Monday, January 11, 2010

Through His Word by His Spirit (100th post!)

This is officially the 100th post to this blog since I created it in August 2005. In the years since the first entry I’ve gone through a lot of changes and have learned a lot. I have shared that journey in the previous 99 contributions.

If there is an overall lesson I have learned it relates to the extent that understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been affected by tradition and by the application of men’s wisdom. And if there is one thing I have great difficulty understanding, it is the inability of so many to accept clear and simple revelation given through scripture.

Many have scoffed and accused me of arrogance, and of thinking I know it all when I have questioned their views. But I’m merely expressing the desire that people would treat the written account of scripture with the same respect that they would (hopefully) treat any other writing and assume it is saying what its clearest and simplest meaning seems to be saying. Don’t go looking for complex meanings until the obvious meaning has been applied.

The approach some people take with scripture often leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. The way they force their doctrine INTO their interpretation of scripture is farcical and it would be easy to laugh if the consequences weren’t so serious. For example, recently I read someone claiming that Romans 11:20-21 (“Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either”) could not be suggesting that believers could possibly lose their salvation because believers can’t lose their salvation. This was a clear case of doctrine coming first and scripture being interpreted according to that doctrine instead of vice versa.

I have also heard well know minister preaching on John 15 using a similar approach. Here Jesus was telling His disciples that He is the vine and they need to remain in the vine (Him) in order to bear fruit. The preacher’s view was that believers ARE in the vine and can do nothing BUT remain in the vine and bear fruit. This man, in attempting to protect his views on Christian security effectively contradicted and undermined the serious point of Jesus’ admonition to His disciples.

Elsewhere on this blog I have addressed other ways in which scripture has been selectively applied so that its application ignores its clearly intended meaning. Ezekiel 36 is a classic case where its relevance to the future of Israel is totally ignored and only a verse or two are taken and applied to the church, as if the church has inherited all of the promises specifically made to Israel (note the PROMISES are adopted, but there’s less eagerness to inherit the curses that come with the package).
In the case of Ezekiel 36 the explicit references to the land and returning to the land of their forefathers makes it totally clear that it is the people of Israel who are being spoken of; that it is the people of Israel who will one day be brought back to the Lord and become the people they were called to be.

But a lot of this is merely recapping what I’ve written in more depth in recent blog entries.

This blog has not only recorded a personal journey it has also been an active part of that journey, helping me along the way, giving me a place to give clarity to some ideas and also providing a means of having those ideas challenged. It has been a journey that has helped me to observe and it has also made me open to be observed. Like any imperfect man I get carried away at times and don’t always respond to others as graciously as I should and I thank Jesus, my God, my Lord and my saviour for His forgiveness, patience and love. I am also grateful for His gift of the Holy Spirit, who teaches and empowers me to move onwards in my new life in Christ.

This blog has covered a period during which some of my basic understanding of the Christian faith has been shaken and tested. So much of what I once took for granted was shown to be built on a false foundation: on the foundation of man’s teachings instead of the revelation given by God through His word and by His Spirit. I thank the Lord for the rebuilding He has been doing in my life over recent years.

I could write a list of the many false doctrines that I have come across during most of the last decade, but I don’t think that is necessary because most of them have received some mention in earlier blog entries. Many of those doctrines seem to have little in common with each other. The extreme charismania demonstrated in the so-called “Toronto Blessing” and the starchy traditionalism of many followers of “Reformed” theology seem to be polar opposites. While the external manifestations of these vastly different traditions are totally at odds – the root cause that led to them is identical: the exaltation of man’s teaching and theology at the expense of the truth revealed through scripture, by the Holy Spirit.

But of course, adherents of both sides will protest loudly and present their favoured proof texts to show how their beliefs are “scriptural” – but it is clear when other parts of scripture are not so favourable that those other parts are either ignored or “interpreted” in a way that the contradiction is negated.
Any belief that needs to take such a creative, integrity-free approach to biblical “interpretation” is definitely on very shaky ground.

May we all be honest and humble enough to evaluate ourselves and our doctrines according to the light God has given in His word by His Spirit.


Lee said...

Keep the light shining--exposing the darkness and revealing the truth. May the Lord continue to grow your faith and your knowledge of Him through another 100 posts.

Onesimus said...

Thank you for the encouragement Lee,