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"Thought for the Week" by Elder James Horan (Rock Springs)
"What God Doesn't Say"
June 4, 2017
This week’s lesson from the “Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide”, is titled “False Teachers”. An interesting lesson. Are all those who speak-out in words unfamiliar to the “establishment”, false teachers? The quarterly asks, “How can we protect ourselves against any and all attempts to bring false doctrines into the church” (Sunday’s lesson)? Has our church uncovered all truth? Do we stand infallible before the world? Is there more truth to be discovered and freed from centuries of “Babylon’s” distortion? Is EGW the final arbiter of truth? Wouldn’t she want us to march on, discovering more and more “present truth”? Would she want us to stop with her words, like many other Protestant churches who will not venture beyond their particular reformer’s words and understanding? Or would EGW want us to go on and on, digging and releasing the jewel of truth from the rubbish of centuries-old ecclesiastical pontiffs and prelates? And if we are to go on uncovering truth long obscured, how will we discern truth from error? How will we discern the true teachers from the false teachers? As a certain theologian once observed, “It doesn’t take much faith to believe what God said in His Word. What about believing what God did not say?” My, My! What a controversial challenge! So just what does George MacDonald mean by that?
George MacDonald, a respected theologian of the 19th century, was known for stretching the popular Christian understanding of the day. By this statement of his just quoted, which underscores much of his approach, did he intend to lead us to disparage the Bible? Or to a deeper understanding of the Bible? How do we understand the Bible? For centuries, sincere Christian believers just accepted the authority of the “Church” in all matters pertaining to God. Never questioning… or seeking to understand for themselves. Have we been guilty of transferring this absolute authority to the Bible… just believing the Bible because it tells us to believe? (Note: The Bible claiming to be the “Word of God” will not hold water with today’s generation. The reason the Bible is the “Word of God” for many of us is not because it says so. It’s because through actually reading and studying the Bible, we have seen the truth about God and have come to trust the One in whom the Bible testifies. Therefore, the Bible has authority for us because it has accurately shown us God). Are we forgetting that the authority we are to recognize is not of the “Church” or even the Bible, but the only “One” to whom both the “Church” and the Bible point? Is the Bible “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6), or is Jesus? The “Written Word” is to lead us to the “Living Word”. The one use of the Bible is to make us look to Jesus that through Him we might know His Father and our Father. This is the reason to study the Bible. If we do not, our concepts of the Son and the Father will be of what we like best, not of who they truly are. In the Bible we see the Godhead in action… love and truth in action. And from this “Written Word” we see the principles of love and truth, lived-out. Principles which are to lead us and guide us. Principles to be lived in the post-modern times and conditions of the 21st century. Times and conditions which might be foreign to the Bible writers. Yet the principles of love in the “Written Word” still apply. And our Father of love still reigns… and leads His children on.
George MacDonald’s challenge to us still stands. Will we go to our Father in whom alone is life and love… and be led by His Spirit of love and truth? Will we go to His Holy Spirit, who will not contradict the “Written Word”, but will raise our understanding of His principles revealed in His “Written Word”… bringing them to remembrance, promoting their appropriate application to our unique circumstances? It is in this way we will be believing what he did not explicitly say but believing what He implicitly meant… for we now understand. May we believe what He explicitly said, so that we will believe what He never explicitly said, but what He meant. May we come to know the Father as revealed in His “Written Word” so that we may follow the “Living Word” wherever He leads. May we learn the principles of love and truth in the “Written Word” so that we will know how to follow the “Living Word” along the paths unique to each of one of us. May we believe God in such a way that we will have faith in what He never said... but understand the meaning of what He did say so that the general principle can be applied to our particular situation. May we not be like the unprofitable servant who only does what he is told. When the Master returns, “does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do’” (Luke 17: 9-10). To be profitable and not unprofitable, we must come to understand the Master, love His truthful loving ways and seek to come close to Him so that the intent of His heart is the intent of ours. And as we thus stay continually close to Him whom we love and admire, He will be able to show us so many more things that uniquely apply to our time. So many more ways to love… ways that are unique to us and to the unique circumstances in our daily interaction with our brothers and sisters. Principles shown long ago but which need amplification in our world today. We must get to this condition of unity with our Father. Paul refers to this unity when he speaks of the “Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel… But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” (Romans 2:14-16; 3:21-22). We need to know Him so well that we will believe and trust what He never said in His “Written Word”… but believe and trust what He does uniquely say to each of us this day, “being witnessed by [the ‘Written Word’]” and the principles therein.
With brotherly love,
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