The Bible – like a door

open doorsHow strange it would be: To be invited to walk through a door to meet someone, but instead of walking through the door into the room on the other side, and getting to know the person who had made the invitation, I spent all my time studying the door!

I heard the senior pastor of a large church give a fervent, ten-or-so minute talk to a group of visitors to his Sunday service. His talk was at a post-service lunch he had provided by way of welcome. After the food was eaten, he spoke passionately about the Biblical foundation for his church, he and his staff’s passion for the Bible and how all that happens there found its inspiration in “the infallible, inerrant word of God – The Bible” … but he did not mention Jesus once.

I hear a lot of talk in Christian circles about the Bible: How it’s the instruction manual for life, how the Christian’s world view must be based on the Bible and how studying the Bible is the most important thing to do for people of the Christian faith. Many Christians go to extraordinary lengths to show that their particular interpretation of some aspect of the Bible’s teaching is the correct interpretation and that the interpretation of others is incorrect. It sometimes seems that, for many people of the Christian faith, being convinced of their correct position on Biblical exegeses is the main goal.

But are we followers of Jesus, or followers of the teachings of The Bible?

Oswald Chambers remind us:

“A spiritually-minded person will never come to you with the demand – ‘Believe this and that’ – a spiritually-minded person will demand that you align your life with the standards of Jesus. We are not asked to believe the Bible, but to believe the One whom the Bible reveals.”

Are we submitting our lives to the standard of Jesus the Christ, or only to our interpretation of the God-inspired book that reveals His standard? Chambers continues…

“Always measure your life solely by the standards of Jesus. Submit yourself to His yoke, and His alone; and always be careful never to place a yoke on others that is not of Jesus Christ.”

Are our lives submitted wholly in the sacrificial worship of God, or do we worship our current, faulty and incomplete intellectual understanding of Him? Are we surrendering our own agenda so that we can be the hands and feet of Christ here and now, or are we driven by a personal agenda to prove that we know more correct information about God than others?

“It takes God a long time to get us to stop thinking that unless everyone sees things exactly as we do, they must be wrong. That is never God’s view.” Oswald Chambers

Jesus does not ask us to make people align themselves to our own cerebral concepts about God.  If we are ourselves disciples of Christ, in stark contrast to the desire to make converts to our own way of thinking, Jesus asks us to make others His disciples also. Matthew 28:19

The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus time on earth in physical form knew the scriptures very well. They read their “Bible” more and studied harder than anyone else! We would do well to remember what Jesus said to them:

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:39-40

I believe that the Bible was written by people who were inspired by God’s Holy Spirit to do so, and exists exactly as God has allowed it. I study scripture because, through it, truth about God can be revealed to me. I encourage everyone I can to read, study and meditate on scripture. But we must see the Bible as a doorway through which Jesus invites us to walk so that we encounter Him. The door is elaborate, amazing, wonderful and can be studied without end for a lifetime. But it is not the Bible that saves. Only Jesus can do that.

(You can read the Oswald Chambers devotional from “My Utmost For His Highest” that inspired this BlogPost here)

God’s Kingdom Come … When?

oswald-chambers 1874-1917

More challenge and wisdom from Oswald Chambers this morning in My Utmost For His Highest.

“The mystery of God is not in what is going to be— it is now, though we look for it to be revealed in the future in some overwhelming, momentous event.”

And he continues with, “Realize that the Lord is here now, and the freedom you receive is immediate.”

This makes me think of all the final verses of many of our most celebrated Church hymns. So many of them sing about finally being in heaven with God after we’re dead, or seeing God’s glory finally descending to earth with the “second coming”.

Final verse of “Amazing Grace”. Words by John Newton, 1779:

When we’ve been there 10,000 years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun

Last verse of “Be Thou My Vision” by Eleanor Hull & Mary E. Byrne (1912) possibly reworking Irish lyrics from the 6th to 8th Century by Saint Dallan.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

And it’s a thought that’s started to show up in newer songs too! Here’s the last verse of “Bless The Lord (10,000 Reasons)” with words by Matt Redman & Jonas Myrin © 2011.

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Soon my soul will sing Your praise unending
10,000 years and there forever more

Or re-invented old lyrics in newer songs like “Cornerstone” (2011 from Hillsong) using words from Edward Mote’s 1834 hymn known as “The Solid Rock” or “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”.

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne

These are wonderful, poetic verses and worth singing, for sure. There is solid Biblical teaching that there is an eternity with God for true believers to look forward to. But when most of these lyrics were written, life was a lot tougher than we experience today. Pain, suffering and death were much more common and a part of everyday life for people in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. I can imagine how the thought of an end to this earthly existence and being with Heavenly Father in His glory was very attractive. Singing these verses, often with a highly emotive key change, helped inspire people to continue the struggle.

However, I am concerned that the unthinking, unbalanced singing of these verses today may contribute to the ease with which the many “pew-warming” Sunday-Christians are lulled into the false sense that we are waiting around for God’s-Kingdom-Come rather than realizing more fully that we have a role to play: To be conduits for God’s Kingdom to Come here and now!

HEADSTRONG

HEAD_STRONG_TextWhat’s blocking me from knowing more of God’s revelation? It’s my own, headstrong opinions about God – the image I have fashioned of God – my current, human understanding of God. If I have made God fit into my ability to comprehend Him, I have made an idol of my own design.

“God cannot reveal anything to us if we don’t have His Spirit. And our own unyielding and headstrong opinions will effectively prevent God from revealing anything to us.” Oswald Chambers​ from My Utmost For His Highest​, April 7th.

http://utmost.org/why-we-lack-understanding/