I’ve taken this from a response to a blog article Arguments about the Bible so that it might be easily found by those who search the QnA.
Can you help me to better understand what you mean by “But I say that we don’t need any specific statements to make it or prove it to be true. For the truth is the truth. It only seems complicated to us because we’ve listened far too long to those who have used the Bible as a legal document upon which to form our beliefs.” Specifically, what is the truth and what should my approach be to reading the bible?
Hello Sidney :)
What is the truth, you ask? It is Jesus Christ. Consider what he told his disciples the night before his crucifixion:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6
Is Jesus’ statement true because he said it was true or is it true in and of itself, even before he said it? If we did not have a recording of the events that took place with the disciples, would he still be the truth? Would I be wrong in claiming that he was the truth if I hadn’t read these words? I realize that questions like these can sound very elementary or even nitpicking, but many have disregarded the truth of Christ under the premise that there is no exact statement made that seems to prove it to their own satisfaction.
I remember having a discussion with a Jehovah’s Witness who told me that he would believe what I was telling him about Jesus Christ if I could show him in the Bible where it stated it exactly as I had just said it. I, of course, pointed him to a few verses that pretty much said the same thing, but it was not exact enough for him. It was a setup, and I knew it. There were no exact statements that matched, but I realized that even if I could find a Bible verse that conformed exactly to his request, he would have found another way to disregard it. For him, truth was what you could prove to your own satisfaction.
It was in situations like that where I truly began to understand the nature of religious insincerity that hid under the cover of a seemingly sincere request for truth. Of course, it didn’t feel like I was truly understanding anything at the time, rather, I was feeling quite lost and insecure. Nevertheless, real confidence was growing within me as the deceptions I learned from the world were crumbling before my eyes. The real shocker, however, came in the realization that I had learned to handle the Bible in much the same way the Jehovah’s Witnesses did. After having spent many hours arguing with their emissaries, I came to realize that they stood upon a logical, intellectual, or sensible approach to the Scriptures.
In my own Bible training, I had learned how to study and present the “clear” gospel message. We claimed that the true gospel made sense, and it did, in a religious way. I had even created my own gospel tract (a small handout) where on the front there was a drawing of a man in deep confusion, and on the back the same guy is smiling and saying, “Now, THAT makes sense!” But how does the truth of Christ, that which is in total opposition to the very nature of man’s understanding, make sense?
That’s why I stated that the “clear gospel” makes sense in a religious way. For me, having grown up in a society that recognizes the Bible as having, at least, the possibility of divine authority, I could approach people on the basis its claims. Sure, they might have scoffed, but there was a good chance I could break through with specific statements of assurance of which they were unaware. Those who accept Biblical claims as being the basis of their faith are put upon a path of learning about God by more and more Biblical claims. The conflicts come when those of one group confront those of another group. That’s when they pull out their arsenals of Biblical claims to prove that they have the right understanding.
Why do I tell you all of this in response to your simple question? Because this is how our intellectual-based society approaches “truth,” and this mindset is exactly what needs to be shattered among those who belong to Christ. You asked me how you should approach the Bible, and yet I think the best suggestion I could give you has to do with how not to approach the Bible — which is what that long introduction was all about. You see, those who belong to Christ have the witness of God within them, and that’s why they don’t need any man to teach them. We can testify of the truth to each other, but when it comes down to it, your understanding of truth has been put within you by God himself. And if you find yourself standing upon particular statements of truth, rather than upon the one who is being testified to by the Biblical record, you might want to reevaluate your approach to the Bible.
Well, I’m getting ready to head off to work, so that all I can address for now. Hoping to hear back from you, Sidney.
Still a little confused. Are you saying that the truth of Christ is innate within us. If so, what purpose does the bible serve?
The truth of Christ has indeed been put within us, as Christ himself has been put within us. And yes, I know this can drive us crazy with speculations as to whether we might or might not need the Bible … or each other, for that matter. The Bible is filled with amazing testimonies of the workings of God. It contains the records of God’s faithfulness and promises that he fulfilled in his son.
I’ve observed many responses over the years of this nature. Hey, I’ve had to deal with my own reactions. It’s one thing to read or quote verses that refer to how we don’t need any man to teach us (that’s in 1 John) and another thing to catch a sense of the impact. Consider Paul’s statements to the Corinthians:
For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:10-16
I had read and known these verses for many years before I started to catch on. Can we really read something like But we have the mind of Christ without it somehow undoing our religious perceptions regarding how we know God and the things of God? Here’s the thing about having the mind of Christ in this world: we are being convinced on all sides that this cannot seriously be true. And it doesn’t just come from the outside world, you know, from the unbelievers who want to tear us down, it hits us the hardest when it comes from those who should be encouraging us in the faith. You see, this treasure is found in the most unlikely places, which is in those whom the world despises.
Anyhow, God has sent those who were regarded by the world as unworthy, and he still does the same today. Those who see themselves as worthy in and of themselves and who compare themselves one to another cannot entertain the idea that God speaks through losers. That would be beneath God, wouldn’t it? Nevertheless, it has been through these losers that God “teaches” his truth, and the irony in it all is found when these teachers claim that you do not need any man to teach you, but that it is God who does the real teaching from within.
When I call it irony, I’m also including how the religious world has come to regard the apostles. After all, they are the real saints and holy men, aren’t they? But this is exactly the opposite of how they were regarded when they were alive. Sure, there were always some who stood by them and supported them, but in truth, they were mostly challenged and questioned and despised. When their words are viewed from the perspective of the fleshly religious mind — which they mostly have been viewed by zealous Christians — those words cannot help but become twisted, partly by being put on a higher plane. When we realize that their words are just like the earthen vessels that contain the amazing treasure of Christ, we find value in them.
Why? Because they testify to the truth that has been hidden within us. The testimonies of Christ in the Bible will resonate within our spirits because of the innate mind of Christ. Just because we might discover that we are no longer bound to those words after the manner of the religious mind with its false humility and pretenses of holiness, it doesn’t mean the the declarations made regarding what it is to be alive in Christ will not stir our hearts in the direction of the living witness within us. In the same way, just because our words and encouragements to one another may not be necessary for us to know God, our interactions with one another have much value. The value is life.
It makes no difference to me that most probably think I’m a heretic or a blasphemer for not telling you that the Bible is the way God speaks to mankind, but the words in the Bible don’t support such a claim. Maybe in the former times God spoke through men to the fathers, but now he speaks in his son. And his son is in us. But we are afraid of anything so potent.
We can learn many things through the recorded testimonies in the Bible, but we have also learned many false things under the premise of those legal documents. I encourage you to read the book, knowing full well that it testifies to the life that is found in you. :)