Friday, January 28, 2011

Living / Worshiping By Spirit And Truth

I realize I may be repeating myself this morning but it is a subject worth repeating. God has given us some great means of knowing him but there is none greater than the Bible. I am not going to go all heavy on statistics and such but a simple appeal to the heart of any believer who reads this. We cannot understand the heart of God without knowing the Word of God. Despite the ongoing attacks and silly arguments by modern man to discount it, the fact remains that no one can come against the truth that the Bible is the Spirit inspired revelation of God. It is how God chose to make himself known to us in our current age. The problem is, it's interpretation cannot be unlocked unless we look at it through the lens of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit in us. This makes it hard for anyone outside of Christ to understand.

The importance of the Word and its correct interpretation can be seen in the life and ministry of Jesus. He lived his life in the frame work of the prophecies; an impossible feat for a mortal man but as natural as breathing for the Son of God. Everything he said, every dispute he handled, every temptation he faced was dealt with by the Scriptures he used. In fact, it's eventually how Jesus got the Pharisees and priests to leave him alone.

The religious leaders of Israel had been trying to find all kinds of different ways to trip up Jesus by the law. They wanted to arrest him but the arrest had to have a solid basis. The problem for them, that they did not even realize was a problem, was that Jesus is the Word of God and knew the proper way to handle it, beyond anything the leaders were capable of doing. Perhaps Jesus got tired of their games because he turned the tables on them and asked them a question:

“What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” (Matthew 22:42)

Seemed to be a simple enough question. No possibilities of getting this one wrong, so they answered it with confidence:

 “The son of David.”

Jesus then replied with something that they had not considered before and should have shown them how wrong they had been, if their hearts had been open to receive the truth:

“How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
   “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
   “Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
   under your feet.”’
If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” (Matthew 22:43-45)

The shock of this correct interpretation of the Scriptures must have moved through them as a shock wave, stunning them into silence:

No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:46)

This is the understanding we are to have, allowing us to use the Word as a sword and faith as our shield. However, we tend to be one of two types of people. The first is that we attempt to understand the Word outside of the Spirit. We read it as a history book or an instructional book. We do not understand that this is not some old document that simply tells us about God. Through the lens of Jesus it becomes a living, breathing thing that speaks directly into our lives every day. It becomes a mighty weapon that vanquishes the enemy with a single blow. It becomes the solid ground by which we keep our footing when everything else in our life turns to shifting sand.

The second type of people are those who live by the words of other people, living off of testimony and sermons and the belief that they feel the Spirit. These are the dangerous people who interpret some meaning from God in everything in their life. Much of their understanding is only whispers of the truth, with a smattering of superstition. They do not realize that the Holy Spirit will not operate outside of the Word of God and that there are other spirits at work as well. It is only by the Word that we are able to understand the direction of the Spirit. It is through the Word he speaks to us, strengthens us, encourages us, and even empowers us. Confirmation will come by other means but it is first established in the Word of God. If the Word is not the measuring rod by which we consider everything then we are a bunch of fools being tossed about by the opinions of man.

We need to keep in mind that Scripture for us is not as it was for the people before the new covenant. Scripture for us is not like it appears to the people outside of Christ. Scripture is more than words on a paper because the Spirit has now written them on our heart. They are part of us, they speak loudly to us, they change us, direct us, guide us because they are the tool of the Spirit in us. Do not attempt to live your life without the Word of God and do not attempt to live the Word without the Spirit. I am going to leave you with a quote that the writer of Hebrews used from the prophet Jeremiah. Understand the change that has taken place and understand the importance of the Word of God being found on our hearts and in our minds:

“The days are coming, declares the Lord, 
   when I will make a new covenant 
with the people of Israel 
   and with the people of Judah. 
It will not be like the covenant 
   I made with their ancestors 
when I took them by the hand 
   to lead them out of Egypt, 
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, 
   and I turned away from them, 
            declares the Lord. 
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel 
   after that time, declares the Lord. 
I will put my laws in their minds 
   and write them on their hearts. 
I will be their God, 
   and they will be my people. 
No longer will they teach their neighbor, 
   or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ 
because they will all know me, 
   from the least of them to the greatest. 
For I will forgive their wickedness 
   and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:8-12)

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