In my years in Christian ministry, I have seen many people lose their faith or turn their backs on God because of beliefs they have been told are correct.
“God is in control.” God has a plan.” “God is making you stronger.” “God is testing you.” “God won’t put on you more than you can bear.”
Those are just a few of the platitudes people are told are true but that later cause them to reject God.
From my experience, people’s Christian beliefs come mainly from either what they have been told are correct beliefs or from what they have always heard. Usually, these beliefs are backed up with two or three selected Bible verses. People figure that, since two or three Bible verses can be quoted to support a belief, the belief must be correct.
As an example, many Christians believe that God knows everything, that there is nothing God does not know. They have been given a Bible verse or two to support that. Maybe they’ve been told that First John chapter 3 says that God knows all. Maybe they’ve been told that Psalm 139 says that God’s understanding has no limits. And so they believe God knows everything.
Taking a belief from a handful of selected Bible verses is dangerous. When we do that, we ignore other things from the Bible that might point in a different direction. We might point to a passage from First John that says God knows all, but we ignore the many places in the Bible where it is apparent that God did not know something.
For example, take this passage from Second Chronicles 7: “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Second Chronicles presents that as God Himself speaking. If God already knew what the Hebrews would choose to do, which of course He would have if He does in fact know everything, then that passage wouldn’t make sense. Why would God even say that if He already knew what they would choose to do?
As another example, why would God have bothered to send the prophets to warn people to change their ways if He already knew what they were going to do?
There are many other examples we could pull from the Bible that illustrate times when God didn’t know what was going to happen. If there were times when God didn’t know what was going to happen, we can’t say that God knows everything.
In addition to that, we can find examples in the Bible of God changing His mind. The very concept of God changing His mind doesn’t make sense if He already knows everything that’s going to happen.
Think about that for a minute. If God already knew everything that was going to happen, how could He change His mind?
Sure, you can pull out a few selected passages from the Bible to support a belief that God knows everything, but you can also point to things in the Bible that indicate God does not know everything.
Even after hearing that, however, people will still cling to what they’ve been told—that God knows everything, including everything that will ever happen in the future. Beliefs like that, the things we have been told are correct, are so ingrained in us that we often cannot allow ourselves to question them. After all, that’s what we’ve always heard, that what such-and-such preacher says, that’s what “everyone” says.
In situations like that, it’s easier for us to turn our backs on God and reject Christianity altogether than question beliefs we’ve always heard and been told are correct. Those beliefs are so ingrained in us that we sometimes cannot even bring ourselves to consider that what we have been told about Christianity is not necessarily actually Christianity.
I knew a woman who was diagnosed in middle age with a severe neurological disease. She lived with that disease for almost 20 years, and by the time she died, she had lost practically all physical abilities. She was also mad at God; actually, she was furious with God.
You see, she had heard all her life that God rewards those who please Him with good health and a good life. She felt she had lived a life pleasing to God. She had certainly tried to. But yet, there she was, severely disabled in middle age, while people much older than she were still able to walk and do anything they wanted to.
She got mad at God because she felt God had not lived up to His part of the bargain. She had lived the good life, but God had not rewarded her with good health and a good life.
When I tried to talk to her about her belief that God rewards those who please Him with good health and a good life, she couldn’t even begin to bring herself to question that belief. It was what she had always heard. It was what she had always been told. It was so ingrained in her that she could not question it. It was simply not possible for her to question it.
And so she ended up turning her back on God. All because of a belief she had been told all of her life was true. A sad ending to this woman’s life…
We should not take our beliefs from a few selected Bible verses. We have to consider the entire broad sweep of the Bible, everything the Bible says, not just a few verses that are cut out.
Many Christians treat the Bible as a box containing a bunch of little slips of paper with verses written on them. They pull out a few verses and from those make their beliefs.
But they ignore the rest.
Doing that not only creates a false Christianity, it also creates false beliefs that have real negative impact on people.