16 Mar 2008

Can we know Christ apart from the written word?

Submitted by theshovel
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Hi Jim. It's been awhile since I've written. Are you well? It's lunch time and I just read your article, Shadow of Biblical Proportions, and have a question. You wrote about the Law being a shadow, but how do you view the Gospels and epistles of the apostles - still a shadow of the Christ? If so, then how does one really know Christ apart from what these records say? Is it possible for one to know Christ in truth apart from these? Love in Christ, Tim

Hello Timmy! :)

The Law being a shadow has more to do with the Law itself. Of course, that means that many thing written in the OT present shadows of Christ. The apostles wrote about the coming of the reality. Then again, that same sense of oldness found in all the the Bible, as it has come to us, often comes across as the letter that kills. But no, I don't see the writings of the apostles as being written as shadows at all. Still, our knowing of the truth comes through the Spirit of Christ ... because he is in us. Sometimes this comes in connection with what we read in the written testimonies of the apostles, even though it is not at all restricted to it. After all, what is it that we REALLY know? Is it not love itself? Is it not freedom itself? Is it not life?

Jim :)

What do you mean by this, Jim - "But consider how often a Biblical testimony has been used as a springboard of some marvelous reality of Christ that can't be matched up with a particular statement in the Bible." Tim

For years I sat through many sermons and classes where preachers and teachers started with a Biblical verse or passage and proceeded to "glean" something of this amazing grace that wasn't necessarily in the passage itself. I can't think of any particular examples at the moment, but I do remember thinking here and there that either I or the preacher moved beyond what was explicitly written and saw something living ... something that the reality of Christ's life out of death could substantiate but could be questioned if scrutinized with a legal eye. Can you not remember ever thinking something like this?

What do you mean by saying that "Christ himself is our validation?" and how do we lean on God for our validation? Tim

Realize that I am in no way disputing or downplaying the written record, wherein statements about our validation are clearly made. However, those claims are based upon something ... something real, something substantial. They are based upon Christ and what he has done, what he continues to do. We've just gotten so used to using the statements as our validation we easily miss how the statements declare that Christ IS the validation. HE is our justification, HE is our sanctification, HE is our satisfaction, HE is our life. How do we lean on him? How do we not? We are in him, he IS where we rest.

You say, "After all, the message of the cross is all about what has been done for us and in us" and "yet they (the words we have heard about this message) were mostly meaningless to me until such time that my ears were opened to hear them?" I agree, they were meaningless to me at once too, but that does not mean they were meaningless. For they were full of meaning because they were true. It's just my receiver was broken, if you will. Tim

You're straining too hard here. You acknowledged what I meant when you wrote, "I agree, they were meaningless TO ME at once too...", but then you went on to argue with someone else when you added, "...but that does not mean they were meaningless." How did you ever make my words suggest that?

You say, "I think we've learned to claim that we just put Biblical truth into our own words because we've been afraid of speaking on our own." Yet, is Biblical truth any different than "our own". Tim

You leave the truth of Christ-in-us out of the equation when you ask me this. :)

You wrote, "The message of God's love for us through Christ is the message of God's love for us. Whether it was passed down verbally or in written form - or was received in a vision or a dream - it is still the same message. If Christ is in us then the freedom is in us." I agree, yet how can we tell someone that Christ died for them, if it cannot be proven that He did? Not that the Bible proves it to a person who does not believe. I think you know what I mean here. But I think my big question is this, Does it make any difference if the story of Christ is true, as it is recorded in the Bible, for one to really experience Him? For if the story is just made up, then so is our experience. We are only thinking wishfully, are we not? Tim

Jesus Christ either did die for us or he did not. If it is written that he did, when in fact he didn't, then we would be lying by standing upon what is written. However, if he did die for us, and yet we had lost the record of that death, would it not still be true? If we spoke it because God told us in a vision, even though we couldn't "prove" it, would we not in fact be telling the truth? If a blind man heard the truth of Christ's death and resurrection, would it not still be true even though he could not actually read it for himself but had to trust the fact that people told him that it was written? If the story is true, then it is true ... even if it had not been written, or if it had once been written but lost through time. Neither the writing nor the speaking of it does not make it any more true that what it really is, does it? If the story is made up then we are indeed fools.

"If Christ is in us then love is in us. If Christ is in us then love is in us. How do we know it? We live it." But, what if He is not really in us?" Tim

If he is not in us then he is not in us.

"Any encouragement we receive, whether through the recorded words of the apostles or through anyone or anything else, reverberates within the life that is in us." Jim, you know as well as I that there are those who say what they believe (not Christ) reverberates within them. But does it mean what they believe is true? Tim

Many people say many things. Only what is true is true.

"I don't deny that the apostles declared the truth of the gospel in their writings, however, considering how many different (that is, false) gospels have based their teachings on that same Bible it would have to be realized that God must in some way "speak" to those who rely upon the words of that Bible in order for them to break free from the knowledge of bondage, don't you think? :)" Jim, I did not quite follow your thinking on this one. Tim

Many people say they only believe what the Bible says, and yet many of these people are so dominated by law, and sin through law, that they in no way believe what the Bible actually says. It would seem it takes something other than the Bible to validate and make known what the Bible really says. :)

Thanks again for writing, Jim. Tim

You are welcome, my brother! :)

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theshovel's picture

Copied over from old site

Posted: Mar-21-11 at 10:06am by Adam
Some EXCELLENT, down to the nitty gritty questions here!

I loved your response Jim, for it was coming from a place of faith.


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