Cherry-picking the Scriptures


Selecting only certain Bible verses to live by is a thing these days. Recently we were almost drawn into a church that teaches doctrines based on cherry-picking certain verses from the Bible, while refusing to talk about others. Attendees who don’t know their Bibles never noticed anything; they fell in love with the music, the vibe, and the welcoming atmosphere there.

The problem with it is that a half truth is still a complete lie. Cherry-picking opens you up to deception, even self-deception for believers who know better. We are simply not in a position to decide which parts of the Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit, are valid, and which ones are not.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:19-21

Paul explained it beautifully in his advice to Timothy, the young minister that he took under his wing as mentor:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness… 2 Timothy 3:16

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” Jesus Himself used all Scripture to explain who He was to the two men of Emmaus, when He found them discussing His death as they walked home:

Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24:25-27

“…beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures.” Isn’t that what we ought to do also? It is so easy to miss important truth when you cherry-pick, but you can’t go wrong when you embrace all of the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God for “instruction in righteousness.”

Jesus, in conversation with the Father, said this of Himself:

Then I said, Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me—to do Your will, O God. Hebrews 10:7

Cherry-picking is even more widely practiced on a personal level though, to the point where the Christian life of today is hardly recognizable when compared to the Bible. Spiritual entropy is hard at work in the lives of those who do not heed the Word as a light that shines in a dark place, to borrow a line from Peter.

A well known TV personality recently advocated for the Bible to be rewritten because it is outdated and irrelevant to modern culture. Outrageous as it sounds, many believers do exactly that, even while criticizing that notion. Scripture simply doesn’t mean much once the wide gate and broad road become the preferred way to live life for people who identify as Christian.

Good Christians are already shunned as old fashioned, extreme, religious, narrow-minded, etc., and viewed as an unwelcome fringe of society.

When you look at the bigger picture of the modern church, you’ll find a wide variety of doctrines and practices that are never mentioned anywhere in the Bible. Some of those beliefs are squarely against the teachings and spirit of Scripture, such as abortion, sexuality, accommodation of anti-Christ religions, to name a few. But it wasn’t always so; things slid down the slippery slope over time as the sacredness of Scripture was set aside, one verse at a time.

This development is rapidly moving toward open hostility against followers of the Lord, and betrayal by people who identify as Christian. A day will come when true believers will find their secular-minded brothers siding with their persecutors, and view portions of the Bible as harmful. It is already a growing opinion. Cherry-picking through the Scriptures may look innocent at the start, even well intentioned, but it harbours some dangerous potential for the true church.

The Bible gives clear guidelines on Christian living, lovingly designed to keep us safe and on the right track with the Lord. The desire of all disciples is to be like Him, and the epistles, which are letters written to the church, will lead us there.

My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

All of the recommendations in Scripture are important, even the ones we don’t like, because they produce holiness in us without which no one will see the Lord, according to Hebrews 12:14.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13,14

The narrow gate is still open; dare to enter through it, and walk the difficult road that leads to life. The Lord will be there to help you over the rough patches. You will not be alone; there are like-minded sojourners to lean on and fellowship with. Turn away from the spiritual wilderness where seducing spirits deceive and corrupt.

Find your personal center of gravity by marking what applies to you:
Music preference: Secular or Christian
Friends: Mostly unbelievers or Believers
Social events: Mostly Secular or Mostly Christian
TV&internet: Mostly secular or Mostly faith based

If you marked mostly on the left, you have adjustments to make. Do it for your eternal destiny.

Do you read your Bible every day?
Do you pray daily?
Do you have a personal devotional time, dedicated to hear from the Lord?

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… Hebrews 1:1-3

The hour is late, and tomorrow is not guaranteed. You are one breath away from eternity. God has something to say to you, just open His Word!

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