Here is Introduction: Mishandling Snakes and Scripture Part 1.
The pastor that got bit by the snake in the story last post lived, but the doctors said it was almost too late. He is a fourth generation snake handling pastor. His dad died four years earlier when he got bit on the hand. It only took ten minutes. You would think this would have caused him to doubt this supposed promise of God. He would either doubt God or reinterpret the text! He did neither. Now that it has happened to him, he is reportedly reevaluating his life.
We often like our earthly father Adam mishandle the Word of God. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as they say. There are serious consequences for this. Because of Adam’s mismanagement as our representative we inherit a sin nature. We sin ourselves. This brings forth physical and eternal death.
Thankfully we have another representative, another and better King who did not mishandle the Snake or Scripture (Mt 4). He came and fulfilled Scripture. He came and by His death put death to death. He satisfied the wrath of God. He grants us forgiveness for all the wrong we have done. He clothes us in His rightness. When we believe on Him we know we have eternal life and no snake (or anything else) can take it away.
The Word of God is defensive, it fends off and it is the only offensive weapon we have. It is the only weapon we need. We have failed to train believers how to use our weapon. We are going into battle and do not know how to wield our weapon! The Word must be properly brandished. Let us learn how to rightly handle the Word of God.
We want to rightly handle the Word of God. I am afraid we are often not very good Bereans. We do not know much about the Bereans. In Acts 17:10-12 is where we hear about them. They were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica. Why? Because they received the Word with great eagerness. They also examined the Scriptures daily to see if what they were being taught was true. Are we eager to receive the Word? Not many of us even take notes, nonetheless take those notes home and then examine them further against Scripture to see if what was said was true. It is hard to be discerning when we are so rarely in the Word. Taking notes may help, but that in itself is certainly not the answer. To rightly handle the Word of God we need to know what it is and how to read it.
We often misuse the Word of God. It is not an encyclopedia or a systematic theology. That is, it is not a topical book or a catalog of God’s answers to all our problems. When we view Scripture this way, we end up cutting and pasting in our conversations to try and help people. Topical Bibles can be helpful, but they can be a misuse of Scripture as well. This is often the approach to counseling. We just deal with the surface issues as we focus on our perception or their perception of the problem. It is a me-focused approach. “Need-driven, self-focused, solution-based ministry may use the Bible, but it is not truly biblical” (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, p. 25).
If God had intended Scripture to be a topical self-help book, He would have written and arranged it differently. Scripture has nothing to say in this approach about many modern problems like internet use or video games. It says nothing about ADHD and many of our modern disorders. Scripture is significantly lacking in this approach to it. Of course Scripture has something important to say about all of these things. Scripture is sufficient; God has given us everything we need for life and godliness.
Hopefully this series on snakes and Scripture will help us to see how to righty handle the Word of God, and snakes. We want to Rightly Read God’s Writings.
Jay Wipf is a former student of Coalt Robinson and attended Grace University where he earned his degree in Christian Education. Jay is currently studying at Reformed Baptist Seminary in the comfort of his home in Huron, SD. By grace and at Grace he met his beautiful wife Rachel, and they now have three young children. Jay and his family live in Huron where he works in facilities at a local credit union and serves within the local church.