Whatever serious false teaching we are facing, the Bible is uncomfortably clear: When false teachers persist in their views, they will be subject to divine judgment (see especially 2 Peter 2). For the sake of these false teachers (that they might avoid God’s judgment) and church health (that we might flourish in God), we believe we need a shift in how we teach the Bible. In short, we need to spend more time teaching the Bible as first and foremost the revelation of God. We understand the temptation to talk about the Bible mostly in terms of “what it means to me” and its “practical application to daily life.” But when this hermeneutic dominates—as it does today—Christianity becomes little more than self-help therapy. And it leaves people ignorant of Scripture’s deeper meaning, and therefore unable to spot false teaching.
The Bible is the Word of God primarily because it reveals the nature of God—who God is and what he has done for us. And that in turn shows us what it means to be those created in his image. Yes, it includes practical teaching for daily living. But most biblical ethical teachings reflect God’s general revelation and so can be found in many philosophies and religions (e.g., “Do to others as you would have them do to you”). The Bible’s unique message, its special revelation, is the revelation of the God who has brought us salvation in Jesus Christ.
Pastors, teachers, and small-group leaders would be wise to spend more energy showing how the Bible is the source of the great church doctrines—which are so often about God and his saving work. It’s time for our main pedagogical question to be not, “What difference does this make?” but, “What does this tell us about our good God?”
Mark Gali, for Christianity Today