In doing some research on the first few verses of Genesis, I discovered that there are SIX predominant theories regarding the creation story. It never occurred to me that there could be so many different ways to interpret the simplest verses in the Bible. If there is this kind of disagreement regarding the creation of the heaven and earth, think about the multitude of beliefs there must be concerning every other part of the Bible. It is actually quite amazing that there is any unity of belief among Bible believing people.
Personally, I fail to see why there is a problem in allowing the Bible to speak for itself. Call me "old fashioned", fundamentalist or whatever; but I happen to believe that the Word of God is the will of God. I believe that if humans quit trying to read into the Word of God their personal preferences, desires and fears; then the beauty of the simplicity of God's wonderful Word can shine as a beacon of light and dispel the darkness of ignorance and error.
Man's basic spiritual problem is the integrity of God's Word. Does God really say what He means and mean what He says. The happiest, most fulfilled and peaceful people I have ever met in this life have been those who, with great humility, simply read the Word of God and believe it. I have met people who have so much training in Greek and Hebrew that it is impossible for them to simply read the Word of God and do what it says. They feel compelled to tear apart every word, phrase and verse looking at every nuance of meaning from every book in their library.
I love reading the Word of God and I also love Biblical research. When I have some extra time, instead of wasting it watching television or playing a worthless game, I like to pull out my books and "work" a verse or a small section of God's Word. This to me is pure bliss. I can think of nothing I enjoy more than doing a simple word study from the Bible. Because I love God, I want to know and understand His Word. This is my motivation to read, study and work the Word of God.
When I was growing up, there were not many other kids in the neighborhood. Television was something I was rarely allowed to watch. There were no computers or video games. I was forced to find my own forms of entertainment. I played basketball pretending to be both teams for hours on end. I dug holes in our back yard and made a golf course complete with flags in the holes. I played with my dog Taffy every day for at least an hour. In the winter and evenings I made up dice baseball games and kept statistics on the players and teams. When it snowed, I would make an Olympiad out of the yard and pretended to do Olympic events. I was never bored for I made up new things to keep me amused.
Some might say I had an overactive imagination, perhaps I did, but at least I used my mind to do things instead of sitting around being entertained by someone else. As I got older and more mature, the ability to find personal entertainment in DOING things instead of being entertained helped me develop my love for Biblical research. It also helped me develop my love for having a big garden, mowing grass, trimming trees and "chores". I honestly feel badly for so many youth (and adults) I see today who have no idea how to entertain themselves or how to enjoy simple things like working outside.
I question the wisdom of urging people to only learn through receiving teachings. This type of passive learning breeds laziness and hinders the ability of people to think for themselves. When the apostle Paul went to Berea in Acts 17:11 the Bible says:
"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Sitting in Church listening to someone teach and preach the Bible is an essential part of spiritual growth. But, personal time in the scriptures is just as necessary as structured teachings. In some ways it is needed more. I believe God wants His people to not just sit back and listen to His Word being taught, but to actively read, study and meditate upon it day and night.
Who did David have to "teach" him during those awful times when he lived in caves hiding from Saul? It was during some of those darkest hours that David was inspired to write many of the Psalms we can enjoy today. Not only do we need time to receive the Word through teachings and personal study; we need time to retain the Word of God through "meditating upon it day and night" as David speaks of. I love to work outside and think about the Word of God I had read or studied earlier. We all need time to think, and that is an extremely difficult thing to find in our hectic day and time.
If more people spent more time reading and thinking about the Word of God, I believe we would have far fewer denominations and more unity of the faith. People tend to become conditioned to go to church and simply hear what they are taught to believe. This, I believe, is a dangerous path to go down. It leads to the "I'm right, you're wrong" attitude that has prevailed in denominational Christianity for centuries. Unity is impossible to attain if one is always telling the other; "you're wrong".
I believe when our Lord Jesus looks down from heaven and sees His body splintered into 39,000 different denominations, sects and factions; he just bows his head and cries. This IS NOT why He gave His life. God made Jesus Christ the head of His body. If the individual members of the body would simply yield to the HEAD, then the body could work together instead of against itself.
Can you imagine if every member of your body decided to do whatever it felt like doing, irrespective of what the brain commanded it to do? Your body would be as worthless as a bag of flour. Nothing constructive could ever be done, for individual members would be too busy fighting each other. For the human body to function correctly, it must be coordinated. Certain horrible diseases render people totally uncoordinated. These unfortunate people cannot live without constant assistance.
The early Church saw incredible things due in large part to the fact that they operated with unity of purpose and of one accord. The apostle Paul was attempting to get the Philippi believers to understand this when he wrote much of the epistle of Philippians. Specifically, in chapter 2, please allow me to quote from the Williams translation Philippians 2:1-4:
"So, if there is any appeal in our union with Christ, if there is any persuasive power in love, if we have any common share in the Spirit, if you have any tenderheartedness and sympathy,
Fill up my cup of joy by living in love, your hearts beating in unison, your minds set on one purpose.
Stop acting from motives of selfish strife or petty ambition, but in humility practice treating one another as your superiors.
Stop looking after your own interests only but practice looking out for the interests of others too."
What a beautiful vision; "your hearts beating in unison and your minds set on one purpose"! But, to ever get there entails setting aside ambition and with great humility treating others as your superiors. That is one tall order in our current culture. Yet, if we could all somehow swallow that watermelon of pride we are choking on, then we could humbly treat each other as our superior.
Unity of purpose ultimately becomes available when people stop thinking only of themselves and start looking out for the interests of others also. The starting point for this kind of humility is to accept the fact that the sun does not revolve around us, but we are to put God's Son in the middle of our lives and let our lives revolve around Him. Amen.
Pretty awesome! I'd like to point out though that spiritual complacency isn't just a function of the 20th century. The pharisees and saducees were learned men and missed ALL the signs of the Messiah's coming! And even as He performed the prophesied miracles in their midst, they argued with Him!
thank you my brother this and your last 2 blogs haven been very encouraging. i can remember when i use to as a child go out in the backyard of my apartment building and play with my tonka road grader and with popsickle sticks make roads for my matchbox cars.i even remember getting bored and reading encyclepedias and telephone books. when i tellmy daughter about how we grew up without and before cable tv,she says dad how did yall survive? i say we went outside and played with our friends and used our imaginations..after my sunday sermons and bible study and daily devotions, i dig into the word even more according to 2 timonthy 3.bless you my brother
Amen to that! This was a great blog and very interesting to read. It's sad to see that people can't just read the Word of God as it is and accept it. They need to break apart each and every little thing and I think because of this they miss the big picture. Bible study is great and essential, we should delve into the texts, but some people do it in an unhealthy way.