Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Scriptures Are Clear: The Bible Is Not The Only Way We Can Know God

Does the Bible really say that the only way to know God is through the Scriptures? You might be surprised at the answer.

 In the ongoing conversation about the identity of the “Word of God” and differences between the Bible and Christ, we often hear reactions that sound something like this:

“You cannot know Christ apart from the scriptures. Everything we know about Christ comes to us from the bible.”

That sounds right, doesn’t it? I mean, how else could we know anything about God or about Jesus apart from the Bible? (Right?)

But, if we look to the Bible to support this notion we might be in for a little surprise. 

As we look deeper we run across verses that suggest something a lot more breath-taking than what we might have expected.

For example, the Gospel of John tells us that “The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) and that this same Word of God is Jesus (John 1:1) and now Jesus (the Word of God) lives within every one of us who abides in Him (John 15:4).

So, if the Word of God is Jesus, and if Jesus now lives within me, then I have the Word of God inside of me. 

This means we can know Christ the way we know our own voice, or our own heartbeat, because He is alive within us.

The Scriptures also tell us that we “have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) right now and that we can discern “the things that come from the Spirit of God…because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:15) and this Spirit is now alive within us.

Jesus also affirms to us that we can hear His voice and that He, as the Good Shepherd, is more than capable of making Himself heard:

“I am the Good Shepherd and my sheep hear my voice” (See John 1:1-16)

So, not only can we all hear our Master’s voice individually, we are also empowered by the Holy Spirit who “leads us into all truth” (John 16:13), as Jesus promised us.

The Apostles also affirmed these same ideas by pointing to the evidence of the Holy Spirit within us as proof that we belong to Christ and that we can know the truth apart from anything else:

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” (1 John 2:27)

The anointing every Christian has received is from the Holy Spirit and this anointing teaches us about all things.
Now, does any of this mean we don’t need the Bible? Far from it. 

I mean, why wouldn’t we avail ourselves of the all the treasures provided for us in the Scriptures? That would be unnecessarily foolish.  

But my point is this: According to the Bible, we can know God, and Christ, by the indwelling Spirit of the Living God within us.

This is what the Bible teaches us about how we primarily know God and Christ and the Truth: By the Spirit of God.

So, according to the Bible, everything we know about Christ comes from Christ. Yes, some of it does come from the Bible, (and that of course comes from Christ, too), but even more wisdom and truth is available to us directly from the One who lives and breathes within us on a daily basis.

I think that’s worth at least one big “Halleluiah!” Don’t you?

Are you ready for a little more excitement? This is all exactly what the New Covenant is all about.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34; emphasis mine)

Notice that the result of this New Covenant would be that God’s people would not turn to teachers for wisdom about God because “My law (will be) within them and on their heart I will write it” and because “they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them”.

When these words were written it sounded like science fiction. How could God do this? What would it be like to have God’s Law written on our hearts? What would it be like not to depend on teachers to know God? How amazing would it be if everyone who belonged to God knew Him so intimately?

Now, today, because of Christ’s accomplishment and fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, the Holy Spirit has been poured out on all flesh. We, right now, are those people that Jeremiah prophesied about. 

We are the people who now have God’s Law written on our hearts. We are the people who are now empowered by the Spirit of the Living God to “Know the Lord” because we can all know Him, “from the least to the greatest.”

Doesn’t that excite you? Isn’t that great news?

How sad would it be to live in such a time as this and not take advantage of such a wonderful gift from God?

Jesus declared this New Covenant in His blood. We remember His death and Covenant with us every time we eat the bread and drink the cup. Why stop there? Why not continue onward to claim the promises that come with this New Covenant reality? Why not listen for the voice of our Good Shepherd and learn to “Know the Lord” in this one-on-one way?

In fact, if we don’t live this way, we are actually choosing to live an Old Covenant life and to embrace and Old Covenant kind of faith rather than a truly Christ-centered life and faith that leads us to life and grace and truth.

Jesus was quick to remind us that we have no need of any other teacher except Him:

"Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah" (Matt.23:10)

Please don’t miss this, my friend. It was for freedom that Christ has set you free from the Old Covenant kind of life. The opportunity to know God intimately and to hear the voice of Jesus directly is wide open to you now.

The Lord is available to you. Listen for His voice. 



C J Garrett said...

Thank you for this beautiful exposition on The Word of God as known by The Spirit of Truth. My heart aches for those who are bound by the chains of written revelation. There is so much more to know and see and appreciate. Thank you for explaining it so well. Ceejay Garrett

Michael Humber said...

I agree.
Maturity causes us to hear Christ clearly. Unrenewed minds can cause believers to hear other voices. So here is a problem. There are folks saying things that violate scripture directly that they believe comes from the Spirit of God.
Also truthfully, none of us are completely mature, though we have the capacity to be. So there are times that we hear something, but is it from God's Spirit? I think there are other times we know.
I don't believe Paul lives on this plane, so I don't believe the Spirit speaking through him addresses every specific thing we deal with exactly. But I believe the principle applies and there is 'nothing new under the sun' so somewhere it is in the Bible even if hidden.
There are many charismatics who believe that they don't need to look or follow Bible too much. If you talk to them, their faith is in both men and experience many times, though I don't discount that many of them know Christ. I also seen the shipwrecks in their lives of problems when they are led astray.
So you have people that are only about the Bible and those who are only about supranatural experience. I must confess I've seen problems in both groups. I feel both comfortable and uncomfortable in both groups. And I'm not saying any of us are perfect. All of us make mistakes one way or another. Pure motives is key and so is wisdom. If I examine and anything is not coming from agape, I'm wary or I flat reject it.