Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Living the Word


LIVING THE WORD

The path to truth must be grounded on revelation, divinely inspired, and in written form. I do not fully subscribe to the inerrancy theory which has turned into little more than a self righteous litmus test. Without the original manuscripts, and with all kinds of different interpretations derived from common texts, the point to me is moot. And given the wide variety of interpretations as well as the great gulf between obvious Biblical revelation and obvious Biblical obedience I once again use the word moot. Biblical exegesis without sacred and heartfelt obedience is really nothing more than religious science.

If our standard is the Word of God alone then James is a blog post and not inspired. Luther himself suggested such a thing. But it has become common in some major corners of evangelicalism to treat Holy Writ as a doctrinal talisman. And the doctrinal arguments are consumed with the Trinity and the virgin birth and justification by faith, all worthy issues, however rarely do we argue or are even concerned with love, mercy, grace, humility, and most glaring an observable modest lifestyle. There are other neglected issues as well.

And given the preponderance of Scriptural teachings about money and greed, and given the scant  New Testament teachings about homosexual behavior or abortion or socialism or gun rights, how is it we can cull out the tributaries and make them great and mighty rivers? And where is the gospel in all these moral crusades which demand certain moral behaviors from believer and unbeliever alike?

My opinion is that since the Industrial Revolution ignorant and unlearned men are now able to read and write and consume great quantities of information and knowledge. And with the accessibility of the Bible to almost every household, and the expansive nature of Bible schools and seminaries, we have made systematic theology and our own version of Bible doctrines the life blood of the church. Peruse the Christian catalogue of the Bible colleges and universities and mark how many courses are described as Humility 101, Prayer 101, Modest Living 101, Love 101, as compared with the usual doctrinal suspects.

The Christian faith has become a set of tenants, a set of morals, and a faith that is light years more observable in written form than in personal living realities. How does one “live” the Trinity or the virgin birth or the doctrine of inerrancy? Those truths can be “proven” by pen and paper. But the more sacrificial and self denying truths that demand an open revelation with legs are dealt with in a more generic and negligible way. One can get the right answer to the Trinity on a test while being an active adulterer and while enjoying the fruits of hedonism.

In short, we have taken the Holy and Sacred Word of God and manipulated it into a doctrinal treasure hunt, which when we have found it, we now await others to do likewise. And in so doing we have removed the life giving, life demanding force that should take unremarkable lives within any culture and transform them into curious and powerful vessels of redemption that wreak of God’s love and the divine humility revealed in the incarnation and death of Christ. We have hung so many self serving ornaments on the gospel that the gospel can no longer be seen. It can only be read.

To present my overarching summary, I believe the church has rendered the Word of God as a compilation of doctrines all of which have become idols. After you lay the foundation for the gospel and the truths of redemption, the others are refining truths designed to teach and empower believers to walk the path to Christlikeness. And these truths are all moral truths in the strictest defining terms. Being clothed with humility is as moral a truth as sexual purity, although in the present ecclesiastical caste system humility is an elective and not considered part of any set of moral tenants. And love is presented in the New Testament as a moral absolute without which we cannot even claim to follow Him.

But there is a time for rebuke and reprove within the church. And there is an exhortation to defend the faith and preach the Word in and out of season. But where, for instance, do love and humility fit within that framework? Why are we not consumed with finding out how to live the right mixture and how to speak the truth in love? Do we even know what that means? How many preachers spiritually wrestle over such things? How many preachers seem to feel like they already know such things? How many sermons challenge the sheep to pray earnestly and seek the mind of Christ over the living expressions of boldness being tethered to the living expressions of humility?

We should all be sure about the Word of God but have a healthy and humble uncertainty about our personal reflection of that Word. Ours is a journey, a seeking, a pursuit, an obsession, and a passion concerning living for Christ, in Christ, and living Christ Himself. Repentance must be both our friend and taskmaster. The life that follows Jesus is filled with joy and contentment and assurance and comfort and excitement. But it is also filled with spiritual labor in prayer and in the Word and being the brightest light we can be for Him. The cost is everything, but the reward is far above everything, and quite astonishingly, the rest for our souls can be found in the labor.

13 comments:

William Birch said...

I can't remember if I've mentioned this before: Would we truly recognize an original autograph if we found one? Even if we found one, and we could somehow prove it as original, would it not merely be one or two letters of Paul, or Peter, or John, or one of the gospels? I doubt very seriously we could ever find each one of the original NT autographs.

But what would finding one actually prove? Unbelievers would still maintain that such are merely the writings and opinions of men, not the word of God.

How would it affect (or effect) us believers? Would it actually correct any of our doctrines? I don't think so. I'm not sure it would matter much at all, except for being excited over a historical document; I mean, it's not like their magic, or anything like that.

These are what I've pondered regarding inerrancy and the original autographs. Though I hold to inerrancy, I still think you're right in pointing us to living the word rather than arguing the word. Thank you, pastor Rick!

Rick Frueh said...

Just like the body of Moses if we had a "proven" original it would be viewed like an icon. People would want to see it and touch it. There must be a reason God did not preserve the originals. I believe the reason is fairly obvious although many still treat ink and paper as importnant, and it is, but they do not treat lips and lives as important.

Cherie c. said...

Perhaps I am not getting the gist of what is being said, but how can we live the Word when you have stated it may be, may be no so inerrant?

No one should make an idol of the Word of God, but then why not? The Word, as expressed by the text contained within John says Jesus is the Word, so why not hold it in high esteem? I love the Word of God. So we are to believe that the Bible as we know it today may not be correct? I do not believe that. I am misunderstanding something?

If you could, please clarify what this post is about so I, the simpleton that I am, can understand, because right now it is not sitting right with my spirit, and I was always told that confusion is not of God. Thank you. Another post that has me concerned, and I do not make any claims to know everything, but I know Scripture, and I am not sure what this is all about.

your uncertain and confused sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Rick Frueh said...

I do not bring this up too often since there are many misunderstandings. I believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God, however is the English inerrant? If not than you must be trained in Hebrew and Greek and even those who are well trained in those languages disagree on interpretations. I believe the Holy Spirit makes God’s Words, which are spirit, inerrant to our hearts and minds.
However our hearts and minds are not inerrant receivers. The entire journey is one of faith. And I find it distasteful for some to lambast others and use the strictest inerrancy principle and yet do not live the Word. All over the world men and women have sacrificed much to reach lost sinners, and some have been killed for their faith. But the argument over inerrancy is only really relevant in western and modernized countries.
People sometimes ask me which version I endorse. And although I like the KJV I am not prone to argue over it. But what I say is, “Pick a version and live every single word of it”. You see, I hold the prism of a Christ life higher than some of the ongoing arguments which engender self righteousness.

Anonymous said...

This is all so true. I've often wondered how I would respond if an unbeliever asked me to "prove" that the written Word was from God or fiction. There are many blanks I get when asked certain questions. The Lord has shown Himself real to me, and I can't put that into words to another until they find Him. Is this why the bible says we need the word with the Spirit. We have to be in His presence before those words become living waters.

And sometimes I find the Word of God leaves out details in things and sometimes I just wish I could have more details, but years later, I realize that it's vague for the reason that we need to seek harder and find the answer according to our relationship to Him.

Some commands and instructions in the epistles are hard to accept, yet, it is the inspired Holy Spirit Word of God given to us by way of the apostles. Unbelievers, especially feminists, scoff at the readings of Paul. Yet many christian women refuse to touch on what Paul teaches too. I was appalled at the beginning of my journey at what Paul wrote, but today see the wisdom of those Holy words. I still don't understand it's motivation, whether he taught according to the times he lived in, or if the words he taught were universal to the believing woman; today, I believe that every word is universal and it can apply to our lives today as it did in the early church days. Even if I can't understand it now, I know that the Lord will work on me at a later time to understand it, depending on my determination to understand it.

For instance, when I was in a holiness church, the major points of Paul to women was about a woman's hair and dress. If, according to Paul, a woman wore shorn hair, it was a disgrace to her and her husband. She should have long hair, and her husband should have shorter hair. It took me years before I had to understand why the Lord would allow those instructions to even be placed in Corinthians about a woman's hair length. This legalistic church brought us to the OT verses about Sampson's locks being holy, him being a nazirite, who never cut their hair, because they are dedicated to the Lord. But I still wasn't convinced. Mixing old with new just confused most people and caused dissensions, arguments and kept a lot of good people out in the cold. Today, I have a suspicion (just my heart) that the Lord keeps us on our toes with His word, testing our hearts to see how we treat others in light of our understand or misunderstanding. How we treat our brethren in disagreeing on scripture may be the bigger test than actually understanding it. And maybe this is why some versus are perhaps less easy to understand.

I personally learned to let it go, and wait until, God willing, I can understand at a later time. So I'm learning that the things of the heart are so important for me to work on; I'll have to leave legalistic instructions in the back seat; if my attitude isn't worked on, those odd instructions just make my attitude worse. But, there is a reason for every Word of God on those pages, and it looks sometimes like a stumblingblock, but His purposes may be that we ADMIT that we are stumped about it, and not cause divisions because of it and wait on Him for a revelation in His perfect timing.

Anonymous said...

To me, and I pray that I obey it, living the word is for the laity is: not jumping to conclusions, being able to contain anger, not getting engaged in a mob mentality against unbelievers, keeping my mouth bridled, not being influenced by the pride of beautiful and public christian speakers, not participating in the narcissistic facebooking/texting/tweeting of millions of voices who speak wind and fluff. Not spending time arguing, but acting and helping and reaching out physically while contending for the faith.

There's hardly anyone who lives the word that we see as walking examples anymore. The only role models of great christian leaders are that they use their tongues and show their faces. True watchmen and teachers who speak the truth of today's apostasy are scorned and ignored. The only christians the world witnesses is a thousand people sitting in benches watching a pastor's tongue This is wag. Televangelism is all about talking and listening, but not doing (except for reaching for the wallet). Christians in the news, televangelists, theological professors speak, that's all they do; and the listeners and speakers all congregating together........doing nothing out there in the highways and byways. The same with church, meeting and shaking hands and all sitting down and doing it all over again next week. Funny too how sacrificing missionnaries are always sent away. They are desperately needed here, in the West too. But our denominations feel we've arrived.

The average christian is working, family, home, entertainment, travel, pets, and expected to attend all church services "listening" - when do they have time to go unto the highways and biways and Straight Street? I think pastors like the idea of their members not outreaching, because it might take too much of a member's earning away from the pastor's pocket.

And it's OK for a family to take care of themselves. But we are proud of the society we live in because it affords us the luxuries that distract us from being physical spreaders of the Word or shining walking examples. Church and church activities and Christmas and Easter programs -
All these activities have us sitting across from someone and only one person is speaking. We can't ask questions, because the cultish pastor is afraid our minds have been poisoned. It's more important to guard the Man of God and idolize His ministry than work out our own salvation with meekness. We are so busy we can't engage in any dialogue with people because we prefer to do the shallow how-do-you-do's, so we can get home before the game begins.

I think, thankfully, even if the Word has been dissected and translated a little off these past centuries, the Holy Spirit still convicts us. We know what we ought to be doing and we aren't doing it. What the church has become in the West today, is not recognizable as anything to do with our great Commission. It's been recreated and acts like a chameleon which has had some spiritual plastic surgery, If Jesus came today, would he recognize it? I think it would be cast off.

Cherie c. said...

Oh, so that is what this post is about, Whew!

I do not argue this matter either. When I read God's Word, I let the Holy Spirit lead me, and seek God in pray. Understanding by the Word only, but I do prefer the KJV too, perhaps because it was so close to the first translation by Tindale.

If we take the time in our study of His Word verse by verse and let His Word dwell in us as we meditate upon it, He speaks to us that way. We can get to know Him just by reading Him, everyday.

It is such a blessing to read a passage and be able to understand, and I know it is the Spirit of God because when I read it as a kid, I did not understand it at all. Even as a young adult I didn't realize I need the Holy Spirit to understand.

I see my husband struggle with it and get frustrated. That is one sure sign, I believe that he either isn't relying upon the Holy Spirit, or he does not have the Spirit of God in him. There is no other explanation.

As for whether it is inerrant or not is of no importance to me since no matter what version the heretics use, they distort, add to or take away from the Word to suite their needs.

your sister in Christ Jesus,

Cherie c.

michael said...

A couple of verses come to mind while reading this today to share and comment on:

"The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me. (Leviticus 25:23 ESV)

and

And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32 ESV)

I want to lay the blame for what is being said in this article squarely at the feet of the preacher and teacher! People that have a calling these days need servant leaders who are out front so the people can follow by their leaders' example.

It seems to me if we are going to recover the LIFE BREATH of the Gospel that has moved through the nations in times past we are going to need men and women as well as children who run with The Lord on His terms and not man's!

In that verse from Leviticus 25 you should be able to see the present day problem we are living with by it?

What we need to do is read all the chapter 25 and 26 and then step back and ask if what judgment God spoke then isn't what it looks like today in both the secular world and broadly in the Church?

And why is it? Well consider what is written there. God through His Prophet Moses says two things that seem to be non-existent today in Israel or the Church. The land is the Lord's and we as strangers and sojourners are to be "WITH" The Lord while living on it. This truth is true for every nation. Is not the earth the Lord's and everything in it?

Now one should let this reality sink deep within one's mind, heart and soul too when considering that verse from Acts 20. Here we are basically being pointed to God first and then to the Word of His Grace. Now the fact is the only Words of Grace those people had back then was what we today recognize as the "OLD TESTAMENT"! Hence Leviticus 25:23 should take on deeper significance today as we go about developing our own personal walk with The Lord and being separated from all unrighteousness and ungodliness of this present evil age.

We need to be separated from this world and her "god" if we are ever going to become red hot embers of His Spirit of Grace and Truth and LIGHTS surrounded in this world in the darkness choking out the life and blinding us from the Gospel Truth!

For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name." And again it is said, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people." And again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him." And again Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope." May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:8-13 ESV)


lemmonjohanna said...

I grew up with a father who was always in the word. His bible was falling apart. He always was searching for the deeper meaning of things in the bible; the greek and hebrew meanings,etc. My dad also used the word to interpret his many symbolic dreams which he believed were prophetic and from god; horrible deception from the enemy. My father also sexually abused me for years. He is an example of someone who can know the scriptures inside and out and still be dead to the Spirit of the Living God. My prayer to this day is that my father’s eyes would be opened and he would be set free. I can not think about him for to long because it makes me very sad.

Because the bible was used in the abuse I suffered growing up the enemy for many years used it to torment me. The Lord Jesus has since done much healing in regards to having a balanced view of the scriptures. For years it was used as a means of controlling and manipulation but now I am able to read it and understand it by His Spirit and it will always back up what He’s already been showing me or teaching me by His Spirit.

This is such a huge issue and it does cause such horrid division. Oh to live out the simplicity of the gospel. It starts with me. May it be Lord Jesus!

So glad for His promise that He will finish what He has started. May we always have willing hearts that will completely surrender to His working in us. This has been another very well written post Rick, blessings to you and all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Rick Frueh said...

Thank you for that testimony of deliverance. You are correct. Just "standing" for Biblical truth does not necessarily mean you live Biblical truth.

Shannon said...

Which "word" is the one a born again believer is supposed to "live"? How does one determine/conclude which "word" of God is the correct one in order to stand firm on the Truth? or to "live" the Word?
John 1:1, Hebrews 4:12

In these last days people will be using His Word but it will not be of His Spirit, but motivating people to do His work for Him. That is not the faith of God.
The faith of God being fruit of His Spirit, Gal 5:22,23

Shannon

Anonymous said...

Cherie wrote:
"I see my husband struggle with it and get frustrated. That is one sure sign, I believe that he either isn't relying upon the Holy Spirit, or he does not have the Spirit of God in him. There is no other explanation"

Can there really be no other explanation? There are many things that I also struggle to understand and this has led to occasional frustration for me. It is discouraging to think that my desire to learn and prayers for wisdom don't count for much since I "may not have the Holy Spirit". Any practical feedback is welcome.

~Bdawd

Shannon said...

Bdawd,

Allow me to offer some verses that the Lord has used to help me along my walk. It is the Lord Jesus who gives us the desire to learn and the hunger for His Word of Truth. If we have His Spirit indwelling, He says we can know this.

1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.16)The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

I will offer and recommend studies that the Lord Jesus brought my way in which I have found to be a tremendous blessing of the Lord. Pastor Bill Klein loves the Word and love is revealed in the teachings through these studies. I pray, Lord willing, you are blessed as I am, if you are led to check them out...

http://www.masteringthebible.com/

I also recommend this sermon Christian Humanism taught by Paris Reidhead
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3FV6_dQwZU