Is the Bible our Owner's Manual?
Whatever God had actually spoken to individuals in times past - whether recorded or not - ultimately testified of Christ, who is the EVERYTHING of God. Somehow, though, our Christian perspective on those collected written words forces them to serve as our textbook or owner's manual or even as that cutesy acrostic made from the word BIBLE proposes: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. I wonder where we get the idea that this is distinctly Christian? How is it then that this mindset instigates the same concepts and reactions in our Christian marketplace as it did with the Jews when Jesus walked among them?
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life ... For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? John 5:39, 40,46-47
You may be familiar with this passage, but did you know what stirred Jesus to say it? There were two things, and they were both connected. The first was based in their lifeless, legal perceptions of the recorded words of God scribed by Moses. The second, because they refused to recognize that the one standing in front of them was the incarnation of Moses' testimony.
For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. John 5:18
The encounter ensued from a faulty assumption and subsequent erroneous judgment based upon a Scriptural imperative regarding the Sabbath. In other words, these guys had Jesus under the official legal microscope of God. And what did it demand to them? They concluded that he was a law-breaker ... and they had written-in-stone by the-hand-of-God proof! The Bible made it clear to these servants of God that Jesus was a man damned by God.
But what about that second piece of evidence?
...but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God...
You know, we think we understand this because we believe a particular doctrine about how Jesus supposedly fits into the Godhead, but their basic objection was only RELATED to their doctrinal views. Consider what triggered the offense. For when Jesus referred to God as father it was an unmistakable claim that his life was the same life that was in God, that he - a man - was an actual partaker of the divine nature. But you see, they were Scripturally positive that such a thing could not be! And what was their confidence in the things of God? Consider Paul's statements about them:
But if you BEAR THE NAME 'Jew' and RELY UPON THE LAW and BOAST in God, and KNOW HIS WILL and APPROVE THE THINGS THAT ARE ESSENTIAL, being INSTRUCTED OUT OF THE LAW, and are CONFIDENT that YOU yourself are a GUIDE to the blind, a LIGHT to those who are in darkness, a CORRECTOR of the foolish, a TEACHER of the immature, having in THE LAW the EMBODIMENT of KNOWLEDGE and of THE TRUTH, Romans 2:17-20
From the doctrine of Bibliology
Canonicity: We believe the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament compose the complete written revelation of God to man.
Do we not realize that the religious leaders of Biblical times were standing upon the same false confidence embedded in today's Christianity? You see, our contemporary Christian authority thinks it is right because it is Christian and because it relies upon the written commands of God, as it claims to speak for Him. This mindset promotes itself as having some kind of insider access to God's will as it determines which are the essentials that make for godly living.
This confidence springs, not from Christ, but from its own stand upon God's legally binding instructions and it convinces those under its tutelage that it serves as a guide and a light because of their inability to live or to see for themselves. This self-professed leadership establishes itself as that which will correct the ignorant masses, and teach the immature. That which has been claimed and perceived as the authority of God over the rest of us does all this because it holds the written documents of God as being the very embodiment of knowledge and of the truth!
The problem is NOT what has been written! I repeat, the problem is NOT found in the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament!! No, the problem stems from the fact that along the way men took it upon themselves to CONTROL the written documents and to formulate which ones belonged to the complete written revelation of God to man so that they might set themselves up as the authorized ones who could determine God's will for the rest of us.
And when I say "they" I have to include that my own past history has continually made it more than obvious to me that I had been caught up in the same fallacy! For I once thought that my grasp of Biblical understanding was the key to God's will - both for me and for those under me - and I had hoped to establish myself as one of the foremost authorities on the Bible.
Ironically, my Biblical interpretations have only served to REMOVE me from any serious consideration by those I once desired to impress! But this is a good thing, for the sobering reality only highlights the truth that I've been down that road and know where it leads. And I simply cannot put any more confidence in those things, or the position, I sought after. I never thought I would say this when I was beginning to have my perceptions shattered, but I have come to thank God time and time again for bringing me through those experiences.
Those who minister life and freedom KNOW that the life of God has already been put within those to whom they minister. It is HE who has made us adequate.
NEXT: What about that complete written revelation of God to man?