A Biblical Perspective on the Bible

A number of folks I hang around with that are asking hard questions about the Bible and its place in the life of the child of God.

These conversations have been among friends, believers, individuals who are passionately committed to the Bible as the foundation for life, and who confidently acknowledge its profitability for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. I have heard many honest people asking honest questions and expressing both conventional and unconventional points of view. Some of those perspectives are kind of weird. Some are troubling. Some make a lot of sense. A few qualify as “all of the above.”

Such is the way of mere mortals as we learn new truths. We poke and prod and ask questions; we wobble around and stumble; we get up and give it another try. I’m thankful for honest friends who are willing to help me in that stumbling. They’re not, WE are not questioning the foundation of the Bible, not in any way, shape, or form, but we are questioning the traditional ways God’s people have related to God’s word.

I’ve come to the realization that while the Bible is the First Word, while it is the Standard by which everything else is measured, it is not the Last Word. Sacred Scripture has nothing to say about flush toilets, social networking, pornography, pro sports, abortion, personal computers, masturbation, public schools, motorized transportation and ten thousand other topics (though it may speak to topics tangential to these). If we limit our thinking to only what the Word says, we’ll never be “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us.”
 I believe God is calling his Bride [hear me carefully here] to stop treating the Bible as a limitation, and to employ it more as a launch pad.

The Bible itself is filled with directives (eg John 3:8-10, 14:26, 21:25, even 1 Corinthians11:14), instructing us to extend our learning beyond the foundation of this magnificent, foundational Book. The Bible is our foundation, our starting point. But a foundation is useless unless one builds on it.

Several New Testament writers bemoan an unwillingness of Christians to grow up. Hebrews 6 clearly describes the “milk” the new believers’ curriculum of the first century: “…not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” These are the baby steps (“milk”) of the apostle’s teaching. After we learn these, then we must move on to the “solid food” of the ways of God. Unfortunately, the apostle could not write about the meat that was on his heart, because those to whom that book was originally written were unready for real meat.

Someone wise has said, “It’s hard to expect the results of the first century church when we rely more on a book they didn’t have than the Spirit that they did have.” And we clearly do not have the results of the first century church. When measured by the 1st century standard, our 21st century church, which is well-grounded on the Book, has been an utter failure at changing the world around us. When was the last time you saw a spontaneous, accidental revival meeting in the streets of your hometown, with thousands coming to faith in Christ? When was the last time that your church saw someone so convicted of sin that they fell down dead? How many people have you raised from the dead? We are (mostly) well-grounded in the Word, but we are mostly powerless.

If sola scriptura (“doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness.”) were enough, we’d be walking in way more power, way more holiness, way more intimacy than we are.

Someone else has said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” If you are content with what you and your church are experiencing in God, then well and good. Keep up the good work!

Many believers, however, are not able to say, “Wow, my church is amazing! I can’t imagine things any better!” We want to find that “better.” My church, after twenty centuries of “growing,” should not lag so ridiculously far behind the beginners, the absolute rookies of Jerusalem and Antioch, who are the subjects of the Book of Acts: we’ve had two whole millennia of the Holy Spirit in our midst, but not one church in a thousand lives up to the first century, our “beginner’s standard.” If your church is that one, then hallelujah! Mine is not, I’m afraid. And I WILL NOT SETTLE FOR THIS WIMPY, POWERLESS CHRISTIANITY.

I will give everything I have to see the church in my region grow up into that which Jesus died for. I have already spent my fortune. I will risk my respectability, my reputation, my understanding, my sanity in order to attain to the high calling that is still un-touched before us. I will guard vigilantly against error, but because I am going where nobody that I know has ever gone, I expect I will make mistakes, I expect I will fall. But I will fall towards the goal, the high calling in Christ Jesus. I will NOT settle back in my pew, put another check in the plate, and pretend that we’re living up to the “greater works” that Jesus promised.

I haven’t raised a single person from the dead yet, but I’ve tried several times. I’ve not transported from here to there like Elijah and Philip and maybe even Jesus did, but it’s not for lack of trying. I have visited Heaven, as Jesus did. I’ve never walked on water like he did, but I’ve gotten soaked trying. I have changed the weather. I have sat with the King of Heaven as He fell in love with me and sang me love songs. I have plundered hell and brought back spoil for my King and my co-laborers. I have embarrassed myself more times than I can count, pressing forward to apprehend what has been promised to me.

Someone will say, “But you could get it wrong! You could make a mistake! I must warn you! I must protect you from the possibility of making a mistake!”

To which I answer: Of COURSE we’ll get it wrong! Of course we’ll make mistakes! We’ve never gone this way before. We’re rookies, for pity sake! We are NOT experts at this! But we’re not afraid of mistakes; we embrace them because they show progress. I’ve made a bundle of mistakes already, and I’ll bet you I’m not done yet. (Wonderfully educational things: mistakes.)

I will further answer that I will absolutely listen to the warnings and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. That’s where we’re headed: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” [emphasis added] He’s talking about us! We as a people are called to being blown by the Spirit anywhere He wishes. That is not the church that I’ve grown up in, not the church that I see today. I am not content with where I am.

I will also listen to warnings from my friends and companions who are running this race with me. If you feel the need to warn me, come run with me for a while; I’m sorry: I won’t pay much attention to people throwing stones, to people calling me names, to people trying to kill me or my reputation. And I won’t listen to Pharisees. If you want to be heard, this won’t work. I will not stop to have conversation with those trying to stop me from running the race that He has set before me.

I’m comforted knowing that Jesus faced people who were content to judge him, and he didn’t listen to them either. They were so content with their system that they opposed, and then they killed, the King of Glory. They murdered a whole bunch of His followers, too. Those are not the people whose counsel I will be seeking in this race.

We often talk about how every movement of God is opposed by the participants of the previous move of God: it’s true. There are likely to be Christians – our own brothers and sisters – who oppose our march toward “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven!” It’s sad, but it is a reality.

I invite you to join us. I invite you to leave your traditions, your respectability, your doctrines and join in this mad passionate pursuit of Heaven! If you are satisfied, if you don’t understand, or if the price is too high for you, that’s OK: we offer no condemnation: stand aside, and watch us march, run, wander, fall, get up and run again toward the finish line.

If you choose to be one of the naysayers, please don’t be offended if we don’t stop and take notes on why you think that the things we’re doing are impossible. Please don’t feel hurt if we don’t defer to your contentment or your fear, or if we don’t abandon our passion for Jesus in favor of your restraint and hesitation. I’ll try not to hurt you as I march past. But I will not stop to listen to your fears.

I’m pressing forward. Lead, follow, or get out of my way. 

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