I used to tease my wife about the fact that she never follows a recipe. She often finds a recipe, sets it out on the counter, and immediately starts to substitute ingredients. Sometimes it is because we don’t have all the ingredients the recipe calls for. Other times it is because she doesn’t like some of the ingredients. Still other times it is just to try something different.
Although I used to think this was silly (why have a recipe if you’re not going to follow it?), guess what I also now do when I cook? The exact same thing. I have learned how to substitute ingredients. Therefore, I don’t always follow the recipe either.
Why do I share this? Because this is how people often view the Bible. You could say that the Bible is a recipe book for salvation. There are many people in our world who believe that we can treat the Bible just like any other recipe book: use what you want, leave out what you don’t like, substitute something else.
Twelve years ago I was helping out a church in St. Petersburg, Florida. While there I met a woman who viewed the Bible that way. She told me that “there is a golden thread of truth running throughout the Bible, you just have to peel back the layers to find it.” She accepted some things from the Bible, but rejected many others. Although I didn’t think to ask her at the time, I wonder how people who pick and choose what to believe from the Bible can ever be certain that they have chosen the right things? How can you be sure that what you believe from the Bible is true if you reject other parts of the Bible?
The simple answer is that you can’t. Treating the Bible like any other recipe book is a recipe for disaster. God makes clear how he wants us to treat this book that he has given us. He said in Deuteronomy 4:2, “You must not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, so that you may keep the commands of the Lord your God I am giving you.”
God wants us to follow the recipe for salvation exactly as he has given it to us. Listen to it as it is recorded in 2 Timothy 1:9-10, “He saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
As we consider our salvation, let us follow the recipe that God has given. We are saved by Jesus and what he has done by his perfect life, by his death on the cross, and by his resurrection from the dead. May we never try to add our own works, but trust that Jesus has done it all for us. Notice again the first words from 2 Timothy above: “He saved us”! Salvation is God’s doing. He not only gave us the recipe, but he is the one who put it all together for us. Therefore, let us follow the recipe: “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
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