The Tay Bridge in Dundee, Scotland, opened for passenger services on June 1, 1878. That very summer, Queen Victoria was a passenger onboard the train that passed over that bridge, at the time at over a mile and a half the longest railway bridge in the world. This led her to knight the bridge’s builder, Thomas Bouch. But on Saturday, December 28, 1879, the bridge collapsed in a violent wind and rainstorm as a train carrying 75 passengers was crossing it. All perished! It was the worst engineering disaster of its time. Commissioners blamed faulty design, construction and maintenance, a too narrow bridge, inferior materials, and improper precautions against wind loads for the tragedy. Shortcuts, financial problems, and engineers driving too fast all contributed to the collapse. It was a tragic loss for Scotland.
As tragic as this was, equally tragic was the response of the Church of Scotland which blamed those responsible for running and riding the train on the Sabbath for drawing God’s wrath. A bridge builder built a faulty bridge, but several supposed ministers misused the Bible to build faulty theology.
Properly handling the Bible is the responsibility of more than preachers. God expects it of all of us. So much is passed off as religious truth that bears little if any connection with what the Bible actually says. In 2 Timothy 2:14-19, Paul instructed Timothy to promote of a culture of not only reading, but of investigating that leads to understanding.
What good things happen when you properly study the Bible? You accurately handle the word of truth (15), you have no cause for shame (15), and you stand on the firm foundation of God (19). What bad things do you avoid by properly studying the Bible? You avoid “ruin” (14), ungodliness (16), straying from the truth (18), upsetting the faith of some (18), and wickedness (19).
When dealing with something as important as eternal truth and its counterparts, we must be skilled workmen (15). Shoddiness leads to disastrous results. People claim that the Bible teaches all sorts of things, many of whom have done little if any studying regarding their claims. Our job is to counter useless (14), ruinous (14), worldly (16), empty (16), gangrenous (17), upsetting (18), foolish (21), ignorant (21), and argument-producing (23) teaching that comes from men rather than God. Our job is to help build a bridge between men and God over the chasm that leads to spiritual death. What we build with and how we build makes all the difference!
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