1. Use the Bible as a self help book.
2. Replace a living god with words on paper.
3. Argue constantly about nuances and misnomers.
The Bible, as it is written is a historical record, largely detailing the history of ancient Israel. Specifically it records the people of Israel encounters with God. It tells us such and such happened, here’s what god had to say about it to this guy, this happened, etc etc… among a few other things. How it relates to us is it shows us what kind of God we are dealing with, what kinds of things he generally goes for and what infuriates him… Scripture gives us structure in our understanding of our own religion and creates permanence in our ideals. In a way it does tell us how to live our life as christians, but in a very different direction from say a self help book or a instruction manual. Rather, it more accurately explains “why we need Jesus”. Nonetheless, it is a historical record – it doesn’t technically end at the book of revelation. There’s about 2000 years worth of things that have been debated if certain texts should be added since the time of the apostles. Texts such as “Against Heresies” by Ireneous, “First epistle of Clement” or say the writings of Martin Luther or Calvin – If anything Its well worth the average christian time to read into church history for the reason there is more to the story of Gods role in the history of the world. The spirit is always moving.
Jesus never belittled Scripture, or set it aside, or criticized it (although He criticized those who misused it), or contradicted it (although He rejected many interpretations of it), or opposed it, nor spoke in any way as “higher” critics do of the Old Testament (Tanakh). Rather, Christ preached the point I’m makeing with this- scripture is nothing by itself, as Christians we carry the spirit for a reason. As christ explains to the pharisees – its because while they just sit around reading the bible all day, they dont have love of god in their heart or really even believe in the scriptures. And so, they can not see God at work while it is standing right in front of them.
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” – John 5 39-46
Why might that be?
Ours is a living God!
He does not solely exist in a foreign land 2000 years ago, he is an eternal and omnipotent being… Which is the equivalent point Christ was trying to explain to the pharisee’s about Moses…. All these things, not only happened, but the same god behind them is still around. He is a living God, hes not done with the world yet. Nor did he just disappear from history, he is here and hes very much alive.
According to scripture itself, the Trinity is of Father, Son and Holy Ghost… not father son and holy scripture. This difference is so important we must never forget it, as to deny the Holy Spirit is to deny God himself. Thereby clinging to solely scripture we become the Pharisees and Sadducees – to whom which scripture tells us, God was dead to.
This is the very reason the scripture also says, denying the Holy spirit the one and only unforgivable sin. Christians everywhere deny this spirit constantly in their hearts – and really I think it’s the church’s fault for placing such emphasis, and slightly off the mark view, of Sola scriptura.
Luther had no intention of doing such – rather he lived at a time when the church ignored scripture entirely, or took it way out of context to conform to their apostasy. Martin intended Sola Scriptura as a means for the church to base its claims on only the facts of the record – and without confliction to the whole of scripture…. Meaning you cant just make things up or pull up Romans 13 while ignoring Daniel 3/Galations 3 (among others). The church/anyone must reconcile its own contradictions by Scripture alone which explains itself when read in context.
Why people deny the spirit
Ideologically speaking, It’s really not easy to be Christian. The world tosses us around so much – and I think many of us learn to use litmus tests to get through life and screen people before ever hearing them out. We watch the charismatic movement leaders claim to use the Holy spirit to heal people. We watch other people like Sylvia Brown claim to use the holy spirit to speak to the dead. We see false prophets of many stripes and creeds literally twist this spirit into every possible abomination, so much so we become skeptical the minute one even mentions “The Holy Spirit” or even just the word “faith”…. We simply can’t fall into this trap because of them – most assuredly satan wants us to, because it is a crack SO very easy to fall into.
The Spirit Teaches Us
We are nothing without the spirit! We amount to empty vessels capable of regurgitating lines from a book written by dead Jewish people. However, one way the spirit leads us in scripture itself is it gives us understanding of it. It has been said and it’s very observable, scripture isn’t written for the lost, that’s why to non believers it doesn’t make much sense or often they think its contradictory. Where as a Christian things that confuse them make perfect sense to us. Let me just toss you some passages in scripture on this point:
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Cor. 2:14)
Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. — Jesus (Luke 10:21, Matthew 11:25)
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9-11)
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
This is often why I don’t really think pastors should go around citing scripture to lost people. They just don’t understand it, it often falls on deaf ears, because they can not hear it. And according to scripture it’s kind of meant to be that way. There is a way you speak to the choir, and there’s a way you speak to lost sheep. That doesn’t mean you say something different from scripture, it just means you word it in a way they might understand.
Then there is ourselves with scripture, sometimes there’s things in scripture that even make us go “Huh”? Maybe it’s a matter of just reading the same verse in a different version, maybe even then we’re left scratching our heads… some times I really think, God reveals things to us in increments as he sees fit…. I could read the same verse that once confused me years later and suddenly it makes perfect sense. Then of course sometimes I could understand a verse perfectly, but years later looking at it and I’m “WTH”?
Anyway, I’m digressing.
The Mustard seed effect
As christ tells us: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” ”
The parable of the mustard seed in many levels explains the christian growth with christ perfectly. Noticeably, most Christian’s never remain in the church they started out in – usually it’s because we out grow it.
I myself began my walk just watching the news on youtube with Evangelist Anita Fuentes. I know another christian whom began her walk with the United Church of Christ at just about the same time I started. Both of us today look at our former pastors and think, not only are these 2 different church’s sheer apostate – but also highly superficial. We both agreed we had no idea what in the world we were thinking when we reviewed our first church. Today I am Lutheran, this other girl is Pentecostal… both of which are fine denominations among many other fine choices – the point being, as we grew in our understanding we both looked for more substance. We are trees now, not saplings – we don’t really need too much care anymore just sunlight, and fortunately we out grew the weeds that surrounded us when we first started. Just as the mustard seed also grows in a field to become the greatest of all the herbs. Through it all, it was the spirit who lead us upward, and certainly there’s plenty of room for more growth.
The Spirit Changes us
Have you ever heard of the song “Amazing Grace”? There’s an amazing tale behind it.
published in 1779, written by John Newton. Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction, but his life’s path was formed by a variety of twists and coincidences. He was pressed (conscripted/drafted) into service in the Royal Navy to fight the Americans, and after leaving the service, he became heavily involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel off the coast of County Donegal, Ireland, so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion. He continued his slave trading career until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christianity. Newton soon became one of the very few early activist/leaders in the abololishinst movement on a life long quest to end slavery in America. Everytime we sing the song “Amazing Grace”, we are singing his story of conversion and the spirit which lead him in a complete 180 direction. Though Newton never lived to see the Civil war, he brought the discussion of ending slavery to the table in Congress in the first place by preaching it at every church he went to. He was even of the minority of the time preaching the gospel to the slaves themselves in the fields while being rediculed and told “Negros do not have souls and therfore can not be saved”. Soon his followers would become active members in the underground rail road, and later lead the formation of the Republican Party in 1854 – which gave us our first Republican president Abraham Lincoln. Even though Newton was long since dead by this time, word for word some of the rhetoric Newton once preached across the north and south was included in some of Lincoln speeches to finally end slavery. And so we sing his song today, “Amazing Grace” as it’s plain to see God had a special role for him, he himself never saw the fruit of. Yet of a truth, he was just an everyday guy at his time.
What this particular song represents to most of us is… In churches all over this kind of story is so common place. So many of us hear this song and relate because we ourselves have more or less the same tale. Before I found christ I was an organized mess. I didn’t own and trade slaves exactly, but I was a local leader in the Theosophical Society, preaching the Zohar and ancient Babylonian religion. I would tell people “I love you” but in my heart and back of my mind I really hated them. Quite literally it often felt like in my chest like there was a hard lump beating, my heart was as heavy and hard as a stone… After I was saved, so many random things happened so quick, all the while I could only say I felt like I was engulfed in a cleansing fire.
He unhardened my heart and my whole perspective of the world melted away. Then he showed me some things so much more then anything the Theosophical society had to offer. In summary the spirit transforms us, and again It’s a very real thing by no means to be undermined.
There can be miracles
1 Corinthians 13:8
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying a time when the gifts of the holy spirit would pass… and it has, a very long time ago. Today as Christians whenever someone speaks in tounge (gladiolus), or some faith healer starts healing before his congregation, or even when we hear about some alleged miracle – it’s easy to become skeptical. Infact today I am convinced, Satan uses these false prophets to harden our hearts as well as deceive others.
Frankly, I have seen real miracles – what I think is different about them today from the time of the apostles is, they just sort of happen. There doesn’t appear to be a way to conjure them up on command, it just happens when it happens. I will tell you a true story of how my brother in law saved his kids after a serious car accident.
Ivan was driving along the Bay Bridge in Maryland, bringing my nephews over to my vacation house in Delaware. Me and my sister were hanging out in Rehoboth waiting for him scratching our heads thinking he’s awfully late… about 7 hours late. (This was before cell phones btw) The phone rang it was a nurse at the hospital she told us to come in right away. We came in to hear the police tell the whole story of what happened and what he saw. It was raining when a car next to Ivan wheel blew out and slide right into his car, and rammed him straight into the cement wall so hard the baracade between lanes was pushed into the other side. The car was crushed and crumbled so much none of the doors would open. What was worse the accident cased traffic to block both sides of the bridge, the police had a hard time even getting to the accident. But when they got there
The police tried keeping Ivan and the kids calm until the jaws of life could come in. They tried over and over to yank the doors open but they could’nt meanwhile the smell of gas leaking indicated this wasn’t good. Ivan said he just felt at the moment he needed to pray for a second while the police was trying to talk to him. He then grabed the door
handle and like the incredible hulk
ripped it from its hinges, stepped out, and lifted it above his head- then tossed it across 2 lanes over the side of the bridge. He then went to the back seat and riped open that door in like manner. He grabbed his 2 kids whom were unconscious and walked away from the car shouting to the police to “step away, follow me, get away from the car right now!” (Ivan would later tell us he heard a voice telling him to get far away from the car). Suddenly the car exploded behind him. Here is the kicker to this tale, Ivan broke both his legs in the car accident and his left arm was shattered on impact from the steering wheel… the same arm he pulled the car doors open with. The doctors were confounded how he did all this.
So yes, there can be miracles through the spirit. Don’t let some false prophet harden your heart on this matter. If/when they happen to you praise the Lord for them as they are rare and special. Sometimes they come in amazing feats of do or die, others are as simple as a lost soul coming to Christ. In either case they do happen and worthy of our praise as they are a testimony of our Lord being a living God.
Do we even Need scripture
As a modern Christian it’s heresy and simply unthinkable to even ask such a question. The thing is, the bible wasn’t available to everyone until about 1611…. that’s sixteen hundred eleven years after Christ. Think of just how many people were christian in that time just by word of mouth, with only a handful actually having access to the texts. What an incredible feat it actually is that just from 12 people, a whole continent littered with pagans, emporers, philosophers, whores, Vikings and other barbarians – became so unrecognizable to its beginnings, just on word of mouth. Of a truth, scripture is a luxury Christians today take for granted, much like indoor plumbing or even the internet. We don’t “ask” Christians if they ever read the bible, we “expect” it, the same way we expect a restaurant to have a bathroom or someone to have a cell phone… The history of scripture in itself is a whole other article, but by no means was it an easy road. I find it to be heresy to think of christ abandoning the millions of people whom began our church, simply because they did not have access to scripture or couldn’t even read. It was only by a handful of people in comparison do we even have it today. So the answer is No – we don’t even need scripture. Infact I suspect there will come a time when we won’t have scripture available to us once again, rather something quiet different…
I would just conclude this with a note. If scripture is a luxury in the same way indoor plumbing is, does that mean we get rid of it?
How many of you are just as willing to rip out your plumbing and disconnect your wifi?
It’s there for a reason, use it! as often as you use your plumbing or wifi.
Again scripture gives us structure in our ideals, it helps us understand the God we are dealing with – and it also helps us discern falsehoods within the church so we may not be lead astray. While I have no doubt the spirit of God can lead us without it, there is also no doubt in mind he worked in many prophets to give us this tool to help us abide in him. The purpose of this article is however, so many use scripture as a crutch/wheel chair and forget it isn’t the bible that saves us, rather it’s something that man can never take away… His grace and The Holy Spirit.