I am participating in a Disciple 1 Bible Study. Tonight’s video introduction included several comments about the inclusiveness of Scripture, how it’s available to everyone and applicable to everyone. The speaker referenced, among others, the Ethiopian eunuch, the centurion, and the people of Nineveh. His point was that God has interest in all people and makes His Word available to all. The not so subtle point that I got from it is that just because someone thinks differently from me doesn’t mean that they aren’t sincerely seeking God’s direction in the Word.
The speaker failed to note a significant point, however. In the case of every individual or group mentioned, the defining event of each one’s encounter with the Word of God was that each was changed by it, transformed. the Ethopian eunuch asked for instruction, became a believer, and was baptized on the spot by Phillip. The centurion recognized the authority of those who presented the gospel to him, being a man of authority himself, and became a believer, he and his whole household. The Ninevites repented of their sin when confronted with the consequences and were able to avert certain doom.
The speaker, in an attempt to make us tolerant of all others who appear to be sincerely pursuing truth in the Bible (even though they may be coming to grossly different conclusions in the process), has given us these examples, but failed to note that they were transformed by it. How many in today’s culture who seek to justify their lifestyle by pointing to Jesus’ ‘tolerance’ or lack of comment about certain behaviors are doing nothing more than seeking to use the Bible for their own ends?
If one’s encounter with the Word leaves her unchanged, without greater holiness, then I can’t honestly say that her pursuit of the truth in the Word was sincere and faithful. Rather, it is like the rich young ruler whom Scripture says was, “seeking to justify himself.”