Thursday, November 25, 2010

How to Avoid the Gospel

Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 2 Timothy 2:14.

I’ve always thought words are important. Without words and the meanings we associate with them, communication would be non-existent. In fact, many arguments can be resolved by agreeing on the definitions of words both sides are using, without which both could be arguing on the same side!

Now, legitimate research into the meaning of words is necessary to ensure correct understanding and use, particularly in the Bible’s original languages. In the next verse, Paul encourages Timothy to “correctly handle the word of truth,” for which clarity of meaning of the text becomes critical.

So why is Paul concerned over quarreling about words? In simple terms, the search becomes more important than the answers. Maintaining the search assures the absence of any definitive answer; a diversionary tactic to avoid direct application of truth to our lives. Whether it’s arguing over words, or circling the gospel, the intent is the same: avoid the underlying truth.

Although the Bible addresses a variety of issues, its enduring value is the revelation of God’s glorious character and the opposite reality about ourselves. We lose the awareness of our sin if the proclamation becomes a discussion about everything but its personal message to us. Until we see ourselves clearly, the death of Christ can have no impact on our lives.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Who’s Telling the Truth?

We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 2 Corinthians 6:12.

Sounds very much like a “he said,” “she said” scenario. Who’s to say who is holding affection from whom? It’s Paul’s word against theirs. From Paul’s letters of strong censure to the Corinthians, they could argue his lack of affection for them. Paul, on the other hand, could argue it is tough love!

But winning an argument is not necessarily evidence of its truth. Deception, bullying, or just rhetorical outmanoeuvring can win an argument. We’ve all probably experienced, or even used, similar techniques. Considering these problems in assessing truth, who can know it? With powerful arguments ranged against our faith, how can we know that’s true?

Unfortunately, there is no final empirical proof of the truth of Christianity or the Bible. For most Christians, there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence for our beliefs, but in the end, our belief in God and the message of the Bible is by faith! Paul wanted the Corinthians to have faith in his love for them, as we claim our faith as truth.

The measure of a valid faith is it’s grounding in the certainty of a future hope. If there’s one constant in life, it is the desire for the happy ending. Tragedy leaves us in despair. From fairy tales and romance novels to the real circumstances of life, the human heart searches for perfect justice and security as the final environment for joy.

The Bible has such impact because it confirms our innermost sense that life does have meaning and direction, fulfilled in the God who created us, and who has prepared a place for us with Himself.  It is that certain hope for our future that confirms our belief in the present.

Hope is the destination; faith is the journey.