I have used this illustration for many years, as I think it helps us to understand a powerful and important lesson regarding the Bible and our interactions with others in Bible-based discussions.
When I was in high school, Michael Erickson was gracious enough to give me a job at his pet store. What did I know about pets? Not much! I certainly didn’t have any expertise in the area, but I wanted to do my best and to not disappoint Mike.
The first few days were pretty overwhelming. By the second week, I had determined that there were 1,478,942 different pet supplies, foods, toys and paraphernalia. Or, at least that’s the way it felt. Customers would come into the store or would call on the phone and ask, “Do you have this? Do you have that?” I didn’t have a clue! First of all, many times I had no idea what they were even talking about. Second of all, I had no clue if such a thing was in the store or not.
So, I made a determination pretty early in the job. There was no way that I was ever going to learn (or understand) the 1,478,942 different things that were out there for pets, so I set my sights on learning and knowing the 873 supplies that were actually in the store. That was much more manageable. I figured that if I knew everything that was in the store, and used that as my foundation for understanding pet supplies, then I would immediately be able to recognize if we didn’t have an item that a customer was seeking, even if I had no clue what such an item was.
Years later, it occurred to me that this is how we should approach Bible study and Bible knowledge, as well. When we listen to all that the world has to say about religion, about Christianity, about the church, about the Bible, about Jesus, about God, etc., it can be very confusing and easily overwhelming. It is as if there are 1,478,942 different doctrines and practices out there in the religious world, and there is no way that we will ever learn them all, let alone understand them.
But, what if we set our sights on “what is actually in the store”? I will never be able to know every facet of man-made religion or be able to recognize (on my own) every man-made doctrine. But, I don’t need to do that! Instead, I need to focus on what God has put “in his store” (i.e., in the Bible)! That’s the foundation for understanding all that I actually need to know. And, if I will study and learn what God’s Word actually teaches, then I will be able to immediately recognize a man-made religion or doctrine as not being in the Bible, even if I know nothing else about it.
Let’s learn what God has in His storehouse (the Bible), to know what He actually wants and actually teaches.