So, initially this post was to be a continuation of my touting the benefits of reading through the Bible. Somehow it morphed into the glob of rapid fire questions you see below. This list of seemingly random questions have a purpose and speak directly to my excitement about Bible reading…
It started with my musings about how reading through of the Scripture has blessed me over the years. As I mentioned in my first post on this topic, reading through the Bible can help us guard against being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. So much of false teaching comes from taking verses of Scripture out of their context and stringing them together to prove the doctrine you are arguing for. This was how I was first introduced to Scripture – and it led me down a path of believing things that the Bible just does not teach. I spent much of my early Christian years watching teachers on TBN, being served healthy servings of Word of Faith theology. But as I grew hungrier for the Word, I started to question most of what I was absorbing from these teachers. And as I started reading Scripture more thoroughly, I started to realize something was awry.
When I first started to step out of Word of Faith teaching, my mind began to swirl with question on top of question. At first I sought to suppress those questions – for me, that indicated a lack of faith, which must be avoided at all costs. But I could not shake them; they just kept coming. Here is just a sample:
Does the Bible teach us that we can “hear from God”? You know, that “still, small voice” thing. If so, where? And how does it work?
How do I know if I’m hearing from God, or hearing my own thoughts dressed up to sound “godly”? The heart is deceitful above all else, is it not? Besides, even the biggest of gurus on “hearing from God” don’t always agree with the how – and they usually resort to their own opinion of how it works. Did God tell them that? How do I know?
If things don’t turn out as I think they ought to, based on what God “told me”, then does that make me a failure? Have I “missed God’s will”? How do I fix that? What do I do to find the path again and go forward? Ask God to speak to me again? And what if I get it wrong again?
Do you see the treadmill? The work and toil – and STRESS – that comes along with this line of thinking? To constantly be wondering if I’ve heard God or myself; if I’m following His path; if I’m truly in the “perfect will of God”. And when it falls apart, who do I blame? Well, I certainly can’t blame God! It must be me – I must be defective; I must not know what I’m doing, or can’t hear right, or have unconfessed sin or…oh my gosh! I’m dizzy!!
And why, if God wants so much for me follow His will for my life, would He make it so difficult for me to figure it out? Was “God’s will” that obscure to the prophets, or to Jesus Himself, or to the Apostles? Why is God all of a sudden playing hide and seek with us as it concerns “His perfect will” for our lives?
Do you see what I mean? Is this the ‘freedom” God has set us free to experience? It does not feel like freedom to me; it feels like another form of bondage.
We can argue – well, you just don’t have enough faith to believe those things God has promised will come to pass. But is that what biblical faith is about? Is biblical faith trust in my ability to believe God so I can get out of Him the things He has promised? Is God that capricious that He would hold out these things that I need to have faith to receive, withhold them because I don’t have enough faith, and yet not be completely clear just how much “faith” I ought to have in order to receive them? Because that’s really what this teaching is telling me.
Let say for example’s sake that I am in a horrible accident and injure my leg to the point of being in danger of losing it. I pray for healing, and believe God for my healing, but my healing doesn’t come and I ultimately end up losing the leg. Who is to blame? Are you going to tell me that I am to blame? That my faith was deficient? That I didn’t believe God enough for Him to grant me healing that is “guaranteed” in the atonement? Are you going to tell me what is in my heart? We can’t say that God is to blame, right? But my lack of healing would indicate my lack of faith, correct? What about the thousands who come to “faith healing” services who walk in blind, deaf, mute or unable to walk, and leave out the same way they came in? Are you going to tell me that all of them did not have enough of faith? I guess so…the proof is in their lack of healing…
But wait…doesn’t the Word say “If you have faith of a mustard seed…”? That’s not a lot of faith now is it? Surely I had that much faith. Oh…but it was mixed with doubt you say. But what about the father whose son was filled with evil spirits, who exclaimed “Lord I believe! Help mine unbelief!” (Mark 9:24; see 9:14-29 for the full context) That’s a plain confession of faith mixed with doubt if I’ve ever seen one. But did his son get healed? Absolutely!
And here’s another question – Paul, arguably the greatest missionary in history was ill when he came to the Galatians, and they ended up caring for him (Galatians 4:13-14). Why didn’t he just “apply his faith” and heal himself? And if he couldn’t do it – boy am I in trouble! I mean, he was an apostle! And when he counseled Timothy on his stomach ailment, why didn’t he just say “Claim your healing, my dear son, in the Name of Jesus by Whose stripes we are healed”? No, he told him this: “Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you are sick so often.” (1 Timothy 5:23)
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what ran through my mind as I began questioning what I was being taught. And it’s still on my mind, because this is so much of the teaching that comes from pulpits and televangelist shows on a weekly and daily basis. This is the treadmill I found myself on when I was captive to these teachings.
Believe or not, I hesitated in even sharing this on my blog. There is still a part of me that is affected by the teaching I was released from. I almost slipped back into it – but my reading through Scripture, taking in the sweep of the Bible’s grand story, stopped me. And I cannot share my thoughts and enthusiasm about this topic without sharing the why behind it. And this part of my faith journey is very much a part of that why.
Now, in tomorrow’s post, I will continue this stream of thought and talk about Bible reading, and why it is important. And not only Bible reading but Bible study…but that’s getting ahead of myself. But for now, I need to stop. This post has gone too long…
Until then…grace and peace…