“People shouldn’t be protected from the Bible,” Dr. Heiser says. But theological systems often do just that, by “explaining away” difficult or troublesome passages of Scripture because their literal meaning doesn’t fit into our tidy systems.
This quote says a lot about why I changed the name of my site to “God versus religion”.
It’s a reminder that God’s Word isn’t necessarily what any one church teaches as part of their “approved theology”, or whatever they happen to call it.
No – God’s Word is His Word – The Bible.
From Hebrews, this is very clear –
The Certainty of God’s Promise
Heb 6:13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
Heb 6:16 Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
Just in case you missed it –
17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.
God’s purpose does’t change.
God does not change.
For some, who believe that times change, so God will adjust to them, so things that used to be wrong are no longer wrong – think again –
The Fulfillment of the Law
Mt 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
And it’s not like God didn’t know those who are supposed to be the religious leaders wouldn’t try to hide the truth from the people. The last of the seven woes Jesus pronounced against the teachers of the law and Pharisees of His own time are these two –
Mt 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.
Mt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’’”
It’s no different now that it was before. Going all the way back to Genesis.
God says one thing – people want to believe another.
We say times have changed.
We say people have changed.
We say God has changed.
Truth is – Qoheleth (aka The Teacher, Solomon) was right –
Ecc 1:9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecc 1:10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
Ecc 1:11 There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow.
As George Santayana said –
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Going back to Qoheleth, here is his conclusion –
The Conclusion of the Matter
Ecc 12:9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
Ecc 12:11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Ecc 12:13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
Ecc 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
Qoheleth says the same thing – that we will repeat things (see the first passage) and that we need to remember (see the second passage).
However, before really being able to understand what he’s trying to tell us, we need to understand what “fear God” is really about.
“Fear God” does mean be afraid, if we choose to defy Him. That part of the fire and brimstone type of sermons is correct.
But – “fear God” also means something very different for those who want to follow Him.
“Godly fear” is defined as:1)Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1996). Nelson’s quick reference topical Bible index (p. 226). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Pr 8:13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
Pr 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
turning a man from the snares of death.
Ps 19:9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
Beginning of wisdom
Pr 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
So – this is what we need to learn, in order to not continue to repeat the evils of those before us.
It’s hard enough to do, without having those who are supposed to teach / lead us being part of the pack who are trying to lead us off the path – and back to the forgotten history of the past.
That is why we need to learn to not only “read” the Bible, but try to understand it.
Even a Bible translation, as we’ve seen in other articles, can be misleading when it’s interpreted in such a way as to show the biases of the translators – rather than what the words actually meant when they were said.
It’s sounding worse and worse, isn’t it?
Fortunately, we aren’t left alone in this task.
Jesus promised us some major help –
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
Jn 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Jn 14:22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jn 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jn 14:28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
“Come now; let us leave.”
If Jesus had to leave this earth in order for the Holy Spirit to be with us, I’d say that’s help we really should be using.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1996). Nelson’s quick reference topical Bible index (p. 226). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.|