Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Is the Bible always Essential to the Christian Life?

One “Christian” friend counselled me:

  • The Bible is good for starters, but there comes a time to get off the training wheels. God respects us enough to allow us to pursue some independence!
According to my friend, we have to leave behind the does-and-don’ts of the Bible in favor of love, experience, and social justice type issues. But is this an either/or issue or should they all go together? Do we ever graduate from the Bible and the theology it teaches? Not according to any of the teachings of the Bible. Jesus quoted a 1500 hundred year old verse in demonstration of the fact that these words of Scripture still pertain. In fact they must:

  • Jesus answered [the devil], "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)
Jesus was talking about Scripture, since He quoted this from Deuteronomy 8:3! Not only were these ancient words still relevant to New Testament times, they were words that Jesus had relied upon in the midst of His own temptation. Evidently, He refused to let go of His “training wheels.” Why must we!

Nor could we pick-and-choose among which words are still relevant for our day. Instead, we have to embrace “every word.”

When He sent out His disciples for the last time during His Earthly ministry, Jesus instructed them, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). No indication here (or anywhere else in Scripture) that these teachings were just to be used as training wheels.

Nevertheless, some charge that we are worshipping the Bible. Instead of idolatry, they charge us with “bibliolatry,” an idolatrous form of worship in the place of the worship of the one true God. However, Jesus exalts the Word of God above everything else:

  • Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
In fact, God’s Words are on par with Himself:

  • I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name [God Himself] and your word. (Psalm 138:2) 
To worship God was to worship Him according to His Revelation. (We might even say that God’s truths are even a part of Him, as is His righteousness.) He insisted that our love for Him is measured by our obedience to His Word:

  • “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (John 14:21)
God and His Word are inseparable. Consequently, when we despise and disobey His Word, it is the same thing as despising Him:

  • “Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me [God] and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.” (2 Samuel 12:9-10)
When we despise the Lord’s Word, we also blaspheme the Lord:

  • "But anyone who sins defiantly…blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised the Lord's word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him" (Numbers 15:30-31).
In summary, the way we respond to Scripture is the way we respond to the Lord. We, therefore, cannot say that we love the Lord while we reject His Word. To have the Lord is to also abide in His teachings:

  • Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 9)
Don’t take the training wheels off your bike anytime soon. Why not? Scripture is to inform all areas of our life – even the way we worship and pray. Jesus clearly was not a religious pluralist, believing that all religions are okay. He had warned a Samaritan woman that her religion was not adequate, since it was not of the truth, as the one given to the Jews:

  • “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the [revelation given to the] Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:22-24)
According to Jesus, truth was the necessary ingredient, the very thing that the Samaritans lacked. God’s worshipers “must worship in spirit and in truth!”

Worship according to the truth, wasn’t an option. Even if the woman had been sincere about her religion, this still would not have been adequate.

We never graduate from the truth of the Scriptures! Instead, we are counselled to meditate on it “day and night” for our own well-being (Josh. 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3).

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