The Gospel message is not a difficult idea to grasp. Much of what Jesus taught is easily understood. Most of the Bible is not hard to comprehend. However, although numerous people claim to follow Jesus, life sometimes gets painful or crazy. Struggling with their pain, supposed-believers can end up doing things that are antithetical to clear teachings of Scripture! In their minds, they use fine-sounding arguments of various kinds to justify their actions, of course. But is there a sure-fire way for us to know how to operate in a godly way in our day-to-day existence? Where can we go as an absolute source to what is absolutely True? There are four ways we could answer that question:
We could make it up.
We could listen to what other Christians (or churches or the world) think.
We could listen to really smart Christian teachers.
We could listen directly to God’s Word.
Which way ought to be our approach to discerning righteousness and finding the source of God’s Truth?
Should we make it up?
Some Christians operate based on what they think or feel is the right course of action. Interestingly, God warns that human reason is not at all God’s reason. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). Human thought and emotion are woefully corruptible. In fact, human thought and emotion could even be in direct conflict with the Word of God. While Hitler and mass murderers are glaringly obvious evidences for this, we need not travel far in our imaginations to find other, more everyday examples. If human thought and emotion are the absolute source of what is true and right, it then says something about the character of God:
It says that He is incapable or unwilling to have a consistent message, and could even imply that God is unintelligent or a liar.
Should we do what other Christians think?
Some people think that what “most Christians think” determines Christian doctrine. I’m aware of one religious website that purports to have conversations about spirituality, but they have difficulty nailing down a precise definition of what it means to be a Christian. Claiming to only use what all Christians agree with, their definition of ‘Christian’ says very little at all. Many people that claim to be believers have wildly discordant views on what constitutes salvation, and thus the problem is apparent: If what Christ-claimers believe determines real doctrine, then any answer to any divisive issue cannot stand. Someone can always be found to disagree with the answer. If the idea that “all ideas have validity” is true, then much of what God has to say in the Bible becomes senseless babble, and very few hard stances can be achieved.
God, in effect, becomes incapable or unwilling to have a consistent message. So, believing that those who call themselves Christians are the source of absolute Truth implies that God is unintelligent or a liar.
Should we listen to what really smart teachers have to say?
Scripture speaks about the value of teachers in the Church, and there is no lack of them in our media-soaked culture. Teachers can have a profound and positive impact on other believers, leading them ever closer to living as God intended. However, Scripture also warns of ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing.’ (Acts 20:29-30) Claiming to speak in support of God and His ways, some are, in fact, treacherous. So how ought we deal with teachers in the church? The Bereans in Acts 17:11 serve as a strong, biblical example. They listened to Paul, the man speaking in front of them, but they also looked into God’s Word daily to see if what Paul said was true. They did not accept what Paul said without checking to make sure he was consistent with sound doctrine! In the Kingdom of God, teachers, preachers, apologists, and evangelists certainly serve a powerful purpose. But, if every teacher speaks on behalf of God Himself, doesn’t that mean God contradicts Himself? God again becomes incapable or unwilling to have a consistent message!
If all teachers of the Bible are the source of God's Truth, then their contradictory messages imply that God is unintelligent or a liar.
Should we listen to what God’s Word has to say?
Do you accept that there is absolute truth? Do you agree that there is an absolute reality that no human has the authority to create? Do you understand that God exists as He asserts Himself in His Word? If so, it stands to reason that revelation from Him cannot be founded on personal experience, based on multiple human viewpoints, or totally dependent on teachers that claim to be speaking on God’s behalf. Revelation, then, must be founded on something that will not change and is consistent.
Because God’s Word has been revealed and made manifest, the only way that God remains consistent in His Revelation is through His written Word. If we heed the Bible, God’s message remains consistent. If we take His message seriously, it changes how we live. If we accept and obey what He says, God comes across as absolutely powerful and absolutely not human.
We find that God is the source of Truth, and God is smart.