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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Dealing with the Hard Stuff – Part 5

I have been struggling with how to end this series on Dealing with the Hard Stuff.  There are two things left to say, I may be able to get that done in one post.
Dealing with the Hard Stuff – Part 5
In Matthew 15:8 – 9 (here @ Bible Gateway) and Mark 7:6 – 8 (here @ Bible Gateway), Christ, quoting Isaiah 29:13 (here @ Bible Gateway), rebukes the Pharisees by pointing out that they are teaching as doctrine the tradition of men.  That is closely similar to the rebuke of the leaders of Judah by the Lord in Jeremiah 23:16 (here @ Bible Gateway).  In both Israel and now in the Church, we tend to codify what works or what we understand and teach it or pass it on as important as the Word of God.  Spend some time in Jeremiah 23 (here @ Bible Gateway) and consider what the Lord thinks about that approach.

In the first year of this blog I wrote a post, “Glasses”, take a minute and read that and come back.

Too often we come to scripture with “certain” knowledge.  That is, we know what we believe.  Much of that “certain” knowledge has come to us through the messages we have heard in our churches, the Christian books we have read, or conversations we have had with other believers.  None of those things are bad in and of themselves.  They just are not the inspired Word of God.

That “certain” knowledge functions for us much like the tradition Jesus refers to in the passages above.  It colors what we read and study, in a sense it distorts the text.  We have to acknowledge these biases.  It is not easy to do so.  Still, we need to “take off the glasses” and allow the text to speak to us directly.

The good thing is that we have a promise, John 16:13 (here @ Bible Gateway), that the Holy Spirit will lead us into truth.  Further we have the model of David’s prayer in Psalm 119:18 (here @ Bible Gateway) to guide us.

There is an example I wish to share and on which I wish to comment.  So I will not finish in one post.  Probably two more.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Dealing with the Hard Stuff – Part 4

In these posts we have been looking at how we can deal with difficult issues – hard stuff.  So far we have said that we need to:
  • Be willing to question what you believe
  • Have a proper view of the Bible
  • Commit to the authority of the Bible
Dealing with the Hard Stuff – Part 4
But that is not all.  Further we have to decide if we are going to live and engage with the world in a manner consistent with that proper view of the Bible.  That step is a subset of the last one.  We have to commit to apply or incorporate what we learn in our examination of the Bible to our thinking and behavior.

That may seem obvious.  However, there are many who know much about the Bible whose behavior does not align with what they “know”.  In a sense they do not practice what they proclaim.

Romans 12:1 – 2 (here @ Bible Gateway) speaks to this does it not?  We are not to be conformed to the norms of the world but we are to be transformed.  Paul specifically speaks to the way we think.  If it is the case that the Bible is what it says it is, the revealed, inspired, Word of God, then the only way I know of to align my thought more closely with God is to study and apply His Word.  The entirety of Psalm 119 (here @ Bible Gateway) speaks to this.

However changing our thinking is not enough.  We are also to have the Word of God change our behavior.  James speaks to this in James 1:22 – 26 (here @ Bible Gateway).  We are to not just be those who hear or read the Word, rather we are to do the Word, apply it, follow it, and do what it says.  Otherwise, to echo James’, our reading, studying, or listening to others talk about the Word is worthless.

Peter reinforces this in 2 Peter 1:2 – 10 (here @ Bible Gateway).  He tells us first that we have been granted all that we need for life and godliness in the Word – which here he refers to as “His precious and magnificent promises”.  Which Peter emphasizes by explaining that the purpose of His Word is so that we can become partakers of His nature.  Spend some time considering Peter’s words here.  It is an overwhelming statement.  Then Peter goes into some detail on how to accomplish partaking in 5 – 9 (here @ Bible Gateway).

When we come to the Word, before we can deal with difficult passages well, we have to have committed to do what we find.  The Lord did not give us His Word to intrigue or interest us, or to make us smarter; He gave it to change us, to transform us more closely to His nature.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Dealing with the Hard Stuff – Part 3

In the last two posts we have been looking at how we can deal with difficult issues – hard stuff.  The last post suggested that the starting point of dealing with difficult issues in the Bible is to have a proper view of the Bible.  The conclusion was if we do not start there we are not going to get to the right place.  But starting there is not enough.
Dealing with the Hard Stuff – Part 3
We have to commit to placing the Bible as an authority over and the source of what I believe and practice.  That is to say the Bible, not my current understanding of the Bible, not my church or denominations position on a particular issue, not what the culture or my friends think about an issue, not what my favorite pastor or author says but the Bible is my authority and guide.

I am still on some Social Media sites.  I am continually amazed – after all this time, I probably shouldn’t be – at the responses of self-identified believers to controversial questions.  Most of their comments start with some form of “I think”.  What follows those two words in most if not all of the cases has little or no relationship or reference to the Word of God.

In some cases people who I know, know better, do not clearly state what I know that they know the Bible says, probably because they know that the audience or person will react negatively.

In the past couple of days, a person I know in Africa posted an article that suggested a well know “Christian” personality had come out in support of homosexuals being a normative and acceptable lifestyle.  While that was an over statement of the individual’s position, he was not firm on the authority of the Bible on this issue.  He was being interviewed by an extremely liberal individual on an extremely liberal media platform.  On that same liberal platform however, another well know evangelical pastor was asked about the same issues and was direct, clear, and firm on the authority of the Bible on that issue.

The harsh reality is committing to placing the authority of the Word over our beliefs, practices, and stated positions will place us continually in conflict with the world regardless of the culture in which we find ourselves.

Not committing to the authority of the Word places us on a treacherous path on a slippery slope headed for eternal destruction.