Christianity is a revealed religion. As Christians, what we know and believe about God and life and eternity is not something that people dreamed up a long time ago. It’s something God has revealed to us. Singer songwriter Rich Mullins said about our faith “It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man… I did not make it. No it is making me.”
The writer of Hebrews echoes that proposition in his epistle. He begins with this statement:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1–2)
It’s significant to note that this revelation about God comes through a variety of sources over centuries. Bit by bit, Israel’s understanding about the character and nature of God unfolds throughout its history until it all comes together in the final word from God – the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is, the apostle Paul says, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).
What we can know about God is revealed for us through the Bible. It is the infallible, inerrant and authoritative revelation of who God is. In our study of John’s Gospel, we’ve seen Jesus tell his disciples that God would send the Holy Spirit to them, and that the Spirit would lead them into all truth by reminding them of what Jesus had said and teaching them what they could not understand apart from His help. The ministry of the Spirit is not to function as a subjective revealer of truth about God. His ministry is to open our eyes and shine His light on the revelation from God that has been once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
One way Christians can get off track easily is by shifting from seeing Christianity as a revealed religion and to start thinking of it as a recipe religion. Here’s what I mean by that. There have been plenty of times in my life when I’ve found myself following a recipe to make a meal for myself or for the family. You can ask Mary Ann. It’s true. I can hold my own in the kitchen.
But there have been times when I’ve adjusted the recipe as I’ve been preparing my meal. The gumbo I made recently called for a pound of shrimp. I added two pounds. I like my shrimp! I was the one who was going to be eating the gumbo, so why not make it the way I like it?
There have been other times when I’ve left out a spice or two as I was cooking. Either we didn’t have it on hand or it’s not something I’ve wanted to include. Sometimes when we cook chili, we add beans. Sometimes we don’t. It’s entirely up to us.
Christianity isn’t like that. We can’t look at the revelation of God and decide to add in or leave out certain ingredients. When we come across stories in the Old Testament about God striking dead a soldier because he touched the Ark of the Covenant to try to keep it from falling off a cart, or about God having the ground swallow up a man and his whole family for disobeying His command to not take any of the booty from the battle of Jericho, we can find ourselves wanting to find a way to let God off the hook for what seems to be capricious and extreme. When God gives the command to the nation of Israel to completely annihilate an enemy, leaving no men, women or children, we wince and look for a loophole to explain what’s happening.
But all scripture is inspired and profitable (2 Timothy 3:16). God reveals Himself to us in the pages of scripture so we can grapple with the reality that His ways are not our ways, His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are past finding out (Romans 11:33). Instead of putting God on trial, as Job seeks to do when he can’t make sense of the suffering he’s endured, we should follow his ultimate example and put our hands over our mouths and repent.
The Bible is not a “choose your own adventure” story book. It’s not a cookbook where you can decide to adjust the recipe or skip over the dishes you don’t like. Rich Mullins had it right. “It is the very word of God, not the invention of any man.” And it’s not simply a source of revelation or a source of information about who God it. God’s word gives us life. It is living and active, the writer of Hebrews says (Hebrews 4:12). We do not live by bread alone, Jesus says, but by “every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word.
WOMEN’S 9-week BIBLE STUDY
| The Spring Women’s Bible Study in the Psalms has begun. But it’s not too late for you to be part of one of the study groups!|
During February and March, you can join in the nine-week group study where each week you will meditate and reflect on a specific group of Psalms, taking notes as you go. Then on Monday evening or Tuesday afternoon, you can gather with a group of other women to interact and share with one another how God has spoken to you as you’ve read and meditated.
Find out more about how to connect with a study group by clicking here. Or reach out to Jen Gurney with any questions. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
FIRST TUESDAY MEN’S GATHERING- MAR 1
| Men, the syllabus is here to help you get prepped for our next First Tuesday Men’s Meeting, happening on Tuesday March 1 at 7:00 pm at the church. The topic next month is the ongoing battle men face with lust and pornography. Our guest via Zoom will be Dr. Joe Rigney who has written a helpful book on this subject called More Than A Battle. |
Even if you haven’t been able to attend a First Tuesday meeting, I want to encourage every man in our church to come to this particular meeting. The pornography pandemic in our culture is real, and the temptation for all men to give into lust is real. I’m expecting our time with Joe to be something every man will find helpful.
men’s retreat – mar 3-4
And of course four days later, we’ll huddle up again as men for the Spring Men’s Retreat. Our special guest speaker is Dr. Landon Dowden, the lead pastor of Hebron Church in Dracula, Ga. I’m not making that up.
If you haven’t signed up yet for the retreat, now is the time. Click here to reserve your spot!
family super bowl – sat feb 12
|Of course, this weekend is the Super Bowl. And that means it’s time for some Super Bowling!|
This is a great “bring a friend” event, and it’s open to everyone. You can click here for details and to pay online for your two hours of bowling fun!
|Please continue to pray for Faithann Glidden and her sons, Matt and Ryan, that they would recover from COVID.|
Pray as well for Jeff Brinsfield and for his family. Jeff continues to have a high fever, is not sleeping well and had very little appetite. Pray that the newest medication he is taking will relieve his symptoms and that his body will fight off the infection.
Please continue to pray for Amber Cochran and her family as they grieve the loss of her father this week.
And thank the Lord for a good report on Lane Parish’s surgery today. Pray that she will rest easily and recover quickly.
Take a minute right now and pause and pray for each of these requests.
Next Monday is Valentine’s Day. You knew that, right?
So this Sunday, we’ll pause our study in John’s gospel to look at the best practices found in the marriages of couples who are flourishing in their relationships.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!