As I look around today, reading and listening to evangelical voices, I find many Christians who believe faith is something mystical that pits feelings against using our brains. Are your feelings guiding your faith as a determiner of truth? Women were made emotional creatures and many times if we aren’t careful, we have a tendency to regard feelings equal to or above what is true. Most dangerous is when we use feelings (often masked as intuition) in our Bible reading and study to interpret truth.
“Thinking is one of the important ways that we put the fuel of knowledge on the fires of worship and service to the world…The main reason God has given us minds is that we might seek out and find all the reasons that exist for treasuring him in all things and above all things.” – John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
If you know me personally, you know I take Bible knowledge seriously. As Christians, we are to practice spiritual disciplines regularly (Bible reading and study, prayer, and worship) but where do you go and how much time do you spend to gain knowledge that will elevate those disciplines? Regarding your local church, are there opportunities for you that are designed with unique learning environments (ex. women only)? Have you taken online Bible classes? Have you attended conferences or workshops for the sake of Bible knowledge? Bottom line: What steps do you take on a regular basis to further your Bible knowledge for the glory of God?
But our emotions are a fluctuating, unreliable guide to truth and must not be exalted to the place of supreme authority in determining it.John Stott
Equally problematic to determining truth by feelings is when the Bible is treated like a sort of Magic 8 Ball when in search of God’s will. Some people will randomly open their Bible, focus on a random phrase, and God’s will is magically found. This practice is as dangerous as “What this verse means to me.” Both are an obvious display of lack of concern for what God meant when he inspired that verse in favor of how the verse engages with one’s own personal experience. And then I must mention, every time I see “Which Bible verse is meant for you?” on social media, I find myself whispering “All of them.” The Bible is a gift to the church and was written as God’s message (his voice) to the church at large. Every. Single. Verse.
Meaning is one, but application is many. For instance, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians means the same today as the time Paul was writing to the church at Ephesus. Albeit we do not live in Paul’s day. So how do we use our God-given minds to determine what God’s voice is saying to Christians today? This requires Bible interpretation. We first read carefully and correctly the sentences, paragraphs, and discourses in scripture. Then we bridge the two audiences and consider context to find meaning and application. Of course, there’s more to it than this and much, much more than you’d wish me to write here. My point is that there is a science to biblical interpretation. And I believe God’s message is one worthy of our time and attention. A message we must respect in the way we read, interpret, and claim as truth. God’s word is much more than a book to be analyzed or scrutinized. The Bible has unique characteristics:
- Divine inspiration
Experiences can sometimes prove helpful in life but when compared to the rock-solid truth of the Scriptures, they are poor substitutes. The Bible is God’s great story of redemption history. A story to be understood and lived out. The historic, orthodox Christian perspective maintains that Scripture is sufficient for instruction about faith and godliness. Indeed, the Bible is sufficient for Christian faith and action. The Scriptures testify to Jesus crucified and risen. The Bible contains every word we need for knowing the way of salvation, but also for living a God-honoring life.
In what ways can growing in knowledge of the Scriptures have effect on our lives? We grow as we exercise our minds, soaking up the Scriptures (Psalm 1:2-3). We can be content with what God has spoken to us in the Bible.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;