What if a person said to you… “You are a decent person with a good personality, but I’d rather think of you my way. Instead of being the accountant you are, I see you as a politician. Instead of loving your wife, I see you as a player. Instead of being health conscious, I see you as a glutton and drunkard. Instead of being a Christian, I see you as a Buddhist. I perceive you as THIS kind of person… and after all… ‘Perception is reality!'”
And your answer would be… “You can’t do that. That ISN’T me. Your perception needs to be based on truth and not something you prefer!”
Ever so often I run into a person who tries to do the same thing with Scripture and God. Every time the person is serious in their belief and believes they are right. But sadly their perception of Biblical and spiritual reality is in error. Last week I talked with a man who was convinced the Trinity is not Biblical and there is no such thing as eternal condemnation in hell (He was a Jehovah’s Witness). It didn’t matter how much I tried to show him (From Scripture) that Jesus is God (Hebrews 1:8 for starters), he just would not accept it. No matter how much I tried to explain the reality of eternal hell and punishment (From Scripture), he just would not believe it.
Just because a person doesn’t believe something doesn’t mean it isn’t true! It is also possible for a person to read the Bible and come to a false conclusion (Satan uses Scripture but distorts its meaning to lead people astray.).
When it comes to Scripture, it is either true (All of it) or none of it is true. Going a step further, Scripture must also be rightly understood… meaning we can’t make it say what we want it to say. Thus the need for study and leadership of the Holy Spirit.
What part of the Bible can we choose not to believe… or believe in an unorthodox manner? Can we choose to believe in heaven and not hell (Both are equally true)? Can we choose to believe Jesus is not God (Clearly taught in Scripture)? Can we choose to believe the New Testament but not the Old Testament… that God used evolution rather than speaking things into existence… that the Trinity is not taught… and on and on the questions go.
Truth is… yes… we CAN choose to believe all those things. But we would do so in opposition to centuries of orthodox Christian doctrine. Once a person begins believing one part of Scripture and not another, they have lost it all and believe none of it. That person has made themselves the god of their life and exchanged the truth of God for a lie. At that point they’ll believe anything no matter how outlandish it is… to the point of abandoning Christ.
This happened to a man named Charles Templeton, of whom Billy Graham was his understudy. Mr. Templeton was a great evangelist in the 1940s and 1950s until he went to seminary where he began to doubt the veracity of portions of The Scripture. Eventually he lost his faith and became an agnostic. He tried to get Dr. Graham to see things his way which lead to a crisis of faith until Dr. Graham decided to believe God’s Word without reservation (“Just As I Am” by Billy Graham, pages 135-139).
A person can believe half the Bible and reject hell. But the consequences are disastrous!