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Monday, July 15, 2013

Meat anyone?

You may have heard it said that people will believe anything they are told. Sadly, this is often the case as it comes to what we believe about our faith. Some never really go to the Word, examine it for themselves, and see if the "truth" they are hanging their hat on is really the truth at all!  Jesus often commended those who tested their faith by examining it against the Word. The Apostle Paul commended the Bereans for taking his teachings right back to their homes, discussing them with each other, examining the Word they had been given up to the time of the New Testament church and then throwing out anything which didn't line up.  I kind of liken this to chewing up the meat, discarding the bones and grizzle, and then allowing the meat to provide the nourishment we need to grow.

Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.  (2 Timothy 3:14-17 MSG)

Paul told Timothy to be on his guard because he would encounter those who would attempt to exploit the faith.  In other words, they would use the teaching of the Word to exploit their followers - telling them just enough truth to get them to buy into their schemes.  This has been the sad course throughout all of time - for in every untruth there is just enough truth to get us to "buy into" it.  If we know this up front, we might just approach "truth" a little differently - not always believing just because it comes from a "reputable" source.  The important thing to keep in mind is our ability to take any portion of teaching we are exposed to and then go immediately to the Word, relying upon the Holy Spirit to either confirm or deny it.  This is why it is so important for us to have a solid set of core values - things we have learned from the Word which help us have a "measuring stick" whereby we can even begin to see if teaching measures up.

One thing you have heard me say over and over again - you cannot take scripture out of context.  In other words, you need the entirety of the Word to evaluate the teaching you hear.  This very idea is what is missing in so many cults or religious organizations today.  There is the "element" of truth, surrounded by just enough "untruth" so as to dupe folks into believing a lie.  As long as the truth part is there, people will follow - expose the untruth and people are less likely to "drink the Kool-Aid", so to speak.

According to Hebrews 4:12-13, the Word of God is a pretty powerful tool in the hands of anyone skilled in its use:  God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what. (MSG)  Truthfully, the only "impartial" tool we have for evaluating truth is truth itself!  Opinion will always steer us wrong, for opinion is based on what we "feel" rather than what we know to be true.

The only way for the Word to be effective in keeping us safe is for it to get into us.  In other words, we need a regular and consistent intake of it in order to develop some "safety" in how it is we make our choices in life.  Guard rails on a windy road are there not so much to allow you to bump off them and stay on the road, but to remind you of the dangers of getting too close to the edge.  The Word is like that when it has a place deep in our core.  It reminds us we are getting too close to the edge and pulls us back to center again.

All the scripture wasn't written just to have a record of God's work throughout time.  In fact, it was written for us to have a perspective of God's love, his mercy, and his work of grace in the lives of those he calls his own.  It is written for our learning - to give us right perspective.  Apart from getting into the Word, we just go along on a course which is haphazard and rather riddled with wasteful activity.  The Word refines us - freeing us from whatever is not worth holding onto in life.  Maybe this is what the Bereans had learned - to let go of the stuff which really doesn't matter and to hold onto the truth because of what it gave back into their lives.

I don't know about you, but whenever I get into the Word long enough, my rebellion begins to show up pretty plainly.  The things which cause me the greatest amount of struggle seem to surface.  Why is that?  It is the "job" of the Word to expose these areas - it is the "work" of the Holy Spirit to show me how God wants to change them.  Just sayin!