… Jesus the image of the invisible God, living inside of us. It is through Him that we interpret the Bible. If we don’t get to know Him… both in relationship and in the gospels… then we will never interpret the Bible correctly.

    • Thanks for sharing! I absolutely agree… The Bible is the most concrete thing we have that is given by God that points to God that is not God. But it is not to replace God!

      God uses the Bible to instruct us, guide us and lead us into relationship with Him. Not to replace relationship with Him!

      Thanks again for sharing!

      • Okay, I guess I am reading more into this than what is intended! I just know that the Bible is more than just some “good book” and we can take it or leave. Relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is first and foremost, and in my opinion anyway, that relationship is enhanced by what I find written in the Bible. The Bible is an inspired book of life altering principles! That’s what makes it so very fascinating, the principles that are taught in it are timeless and are applicable for all mankind, regardless that it’s literal content was not written directly to me, the principles of life apply to me, at least that is what I have always believed. The proverbs were written by a King, who once even walked away from God, but the wisdom that is found in them are like rare priceless jewels, even though Solomon didn’t have me in mind when he penned them, I can gain much benefit from them by applying them to my life! Oh well, I guess my problem is that I really do love the scripture and find it to be a well spring of life to me and have seen it literally transform and change lives of those lives who had faith in its teachings.

        God Bless, and have a great day!

        • Absolutely Don – so much to be learned from the scriptures and at least for me they are still probably the most common way God speaks to me… I think when we understand that they weren’t specifically written to us and we start to study them for what they are God can speak to us in much greater volumes than when we just crack the pages and try to directly apply everything to ourselves in the same context. Because of course, we rarely find ourselves in the same contexts.

  10. Phil, I totally understand what you are getting at with your message not to make the Bible your idol. I come from a church that does that very thing. Even to the point of saying that in 1 Corinthians 13:10 the word “perfect” is actually the written Bible. Yes when the Bible was written all prophesy, tongues, and yes knowledge apparently disappeared.

    They have elevated the Bible to the point of basically ignoring the Holy Spirit because “the perfect has come” and they don’t need His work. Well they need the Holy Spirit to help them remember what they read in the Bible and go back to it, that’s about it.

    This belief has severely limited the work of Holy Spirit, and it’s just plain sad.

    Right now I am reading the Bible through from beginning to end, for the first time in my life. I LOVE it….it is so amazing…our Lord is speaking to me through it in amazing ways. It’s beautiful…but how it is misused is awful.

    • Yes it’s very problematic to take that line of thought isn’t it Jen.

      This is what I call the “Father, Son & Holy Bible” Christianity. It makes Christianity a gospel of morals and self-help rather than Spirit-led transformation and action.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

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