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Chapter 12 in About God
In many ways, “the Word of God” can be a scary concept; it is often part and parcel with other words like “doctrine”, “non-negotiables”, “absolutes”, “heresy”, and “death”. But although people can do evil with the Word of God, there is a much greater infinity of good. Certainly I have found wonderful goodness in seeking good words about God, words which would explain His actions and also inactions, and describe Him in ways I gradually come to understand; and in so doing, help me understand why I am here and what I should be doing next.
But there is a big, big problem which comes up, every time I try to find really good words about God: there is very much contradiction in the words about God which exist in this world. Even if we stick to one large common source – the books Genesis through Revelation – we will find ourselves very confused, if we simply and utterly accept what we read. For instance, in the Bible in one place (Genesis 19:1-11), we have it written that a man named Lot offered up his daughters to be raped, in exchange for the freedom of two powerful angelic men who were visiting him. And in the Bible in another place (2 Peter 2:7), we have it written that this man Lot, is to be considered righteous. Am I therefore supposed to consider that it is righteous for a man to offer his daughters for profoundly evil treatment to save the well-being of others? Why or why not?
When I bring this issue to some, I receive responses which are utterly irrelevant. From some of the same lips which tell me to “believe the whole Bible,” come suggestions that I am “reading too much”, or “caring too much”, or some other unhelpful, irrelevant, or self-denying untruth. I desire to honestly seek what God thinks, and these people, clearly, don't want me to do so, really. What is there to do?
I first learned of the issue of Genesis 19:1-11 quite a while ago. At that time, I looked it up, pondered it, was utterly appalled, and learned to rightly reject whole filing-cabinets and even church-histories of contradictory thought. And that's where it sat with me for quite a few years. During that time, quite a few more issues became obvious to me, many of them completely irrelevant of any Bible. I learned how political, sociological, and technological efforts are helping many people suffer and die around the world, and always have been. I tried to find alternatives, pure goodnesses, in many different things, and was sad to learn the foolishnesses of them all. Eventually I had literally nothing, except a love for my new wife, and a profound desire to do better with her than I knew how to do. It was in this environment that a good friend, who had proven several times to be a very reliable source of several kinds of basic information, suggested that I might learn something useful at her church service. Based on my own tremendous experience, I would have thought the idea utterly ludicrous, but because of the reliability of the friend, I went, intending to go once only. And I encountered people to talk to God and hear from Him directly, conversationally, in return. I have met quite a few who claim this, whose lives are conflicted, self-destructive, and frankly a clear and present mess. I have now also met quite a few more who claim this, whose lives are beautiful, not flawless, but very clear and purposeful, who love their neighbors, wives or husbands if present, and friends and acquaintances, in many diverse and helpful ways. It is this last set of people, whose input I shall always appreciate.
And if this interests you, I urge you to do it. All you have to do is talk to Him, and desire that He answer you. He will, sooner or later, if you really want it. For some He responds in a millisecond; others, in a minute, or hours, or months, or years, or decades. But it will happen. You just have to want it. He does not prefer to destroy our thoughts; He prefers to enter among them and meet us there.
But another question at hand right now is, what do we do? How do we work to determine the difference, between the usual and the good, between the conflicted mess and the Kingdom of God?
Well, if one asks a certain many, one will receive that distinctive oddity, “You just have to believe the whole Bible. You can't care about each individual part, you just believe the whole thing.” I do not recommend that we listen to such voices; I think we will find both clarity and truthfulness to be lacking.
But after I first talked to God and desired an answer, after He put a thought into me by act of God, with a power I could not deny, my first request of Him was, “Do I have to worry about this Jesus guy?” And the answer received, with the same undeniable power, was, “Not yet.”
I must have asked the same question a thousand times over the first year. And it was only long after a lot of other answers were given, and purposes explained, and worries made irrelevant, that He led me to learn and know things about the One called Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father in Heaven.
But study of the Word of God, is still the question. And after quite a while, after much struggle with confusion and conflicting input, God exposed the following to me:
They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
In general, the above is often discussed as if it were strictly and only a discussion of adultery and fornication, and then discarded. But in those words the Lord Jesus also exposes His Personal approach to Holy Scripture. To many it is shocking, and even disturbing, once seen; and this is perhaps a reason why it is so often bypassed. But look at what the Lord Jesus said about words of Bible of the Old Testament, in which the Law concerning divorce were written, Deuteronomy 24:1-4. He did not say “God allowed...”; He said, “Moses allowed...”. In His own words, the Lord embedded a point-blank statement, in which Deuteronomy 24:1-4 are defined to be the permission of Moses, which, He said, was not the original and is not the final, stated will of God.
So the Lord Jesus Himself tells us that there are passages of Bible in which commandments exist, which we are not to consider the stated will of God. How, then, shall we think to decide?
I will suggest that we do as He did. I will suggest that God has caused the Bible to be written as it is...and where we have words cited as being the Very Words God has said, that is how we are to take them. The same goes for words He describes as gifted but flawed human beings, human beings who exist in ignorance of God, human beings who exist in opposition to God, evil spirits, and the devil himself.
Now some will suggest that the words of an Apostle of God, found in Scripture, are to be taken as if they were as good as the Word of God Himself. This would be impossible to discuss, if not for the fact that God has helped us in His delivery of the Bible. See here:
To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.
1 Corinthians 7:7-9
Now look at the above. We have an Apostle of God passing along a “charge” (a commandment) from God...and then we have an Apostle of God stating, in clear and present fashion, that a second statement from himself is not from God, and should not be considered as such.
And this, I will suggest, is how the Lord Jesus Christ read and recommended Holy Scripture. Where it is written in Scripture that God or a Prophet or an Apostle says “God said...”, thus I say too. But where it is not so written, I do not so say. And by teaching us to do this, God enables us to purge ourselves of inner conflict, untruth, and the other stuff which hurts us.
Have a great day! God is here for all of us, if we are willing!!!
© 2011 and 2016 Jonathan E. Brickman
on God Reaching Out
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