God, Christ, and the Scriptures are powerfully living, moving, and active. They are not meant to be turned into cadavers on a morgue table which are dissected into pieces and studied for the mere sake of figuring them all out and knowing how they work. God, Christ, and the Scriptures are meant to be related with, experienced, and known with our entire being—mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.
I observe around me so much studying of the Bible and dissecting of passages of Scripture and the dissecting of God and Christ. All the while, Christ believers are also seeking after this or that teaching or teacher to explain things to them. All the while, fellow believers are found to be disagreeing, bickering, or arguing about what this or that means and what it doesn’t mean.
“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul’, and ‘I of Apollos’, and ‘I of Cephas’, and ‘I of Christ’. Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13, NAS)
The Corinthian believers were having quarrels about matters of faith and had become divided into different groups which professed a particular teacher they chose to believe and follow. Paul reprimanded their actions and made the point that they were to stop focusing on their earthly teachers and focus on Christ—the One who had been crucified for their sakes.
I observe around me so much head knowledge arrogance by those who say they have studied more than others or earned some man-made degree which supposedly proves them smarter and wiser than someone else without a degree. I observe around me a great deal of desire to mentally figure God all out for the sake of figuring God out. For what purpose? Is it so that we can say, “Hey, I’ve got God all figured out. I’m the human authority on God and exactly Who He is and what He’s up to. I know exactly what He’s been doing all along, is doing now, and plans to do in the future. So if you’ve got any questions, just ask me. And while we’re at it, let me correct your faulty belief system before you are doomed to hell.”
I even observe around me teachers/leaders/pastors/writers whose teachings are esteemed more than the actual words of God. There have been a number of times, when I have had spiritual discussions with others and there has been an unresolved question regarding the Scriptures. People have said to me that in order to find an answer they planned to seek out their pastor or Bible study teacher. What happened to asking Christ and seeking His wisdom? What happened to trusting the spirit of God to be our teacher and counselor? Why not cry out to God and ask Him for revelation? While it may be easier to seek another person or a commentary for answers to our questions about God or the Bible and receive quick answers, I do not believe it is wisest action. Unfortunately, things like this are nothing new. As Solomon stated in Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
The Apostle Paul admonished the Christ Jesus believers in Corinth:
“...it is written, ‘I shall be destroying the wisdom of the wise and the understanding of the intelligent shall I be repudiating’ (Isaiah 29:14). Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the discusser of this eon? Does not God make stupid the wisdom of this world? For since, in fact, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom knew not God, God delights, through the stupidity of the heralding, to save those who are believing, since in fact, Jews signs are requesting, and Greeks wisdom are seeking, yet we are heralding Christ crucified, to Jews, indeed, a snare, yet to the nations stupidity, yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God, for the stupidity of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you are observing your calling, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh; not many powerful, not many noble, but the stupidity of the world God chooses, that He may be disgracing the wise, and the weakness of the world God chooses, that He may be disgracing the strong, and the ignoble and the contemptible things of the world God chooses, and that which is not, that He should be discarding that which is, so that no flesh at all should be boasting in God’s sight. Yet you, of Him, are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us wisdom from God, besides righteousness and holiness and deliverance, that according as it is written, He who is boasting, in the Lord let him be boasting.” (1 Corinthians 1:19-31, CLNT)
Paul said that in God’s wisdom it was not meant for the world to know God through any human wisdom but instead through the “stupidity” of the proclamation of Christ and Him crucified. Paul says that it is simply Christ and Him crucified which is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Why? Because “the stupidity of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men”. If God could even behave stupidly, His stupidity would be wiser than men’s greatest wisdom. And even if God were weak, His weakness would be stronger than any man’s strength. In the passages above, Paul refers to the Greeks and how they are seeking wisdom (head knowledge) while finding the proclamation of Christ stupid. This is what I observe happening around me all too often. I observe an excessive seeking of wisdom from man’s written materials and teachers instead of seeking the person and presence of Christ to be our fulfillment and our wisdom.
In chapter two of Corinthians 1, Paul went on to say to the believers that he was not speaking or coming to them with superiority or wisdom, but that he came to them in weakness, fear, trembling, and in the power of the spirit. He said to them:
“…my word and my heralding were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but with demonstration of spirit and of power, that your faith may not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
We must seriously ask ourselves:
Do I want my faith to be placed in the wisdom of men or in the power of God?
Do I want my faith and my beliefs about God to be a product of the wisdom of men or of the power of God and the work of Christ?
The Apostle Paul goes on to say that God reveals His truth “through His spirit, for the spirit is searching all, even the depths of God”. This being in the same manner that humanity knows the character and behavior of humanity because of the spirit of humanity that is within it (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).
“…that which is of God no one knows, except the spirit of God. Now we obtained, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we may be perceiving that which is being graciously given to us by God, which we are speaking also, not with words taught by human wisdom, but with those taught by the spirit, matching spiritual blessings with spiritual words. Now the soulish man is not receiving those things which are of the spirit of God, for they are stupidity to him, and he is not able to know them, seeing that they are spiritually examined. Now he who is spiritual is, indeed, examining all, yet he is being examined by no one. For who knew the mind of the Lord? Who will be deducing from Him? Yet we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-16)
Isn’t that something?! That which is of God, no one knows except the spirit of God—the spirit which those in Christ have now obtained! And those who are in Christ have been given the mind of Christ! That means that if you are in Christ and long to understand something about God, you have graciously been given what it takes to understand. Now, this does not mean a microwave understanding will come to us any time we want it. We don’t just snap our fingers demanding immediate knowledge and God complies. Not at all. God is not in the business of giving us answers anytime we ask for them. Often times, we are not ready to hear or understand those answers. Paul said to the Corinthians, the “soulish man is not receiving those things which are of the spirit of God, for they are stupidity to him, and he is not able to know them”. While, in Christ, we have been given immeasurable blessings and privileges, it is a process for us to come to a full realization of them and the effect they can have in our lives. Our soulish, human nature continues to wrestle against our spiritual nature. Therefore, as earthly beings, it may seem much easier to seek out people for wisdom and understanding rather than seeking the God no man has ever seen. However, believers have been given CHRIST and the mind of Christ! And Christ makes the invisible God visible—all in God’s perfect timing.
One of the great aches in my heart is this: What has happened to seeking and searching for God ourselves? Isn’t God the best authority on Himself? Isn’t Christ the best authority on telling us all about Himself, His Father, and what He wants us to know at a particular time? Aren’t the Scriptures (in their original form and without commentary notes) the greatest written authority on understanding God? Yet, people are turning to thousands upon thousands of books and studies written and sold every year which talk about God and offer countless interpretations on Who He is and what He does. There are much admired teachers and pastors that seem to be worshipped and have a greater following than Christ. After His resurrection, Jesus Christ said to doubting Thomas, “Seeing that you have seen Me, you have believed. Happy are those who are not perceiving and believe” (John 20:29, CLNT). Even more blessed are those who have come to a belief without having to use their physical, human sight. Christ told Thomas that it was great that now that he had physically seen him with his own eyes he believed the truth of the resurrection, but that it would have been an even greater blessing if he had believed by faith and from believing the promises Jesus had told him prior to His death.
The Apostle Paul also said to the Corinthian believers:
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly, as to minors in Christ. Milk I give you to drink, not solid food, for not as yet were you able. Nay, still, not even now are you able, for you are still fleshly. For where there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and walking according to man? For whenever anyone may be saying ‘I, indeed, am of Paul’, yet another, ‘I, of Apollos”, will he not be fleshly? What, then, is Apollos? Now what is Paul? Servants are they, through whom you believe, and as the Lord gives to each. I plant, Apollos irrigates, but God makes it grow up. So that, neither is he who is planting anything, nor he who is irrigating, but God Who makes it grow up. Now he who is planting and he who is irrigating are for one thing. Yet each will be getting his own wages according to his own toil. For God’s fellow workers are we. God’s farm, God’s building, are you.” (1 Corinthians 3:1-9, CLNT)
Paul makes a point to say that the believers in Corinth are behaving very “fleshly” (earthly instead of more spiritual) and that they are not able to yet receive greater truths. All of us on this earth are vessels of God (Romans 9:18-26). Some are God’s fellow workers who are used by God to proclaim Christ and Him crucified and used to help others come to a belief. Some of God’s fellow workers are used to help nurture or encourage the faith of the believers. However, God’s fellow workers are not to be relied and depended upon as the main sources of spiritual growth and understanding. That is God’s job, and we can certainly trust Him with it. Christ is THE “Inaugurator and Perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He began our faith, and He will be faithful to perfect our faith! If we are relying upon man’s teachings, books, or commentaries as the primary sources to grow our faith or our understanding of God, Christ, and the Scriptures, we may be left “fleshly” and as spiritual babies needing milk as Paul referred to the Corinthians.
I believe that knowledge for the sake of knowledge actually leaves people empty or stagnant. I know it has those effects on me. I also know that I want my faith to be a product of Christ’s doing, not of man’s teaching. Head knowledge can be like the fleeting wind. It can make such an impact the moment it touches us, but after it’s no longer physically touching us we might easily forget it and it has no further impact upon our lives. Head knowledge can also quietly betray us into becoming arrogant and foolish. We can drink it like sweet wine and become drunk on it, only to have it corrupt our senses and leave us spiritually insensitive, blind, or weak.
In Ephesians 1, the Apostle Paul told the believers in Ephesus that he was praying this prayer for them:
“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may be giving you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the realization of Him, the eyes of your heart having been enlightened, for you to perceive what is the expectation of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of the enjoyment of His allotment among the saints, and what the transcendent greatness of His power for us who are believing, in accord with the operation of the might of His strength, which is operative in the Christ, rousing Him from among the dead and seating Him at His right hand among the celestials, up over every sovereignty and authority and power and lordship, and every name that is named, not only in this eon, but also in that which is impending: and subjects all under His feet, and gives Him as Head over all, to the ecclesia which is His body, the complement of the One completing the all in all.” (Ephesians 1:16-23)
I absolutely do believe God desires to be sought and known by us and that it is Him who fills us with a desire to seek and find Him. I believe He longs for us to come to a sincere and intimate realization of Him and His character, but that it is not be merely a mental, head knowledge realization of Him. God desires for us to come to a living realization of Who He is and how He is moving and working within us and around us at all times. Christ is working in me and through me at this very moment, and He is doing the same thing with you at this very moment. He is worthy to be praised at this very moment, not just when something “happy” happens in our lives. For us to experience life abundant with Christ and in Christ, it will mean living a life of experiencing Him, not just being taught and learning facts about Him.
I have to admit it drives me crazy for people to complain that their Bible study teacher or their pastor is not meeting their spiritual needs and not keeping them “fed” spiritually. It is not your Bible study teacher or pastor’s job to be “feeding” you. In spite of attending countless church services and Bible studies, people are feeling empty and hungry for the things of God because they are not seeking the One Who can truly satisfy their every need and longing: Christ, the Son of God—the One Who makes the invisible God visible and known to us. People’s lives are not being changed because their minds are being filled with rigor mortis head knowledge instead of the words and truths of God actively impacting their hearts and souls and bringing about a real life change within them. When we read and meditate upon the words of God, we should experience their power in our lives.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
The word and truths of God should be reaching down deep within the core of our very being and changing us day by day.
In all this, am I suggesting there should not be teachers teaching or books being written and read? Am I saying that we should never seek counsel or teaching from someone else? Am I proposing that there shouldn’t be any serious studying of the Scriptures? Absolutely not! I believe there are times for teaching, for discussing, for sharing, for questioning, for counseling, and for learning together with others. But I also believe that our learning about the character and truths of God and the Scriptures should be primarily sought out while we spend personal time with Christ. I firmly believe we are to dig deep into the layers of Scriptures that God has given to us and not only seek Him for interpretation and understanding, but also allow the Scriptures to affect our entire being and life. I do not believe that the moment we do not understand something, we should run to our bookshelf to seek out the latest and greatest commentary or book about the subject in question or run to a lauded Bible study teacher or the church pastor. Instead, can we be willing to allow God to speak for Himself? Can we be willing to wholeheartedly seek God and allow Him to reveal Himself, in His timing? Or must we be in such a hurry to have all the answers right now that we only acquire partial truths or, even possibly, total lies?
“Let no one be deluding himself. If anyone among you is presuming to be wise in this eon, let him become stupid, that he may be becoming wise, for the wisdom of this world is stupidity with God. For it is written, ‘He is clutching the wise in their craftiness’ (Job 5:13). And again, ‘the Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are vain’ (Psalm 94:11). So that, let no one be boasting in men, for all is yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death or the present, or that which is impending—all is yours, yet you are Christ’s, yet Christ is God’s. (1 Corinthians 3:18-23)
Do we want our faith to be placed in the wisdom of men or in the power of God?
Do we want our faith and beliefs about God to be a product of the wisdom of men or of the power of God and the work of Christ?
Do we want our experience of God to be a product of hearing or reading about other people’s experiences or do we want to have our own experiences?
Let our prayer for each other be that “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may be giving you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the realization of Him, the eyes of your heart having been enlightened, for you to perceive what is the expectation of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of the enjoyment of His allotment among the saints, and what the transcendent greatness of His power for us who are believing, in accord with the operation of the might of His strength, which is operative in the Christ, rousing Him from among the dead and seating Him at His right hand among the celestials, up over every sovereignty and authority and power and lordship, and every name that is named, not only in this eon, but also in that which is impending: and subjects all under His feet, and gives Him as Head over all, to the ecclesia which is His body, the complement of the One completing the all in all.” (Ephesians 1:16-23)
For some helpful ideas about personal Bible study, see the related posts: