Why is Scripture so important? Is it relevant today? How so? How can I understand what it means, not just what it says, especially when so many people claim to have exclusive and correct interpretation? Why does it seem that Scripture causes more division than unity in the Spirit?
These are only some of the many questions I had asked myself. I had a strong desire to know God through Christ. But, I saw lots of inconsistency spread across hundreds of denominations.
I spoke to people who were absolutely dedicated to their denomination, but couldn't explain from Scripture why they believed what they believed. I spoke to people who left their denominations that they grew up in because they couldn't believe the hypocrisy, or even cruelty, between what members said and what members did. I've met people who switched denominations because one emphasized rules when they desperately needed grace and love. I've met a few that felt love in action towards humanity was more important than biblical doctrine which caused bitterness and separation.
I decided to trust God's word that He had a specific message to He wanted to communicate to all members of the body of Christ. I discovered just how consistent was God's word. So I held the word of God over what popular churches were holding onto as the correct application.
Like the noble Bereans, I studied the Scriptures to see if what they were saying was true as described in Acts 17:10-12. Only I was under the teachings of a pastor who was not attached to any denomination (not even the non-denominational denomination). Of course, in this section of Scripture what Paul was teaching was correct and accurate.
However, what was I to do if I found something a denomination or specific church was teaching turned out to contradict Scripture? Well, I found such cases, and it was actually quite clear what the Scriptures were teaching differently and why. That's when I decided to make the word of God the authority I would trust and rely on. I also learned from Scripture that this was exactly His prescribed method in getting to know doctrine, Christ, Him (the Father), as well as His eternal plan.
- First in a Series of Devotions About the Word of God
- Are They Just Words on a Page?
- Isn't it Good Enough to Live by the 'Golden Rule'?
- Why Study It?
- Consider the Source
- A Good Interlude!
Can clear and simple answers come from Scripture for important questions, even basic or complex questions? I used to think not. Instead, I started collecting books for every question or topic I had: how to pray, how to know Jesus, what is faith, etc.
I thought the scholars had it right and I had it wrong. There would be no way I could understand Scriptures unless I went through similar seminary and experiential training, in addition to being gifted as an eloquent preacher. Scriptures sounded so sophisticated yet complicated, or so simple yet profound, from the pulpit. No wonder I needed the English Major with the Masters or PhD in divinity to interpret the Scriptures for me.
But, after years of focused study of the Bible (with help from others not attached to any particular denomination, which I came to see as likely having an agenda for that religious organization), I learned Scriptures indeed had clear simple answers. It was only the interwoven religious agenda that made it complicated.
I wouldn't say all Christian denominations are worthless. But, some are certainly more helpful than others in using the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit as a guide to come to the understanding of the truth by which God draws people to Him, and then sanctifies Christians to be transformed.
For religious organizations, having an agenda meant having to twist Scriptures to fit their conclusions. In most cases, it was either about a previous administration of God, such as what was specific to Israel as if it now applies unchanged to Christians, or it was so loosely tied to Scripture that is was more about humanity and producing the fruits of the Spirit on our own.
Whatever didn't fit neatly was written off as the mysterious ways of God. Or, we as clay were unable, even disrespectful, to ask the Potter (God), "Why did you make me thus?" In worse case scenarios, the religious organizations would use guilt and shame to get its members to submit in unquestionable obedience. Some of these are we might call cults.
The hardest part about getting to the clear simple answers found in Scripture was unlearning the religious training I had received from these religious organizations. I had to learn to throw away beliefs I formerly help if they no longer fit what God was communicating in His word. Here are some basic questions I had asked to understand how truth can come from Scripture apart from religious organizations. Hopefully, you will be persuaded to trust in the word of God where it differs from the religious teachings you may have received.
- What is Truth?
- Where Does Truth Come From?
- How Does Anyone Get Truth?
- Where Do I Start?
- Can't We Generally Agree?
The first step is a baby step: Salvation. God wants all people to be saved (1 Tim 2:4), yet many will refuse to believe Him. Either they think it's too easy (since God did all the work), or they think it's too hard (they falsely believe that discussions about behavior are about earning or maintaining salvation).
Here are some foundational lessons from Scripture about the reality of Salvation. I would encourage anyone reading this to search the Scriptures and test to see if these things are true.
- Saved? Saved From What?
- Why Do I Need to Be Saved?
- How Can I Be Saved?
- What Does It Mean to Be Saved?
- What Does it Mean to "Work Out Your Own Salvation"?
- Who Can Be Saved?
- What About Personal Sins?
- What Are the Prerequisites for Salvation?
- How Does Getting Saved Differ in the Old and New Testament Periods?
- Is Salvation Permanent?
Four More on Salvation
Here are some random posts using Scripture about the reality of Salvation. I would also encourage anyone reading this to search the Scriptures and test to see if these things are true.
- Can a Person's Lifestyle Condemn Them?
- This Marvelous Journey into God's Hand and Heart
- How Did I Get Lost in the First Place?
- What's Become of You in Christ?
- Know the Love of Christ that Surpasses Knowledge
Married to Christ
After salvation, which is the first step, a moment in time and then it is done, the next step is living the Christian life by growing in grace and in the knowledge of truth (1 Tim 2:4).
There are many important distinctions here that also explain why the NT talks about performance and rewards when neither exist in salvation by grace. After salvation, we are expected, but not required, to live a life worthy of the calling you have received (Eph 4:1).
Here are some thoughts from Scripture about this aspect of our unique calling as Christians.
- Married to Christ (Part 1 of 7)
- Married to Christ (Part 2 of 7)
- Married to Christ (Part 3 of 7)
- Married to Christ (Part 4 of 7)
- Married to Christ (Part 5 of 7)
- Married to Christ (Part 6 of 7)
- Married to Christ (Part 7 of 7)
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)