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  • William Earnhardt

The Bible is a Love Story, not a Collection of Proof Texts


There is a joke I like to tell whenever anyone mentions the dictionary. I tell people, ” I tried reading the dictionary, but I could not follow the plot”. It brings chuckles because, of course, there is no plot. The dictionary is simply a collection of definitions and facts with no plot or story line. But the Bible is not a mere collection of facts and proof texts. The Bible has a plot. The Bible has a story line. It is a love story. By reading the Bible the way you would a dictionary, things are taken out of context, and we miss the purpose of why the Bible was written. Please don’t try to read this greatest love story the way you would a lifeless dictionary. Don’t miss the entire reason the Bible was written.

But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. John 20:31 NLT

In Jacqueline van Maarsen’s book, My Name is Anne, She Said, Anne Frank, Jacqueline tells the story about her best friend, Anne Frank. When Anne Frank went into hiding, she could not tell her best friend goodbye. That would have been too dangerous. In order to protect your family, you simply disappeared with no explanation to anyone. While in hiding, Anne did write a goodbye letter to Jacqueline, telling her  that she was sorry she could not say goodbye and that she did love her. Having no possible way to deliver the letter, Anne simply hid it in her diary. After being caught and taken to a concentration camp, Anne died just three weeks before American forces came to liberate the camp. Anne’s father was the only one in the family to survive the war. When he returned to the village where his family and he were captured, he found the house where they stayed. The landlady was still there. She gave Anne’s father Anne’s  diary that she had found in the attic. Anne’s father saw the letter to Jacqueline and  found her and gave her the letter. Finally Jacqueline could read the letter her friend so lovingly wrote even though she had no way of delivering it or knowing that it ever would be delivered. 

Anne Frank wrote a letter with no way possible of delivering that letter. In the middle of the chaos of a war where neighborhoods were blown to smithereens and all of Europe was in upheaval, God watched over that letter and made sure that it got into the hands of the person Anne wrote it too. Why did God protect that letter in the middle of the chaos of war? Because Jacqueline needed to know she was loved. 

In the middle of a cosmic conflict between good and evil, Christ and Satan, God wrote a love letter to all humanity. He wrote that love letter to you, my friend. Throughout the dark ages, Satan has done all he could to destroy that letter to make sure it never got into your hands. Yet men gave their lives to preserve that letter, and to translate that letter into your language. The Bible is the one book that man has tried to wipe out for centuries, and yet it is the one book that has survived for centuries. God has watched over His own love letter to make sure that it got into your hands. Why did God protect that letter in the middle of the chaos of a cosmic war? Because you need to know you are loved. 

Suppose once Anne’s letter was miraculously placed into Jacqueline’s hands, she thought to herself, “This looks boring. I don’t think I want to read it?”  That would be unthinkable! Yet after all God has done to miraculously place the Bible into the hands of people, that is the attitude many have. That is too sad! I pray that you take time to read God’s miraculous love letter to you.

Image © Pacific Press from GoodSalt.com

Years ago the church I was in had a prophecy seminar series. A young man I will call Nate attended with his wife. They were fascinated by all the prophecies, especially the mark of the beast. Nate understood that the mark of the beast was choosing a common day of worship over the day God made holy. Nate loved talking and theorizing about how the mark would actually be administered. Would it be a computer program? A chip? Would it be a debit card? Instead of absorbing his mind with the love of Jesus, he absorbed his mind with conspiracy theories surrounding Bible prophecy. One day I was hanging out with Nate and his wife when, as usual, he started talking about how the mark would be given. This time I finally asked him, “Nate suppose you knew exactly how the mark would be administered. How would that information make you more like Jesus and help you love him more?”  Nate gave me a look of surprise and a response similar to “What does that have to do with anything?” Sadly Nate and his wife did not stay long in the church. He was wrapped up in prophecy conspiracies and proof texts and never did truly see the love letter that was placed in his hand. 

When I first came to a certain church to be a Bible Worker, I met a couple of men in the church who were staunch King James Version only men.  They were always putting together presentations touting the supremacy of the KJV, forgetting that it was also a version of the Bible. It was not the original manuscripts. The two men worked together during the week. One day I was at their office, and, as always, they were having an intellectual conversation on the virtues of the KJV. Well, since I am a fairly simple guy and obviously not too intellectual, I decided to try to simplify the discussion and bring it down to my level. Since I was still relatively new to their church, in an order to become better acquainted, I asked them how they came to know Jesus as their Savior and how His love has changed their lives.  They both looked at me like a deer in the headlights. Neither of them could simply tell me what Jesus meant to them. 

A while back I was talking with an Adventist missionary pastor who is known for his solid Adventist theology. Even with his devoted appreciation of Adventist theology, he shared with me why the Adventist church is not growing more. He said, “we are so concentrated on being right, that we forget to be relational.”  Jesus was always right, but He was also always relational. While sharing proof texts, do we also teach people how to have their own personal relationship with Jesus? Do we present the Bible to the unbeliever as a collection of proof texts or as a love letter? Thousands have made it through the Adventist school system with their minds filled with proof texts about the Sabbath and state of the dead, but their hearts have never read the love letter in their hands. Thousands have sat in prophecy seminars where proof texts were shared on the screen, one right after the other, proving we are right, but did they see anything relational? 

Here is what Ellen White said in regard to those who use isolated verses as proof texts to prove their own belief, which applies to Adventists as well. 

Some will take a text, wrest it from its true bearing, and force it into service to sustain some preconceived opinion. By linking together isolated passages of Scripture, they may deceive others. But what appears to be Bible proof for their position is no proof whatever; for the scriptures are not used in their true setting. In this way error is often magnified, and truth diminished. Those who thus wrest the scriptures to sustain error, greatly dishonor God, and in the day of judgment, they will be held responsible for the disobedience of those who through their sophistries have been led to disregard the divine law. –Ellen White, Review and Herald, August 13, 1959 

Simply put, proof texting is when you look for verses in the Bible to prove what you believe instead of reading with an open mind like the Bereans did in Acts 17:11

God did not protect Anne’s letter during the chaos of war to prove that Anne was right. He protected it to prove that Jacqueline was loved. Jesus did not die on the cross to prove that He was right. He died to prove that you are loved. God preserved the Bible so you would know you are loved. 

Don’t miss the entire reason the Bible was written.

But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. John 20:31 NLT
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