March 3, 2014.
How do you read the word of God? Is it taken at face value? Do you not read it and just let others tell you what it says? Do you read a verse that seems to say something clearly, and then let a “scholar” dissuade you from believing it? What is your relationship with God’s word?
“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.”
Here I believe we see a glimpse of what God has in mind for true followers of Christ, at least at first. The Jews in Berea were said to be more noble than those in Thessalonica, who had just driven Paul and Silas out, because they searched the scriptures daily to see if what Paul was saying was actually true. If it was noble to fact check Paul the apostle, chosen by God, given a direct revelation of the gospel, then I dare say it would noble to fact check any scholar today. That may sound harsh, but I do not believe that makes it any less true. Scholars today, though they have been involved in much study and I believe their opinion should be given some weight, are yet faliable people. What’s more, if you base your core beliefs on what a scholar has told you and not on the word of God, you are taking a big risk. I can line up 30 scholars, 15 trained in one bias and 15 in another, each having studied/devoted their lives to God just as much as the next, who will give you different interpretations than the other group. It wouldn’t be a consequence of amount of study, rather a consequence of bias. We should base our core beliefs on what the bible says clearly, and not try to work our way around a passage just because it dosen’t fit our theology or we just don’t like it. That is not how God works.
Notice, in the second part of the above passage that the Thesslonicans came down to Berea to stir the people up and dissuade them from the faith that was developing. They in some cases succeeded. I see this as analogous, though not perfectly, to biased scholars coming in and disrupting the simple teachings of the New Testament. We can know the core truth, with out private interpretation. It is simply hard in America because we are already burdened with so many factions and bias. God hates division, but look at the greater Christian community of America: completely divided. I truly believe that if we sat down and said “Enough, let us read the New Testament straight through, and what it says we will simply believe and make no doctrine where doctrine is not made, we could reunite the church. But this would take a laying aside of pride and having an honest and genuine heart. It would be very hard. But worthwhile, nonetheless.
The reading today is from psalm 119. I love this psalm. Notice how the psalmist embraces the law of The Lord without question. See the love and adoration that overflows for God’s statutes, teachings and rules. The psalmist is truly in love with the law of The Lord. I think we would do well to apply this love to the law of Christ, and stop arguing over what I want it to say. If it says something, it is true. Period. End of sentence. Let us all embrace the truth.
“Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,your salvation according to your promise; then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules. I will keep your law continually, forever and ever, and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts. I will also speak of your testimonies before kingsand shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.”
Suggested Daily Reading: Psalm 119.
The law of The Lord be your guide.