Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Does It Matter?

I recently wrote about some differences when it comes to how a Christian understands what the Bible is. I thought it would be good to follow that up with a question. Does it really make a difference what we think about this, how we understand what the Bible is? And by that I mean a difference today, in how we live? There are more than enough abstract theological debates that only in a very distant way have something to say about our lives. Is this one of those? Or is it something that really does affect how we live in the nitty-gritty of life?

As I had written, I really think that the words of the Bible are God's words, nothing more, nothing less. And I really think that coming to this conclusion is important. And here's one reason why that's so. We need something outside of ourselves that will tell us 'Yes' or 'No' when it comes to making life's decisions, something that we can trust. And I really think that's why God gave us a Bible filled with His words.

Life is filled with issues and questions and troubles and decisions. And the fact of the matter is that none of us knows enough on our own to be able to sort it all out and come up with answers that we can know that are right. We need something outside of ourselves to be able to do that.

Has this never happened to you? You're actually on the right track, responding well to whatever it is that is happening. But you aren't sure. And because of that uncertainty, you change course, only to find, after it's too late, that it would have worked out so much better if you had continued on and not changed your mind.

What we all need in those kinds of situations is someone who will tell us, 'Yes! That's it. Keep going. You're getting it.'

Now, some of us have great friends who will say exactly that. But do they know? Should we trust their judgment in this or that matter? Why? Having great friends won't solve the problem.

What we actually need is to hear from God. To hear Him say to us, 'Yes! That's it. Keep going. You're getting it.' And that's what a Bible, filled only with God's words, provides.

Now, there will be some who will disagree with me. They will say that the Spirit will make it clear. This is where a little wisdom from John fits.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God  1 John 4.1

How can anyone know that it's really the Spirit of God guiding and not some other spirit? The only way is to test what you're hearing. How would you do that? Based on things that Jesus taught, you do that by comparing what you're being told with the words in the Bible. That's what it's for. The alternative is to go back to depending on yourself to figure it out.

Now, nothing that I've written here proves that the words of the Bible are the words of God. That's not my point. I started by asking: Does it really make a difference what we think about this? Does it matter what we think about what the Bible is? I really think it does, and I've given some reasons why.

This is important to me not because there is a right answer to the question about the Bible that people had better agree with - or else. This is important to me because it deeply affects how Christians live. Do we live by what we discover in the Bible because it contains God's words? Do we trust its wisdom? Or do we try to supplement what we find in there with wisdom from some other sources? How a person answers those questions will have a tremendous effect on his or her life.