“Are You Willing to Put That in Writing?

That question – “Will you put it in writing?” – has stopped more big talkers in their tracks than we could ever count.  People can promise you the world until you ask for a written record that would hold them to account.  That often brings the big talk to an abrupt halt.

Yet God did promise us the world…and was more than willing to put those promises in writing.  He commissioned the prophets and apostles to write down what He had told them – at maximum risk to their own lives.  In fact, many of them were persecuted to the point of death for their efforts to establish and preserve a written record of God’s words.

God does not take the blood of His obedient ones lightly.  He was willing to grant that they lay down their lives so that His promises could be put in writing for our assurance and comfort.  That is, He so loved everyone that He sacrificed the righteous in order to win the wicked.

Let us therefore recognize that God has publicly committed Himself to His word.  It is in writing…that you and I might be all the more sure about His character and His intentions.  Let us not take that written record lightly.  Neither let us take lightly the sacrifices that produced it…and preserved it.  Our most appropriate response is to read it and take it to heart.

Is the Bible Subject to Interpretation?

Before I started reading the Bible for myself as an adult, I subscribed to the view that “the Bible is subject to interpretation.”  By this, I meant that it wouldn’t be worth my time to read the Bible because its meaning would be whatever each reader said it was.  I did not realize at the time I held this view how dumb it really was.

I was assuming that the Bible was like a Rorschach inkblot that could have whatever meaning a reader wanted to give it.  I viewed as support for my view that there were different Christian churches on every corner in most towns; and if Christians couldn’t agree on what it said, then it must not have a clear message.

Even though I didn’t expect the Bible to present a compelling case for God, I started reading it at age 27 because I thought it would improve my cultural literacy.  Another motivation was that I would be able to make myself able to refute anyone who tried to convert me, using my newly-acquired knowledge of the Bible’s vagaries against any evangelist who approached me.

Reading the Bible for myself, however, changed my view…and my life.  While I did find many things in the Bible that were hard to understand, if not incomprehensible, I also found many things that were quite clear in meaning – and that inherently imposed on me the necessity to accept or reject that meaning.

I found to be true what the apostle Peter said was true:

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
–  2 Peter 1:20-21

That is, the reason that the Bible is not a matter of one’s own interpretation is that the Holy Spirit who inspired its writing is the same Holy Spirit who’s present with you when you’re reading.  If He gives you the understanding of something, there’s really nothing to interpret.

For example, the Bible says that Jesus is Lord.  No reasonable person could read the Bible and say, “Well, my interpretation is that I think the Bible says Peter is Lord.”  Or “…George is Lord.”  Or “…Jesus is not Lord.”  And understanding the message that Jesus is Lord inherently imposes on me the necessity of accepting or rejecting that message.  And to then live with the consequences.  Even if I say, “I do not want to accept or reject this message,” that itself is a form of rejecting the message.  That “Jesus is Lord” is the most obvious and important example of clear meaning in the Bible, but there are many others.

Just because people may find things to argue about in the Bible does not mean that it cannot be crystal clear on important issues.

The Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures

The Scriptures (i.e. the Bible) came about because the Holy Spirit inspired men to speak, and write, for God.  Therefore, the Bible can be rightly seen as the word of the Holy Spirit and the word of God.  Yet the Holy Spirit did not retreat to eternal silence when the Bible’s writings were all complete and collected.  Why would God want to render Himself mute?

Because the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible, nothing the Holy Spirit says to you is going to contradict the Bible.  God does not lie, which means He does not contradict Himself and He does not equivocate.  Therefore, if you’re not sure whether the thought that is coming to you is from Holy Spirit, you always have the Bible to help you decide.

We are in a better position to follow God and resist temptation than Eve was because all she had was a voice – she had nothing in writing, as we do, to confirm what she had heard. We can rejoice greatly in God’s gracious provision!  We have a written collection of confirmed Holy Spirit thoughts to which any new Holy Spirit thought can be compared.

Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances.  But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
–  1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

The way you “examine carefully” any “prophetic utterances” (that is, thoughts from the Holy Spirit) is to compare it to Scripture.

Therefore, the Bible does not make the Holy Spirit obsolete; neither does the Holy Spirit make the Bible obsolete. Thank you, Lord, because you knew we needed both!

(This post originated in a comment exchange on the post “Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.”)

Faith Does Not Make Something True

Faith does not make something true; it cannot make something true.  Something is either true or it isn’t; faith cannot change it.  Rather, faith recognizes and accepts what is true.  Faith therefore submits to reality.

Unbelief rejects what is true.  Unbelief is rebellion against reality.

Faith sees the world as it is.  Unbelief shuts its eyes to reality.

Those who walk by faith are being realistic about life.  They assume that the Author of life – that is, the One who inspired the Bible – is not lying to them.

Those who reject the Bible are assuming that the Author of life is lying to them.  Not wise.

Why Do We Read the Bible?

…Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.
–  Acts 10:34-35

Since God welcomes the person who “fears Him and does what is right,” why don’t we just fear Him and do what is right – and dispense with the Bible?

Without the Bible, how could we know for sure that what we think is right actually is right from God’s point of view?

For example, how could we know for sure that “in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” unless Peter had made it clear?

There is no substitute for the word of God

Human thinking has limitations.  That’s why God speaks to us.

If we could solve our problems by thinking hard enough, He would have remained silent so that we could figure things out in silence.  The reason He gave us the Bible is so that we would not be left to the inadequacy our own thoughts.

It is better to remember and reflect on one sentence of God’s than to think up a hundred sentences of your own.

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
–  Hebrews 2:1

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.
–  Psalm 94:19

The Bible is full of His “consolations.”  Why not find one and meditate on it?  You might be surprised to learn how much more wise and comforting are His thoughts than your own.

We Eat at a Table the World Does Not See

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…
–  Psalm 23:5

The Lord feeds us at a table the world does not see.  It is the king’s table and it is bountiful.

The bounty of this table consists of the food of which I spoke a few days ago.

Just to pick one treat, we feast on the bread of His presence.  No wonder the world can’t see this table – they deny His presence.

Yet we embrace His presence.

“You shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times.”
–  Exodus 25:30

Never lose sight of God’s presence in this world through Jesus Christ and you will always have food…even in the midst of famine.

We Have Food to Eat the World Knows Nothing About

But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
–  John 4:32

…To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna…
–  Revelation 2:17

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”
–  Matthew 4:4 [quoting Deuteronomy 8:3]

These verses speak of the “soul food” of which we regularly partake: the word of God.  Worldly people – worldly Christian included – know nothing of this form of spiritual nourishment.  Yet we are constantly sustained by it…and languish without it.

Feed your soul daily – and at least three times a day – with the word of God lest you faint on your journey of life.

You Need to Hear the Word of the Lord Every Day

If you want to live  – truly live and not merely exist – you need to listen for the word of the Lord every day.

It’s not enough to just try to live according to your conscience.  Why?  Because your conscience can become corrupted, it can become weak.  Because of this, it can lead you astray.  Therefore, you need to daily strengthen your conscience and keep it pure.  The word of God is the means by which you can do this.

You can listen for the word of the Lord by reading Scripture.  You can listen for the word of the Lord by praying.  You can listen for the word of the Lord by paying attention to someone preaching it – even by reading a blog post like this.  However you hear the word of the Lord, hear it!  Whatever brings you the word of the Lord, go to it!

You can’t survive without the word of the Lord.  Conscience alone is not enough.

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness to doubt who He was, here was how He reacted:

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”  But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”
–  Matthew 4:3-4 [Jesus is here quoting Deuteronomy 8:3]

If Jesus did not think His conscience was sufficient, and so relied on the word of God, how do we expect to survive temptation without that same sort of reliance?

The Word of the Lord Is Alive

The word of the Lord is not like the word of people.  The word of the Lord stands forever.  The word of the Lord continues to speak.  It carries the same force when remembered as it did when it was heard for the first time.

We can only remember each other’s words to a limited degree of profit.  But we can remember what anything the Lord has said to an unlimited degree of profit.  His word bears repeating.  His word bears repetition.

The Lord’s word is living seed and will bear fruit in our lives, if we but keep it planted, watered, and cared for.

Hold fast the word of the Lord that you have received.  It will bear unlimited fruit.

Those who have no regard for the word of the Lord have barren hearts and lives.

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.  –  Isaiah 40:8

Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.  –  Psalm 119:165

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.  But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?  Then tell her to help me.”  But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
–  Luke 10:38-42

Since the Lord is not going to take the good part away from you, do not let anyone else take it away from you.  And while you’re at it, be sure you don’t take it away from yourself either.