Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Believing God Like A Child

Sola Scriptura has been the theme of this blog site. The Bible read in context is the only sufficient way of knowing what is true and what is false. One of the things that hinders a person greatly from fully embracing Sola Scriptura is previously held beliefs.

We have all heard it. "OH! I can't believe that. That goes against everything that I have believed my whole life. I can't worship a God like." First of all, never ever say, "I can't worship a God like that." God does not always meet our expectations (Lord willing, we will discuss the Character of God in a later post).

Let me share the first time I had to come to grips with the fact that the things I had been taught my whole life might not be all that correct.

I was a Jr. in high school. I had just decided to pursue the ministry. I started getting involved in church leadership. My older brother had just become a Christian and felt the Lord calling him to the ministry. He ended up going to a small Plymouth Brethren Seminary in Iowa. At this seminary he was introduced to all sorts of teaching that seemed strange at first.

One weekend he came home and told me that God chooses who is going to be saved and who is not going to be saved. He told me that God is in complete control over everything including salvation. Upon hearing this I immediately got angry. I said, "Luke, that goes against everything we have been taught our whole life. I can't believe that."

Luke answered back, "Slow down Jimmy! Do you know what Scripture has to say about this?"

I said, "NO! But, this goes against everything we have been taught our whole life."

With incredible wisdom Luke answered back, "Ok, I don't want to argue with you about this. I have become convinced of this through the Scriptures. What I want you to do is read Romans 9-11 and Ephesians 1 twice a day for the next two weeks and then come back and talk to me."

I immediately ran to my Bible. I opened it to Romans 9. I began to read, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' So then it does not depend upon the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate my power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.' So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires."

I just sat and stared. I read it again. I remember thinking, "I just know that this can't be right. There has to be another way of looking at this passage." I prayed a bit and read it again. Still I had no answer. I was stunned, but I was very reluctant to embrace it.

I went to bed that night saying to myself, "It just can't be right. It just can't be right." The next morning I got up and did as Luke told me, I read Romans 9 twice and then I read Ephesians 1 twice. I was stunned again. I sat there and stared at my Bible. "This just can't be right."

All throughout the day these passages were on my mind. After school that day I went straight home and read Romans 9 and Ephesians 1 again and again. Finally it hit me like a ton of bricks. "Jimmy, who are you to stand over the Bible and decide what is true and what is not? Do you actually think that your ideas of what is fair and true are better than God's ideas of what is fair and true. Last time I checked God is the one who defines truth and fairness."

Then it hit me even harder, "Do you think that God is going to lead you astray? What He has said in His word is right and true? Are you going to love God as He is, or are you going to refuse Him love unless he conforms to your ideas of what is right and true."

Finally I gave up. I said, "God, if this is who you are, if this is how you decide to rule your world, I want you to know that I will still love, serve, and obey you."

This was two days after I had the conversation with my brother. He just so happened to stop by the house that night. I went up to him and said, "You were right. I was wrong. God chooses. God is in control of everything--including salvation."

Then I began to tell him of how I had been dealing with it all. I started asking him the tough questions. "Luke what does this mean about our unsaved friends and family? Are you going to tell me that their only hope is that God chooses to save them? I mean, isn't that hard to swallow? Oh and what about hell? Are you going to tell me that God had the ability to choose everyone but only decided to choose some? Isn't that unfair. Doesn't this conflict with what we believe about the love of God?"

Luke's answers were so very helpful. He did not feel the need to defend what the Bible had to say. He simply said, "Jimmy, these things are important, and it is good that you are concerned about these things, but when God tells you that something is true you don't reject it because it is uncomfortable or because it is hard to swallow. I cannot answer all of these questions, but this does not minimize the fact this is what God has said in His word."

This, my friends, is Sola Scriptura. Many who are reading this right now will most likely reject what I am saying without even testing it to the Scriptures. Why do we think our ideas of God are more pure than the Bible's ideas of God? What I am teaching is child like faith. Do you have child like faith? Do you need to be able to understand everything fully before you will embrace it. Child like faith says, "My Daddy tells me what is true. I don't care if it makes sense to me. I don't care if it goes against the popular slogans of modern day Christianity. I don't care! My Daddy knows better than I."

Do you have this simple belief. Child like faith is not a rejection of the intellect. It is being told what to believe (by God through the Scriptures) and just believing it come what may. Obeying the call of Sola Scriptura can be so very difficult, because it is so very difficult for us to have faith like a child. We want to dig our nose in what God has said in His word. We want to manipulate it to fit our ideas of what a loving God would do or not do.

Call your life long beliefs into question. Test them according to the Scriptures as read in context. We all love the argument that says, "I can't believe that! It goes against what I have been taught my whole life." But what happens when we start evangelizing the Buddhist or the Hindu who says the exact same thing. "Come on Jimmy! I can't believe that Jesus is God. I can't believe that Jesus died for my sins. I can't believe that there is heaven and a hell. I can't believe these things because it goes directly against what I have been taught my whole life."

What would your response be? "Well Mr. Buddhist! Well Mr. Hindu! What you have been taught your whole life may be wrong. The only way to test if it is right or wrong is by looking at it in light of Scripture."

What makes you so different? Do you think that the things you have been taught your whole life are some how above the testing of Scripture because you grew up in a Christian home? Or because you had a wonderful pastor? Your parents are not infallible. Your pastor is not infallible. Only the Scriptures are infallible. Only the Scriptures can let you know if something is right or wrong.

So let me ask you, do you have child like faith? Are you ready to reject or accept anything as soon as you see it proceed from the mouth of the Father (proceed from the mouth of the Father=when you read in His Word)? Or are you too grown up to be a child of God? I love Sola Scriptura because I am far to incompetent to come to absolute truth on my own. I need my Daddy to tell me what is true and what is false.

2 comments:

Pastor Luke said...

Jimmy,

I wasn't that eloquent, nor was I that kind about it. If I remember correctly, I was seething with pride and a bit of arrogance about my new found doctrine. I am sure I was not so saintly nor profound!

Luke

Jimmy Snowden said...

Well, you may not have been all that mature about it, but to a Jr. in High School who didn't know anything, it sure did seem profound and mature.