Christian claims about how life should be lived are often dismissed due to alleged inconsistency. If you do not stone to death adulterer’s or practice temple sacrifices, how can you denounce homosexuality?
Understanding the Bible can appear daunting. It was written over a period of 1,500 years, by over forty different authors ranging from farmers to kings, on three continents in three languages. The common thread that simplifies and makes sense of all the parts is this. Humans have a problem they need God’s help to solve. God sent Jesus Christ to pay for all the things we do wrong and show us how to avoid them going forward. This way of life brings the best possible outcomes now and leads to a perfect life someday with God in heaven. Note the first step in this better life is reconnecting with God through Jesus Christ. No solution is possible without Jesus as Savior and given the authority to call the shots in our life. John Wesley said God came to teach us the way and wrote it down in a book, what Christians have referred to as the Bible for over 1,500 years.
Recognizing the purpose of the Bible is the first step to understanding it. The second is to see the three categories of laws it contains. It has Moral laws, e.g. the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 5) and the Greatest Commandment and its corollary in the New Testament (Mark 12:29-31). They are based on the unchanging character of God and are eternally binding. Civil laws (e.g. Exodus 21-23) dictated Israel’s daily living while they existed as a nation-state. Consequently, they contained penalties for breaking the law which included the stoning of those caught in adultery. This form of government and religion does not exist today and Christian fellowships exist in every form of civil government. The principles behind the commands are used to guide our conduct even though the penalties for breaking them may vary. Ceremonial laws (e.g., sacrifices) were intended to prefigure Christ, and ceased to be applicable upon His coming.
Trust God’s self-revelation known as the Bible. It was confirmed by Jesus, the Apostles, and early church councils resulting in the Scripture you hold in your hands today, not the reductionist version Thomas Jefferson put forth or various others being promulgated today. God’s voice can be heard in its pages. He speaks to accomplish at least three things recorded in Paul’s letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 3:16).
The Bible will guide (teach) us. It may not answer as bluntly as sometimes desired, but it will guide life. Do you want to know what to do and how to respond? Read the Bible until you hear the answer. Realize as you read, secondly, it will guard your steps in life. Do not be afraid or put off by the words “rebuking, correcting”. To rebuke means to convince a person of the error of their ways and point them on the right path, while to correct means to test everything else we hear against the Bible. If it contradicts the Bible (God speaking), reject it. If we truly listen, God’s word will guard us from making mistakes (sinning) that will harm us. Finally, reading then practicing what we learn is essential for maturing or “training in righteousness”. Just as a cup of tea increases in strength the longer the tea leaves are immersed in the water, so our lives become stronger the longer we immerse ourselves in the Bible.
Who needs the Bible? Everyone but the simpleton, arrogant and haughty.