The first post of the new year. Welcome back to all you guys!! I am sorry I was delinquent in posting this last week. But with the tragedy in Southeast Asia, I felt that everything I had to say was drivel, comparatively speaking.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that what I am saying here isn’t also drivel. It may well be, and I hope you’ll tell me if you think so.
I have simply been pondering what it means to know Jesus Christ, and how I live my life according to what I know, recently. And, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t know much.
A few weeks ago, I decided to throw away all the doctrine I had known, save Christ crucified, risen, and as my redeemer. I felt that these things were all that was necessary for me to know, to inherit the Kingdom. Nothing in these last few weeks has changed that. Now, however, I have a challenge.
I am tempted to read a few books, by well known, and one not so well known, Christian authors. But I before I start, I find myself stopping, pausing really. I have to ask the question, “Isn’t this how you became so filled with garbage in the first place?” And so I must answer, “yes”.
If it is true, that reading a whole bunch of “Spiritual” self-help books is partly the cause of confusing theology and doctrine, why would I fill myself up with it again? Trouble is, it’s so tempting!!! I want to read what they have written, I want to hear new explanations, new insights, I want to hear everyone’s opinion of the gospel, except the Spirit’s.
You see, that’s the trouble. When I open these books, if I open them, there is a great chance that the moment I do, I close the Spirit. Why do I need the Spirit, when I have Max Lucado, or Chuck Swindoll, or Brian McLaren to tell me exactly what I should believe? Please bear in mind that none of these authors are going to say I should listen to them. No, I don’t believe the authors are the problem.
The problem is us. The problem is me. IfI choose to open a book written by a Christian author, rather than open the Word, and rather than just TALK with Him, and if I believe that book will give me answers I can find no where else, then I have limited myself to that author's points and views. I do not want limits anymore. I want freedom! I want to do the good works that have been prepared for me in advance, and I want to find out about them from the mouth of God. I want to remain free! I want to live with truth, and that truth must come from Jesus.
Christian publishing companies around the world proclaim that their founding principals are biblical, that their business is the business of God, and their foundation is Him alone. Do not believe this, it is a lie. I have spoken with numerous authors, and I myself, have been rejected numerous times, by these publishing companies. Sour grapes? You might think so, until I tell you of the struggles of one Max Lucado, and how unknown, he was rejected I believe some fifty times by the very publishing companies he writes for today. What was the reason he was rejected? Because no one would buy a book from an unknown author. Interesting principal of God.
He is not the only one. Some I have known have been rejected a hundred times, and some of what I have read of their work tells me these publishing companies are missing the boat, and withholding some awesome, Spirit-led writing from you, the church. And why? Because they won’t publish anything they cannot make money on. This is not wrong, mind you, in the world’s way of doing business. Publish books that don’t make money, and soon, you will be out of business, unless you have a hoard of money to withstand all the losses.
My point is, why are we buying books from liars? Why are we buying and perpetuating the filling of pockets for people whose claim is that their business is founded upon the very principals of God, and His Word? Clearly you see the problem? If money is the determining factor of who gets published, then the foundation of these publishing companies is not God, rather, it is money. That is the lie, and that is why I struggle so much with buying books recently, and only part of why I will not read some of these works. I get suggestions daily to read this and that, and I have no doubt that all of these books have been a great help to those who suggest them, and I truly thank all who take the time to make the suggestion.
However, what are we about? The favorite past time of Christians seems to be reading books by other Christian authors. Yet the first century church had only a few authors, and never has the church seen the power of the Spirit so manifested as during that first century. Do we rather buy watered down scripture, than read the very scripture left to us by these first century, inspired authors? Do we really believe that without these books we cannot make GOOD sense of the Word of God? Do we really need ten thousand authors telling us confusing message after confusing message, when all along, the Scripture has not changed?
It has become so bad, that indeed, can we even read scripture without using SOMEONE else’s foundation of truth and “fact” before we do? Can we read the Word without already previously forming presuppositions laid down by men, and not the Spirit?
Here…..I say to you now, if you open that Bible, the Spirit will speak to you. You do not need to trust the words of someone else. There is a place for preaching, but there is no greater time to learn from the Spirit than right now, every time right now occurs. You can learn from the Spirit taking a walk, talking with a friend or your children, sleeping, eating, using the toilet, taking a shower, and snuggling with your loved ones. But you can’t take these authors and books with you wherever you go. There are certain places they cannot come. The Spirit has no such limitations. Who, then, will be our teacher?
It is not wrong to read books by Christian authors. But if that is the extent of our learning, if we take what they say with us into reading Scripture, then we will only learn what they have told us, and our ears will be deaf to the Spirit. This is my opinion, so you can throw it away, and you won’t hurt me. But here it is the advice I would give from my opinion. Put the Zondervan Study Bible away, and get yourself a plain Bible, without study and notes. Keep the references, because they do help in pointing out past prophecies, but throw away the notes of “learned” scholars. Then, with blank Bible in your hand, let the Word of God speak to you, without outside influence. Christian authors they may be, but if they are not you or the Spirit, then outside influences they are. Save the time you spend reading their books for time spent with God. They cannot give you what God can, undivided attention. They wrote the book exactly because they can’t go with you wherever you go. But the Spirit can. If we empty ourselves of all the confusing doctrine, the Spirit most assuredly will fill us, and what will we see?
I say, we will finally see the truth, we will have spirits of discernment, and our walk, though honest without any place to hide, will at least be our walk, and not someone else’s whom we are trying to mimic.
This post is not written to offend you. I do not know everything, and I am certain that there are things I have missed. I am certain you can learn many things from these Christian books and authors, and I am certain they are all God-loving people. But of this I am certain too, and no one can prove this wrong. They are not the Holy Spirit of God, and because they are not, their writings are a watered down version of the real thing, which we have plentifully available. Let’s avail ourselves of the real thing first, and be filled with the Spirit, not with opinions and doctrines.