A person cannot become a Christian without receiving the Holy Spirit. He is what makes us Christians: Christ in us, the hope of glory.
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
So, the presence of the Holy Spirit of Jesus is in us as our foundation. On this foundation, we have our base, which is where we got the information: The Bible. A few guys* from the first Century told us in letters about Jesus Christ, who He is, what He came to do, and what He can do for us. We believed them (called by the Holy Spirit) and trusted Christ (confirmed by the Spirit who is now in us). He came into our lives, and now we are followers of Christ! Based upon this very true scenario, we must:
- Trust that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
- Believe that its message is from God to us.
- Obey it as the very words of God.
We don’t follow blindly. We study, we look at history and traditions, and we ask the Lord to reveal truth to us. Everything doesn’t have to make sense, but it does have to agree with itself. If there is an issue, it is because of a breakdown in translation (some things simply don’t translate from Hebrew to any other language) or in our understanding of customs, the times, our own experiences, etc. We may even be looking at it from a 21st Century, elite American perspective. We have our own culture and times to deal with. But, the problem is not with the Word of God.
On page 23, David Young quoted C.K. Barrett, a visiting author and scholar to Vanderbilt University where David attended. Here is how the conversation went:
“You cannot legitimately dismiss what the Bible says about sex and gender,” Barrett responded. “Not if you want to be honest. It says what it says. The only question is whether or not you believe it.”
Even though it wasn’t my question in the first place, I wanted to push a little further, so I asked the professor a follow-up question: “What if I just cannot accept what the Bible says?” I asked it as a hypothetical, but this scholar of the New Testament took it as a challenge. The only time he seemed agitated the whole day was when I asked my question.
His face a bit flushed, Barrett put down his drink, looked at me in the eyes, and sternly said in his thick British accent, “Then, you need to find another religion. The Christian religion isn’t open for negotiation.”
If we truly want to hear daily from the Holy Spirit, we need to know as much as we can about Jesus. The Gospels are where we start, and the letters from the other New Testament writers are next. Then, we can dive into the Old Testament to see how Jesus fits into God’s overall plan for humanity. As we read, the Holy Spirit confirms and emphasizes what we read. He helps us to understand it and to integrate it into our lives.
NOTE: He feeds us what we can handle. It’s different for each person. We cannot expect others to be where we are with Him, nor should we expect to know where others are with Him. It’s why we don’t “criticize another Person’s servant” (Proverbs 30:10). The best way to put it is, “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you” (Philippians 3:15). We may want to add, “when we’re ready.”
Abba, may we treat others as we would want to be treated and leave unsolicited correction alone. We simply don’t know where anyone else is in the process of maturity. Help us to focus on You and growing in You. We will all understand it better by and by. Amen.
*Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, the writer of Hebrews, and Jude.