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.