I’ve been thinking still about that sermon last night. There is something beneficial in a sermon I don’t agree with in that it inspires me to look closer at an issue so I can say why I don’t. Of course, if I turn out to be wrong, I will change my mind, but in this case, that hasn’t happened yet.
I was discussing this with some friends after writing the blog last night. I bemoan the fact that our churches just don’t really spend enough time on biblical exegesis. When this sermon was going on, I went through the Bible and did some minor exegesis of the text. Granted, my resources were limited as I had to rely on my memory and I had no portable concordance or Strong’s with me. Still, there is some simple exegesis anyone can do.
I find that whenever I do such things, I enjoy them. It makes me reopen my eyes again to what Scripture really is. It’s a gold mine of information and truth. The texts that are written can often be seen as arguments to state a position and lead someone to believe something. Go read the NT and find where they quote the OT. There’s a reason they did that. It supports an argument.
One aspect of studying that will be to become familiar with the context of the ancients. For instance, at the request of a friend, I am now reading the Brothers Karamazov. Can I understand the basic concepts behind the story and enjoy it? Yes I can. However, my enjoyment would no doubt be increased if I studied Russian culture and knew the names better and the events and the currency and customs of the time period.
The same applies for Scripture. The modern concept of hearing the voice of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit as taught today I just do not find in Scripture. It has become too easy for us to take our modern views and read them back into the Scripture. This has led us down the path of individualism though where each of us become islands unto ourselves. We neglect the way of wisdom when we somehow think it’s biblical for God to do our thinking for us.
What is the way of wisdom then? It is the path laid down in Proverbs that begins with the Fear of the Lord. Wisdom thus begins in just not knowing stuff but living stuff. The truly wise person will also be a moral person. Woe to our intellectuals today who may know a lot of things, but do not know how to live. Read Socrates. This was his main area of interest. He wanted to discuss ethics and living the right life.
This will mean studying the ideas and how we are to live them. In our age of individualism though, I believe we neglect a great source of wisdom as well. Other people. When do we sit down with others and discuss ideas? Proverbs 27:17 tells us that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Do we do that? Do we sit down and discuss with each other and bounce our ideas off? Maybe some conclusions will be wrong, but at least we’ll be learning more about how to think. Of course, if we believe God is telling us what the text means, then we won’t study it. If we believe that the preacher is saying what God put on his heart, then we will treat it as infallable.
No. We need to go back to the text. We need to get away from subjective experiences. Experiences are fine and great, but they are not interpreters of Scripture. We should use Scripture to understand our experiences and interpret them. We should not use experiences to understand and interpret Scripture.
I make the call then. Return to the way of wisdom. Return to seeking truth with all your heart. Realize your feelings are temporary and ebb and flow, but truth is eternal. Fear God and keep his commandments. Follow that seeking and it will lead you to Christ who is the wisdom of God and to be more conformed to his image.