I like cake. My favorite is a devil’s food chocolate cake with creamy vanilla cream cheese frosting. I’m not sure what all of the ingredients are, but I know it takes each and every one of them to make the cake form, stand, look, and taste just like it is supposed to. That taste is so wonderful too! In a recent live webcast on Cell Life Church Live, I talked about a friend who baked me a cake a while back and got their canisters confused on their kitchen counter. They replaced the sugar with salt accidentally. That was the most awful cake I have ever taken a bite out of.
It takes many ingredients to bake a cake. You need flour and eggs. It takes sugar and baking powder. What is baking powder anyway? You must use some water. You can add other flavors like cocoa or vanilla. That’s all just for the cake itself. The frosting takes special ingredients. Then there are the special decorative toppings. There’s a lot to put into baking a simple cake. It takes all of these ingredients in the right ratios to make a perfect cake. If you remove one or modify another, you change the cake and it doesn’t sit right. It won’t taste the way it is supposed to.
The Bible is the same way. The master baker, God, has given us the Bible. He chose the people to inspire with the Holy Spirit to pen its words. He put each of those words in their minds and hearts in just the right proportions and place to create a perfect work. The Bible is perfect in its entirety. There is just the right amount of encouragement to get us through the tough times. The amount of rebuke that can be taken from the lessons learned from others who have failed is just right. Wealth is addressed. The love of wealth, its redistribution, and its source are all described perfectly. There is a healthy dose of love, sort of like yeast in bread dough. It just spreads itself throughout. All of the pieces of advice, admonition, encouragement, love, forgiveness, and instruction all in perfect ratios in perfect harmony so as to make a complete and perfect masterpiece.
This is why we run into trouble when we read scripture out of context. It is very easy to misunderstand what God is trying to teach and instruct us when we only take a small portion, sometimes not even a complete sentence, and build church doctrine on it. What is even worse is when we do that personally building our own personal doctrine. Just like a cake without eggs or the cake where salt is substituted for sugar, it doesn’t work. It is foul and puts a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
We learn as we read 2 Timothy 3:16 from the Apostle Paul that scripture is God-breathed and is useful for preaching, teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness. We must take scripture in its entirety with all of God’s intended nuances to properly apply it to our lives today. You can’t throw out ingredients you like in a cake and you can’t throw out portions of scripture you don’t like.
Ultimately, as you read God’s word, the overarching theme is love. The Bible is God’s love letter to man. Read it in context and in its entirety. In that, you will draw close to the Lord and live a life of joy.