You call yourself a Christian, have a Jesus "fish" on your car, and some days you see the problems of the world as a sign that He is coming soon. You're all set.
As a long time Christian with some seasons of backsliding, I thought I was getting closer to the goal of putting on the mind of Christ. I suppose some day I will learn to wave with all my fingers when someone cuts me off on the Mass Pike. Until then, I am just a sinner saved by grace. This amazing grace is not a license to be a jerk-- but it sure does come in handy when you are one. Amen?
In the last week or so, I have been really studying the lives of some of the apostles. You can poke through the last few posts for more on that if you like. In the process, I also had a discussion about the 5-fold ministry on Facebook, and some folks had a fiery debate over gay marriage. It was an aside to a link I posted for a petition to vote for a new law protecting student's rights to do "religious" stuff in school - like pray.
In each case, I had to rely on what I know about the Bible to "appraise all things." I am in no way in judgment of the people involved. The situations happen to be clearly addressed in the Bible-- which says something different. The word of God, even when it is not so clear, God is able to make it shine. You see there is a verse that gets improperly interpreted by those that the Word of God opposes. We aren't to judge others, period! Yet, very often, we are told not to judge anything. Just believe what you believe, and be tolerant. This is not a Biblical imperative. Let's take a look.
1 Corinthians 2:13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
In trying to appraise "all things" we need to know the word of God and have put on the mind of Christ. This is not akin to getting a degree at the cemetery -- err I mean seminary. It is reading and understanding the word by His spirit.
In this blog I often challenge what some call, "traditional thinking," or religiousness. The truth is that I challenge watered down Bible interpretation, which is not truth. These half-truths are sometimes promoted by uneducated, albeit; well meaning Christians, denominations, and pop cultures "vignettes," of a wise savior. There are a lot of sayings that sound like the Bible, but they are not. There are some portions of scripture that need to be interpreted in a prophetic sense-- a lot of Revelation and the Old Testament Prophets are like that. Weeding your way though can be tough, but it is worth it. There are other parts that are literal, some historical, and some, well, like treasure when God illuminates them. Sometimes it is helpful to look into the Greek or Hebrew-- other times it helpful to understand the historical context. Most importantly it is important to learn to hear God's voice. Christianity is a relationship with God!
And for some, it's just another book--
The problem then becomes speaking Bible - or better yet, "speaking the truth in love." The Word is confrontational to sin, and sinful behavior. It always will be! The rules and laws in the pages of the Bible simply point out our need for a savior. Everyone likes the "love" part-- some like the "vengeance" part, and rarely does anyone like the "discipline" part. But loving your enemies, and those that are not like you becomes a much more difficult task then loving folks you already get a long with.
Many try to make a case for their favorite sin by asking "What would Jesus do?", or Jesus loves every one (He does) and therefore you can't oppose my interpretation of the Bible, causing conflict, and well-- making me mad. It is simply rationalization cloaked in Bible. That doesn't make it true.
I have been a member of a few denominations in the 30+ years since I became saved. These include Episcopal, Southern Baptist, Pentecostal, Vineyard Christian Fellowships and a couple of non-denominational churches as well. Here is what I learned from those experiences-- A) People are people, B) God is God, C) You aren't God, D) Jesus is wonderful and E) Each denomination has decided which portion of the Bible is important, thereby causing other parts to be much less important; or in the worst cases non-existent-- as if there were pages missing from the Bible. Amazingly, John 3:16-17 is in every Bible translation I have ever read, same with Romans 10:9-10, Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 12:1-13, and Ephesians 4:11-25; just to mention a few. In each case, I think they are pretty clear in both Greek/Hebrew, English, Portuguese, French and Spanish.
As Christians, we must accept the full gospel message, or we are hypocrites. If we forbid speaking in tongues or deny that there are New Testament apostles, we oppose God. Read the BOOK! You can't do enough intellectual gymnastics to prove something like this is in error. If we find a loophole for our personal sin through some rationalization or lofty intellectual argument, we are still hypocrites. In the final analysis, sin is sin.
Be sure, diversity in the church is meant to be in gifting and callings -- even cultures, but not in theology!!! There is only one theology that God has ordained, and it is your job to study the word, and search it out like treasure - for there you will find the knowledge of God. You won't know everything, but you won't have to rely on some preacher to put on your spiritual diaper every Sunday.
Certainly each one of us grows in the knowledge of God at our own pace. We walk our own path, and carry our own cross - it is between us and God. If you have been a Christian for some time, and find parts of the Bible foreign to your thinking, it's time to pick up the Bible and read it. One summer I just read the Bible and hi-lighted all the parts that I thought I understood. Some days I flip back over it and see the gaps in my understanding from that year-- the good news, some of them have been filled in since 1993.
Here is my challenge-- if your denomination or preacher is telling you that certain parts of the Bible do not pertain to you today - go read them anyway. If your Sunday experience is only reading the verses up on the projection screen, read the chapters before and after and look at the context. If that bores you, read the study notes, or follow the chain in your Thompson Chain Bible without reading the text of your favorite books of the Bible. It is time to read out-of-the-box. Do a word study, play Bible roulette - but learn it for yourself.
Sure, there are many interpretations of the thousands of Bible passages, but only one of them is right. Well, some are prophetic, at the same time they are historical. God uses things both in and out of context - that is why it is foolishness to the wise.
Think about it, are you following Jesus, or a denomination-- maybe even a man?
Matthew 7:22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!
And finally, if you haven't read the Bible, then shut up about your appraisals, OK?