The Bible Is NOT an Instruction Manual

In Judaism, the Scriptures are revered. When I went to a Hebrew private school for four years, I was taught to never to place anything on top of the Bible, or to put it on the floor. And instead of throwing away an old Bible, you were to bury it.

Christians can also have a similar respect for the Bible, though not usually in the same forms I described above for Judaism. But we surely think highly of the Bible, or why would have so fourteen copies of it in our homes?

But I think we also can put too much of an emphasis (or, rather, a wrong emphasis) on this book. We can argue whether it is The Inerrant, Infallible, Inspired Word of God, but let’s not change its purpose.

It concerns me to hear pastors, leaders, and parents teach, "The Bible is God's instruction manual." Why? Because this misses the big picture of His story. It aims to make the Bible about us, instead of about Jesus. God’s word is the revelation of His plan of creating, sustaining, and redeeming the world for His glory.

This Bible is not an instruction manual, like a textbook. If your child wants to learn math, he needs his math book. If you want to find some new art projects, get on Pinterest. If you want to fix your washing machine, check out YouTube. But don’t use the Bible as your easy-fix-it reference guide.

If you are hiking or camping, you probably want some field guides, to help you identify plants and animals, so that you can be safe. But don't think you can live a safe and moral life by using the Bible as your pocket guidebook. You live a moral life by surrendering to the will of Jesus, not by being able to look up Bible verses in a concordance.

And on this topic, let’s also not reduce Jesus, and put Him in a safe and helpful box. "How's that?" you ask?

Do you want to know the only thing worse than an atheist who reduces Jesus to a great moral teacher? A Christian who reduces Jesus to a great moral teacher.

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