The Place of Scripture Part Two

In my last post I included what Paul wrote, 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV). What does this mean in practice and what is the role of the Holy Spirit? The scriptures, Old and New Testament, are our rule for faith and practice. I want to look at how we apply this to our lives and also address Jesus saying below.

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Matthew 22:29 (NKJV)

What did Jesus mean when He made this statement? Many years ago I wrote a note in my bible beside this verse. “They stood before the Lord of life and could not discern Him because they loved philosophy more than truth.” We should ask ourselves whether we truly value our opinions or His? His are found in His word.

In my own journey, in my early years of walking with Jesus I spent a great deal of time in the Word, and still do. At the same time I sought a genuine relationship and ongoing encounters with Jesus, both good goals. As I journeyed this way I met a man who seemed to have a deep walk with Jesus and who lived from a place of deep contentment. I spent a lot of time with him and though he had something real there was also something not right. Over time he continued in spiritual experiences but not only moved far away from the truth of the Word, he did many things in direct opposition to the scriptures. I believe this happened because he began to interpret the scriptures through his experiences rather than his experiences through the scriptures.

In applying 2 Tim. 3:16 we need to hold to the truth that the scriptures both point us to Jesus and also mediate our relationship with Him. The scriptures, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, are meant to lead us into a relationship with Jesus and they are meant to keep us in a relationship with Jesus.

In my own walk with Jesus I have at times begun to walk down the road of error, whether in a simple decision or in larger theological issues. What has always gotten me back on track is the whisper of the Holy Spirit drawing me back to align my behaviour and thinking with His word. I find when I hear sermons or listen to people share in groups I instantly start to weigh what I hear against scripture. In my early years of walking with Him this often turned into judgment. Over time I learned to use a filtering process – do I like this person, do I respect this person? I had to learn not to add things when I liked someone or take things away if I disliked their style or presentation. It is important to separate the message from the messenger and weigh the message against scripture. We cannot build doctrine or live our lives from a place of subjective experience. To do that is to make ourselves gods and the arbitrator of all experience.

Having said that, I believe we need spiritual experiences, after all, the scriptures are meant to point us to the one who is the source of all life! How could we ever walk with Him and not have spiritual experiences! At the same time deception is also always looking for an entry point into our lives. We need to measure our experiences by the Word while not replacing adherence to written words with encounters with the Living Word. When our experiences are genuine they will be aligned with the scriptures.

To close this post let me go back to what Jesus said. “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Matthew 22:29 (NKJV). The word ‘mistaken’ is the Greek word planaō and it means to,

Lead astray, mislead, deceive, seduce; go astray, be deluded, err, deceive oneself, sin.

The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary.

To keep from being led astray we need to know the scriptures and His power. The scriptures are the anchor. However, if we know them without knowing Him we are in a dangerous place. After all, the scriptural experts in Jesus day were unable to recognize the one the scriptures pointed to and they were the ones who engineered His crucifixion.

The Place of Scripture

Jan. 7, 2014

In my first entry in Wisdom from the Word I want to address the title. Down through church history there have been varying levels of adherence to the truth of scripture. Since the Reformation over 500 years ago Protestant churches have generally held to the idea of the scriptures as our source for ‘faith and practice’ and most evangelical statements of faith reflect an adherence to scripture as divinely inspired in the original autographs. What does that mean for our faith and practice? Some say things in the scriptures are either too hard to do or too hard to understand. There is no question that there are difficult sayings and teachings in the scriptures and we need one another to understand and apply them and more importantly we need the Holy Spirit to help us understand them generally and more specifically for our lives.

His word is filled with wisdom to apply to our lives. We can learn about faith, love, obedience, giving, sacrifice and a multitude of other things that we need to live effective lives grounded in the scriptures. We can know and apply them if we spend time in them and sit with them with the Holy Spirit as our teacher. There is a life in the Word but it is only effective when we take it and apply it in our lives. As important as the scriptures are they only have true meaning for those who know the author. People who do not know the Lord can apply scriptural principles and be successful because the scriptures reveal how our Father designed relationships and creation to function.

If we look at the early church they valued the scriptures immensely. They started with the Old Testament as their only bible because they were writing the New Testament. Once it was written it was so valued that even if we did not possess the early manuscripts almost the entire New Testament could be recreated from the writings of the early church fathers because they quoted so extensively from it. Down through the centuries many have died to keep the scriptures available or to make them available. Through their sacrifice, when the printing press and the Reformation took place the light of scripture brought Europe out of the dark ages.

While not many seem to place that value on the scriptures today and many in our culture would like to see them gone, they will never disappear. Jesus said, 18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18 NKJV). Paul told us, “14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17 NKJV)

Given the importance of the scriptures I want to look at the place they have in our lives and how the wisdom in them is designed to guide our lives. In laying this foundation I will also address the role of the Holy Spirit in relation to scripture. After all, while the book of the Lord is important, the scriptures are designed bring us to the place of encountering Jesus and then keeping us in that place through our adherence to them. Next week I will look at how we keep the two in balance and explain the importance of what Jesus said,

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29 NKJV)