Well, we certainly failed at this one!
If the Christian Church knew this first, then we wouldn’t have thousands of different groups that identify themselves as Christian.
We are divided over water baptism; we are divided over the indwelling of the holy spirit; we are divided over which day is the Lord’s Sabbath and if we are supposed to celebrate it; we are divided over salvation by grace or grace plus personal works; we are divided over understanding the Church of the Bride verses the Church of the One Body; we are divided over God making people sick and even taking their lives; we are divided over the return of Christ and what is called the rapture; more things divide us then bring us together.
We study the words of theologians and philosophers more than we study the words of God. When we do search the words of God generally we only come to the Bible to back up or to prove what our denomination has already declared to be true and right doctrine. Even if the doctrine your denomination is teaching and that you are studying is accurate, until it is lined up with God’s Word it will never really live in your heart and life.
If I am going to learn the heart of William Shakespeare then I am going to have to read and study that which Shakespeare has written. What others, who have studied Shakespeare, write and say about him can give me added and even necessary knowledge but full understanding will not come until I go to the actual words of Shakespeare for myself. The same is true concerning the Word of God.
When it comes to knowing and understanding the heart of God, the Word of God has full and final authority. Jane Doe is a wonderful woman, she lives with her husband and two children. Jane is a member of the local PTA and in her spare time volunteers in her community. When not volunteering or caring for her family, Jane works as a private secretary.
The other day Jane sent a letter to the United States Congress. When the letter arrived at the congressional offices no one was quite sure which Congressman should receive it because they weren’t sure which Congressman represented Jane. Day after day and week after week Jane’s letter was passed from one congressman to another, none able to decide what exactly to do with the letter.
Some discussed the style of her writing, while others focused on Jane personally - who she is, why she was writing. Yet there were others who wanted to discuss the contents of her letter. Throughout it all, even though they saw the signature at the bottom of the letter, none of the Congressmen viewed or considered the letter anything but “Jane’s” letter. Remember, Jane is a private secretary and her boss, the President of the United States.
2 Peter 1:21
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
God placed His spirit upon men like Moses and David and Solomon and inspired them to write what He needed written.
The people who wrote the Word of God were not His secretaries but the principle is very similar. The heart, the intent, the promises are God’s but they are conveyed in the unique vocabularies of each individual person that did the writing.
The Christian church has, for the most part, ignored the author of the Bible while debating the men who did the writing, the style in which they wrote, and the source of their information. The Bible, the focal point of which is The Christ, is the only standard of Truth for a Christian. There are other standards in life, for instance, let say you work with computers. You can search from Genesis to Revelation over and over again and I do not believe you will learn anything about computers but how to walk ethically in your job is part of our standard of Truth. How to allow God to work within you to be the best you can be at your job is a part of our standard of Truth. How to treat and care for your fellow-laborers is a part of our standard of Truth.
Biblically speaking Truth is the same yesterday, today and forever. Truth does not change, facts change. God is love is the Truth. It’s raining today is a fact, a fact that will change. We are under God’s grace is the Truth. The economy is a mess is a fact, a fact that will change.
The Word of God is to be a Christian’s only standard for Truth. No matter how we feel today, no matter what awesome intellect we believe we have amassed as a culture, no matter how sensitive and compassionate we believe we have become as a race, a Christian’s only standard for Truth is the Word of God. As long as Christianity has multiple centers of reference for Truth (theologians, philosophers, historians, traditions, denominational doctrines) Christianity will only produce confusion and division.
Knowing this first!
We have to allow the Word of God to speak for itself. God knew what He wanted said, what He wanted communicated. Now we have to approach the Bible understanding that it carries the in-tegrity of its author, God.
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said,
and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?