Monday, October 30, 2006

What's the Point?

We have all heard the excuse that "we'll never fully understand the Bible this side of the grave". This statement is sometimes given as a way to evade a difficult question, and at others time a means of silencing arguments.

However, I firmly believe it is God's desire to reveal all of scripture to us as His children. Furthermore, the entire counsel of God is important for our edification, instruction, reproof, correction, and warning; the goal being a godly man or woman fully equiped for every good work.

But there are many things that prevent us from gaining a clear vision of God's eternal purpose, as seen throughout the pages of the Bible. This causes us to be confused, sidetracked, and often half-hearted in our service to the Lord. For whatever reason, we fail to see the awesome truth's hidden in the riches of His word.

Jesus said that "you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free". While salvation did bring us the initial freedom from the bondage of sin and Satan's kingdom, our understanding was stilled clouded concerning the full revelation of God's purpose. As we read and prayed over the scriptures, the Holy Spirit granted us light to see much truth and reality about Christ and all that we have in Him. This light dispels the darkness and brings more freedom in our lives. We began to realize that fear was not a God ordained feeling, and that perfect love casts out fear.

Similary, we learned that God works all things together for good, to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

The crunch seems to come when we fail to see the meaning or application of certain passages or chapters. It is this lack of light that leads us to incorrectly assume regarding God's desire for our lives. Many christians have been sidetraced and made ineffective simply because they did not take God at His word and hence 'refused' continued light.

The purpose of understanding the Bible is not simply so that we can boast of our knowledge or insight, for as we know, knowledge puffs up. All of scripture reveals the glory of God, and specifically the characteristics and attributes of Christ. As we understand more and more of His word, we begin to see just how glorious the Lord Jesus is, and what an awesome treasure we have. Then just as Christ was able to endure the despisings, ridicule, and sufferings, we too will be able to take up our cross and follow Him. When we see the joy set before us, all earthly trials will pale in comparison. May God open our eyes to see eternity!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Whom Fearest Thou?

Having just read the account of king Hezekiah, I was struck by the difference between him and many previous kings.

At the beginning of each king's reign is recorded an account of his heart's intentions. It is sad to see that most of the kings after David did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Occasionally there was one who did that which was right, and yet always held back a portion.

When we come to Hezekiah, the Bible tells us that he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and furthermore he removed the high places and the bronze serpent. In fact he is singled out alone for his trust in God.

The test of his devotion and trust come years later in his reign when the Assyrians come against him with unbeatable odds.

For the past few centuries, Israel had been continuously pillaged and robbed of her treasures, wealth, and military might. Now she stands completely powerless to stop an invading army. Prior to Hezekiah, many kings had hired out the armies of other nations to assist them in battle. They did this by taking the consecrated gold and silver from the temple and sending it as a payment for service.

Would they have hearkened to the lessons of history, they would have realized that the Lord was to be their defender, and that He did not need numbers to secure a victory. Hezekiah's trust of the Lord is made apparent when instead of looking to man for deliverance, he goes into the house of the Lord and presents the Assyrian's mocking letter to God. The Lord speaks through His servant Isaiah and declares that this enemy will indeed not prevail but fall before Israel.

After reading this account, I was again reminded that the Lord is looking for those whose hearts are perfect towards Him. To do that, we must take our eyes off of the present circumstances that seem so insurmountable and cast ourselves completely upon the Lord. He is waiting for us to give Him our complete trust and obedience, then He will show Himself strong.

Today we have many opportunities to put our faith into action. Whom will you serve today? Will you lean upon the king of Egypt or will you prostrate yourself before your heavenly King, looking to Him alone for deliverance, strength, and provision?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Captain, That is Illogical?

The topic of logic in relation to understanding scripture has recently come up and I thought I would add two cents worth to this discussion.

It seems that the argument breaks down into two sides; the first being that God gave us a mind to rationally and logically understand His word, the second being that only divine revelation can explain what the Bible really means.

Let me first address the skepticism of the second point. People who balk at the notion of divine revelation or God speaking directly to us raise the concern of extra-Biblical revelation. They often equate this type of speak as charismatic in nature and therefore highly suspect. Of course we have many examples of preachers and others who have received a "word from God" which determined which course they would take. It is funny how many times these "words" are in direct relationship to their desires, such as the Lord told me I should divorce my wife, or the Lord told me to marry that unbeliever, etc. You have probably heard just about every different angle there is.

A favourite one is this; "Well I prayed about it and had peace in my heart so I figured that God was saying yes."

Here is a couple of ways in which we can know something is not from God.

  • If an idea or thought contradicts what is already commanded in the Bible, it is just plain wrong.
  • If it requires a small "compromise" to achieve our goals, we have either not heard from God, or perhaps the timing is not right.
  • When it requires us to manipulate a situation in order for the results to be favourable, we are probably going ahead of the Lord.

These are just three and I'm sure there would be many more sound and wise warnings from scripture. (DO YOU HAVE ANY TO ADD?)

Now how about the first argument of using our logical and rational mind? I know what you are thinking; our new regenerated mind is now able to function "logically" so therefore it is safe to trust its judgement.

The verse used to defend this is "Now the natural man cannot understand the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned." It is true that an unbeliever cannot truly understand the mysteries of the Bible. His heart and mind are still blinded to the truth through spiritual death.

However, we must be careful to assume that our minds are now free from the old nature and its affects. The Bible is very clear that a process called transformation is taking place whereby we not only are able to comprehend the things of God, but begin to think and behave in harmony with the new life of Christ indwelling us.

For many centuries, man has esteemed the grasping of knowledge as a noble and worthwhile goal. While it is true that our western civilization has made tremendous leaps in the advancement of technology, arts, and science, these in and of themselves do not equate with a regenerate mind.

Any unbeliever can have a sharp and intelligent mind, knowing great mysteries of science, mathematics, etc., yet be completely void of comprehending the depth of God's love.

We must realize that growing in grace is not an intellectual exercise, it is the result of a relationship with the giver of grace, Christ Himself. It is an abandonement of our self-dependance to utter need for Him as everything to us.

Therefore, truth and the search for it is not found in the objective analysis of logic or rationale, as if we can simply deduce by reason and study the great mysteries hidden from the ages. Rather, truth is a person, Christ Jesus Himself, and in Him is hidden all wisdom, mysteries, knowledge, and truth.

What is my point?

Exactly! You can study scriptures all you want and never understand its greater mysteries. You can use your best logic and rational thinking and yet miss all the deepest meanings of Christ's words.

Only by asking Christ to fill us with His Holy Spirit as we read, by all means of supplication, meditation, and prayer, can we begin to grasp the riches He has hidden in the wonderful pages of scripture. If we try to separate truth from Christ, or logic from knowing Him, we will become intellectually minded christians as opposed to spiritually minded christians.
The Bible is not simply a book to "understand" with our minds, but rather this book reveals to us a person. Only has we begin to see Christ throughout the pages of the Bible will we truly begin to understand. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. His Word points us to Him, and in turn He speaks to us through His word.