Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Pedantic Journey?


There is such a thing as wresting and distorting the Scriptures. And there is such a thing as being true to the Scriptures. There are foundational truths which are non-negotiable. That is a spiritual reality. But do not be deceived. When we stand upon God's Word and truly embrace those foundational truths, the evil one does not just throw up his hands in defeat. He almost always provides a smorgasbord of self righteousness and self assuredness for those who have an "orthodox" doctrine. doctrine.
Do you see just how clever that is? The devil uses our accurate Scriptural interpretation against us by supplying our hearts with self righteousness. It is most subtle and clever and actually marginalizes our doctrinal purity by ensnaring us in other areas. And pride is a powerful poison which keeps us from Christ regardless of how Scripturally sound we are in our theology.

Do you see how clever that is? The devil uses our accurate interpretation against us by supplying our hearts with self righteousness. It is most subtle and clever and actually marginalizes our doctrinal purity by ensnaring us in other areas. And pride is a powerful poison which keeps us from Christ regardless of how Scripturally sound we are in theology.

We may be able to address the Westcott and Hort and the Alexandrian errors while at the same time being completely blind to Christ. You may be able to dissect doctrines accurately and provide Scriptural support for orthodox theology, but you still may be walking in your own flesh. Jesus is not a doctrine, and although truth is revealed in Scripture, without the Spirit we are left with making the Bible a theological math test.

If you do not know what I mean then you do not know what I mean.

There are movements and people who misuse Scripture and practice things they claim are of the Spirit and are not. And there are movements and people who are quite diligent in areas of doctrine and yet walk exclusively in those doctrines. And neither group actually seeks the Spirit in revealing their own shortcomings and deviations from Christ.

Phil.3: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

This is the man through whom most of the New Testament came forth? This is the man who met Jesus on the Road to Damascus and also received the gospel of grace from Him personally? And yet Paul says he desires to know Jesus? Didn’t he study his own letters? Did he not understand what he was writing? Does he mean he should study his letters with more scrutiny? Let us be honest with ourselves and honest with this Scripture.

Paul is revealing a great mystery and yet a great spiritual truth. Just studying the Scriptures with an eye toward systematic theology will not bring you to know Christ. You can have a list of all the heretics in your back pocket, and you can memorize the Textus Receptus, and you can agree with Calvin or Arminius in every point and still not be any closer to knowing Christ. Pursuing Christ and knowing Him with spiritual intimacy requires much more than your doctrinal mind. It is a path of great glory but which is filled with early mornings and late nights and excruciating areas of repentance and a kind of humility which almost immobilizes your very being. Go ahead and defend your doctrines and their Scriptural integrity, but if that is your claim to Christian fame then you only know Christ in the doctrinal flesh. And in that you are on the same fleshly coin as those whose claim to Christian fame lies in their emotional flesh. You are just on the other side of the same coin.

I appeal to my “orthodox” brethren to set aside an elongated season to diligent seek just how you have marginalized Christ in thought, word, and deed. I realize that kind of journey requires a level of humility that is very unpleasant and uncomfortable almost absent from any corner of the evangelical community. I admit you may have a sound doctrine especially when compared with the confusion and nonsense that is practiced all across the ecclesiastical landscape. I know that.

But the flesh is very mercurial and innovative and can mimic the voice of the Spirit. It knows the Scriptures and it can provide ample assurance to all of us that we are indeed following Jesus even when we are not.

Following Jesus must never be a pedantic journey which has no Spirit and rejects any emotion or experience at all. We must never rely on experience as the basis for God’s truth, but we must also never build walls that keep out any experience and emotion in our pursuit of Christ Jesus.


Mike W. said...

I know what you mean!

Steve said...

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." John 5:30-40. (An alternative reading has the force of command: "You, search the scriptures." Either way, Jesus desires we find Himself there.)

"Let us be honest with ourselves and honest with...Scripture."

I don't think it's just because I've been writing a blog about HONESTY as key to repentance, that this sentence so leaps out to my heart.

Indeed, reading here impresses me that honesty is also the sovereign remedy against the pride which, as you say, keeps us far from Jesus even as we meticulously perfect our scriptural orthodoxy with which we hope to approach (and impress) Him.

What does honesty say to ourself about our self, except that we are flawed, continually inclined to evil by desperately wicked hearts, in rebellion against the One who made us, gives us life-breath, and loves us to the point of death: and that, at our very BEST, we are miserably aware of it all and hate it in us ?

Where does pride find to stand before fierce HONESTY ?

You say rightly that "Pursuing Christ and knowing Him with spiritual intimacy requires ...excruciating areas of repentance and a kind of humility which almost immobilizes your very being."

Pride flatters: Truth, honesty, (for they are akin) never will. And "excruciating" is the right word for the pain of honesty to such as we are: we suffer "the torment of being crucified" when our Self is humbled.

Thank you for this rich meditation, brother !

In Jesus, Steve

Rick Frueh said...

Thank you, Steve for His glory.

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts Rick and Steve.

From James 4: 6 we learn that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Reine Gnade

Steve said...

AMEN, Reine: point-on scripture.

Indeed, God's contempt for pride may be put too mildly in our English "is opposed." The Greek word has heavy military overtones, something like "squares away for battle against."
(Likewise in I Peter 5:5, where the same scripture, Proverbs 3:34, is also quoted.)

Fortunately, in our battle against pride, we join Him Who hates it even more than we do...and is able to destroy pride utterly.

Praise HIM !

In Jesus, Steve

Anonymous said...

Thank you Steve. Yes, those who love God are eager to allow God to cleanse them daily from pride. It's good Steve that you remind us that we are in a spiritual war and that in the Lord's strength Christians are more than conquerors! Knowing this and how deeply the Lord loves us is a great encouragement to persevere prudently in the Word.

May we praise our great Lord of Lords in 2014 ever more purely and ay He always be our first love. Great, gracious and glorious is the God of the Holy Bible.

Josef Sefton

Anonymous said...

So true. Amen.

Just adding a thought. When I was first saved, it was in a small church. Most of us there, including the pastor, had never been trained in theology or bible colleges. We were taught that the Word, of course, was most important Jesus is the Word, the Bread of Life. But, our testimony was to have a role in proving to unbelievers, that what we spoke about our new salvation, was true.

What I find these days is that we don't hear much about the great teacher's personal testimony of the day they met the Lord, or the time where He changed their lives forever. They become so full of themselves (ministry building), that they ignore where they first came from.

This is why, to me, the great teachers and pastoral speakers of today fail. The only success they get is more followers and attention and growth in their ministries, but not towards new life in Christ. I get so down with talk talk talk and don't see the humility, like a new convert has, and the excitement, and the true love that a new convert has. Maybe what the Church needs to go back to is re-discovering it's first love and leaning on God, but lean on Him, in front of the world. The teachers of today's church don't show that they need Him, but instead try to show that they have Him all figured out.

Please, oh Lord that we continue in sound doctrine. Amen. But here is also a witnesses' testimony. When the demon-possessed man was delivered by Jesus, he wanted to stay with him, but in Mark 5:19, Jesus didn't permit him, "And he did not permit him but said to him, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."

Maybe if we heard a healthy dose of God's mercy in one's testimony, with sound doctrine, unbelievers and even nominal believers would be drawn to the Lord, not the doctrine. All other things will be added in time, but it's Jesus that people need to be drawn to first.


Robin said...

It is so easy to know all the right answers. I love to read, and especially to read anything about Jesus. But I find myself spending all my time getting to know about him, without getting to know him. I know I need to spend more time with Jesus, and less time learning about him. Thank you for the reminder!