Thursday, July 19, 2012

Phyllis, Hayley, and Ultimate Truth (part 5)

This illustration was merely one example of many to show us how the Bible updates and corrects our idea of reality. What we can glean about the world through our senses, education, investigation, or study, is invariably incomplete. The Creator of the universe knows more than you do, and you ought to be thankful that He has been kind enough and merciful enough to grant divine revelation concerning the most important realities of life, things that could not have been otherwise discovered. 

Aligning our Thinking with the Bible

The Bible doesn't talk much about astronomy, neuroscience, physics, or mathematics. Where it touches on these subjects, it is accurate (further reading on that here and here), but it doesn't make it a point to reveal to man the intricacies of these and many other subjects. We can figure these things out for ourselves, and God has placed many rewarding pursuits within the reach of man. There is still so much to discover in these and many other fields, and it gives a chance for humankind to have useful and interesting occupation exploring these frontiers. But where God saw that no man or woman would ever discover certain important truths, He provided divine revelation in the form of a book, His love letter to us, the Bible. It behooves us to study it in order to know what it si that God has revealed, and then to align our thinking with its teaching, for only then can we have an inner reality meter that is accurate.

This is by no means an easy process. Many of the teachings of the Bible are in direct opposition to the way we naturally think. You must lay down your life in order to find it, be the servant in order to be the greatest, be the last in order to be the first, give away your goods in order to gain true treasure, and be weak in order to be strong. How can we align our thinking with such a topsy-turvy-seeming system? How can we just discard our own ideas, which seem to make way more sense, in favor of ideas that seem to be the opposite of what is true?

The Bible itself admits this difficulty, but it reveals to us that the problem is with OUR fallen minds, which are incapable of naturally grasping the high and lofty truths about God.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa. 55:8-9)

It is not a question of blindly replacing our thoughts with God's thoughts, neither is it a statement of impossibility, as if the difference between God's thoughts and out thoughts were insurmountably great. Rather, as we read the Bible, study it, meditate on its truths, and absorb its teachings, we gradually begin to see things from God's perspective. We learn the truth. More and more, as we internalize the Word of God, all those things that initially seemed to make no sense become clear and natural, and we consider them to be superior to the old standards of truth that our darkened mind held. We see clearly for the first time in our lives, because the Bible contains the power of divine revelation.

To see things as God says they are is to see them as they really are. And the more you know how things really are, the more you can answer any question and handle any objection.

Of course, the Bible is not merely a book full of truths, but rather, its primary purpose is to reveal a person, Jesus Christ, who IS the truth personified. God makes us a glorious offer: the Spirit of His Son can literally live in our bodies, in order to live out, in us, the type of life we could never perfectly live. No amount of head knowledge about the Bible can replace this. We receive this life by faith according to the promises of God's word.   

The Christian who has the living God dwelling within him will do many things and act in many ways that baffle the world. The more the Christian conforms to the Christ-life within him, the more his life will demonstrate spiritual realities. Anyone who knows only physical and natural (not spiritual) reality, will be stumped by the things that he sees and hears the Christian doing. 

Who can explain a martyr going cheerfully to his or her death, singing, with perfect peace, smiling? 

Who can explain why one would preach the gospel to mocking crowds who only seek to scorn and oppose the message? Why not just shut up and enjoy the gospel privately and preserve one's own peace and tranquility? 

Who can explain why a young person with great prospects (such as William Borden) would leave it all behind, shun the comforts of family and wealth, and go to die in a heathen land? 

Who can explain why a wealthy heir (like C.T. Studd) would give away all his money and voluntarily trust God for all his provision?

Who can explain why a man like Youcef Nadarkhani will face the death sentence rather than recant?

We offer up our explanations for these aberrations. "They believed in it--their faith was just that strong." "They were just crazy." "They were bold, intrepid, independent-minded souls who wanted to do what no one else had done." 

But none of our explanations can fully satisfy. They are like my ideas for why the guys in Inception were behaving strangely. I was suggesting explanations to myself, but none of them turned out to be quite right. I had to temporarily adopt the movie's version of reality in order to make sense of the plot.

The unbeliever must adjust his inner reality meter in the face of these Christian behaviors, for the astonishing fact is that these people were acting perfectly consistently with the unseen spiritual realities that are no less real for being unseen.

"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." 1 Corinthians 4:18

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20

Christian behavior makes perfect sense in the light of the Biblical revelation of spiritual realities. Those of us who have our inner reality meter calibrated to the Bible's teaching can understand this behavior, and we would behave exactly the same way if we were faced with a similar situation. 

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