..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Don't Underestimate the Word of God

"For the Word of God is quick, and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing
even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and
of the joints and the marrow, and is a
discerner of the thoughts and intents of
the heart"
-- Hebrews 4:12

There seems to be a subtle, or not so subtle,
shift in some current streams of Christianity
to either rework what is traditional
orthodox understanding of what the basics of
our faith are, and to move toward a diminished,
more experience-based view, of the Scriptures.

The "emergent" church has sought to recast
the work and person of Christ, thinking
the idea of God having to cause His Son
to be sacrificed for the sins of the world
is somehow barbaric and punitive. From this
thinking, a psychologically correct "god",
inoffensive to current sensibilities, emerges
in a more rose-colored world.

In streams closer to my own, however, I
see an alarming move away from the use
of Scripture as the standard to judge
spiritual experience by. In place of the
Word of God, an experience based, and
prophecy-based ruler is increasingly

I can tell you one thing for sure: things
are changing fast! The nostalgic, predictable
world of Ward, June, and Beaver Cleaver is clearly
past. We who have lamented that the western
world is spiritually too antiseptic and
bookish, will soon see a society that
is filled with every kind of supernatural
and soulish activity imaginable. For better
or worse, third world spirituality is coming
to a neighborhood near you!

How will we judge what is of God unless we
hold to the Word of God?

Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the Word of God is
quick, and powerful, and sharper than any
two-edged sword, piercing even to the
dividing asunder of soul and spirit and
of the joints and the marrow, and is a
discerner of the thoughts and intents of
the heart."

I totally agree that we cannot correctly read
and understand the written Word of God unless
we are aided by the Spirit of God. I totally
agree that reading it apart from the Spirit
of God can turn the text into a dry lunch,
that will make us prone to legalism,
but that is not a problem with the Word,
but with our availability and submissiveness
to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus became the Word made flesh. He became
the Living Word of God, but He Himself said
that He did not come to abolish the Law but
to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). Ah, but here is
were the slope starts to become quite slippery.
When Jesus was presented in the temple, Simeon
prophesied that "this child is set forth for the fall
and rising again of many in Israel" (Luke 2:34).

Who Jesus Christ really is, is a great divider.
We shall all stand or fall on our ability to
discern Him. We shall all ourselves be discerned
and divided as either a goat or a sheep,
either as a son or as an impostor.

As the Living Word, Christ is able to "divide
soul from spirit and discern the thoughts and
intents of man." On one hand the Pharisaical
will stumble over Him, but on the other hand,
so shall the lawless and those who abandon
the warnings signs that Scripture holds out
to us. Many shall slam against the
rocks of undiscerned, soulish experience.

In the past, people have tried to use the Word to make
their cases. Both "sides" might even use the same
verses to "prove" their point. That
has had its own issues, but at least people
agreed that the Bible has the authority
to address matters of faith. But now it is further
complicated by using prophecy and experience
to judge whether something is of God. "I have had
an extraordinary experience, how can it not be
of God?" "The prophet has said so, who can disagree?"
"The bible? how old-school is that? We have a 'new

But have the prophet and the experience been
subjected to and judged by the Word of God?
The Old Testament is rife with examples of
prophets, even groups of prophets, that agreed
with each other, but were not prophets of God!
(Ezekiel 13, Jeremiah 23:30ff;Isaiah 56:10, 11)
Throughout the Old and New Testaments it was
commonly understood that unusual spiritual activity
did not necessarily have its origin in God.

Dear ones, like it or not, our hearts will be
judged by the Word of God. What is hidden in our
inward parts will be exposed to the piercing
light of the Word of God. And trust me, that
will not be an academic, intellectual piercing.
Who you are will be discerned and divided.

We can redevelop Jesus in our own image, paint
Him in hues that suit us, announce Him to be
here and there and everywhere and yet it may
be "another" Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4), a figment of our
imagination, a doctrine of devils, and not the
Christ revealed to us through the "old-fashioned"
Word of God. Do you think that you cannot be
deceived? I urge you to think about that Day when
you will stand before God and He will show what
is in your heart.

The written Word of God keeps us from straying
too far into the realm of hearsay, opinion
and the false and fickle winds of change. It is a
constant that we can come back to. It has stood
before us and will stand long after us. There is that
magnificent passage in Isaiah 40: "The voice
said, "Cry." And he said, "What shall I cry?"...
All flesh is grass, and all its goodness is
as the flower of the field...the grass withers
the flower fades, but the Word of our God shall
stand forever
" (Isaiah 40:6,8).

We cannot throw away our reliance on a solid
understanding of the Word of God. Reading
a bit here and there will not do. Using one
verse to prove something will not do. Taking
things out of context will not do. Adding
things to it will not do. Subtracting things
from it will not do. The written Word of
God gives us a clear picture of who God is.
The Spirit, of course, must illumine us,
but He will never contradict Himself.

The goal of our lives should be to enter
into a knowledge of and obedience to God
AS HE IS--not as we think He is, not as
we would like Him to be, not as others
say He is. We can be greatly aided by a
conscience that is not seared (1 Tim 1:19),
but even that is not a foolproof way of
judging whether we know something is of
God. Even if our hearts do not condemn us,
God is greater than our hearts. We can think
we are right and still be wrong. This should
sober us greatly.

We need to be a people of the Word
and of the Holy Spirit. We need to be
a holy people, seeking God alone,
and not anything apart from Him--
not healing, not spiritual experience,
not signs and wonders, not even
if an "angel" comes and tells us to.

The Word of God is undiminished. It
WILL discern your heart. It will divide
that which is of soul from that which
is of the Holy Spirit within you. Don't
underestimate it. All flesh is as grass
but the Word of our God shall stand

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