Monday, February 13, 2017

IS THE BIBLE BELIEVING CHRISTIAN A HYPOCRITE?





In an article entitled “Why Bible believers are not really Bible believers,” Chuck Queen, who identifies himself as an “unfundamentalist Christian,” claims that it’s all about love. However, he describes Bible believers as hypocrites:

·       No self-identified Bible believer actually believes the whole Bible — at least not in the way they claim to. Bible believers claim that the whole Bible, every part of it, is inerrant and infallible…But no Bible believer actually lives that way. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2016/03/why-bible-believers-are-not-really-bible-believers/

I wonder whether Queen has actually surveyed all Bible believers. Instead, Queen claims that he takes the Bible as metaphor. This gives him the liberty to read into it anything that accords with his own worldview and to dismiss things like “hell,” which do not.

More importantly, are we really hypocrites? Do we claim to be “Bible believers,” while we do not believe in some of the teachings of the Bible? Sometimes! I must confess that for the first number of years as a “believer,” I had read Scripture is a very biased and personal manner. I only underlined those verses that validated my own point of view and made me feel better about myself. I wasn’t seeking to know God as He wanted me to know and obey Him. I wasn’t reading Scripture to be obedient to “every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3). I wasn’t reading to fully embrace God but to affirm me. It had all been about serving me and not God.

However, after years of the Lord’s loving chastisements (Hebrews 12:5-11), I began to see the wisdom (and personal benefit) of putting the Lord and His Word above all else (Matthew 6:33). This meant that I had to know how the Lord regarded His Word and its role in my life

I found that Jesus had totally submitted Himself to God’s Word. When tempted by the Devil, He relied exclusively on Scripture:

·       Jesus answered, "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 did not set Himself above Scripture, as I had been doing, to judge and decide which verses were truly inspired or satisfying. He received and submitted Himself it all of it as God’s Word:

·       "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18)

If Jesus had regarded the Word as errant in some respect, He would never have said “until everything is accomplished.” Instead, He might have said, “Until every part that is WITHOUT ERROR is accomplished.” Rather, He continually insisted that everything had to be fulfilled:

·       He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself… He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24: 25-27, 44-45)

Notice how Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, rather than His own Word (Matthew 24:35). Whenever He quoted from the Scriptures, it was always affirming what Scripture had said. Never once did He disparage Scripture. Instead, He castigated those who didn’t know the Scriptures:

·       Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. (Matthew 22:29)

They didn’t know Scripture because they didn’t esteem it, despite their protestations to the contrary:

·       "But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?" (John 5:45-47)

In contrast to the religious leadership, Jesus believed in what Moses had written and that “Scripture could not be broken” (John 10:35). He even regarded the Psalms as ultimately authored by God. Quoting from Psalm 110, Jesus claimed that David was “speaking by the Spirit”:

·       He said to them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'?” (Matthew 22:43)

Never once did Jesus raise the question about a single verse as to its divine origin. Consequently, if we want to call ourselves a “Christian,” we cannot disparage Jesus’ teachings about Scripture.

This is something many do by claiming that the first chapters of Genesis are not historical. However, Jesus quoted from the first two chapters as historical:

·       He [Jesus] answered [the Pharisees regarding divorce], “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female [quoting Gen. 1:26-27], and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ [Gen. 2:24]! So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has [historically] joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Had not God historically and actually joined together the man and the woman, Jesus’ argument against divorce would have fallen apart. This requires me to understand Scripture as Jesus and His Apostles had understood it and not to take it as entirely metaphorical, as Queen does.

If we are to live faithfully with our Savior, we must submit to His teaching as He did to those of His Father. If we refuse, we also refuse to be His children.

However, it is my sincere goal to follow Him as faithfully as I can. Nevertheless, I am sure that I do not follow Scripture as Queen might insist. Does this make me and millions more like me hypocrites? I trust in my Lord to examine me and reveal to me any areas of unfaithfulness, just as He has promised:

·       I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. (Philippians 3:14-15)

He alone is our hope!

4 comments:

  1. For years I've had debates with a coworker who often ridicules my Christian faith. In one conversation I distinctly remember him making some convoluted arguments about hypocritical Christians, and I accepted his position but then I said there is one person who is not a hypocrite. Then he asked me who it was. I boldly said "Jesus Christ ! " Then he walked away.

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    1. I hate to concede that we are hypocrites. Why? Because we are new creations of Jesus, and I do believe that Christ changes our lives for the better.

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  2. The sanctification process is an ongoing lifetime experience, which is completed after we leave this world. We will always need the mercy and guidance of the Lord, while we are in this world, and he has said that he will always be there for us. As for afterwards, I think that it will be too wonderful for us to know or understand now.

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    1. A very mature and Biblical response. Much appreciated. Indeed, you give a sound portrait about how Christ changes lives. It is maturity that enables us to see that we haven't yet arrived, but we see the problem and the goal.

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