3 Statements That Don't Sum Up The Message Of The Bible
I heard a pastor of a large church say the following, “I’m going to give you the cliff notes version of the Bible:
-Love One Another
-Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”
This might sound pretty good to the average congregant, but it presents some serious problems. Let’s examine these three statements one by one and see what we’re left with.
We are to love God, there is no doubt. Isn’t that the very thing we have failed to do since Adam and Eve in the Garden? 1 John 5:3 seems to make it clear that if we love God we will keep his commandments. It seems the Bible is filled with man’s failure to do exactly that. Israel never heard of a command they didn’t want to break. What’s ironic is that the Bible didn’t give them enough rules to break so they made up there own so they could break those too. This isn’t true only in the Old Testament, it is true in the New as well. Peter denied Christ, Judas, Paul persecuted the church, the seven churches in Revelation 1-3, etc…all of them have failed at loving God. This is true in our own experience as well. If we take an honest picture or our own lives we will see our own failures to love God. This failure does not mean we should not continue to run the race, press on, or pursue perfection. It does mean that we are in a lot of trouble because we have failed at what Moses and Jesus said was the most important commandment in all of Scripture…Love God.
Love one Another
Again Scripture is filled with failures to do this very thing. Cain and Able, Joseph and his brothers, Hosea and Gomer, the Pharisees, Paul, etc… Again if we look at ourselves honestly we will find many moments when we have failed to love one another.
Love Your Neighbor
According to Moses and Jesus this is the second greatest commandment. It is so similar to the previous statement that it doesn’t warrant any further explanation of how mankind and each of us individually have failed to live up to this command.
These three statements are good in and of themselves. We should seek to obey them with all of our fiber, with every ounce or our energy, but they do not sum up the message of the Bible. If they did sum up the message of the Bible we are left as failures before a just and holy God.
All three of these statements represent the law given to us. We are to obey the law but the Bible and our experience clearly reminds us that because of sin we will fail to be obedient to the law and that is where the gospel and Jesus come into the picture. The Bible can be summed up in three verses and they are these:
- Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
- 1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
- 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
There are other verses that could be used to tell the story of the Bible but the these do the job pretty well. Any summary of the Bible must include the law which shows us our sin, the atonement found in the cross, and the resurrection which is life with God eternally.
As pastors, parents, and leaders we must get this right. Christianity does teach good morals, but without Grace, without the atonement, without redemption love is just another law we fail to do.
Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us
John Byrne's Bio
John Byrne has been involved in youth ministry for more then 15 years. His ability to engage, challenge, and speak relevantly to his audience has led to speaking opportunities nationwide including camps, seminars, conferences, and training events. He has also written for Group Magazine, Youthworker Journal, and contributed to Youth Ministry Lemonade: turning “sour” experiences into leadership success. To see more of his writing check out the YM Theology blog.
John knew he wanted to be a youth pastor at the early age of 13. While attending Oak Hills Bible College he met the woman of his dreams and convinced her to marry him. After a two year honeymoon in the great state of Colorado he returned to his home state of Minnesota to finish his Biblical Studies degree from Northwestern Bible College.
John’s passion is living out the great mission (commission) in his life and helping others do the same. He does this through writing and speaking as well as missional living in his own neighborhood and community.
John is currently the Student Ministries Pastor at The Rock of Southwest, a church in Littleton, Colorado. He lives in Littleton with his wife Christa, daughter Catrina 11, and son Joash 4.