Serious Series

Why Scripture?

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. Instead, they explained their associations to people, events, and experiences outside of Scripture. 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 even met people who switched denominations or left church and religion altogether because those organized religions emphasized rules when what people desperately needed was grace and love, not performance standards and shame. I met a few who felt taking positive action towards some humanitarian or social/political was more important than biblical doctrine, and observed the latter just caused bitterness and separation. Were they right? What was God's perspective?

I personally decided to trust God's word. I chose to believe He had a specific message to He wanted to communicate to all members of the body of Christ. More than that, this message was distinct from messages of positivity applicable to anyone that even unbelievers would quote, such as, "be more kind than necessary." It was then when I diligently sought to know God through His word that I began to discover just how consistent was God's word. So, I held the word of God over what popular churches were holding onto as their one and only correct interpretation and 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. I listened to the teachings of a pastor who was not attached to any denomination, not even the "non-denominational" denomination. He seemed to raise more questions than he answered, but that only kept me hungry for God's word, not his, or any other person's word. Eventually, gradually, along with my humility, the Spirit of Truth, as the Holy Spirit is called in John 16, was able to get me to see the simple yet profound truth, a powerful truth and absolute grace others had backed away from.

What was I to do when I found some doctrine a denomination or religious church was teaching turned out to contradict Scripture? Well, I found such cases. It was actually quite clear the Scriptures were teaching something different and why. It was reasonable, even logical. I decided to humble myself and let the word of God correct me. I had to unlearn the lessons of man: the organized rituals, religious dogma, and traditions I had mistaken for God's thoughts.

I decided to make the word of God the one and only authority I would trust and rely on, even if I didn't have all the answers yet. If I heard something new, I wouldn't assimilate it until it was clear to me in Scripture. If I couldn't find it in Scripture, I would either put it on pause or reject it altogether. 

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. I saw with the eyes of my heart that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were hidden in Christ, and that the Scriptures were shining a bright light on them, and had been, so I, too, could experience the fullness of Christ.
  1. First in a Series of Devotions About the Word of God
  2. Are They Just Words on a Page?
  3. Isn't it Good Enough to Live by the 'Golden Rule'?
  4. Why Study It?
  5. Consider the Source
  6. A Good Interlude!
  7. Rest

Scripture Q&A

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, how do Christians live, 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.
  1. What is Truth?
  2. Where Does Truth Come From?
  3. How Does Anyone Get Truth?
  4. Where Do I Start?
  5. Can't We Generally Agree?

Salvation 101

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.
  1. Saved? Saved From What?
  2. Why Do I Need to Be Saved?
  3. How Can I Be Saved?
  4. What Does It Mean to Be Saved?
  5. What Does it Mean to "Work Out Your Own Salvation"?
  6. Who Can Be Saved?
  7. What About Personal Sins?
  8. What Are the Prerequisites for Salvation?
  9. How Does Getting Saved Differ in the Old and New Testament Periods?
  10. 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.
  1. Can a Person's Lifestyle Condemn Them?
  2. This Marvelous Journey into God's Hand and Heart
  3. How Did I Get Lost in the First Place?
  4. What's Become of You in Christ?
  5. 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). 

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)