What’s The Point?

Why are we living the Christian life? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I saw one of my Facebook friends had a status where she was told by someone else that her time in Bible College being educated in the Bible was a waste. After all, will that help you to go to Heaven? I hate to say it, but I have encountered this attitude many times before. It’s a dangerous problem for the church.

I could focus a lot on the point that the Bible doesn’t really talk so much about going to Heaven as it does about the resurrection and the Kingdom of God, but that’s another point. The problem is that our Christianity today has made the goal of life be to get to Heaven. Unfortunately, in our descriptions, getting to Heaven seems to be the goal and God is often kind of secondary there.

What is the relationship between God and Heaven? Few people seem to think about this. That’s because few of us seem to really think about God anymore. Well, that is aside from thinking about all the stuff He ought to be doing for us. Isn’t it strange we don’t think as much about all that we should be doing for Him? God is often seen as someone there just to meet our needs.

This also causes us to ignore this world. I still think back to what one lady said in a Bible Study I was at with a church we used to attend. “I’m saved and my children are saved so we’re just waiting for Jesus to come.” Apparently, their Bible said, “You’re saved, but if you want to you can go into all nations and spread the Gospel, or you can just wait until I return one day.” Yes. Jesus needs to return to relieve our suffering, but what are we going to do for the suffering of others meanwhile?

Sadly, an education is often seen as a threat. Couldn’t your learning get in the way of knowing God? I did write about this in an earlier post. To say that it is is like saying “I want to be married to my wife, I just don’t want to waste time on all that stupid stuff like getting to know her as a person. Oh yes. I want to make sure that she also has plenty of sex with me.” Of course, most any husband will want plenty of sex, but what would we think of the man who wanted it absent of really knowing who his wife is as a person? Such a person is essentially just using his wife to meet his own desires. Are we guilty of doing that with God?

It’s easy for us to sit back and talk about all that God owes us. Let’s make it simple. What does He owe you? He only owes you that which He’s already promised He will give you. If He has not promised it, He does not owe it. He doesn’t owe you perfection this side of eternity. He doesn’t owe you feeling good about yourself every day. He doesn’t owe you money or fame or anything else? Now let’s reverse the question. What do you owe God? You owe Him everything you have and it’s the selfish tendency of you and me to want to hold on to things that we have no rights to as if our true happiness is found apart from God. Of course, God gives us many things that can help bring us some happiness, but none of these will bring us ultimate happiness. When we start treating them like they will, they become idols and they quickly become our masters. (This is called addiction in extreme cases.)

The sad part is a greater education could help with this. One of the greatest boosts of mine to Christian living is to know the things that I believe and why and what a difference they make. Christianity has something to say about every aspect of life. It speaks about money, leisure, sex, friends, family, etc. Nothing I do is untouched by Christianity, or at least it shouldn’t be.

When we fail in our evangelistic duties and start thinking about how Christianity can help us, we become increasingly self-centered. For all of us, our tendency is to look out for #1. Aren’t we all thankful Jesus didn’t do that? Had Jesus done that, the crucifixion would not have happened. Jesus chose willing suffering to bring about redemption and the glory of God. Many of us think we can reach the glory by bypassing the suffering. It just won’t happen. The Bible regularly connects suffering with righteousness. We often connect it with the idea that we’re not living Christianity right.

I applaud my friend for wanting to have a greater education in the Bible. I wish we all did. We have too many sermons and Bible studies where we skip straight to the question of “What does the text mean to my life and how do I apply it right now?” instead of asking what the text meant to them and about the situation when it was written. We will not properly understand the latter without having some understanding of the former. We also increase the likelihood of a self-centered Christianity.

It’s my sincere hope that we return to a faith that is lived out well but understood well in the mind as well. We won’t all be intellectuals, but whatever intellect we all have we should focus some of it to understanding Christianity and what a difference it makes. We can look forward to Heaven, but let us not ignore the world around us as if Heaven is plan B because God’s just given up on this world. Greater knowledge of what we believe will not hurt us. It is the ignorance of the knowledge and the defiance of it that will.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

We Don’t Need No Higher Learning

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve been looking at inerrancy and talking about the research done into a text which raises a question that often comes when I’ve been discussing this on the blogosphere. Do we really need all these scholars to understand the Bible? Do we need higher learning?

Yes.

We shall continue next time….

No no no. Of course I’m not going to leave it at that. The objection is that isn’t it possible for simple and ordinary people to understand the gospel and be saved by reading the Bible?

Well, yeah. I have no problem, but that’s also like saying you can at least understand the plot of Romeo and Juliet by reading the play. You can, but in order to fully appreciate the work of the Bard, you will need to be trained in the literature of the time.

But can’t we all just pick up our Bibles and let the Holy Spirit teach us?

There are a number of attitudes I think that are behind this kind of question a lot of times when one is confronted with the idea of higher learning. The first is pride. The idea is that one is capable enough to understand the Bible without the guidance of others. Charles Spurgeon once even warned his students to not be so arrogant as to think they are the only ones the Holy Spirit has ever spoken to.

The second attitude is laziness. We don’t want to really work at studying something. Even as an apologist, this is something I still can struggle with. There are times that book being read can seem so boring and that other thing I’m wanting to do is more enjoyable. Of course, there are times one does need to take a break from the reading in order to think about matters or to just play. However, to work at times for all of us takes effort.

It is amazing that we would condemn a child when the child instead of wanting to work out the answers to the math questions chooses to look in the back of the book. We do not approve of the student who when needing to do research looks up Wikipedia or goes to Yahoo Answers or some other format like that.

Yet somehow, when we come to Bible Study, this is suddenly a virtue.

But it’s the Word of God!

And?

Because it’s of God, it should be easy?

Seriously. When has that ever been the case?

I would think it would be just the opposite. God is not the easiest topic to understand. There is a whole subject of theology and it is known as the queen of the sciences. Paul in a passage like Romans 11:33-36 writes out in praise the wonder of God and how he is beyond understanding.

But hey, it’s his Word, so it should be simple.

No.

Job compared wisdom to a mine where choice metals are dug for. If you want wisdom, you have to work for it. If you are a disciple of Christ, there is some activity to be required on your part. You are not just to be someone passive. You are to be seeking the truth as much as you are receiving it.

But we’ve got the Holy Spirit!

Yes. You do have the Holy Spirit and do you think He caters to laziness? The Bible celebrates the value of hard work. Are we to think that it celebrates that in all areas, except where it comes to the study of God Himself and His Scripture. In that case, hard work is to be avoided. Just be passive.

It’s amazing that these same people want to teach us that we don’t need teaching.

If you really believed you don’t need to be taught, don’t go to church. There’s no need to hear what the preacher has to say. There’s no need to read any books on the Bible either. You can get that on your own. No need to study Greek or Hebrew. If God wants you to know something, he’ll make sure he transcends the language gap.

Just sit back, do nothing, and let God beam all the knowledge into your head.

Of course, you’ll also have to deal with your neighbor across the street who has the Holy Spirit as well but is obviously living in sin or something since he disagrees with you.

It is a shame that we have reached a point in the life of the church where higher learning is discouraged and we think God should spoon-feed us everything.

“Well I guess everyone has to be a scholar!”

No. Not at all.

But everyone should be thankful for the scholarly community. If you want to grow in the knowledge of God, you’ll have to do your part. Read good books. These are books that will challenge you. Read also books that you disagree with. There are people who have the Holy Spirit just like you and think you’re wrong. See why they do.

If you want to, by all means go to a Bible College or Seminary. Even if you don’t want to enroll in classes, many schools have programs where you can audit a course. You can just sit in on the courses and hear what the professor has to say. If you can’t do that route, and you have a portable device like an IPhone or IPod, go to ITunes and find ITunes U and download podcasts from Seminaries. These are free. While you’re driving, put in your headphones and listen. When you walk the dog or take out the garbage, listen. You can also find a wealth of material at various websites. For apologetics, I highly recommend the apologetics315 blogspot.

Also, argue. Find people you disagree with and argue with them. There are places online this can be done, but mine that I do a lot at is TheologyWeb.com, where I debate under the name of ApologiaPhoenix. I also debate on Facebook under my real name, Nick Peters.

Get a blog of your own also. The blog is the personal way to reach the world today. It is your message board to everyone else to share what you’re thinking and what you’re learning and let other people come and comment on what it is that you’re saying. The discussion of great ideas will foster good thinking in you.

It will take work and you will always be learning. You will never reach a point where you cease study, but that’s what also makes it fun. There’s always something new. As it stands right now, I have a number of reading projects lined up.

If you want to be a scholar, excellent. However, while you do not have to be one to understand the Bible, you should readily avail yourself of their works. They are there for your building up and edification.

We shall continue next time.