Doing The Best of Things in the Worst of Times! Part 2
In a previous post I identified what I believe to be the "best of things” as consisting of four basic axioms that when pursued by us Christians will always result in our doing the best of things in spite of the times or the trends we find ourselves living in. These are:
Desiring the Kingdom of the Father Primarily
Believing the Word of God Pervasively
Loving the Son of God Passionately
Ministering in the Spirit of God Powerfully
In this study we will consider the second essential activity necessary to do the best of things in the worst of times.
- Believing the Word of God Pervasively
What is the most powerful and subversive book ever written? It's not Adolph Hilter's , "Mein Kampf", or Karl Marx's, "Das Kapital" or Chairman Mao's, "Little Red Book for Revolution," but the Word of God – the Bible! The Bible has led to the overthrow of governments, sparked mass migrations across oceans, and more than once changed the course of history.
Many governments have gone to great lengths to restrict or even prevent its printing and distribution. Yet it has outlasted its enemies. The Bible is still the most popular book ever printed. No other book has been translated into so many languages and had such impact on the development of those languages. In every year over the past century, the Bible has been a runaway bestseller. There are currently 6909 living languages in the world. As of October 2017 the full Bible has been translated into 670 languages, the New Testament alone into 1521 languages and Bible portions or stories into 1121 other languages. Thus at least some portion of the Bible has been translated into 3,312 languages. No other book even comes close to these numbers.
Yet in spite of it being a consistent best seller, many don't know what it contains and chafe at the thought of it being the ultimate authority that rules their lives.
Almost nine out of 10 American households (87 percent) own a Bible, according to the American Bible Society, and the average household has three. But Bible reading remains spotty. LifeWay Research surveyed 1,000 Americans about their views of the Bible and found significant splits in how familiar they are with the Christian scripture. One in five Americans, LifeWay Research found, has read through the Bible at least once. About half of Americans (53 percent) have read relatively little of the Bible. One in 10 has read none of it, while 13 percent have read a few sentences. Thirty percent say they have read several passages or stories.
The authority of Scripture is the key issue for the Christian Church in this and every age!
The spirit of authority and certainty pervades the scriptures. Suppositions, suggestions, and conjectures are absent from the pages of the Bible. In 2 Peter 1:20-21, the scriptures are declared to be the Word of God: "…but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
Authority answers the question, "Who do I report to?" "Who or what has the final word in my life?" Entering the kingdom of the Father brings us under kingdom authority because authority is a relational word which signifies the right to rule. Father’s kingdom is in essence, His people, in His place, under His rule. Authority is expressed in claims and is acknowledged by compliance and conformity. Authority and author are directly related concepts. Because the Holy Spirit (who is God) is the author of the Bible, the authority of the Bible is the authority of God. That means, when the Bible speaks to us then God is speaking to us. To disobey the Scriptures is to disobey God.
What thoughts come to mind when you hear the word "Authority"? Probably, some form of authoritarianism, i.e., someone bossing you around and trying to run your life for you. The truth is “authority” has become almost a dirty word in America, while opposition to authority on every level is for the most part accepted and expected.
Rights and freedom have become modern man’s obsession. Freedom is always seen as involving rejection of authority and rebellion against authority! Authority is equated with fixed limits, freedom with cutting loose from all that. Therefore, the greatest crisis of our day is that of ultimate final authority.
The Unrelenting Battle of History is By Whose Authority will Man Operate?
For many people, human reason, or rationalism, is the final source of authority on all matters.
A typical modern example is shown in the words of Rev. Lisa Doege, the pastor of the Nora Unitarian Church in Hanska, MN: "Just a few days ago an acquaintance of mine really got it, for the first time, that many Unitarian Universalists, me among them, are not Christian. In reply to my statement, he suggested that I should reread parts of the New Testament, which would surely convince me. The problem with his suggestion, of course, is that unlike him, I don’t consider the Bible the sole and whole revealed word of God, and neither is it Unitarian Universalism’s authoritative scripture. The fact is, we don’t have an authoritative scripture. By what authority do I preach and teach? By what authority do any of us formulate our beliefs and act out of them? In the end the answer must be, each of us by our own authority."
Some people have developed their theories of ultimate authority purely upon emotionalism or traditionalism. There are those who argue, "If it feels right for me then it is right." The rallying cry of our times is, "That's just your opinion or your interpretation of the Bible; that's true for you, but not for me!"
Many non-Christian cults have additional revelation apart from the Bible. This revelation is considered as authoritative or more authoritative than Scripture. They add to God’s Word with their so-called revelation. This is true with all the cults -- Mormonism has it's Book of Mormon, Jehovah Witnesses have their own New World Translation, etc. The final source of authority for these groups is that particular revelation, not the Bible. Although they may claim to believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, it is always interpreted in light of the further revelation or from their center of authority.
The Submission to the Author and Authority of Scripture is the Key to Purposeful and Prosperous Living!
The goal of the Scriptures is to enable us to glorify God by enjoying Him in a real, living, loving, and forever relationship, through Christ Jesus -- beginning right now!
Jesus' use of scripture wasn't just articulation of the Word of God, but the declaration of its authority over Himself! He placed Himself UNDER the dictates of the Bible and therefore its God-breathed power covered him. (Hebrews 10:7, "Then I said, 'Behold, I have come; In the volume of the book it is written of Me; To do Your will, O God.")
Knowing only the Content of Scripture will Cause Us to Miss the Intent of Its Revelation
What is the intent of God’s revelation in the Bible? It is not to inform us about God, but to involve us with God! It is not to give us principles for success, but to get us to the Person who is the only true Success – Jesus! Revelation is for relationship. Knowing God isn’t about information, it's about intimacy with Him.
The extremely religious people whom Jesus was addressing in John 5 and 7 where the foremost Bible scholars of His day, yet they had missed the entire purpose for which God gave the scriptures. They studied the scriptures contents, counted its every word, memorized it, discussed and debated it every day, and used it to regulate every detail of their lives. So why did Jesus denounce them so severely? Because they had mistaken, misinterpreted and misapplied the whole intent for which God gave the scriptures.
Likewise we must not come to the Bible as they did, to learn different subjects and yet fail to meet our Savior. We must not relish all the pictures and descriptions of a menu, but fail to get to the real meal, i.e. Jesus, the Bread of Life, and feast on Him. If we are not careful, we will be like the Pharisees and spend all our time discovering, discussing, and displaying rules, rituals, and regulations that will make us successful religionists, but will rob us of a living, loving lasting relationship and fellowship with God who wants to make us joyful in Jesus forever!
When we gladly submit to the authority and the Author of the Word of God, then we will discover that the Word that Jesus speaks are spirit and life. That is they are Spirit-voiced and life-begetting, when faith-heard! It’s this dynamic word that “increased and grew and multiplied in the book of Acts 6:7;12:24; that couldn’t be bound in prison (2 Tim 2:9); that is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:18); that holds all creation together (Cols 1:17); that is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. This Living Word desires to meet you through the Written Word and abide in you forever.
The Word of God, submitted to willingly and continuously, and believed pervasively, will enlighten as to salvation, enrich for holy living, and equip for service.
Focus on Jesus -- determine to read the Bible the way He did – Christ-centered. If you start doing this, you’ll get full of faith and boredom will have no place in you. You will live in the confidence that there is no force that flourishes that He can’t frustrate; there is no might that He can’t master; there is no strength that He can’t subdue; and no power exists that He can’t prevail over!
Isaiah 66:2, "For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD. "But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word."