Unrecognized Factor To
Understand the Bible
The Christian Bible has been an
indispensable blessing from God to
people everywhere for ages. The United States of America was
founded as a Christian Nation, and the universal acquaintance with the
Bible was the reason for the establishment of universal public
In spite of this American Christian
heritage, when I received Jesus in
to my heart on May 15, 1976, I was almost completely Bible
illiterate. I had been raised in a Methodist church, and had
converted to join the Roman Catholic Church at age 19. In the
process of joining the Catholic Church I learned from the old
'Baltimore Catechism' the fundaments of the Catholic religion.
But on May 15, 1976 I EXPERIENCED the fundamentals of the Christian
reality - Christ came into my heart to be my new Source of life!
The next day the person who had been
instructing me in my new life in
Jesus suggested to me that I ask God to give me a "hunger for the
Bible". It sounded good to me, so I prayed that prayer - "Father,
please give me a hunger for the Bible". The result? At that
time I was finishing my second year in law school to become a
lawyer. I was able, in spite of my busy law school schedule, to
read the Bible completely during the following twelve months!
But during that first year, God made
it clear to me that I could not
rely on my own understanding of the Bible. I had to rely on Him
to properly apply the Bible to my life. The details of that
lesson in 'Casting Down Imaginations' are detailed on another page of
this site at Imaginations.
In 1978 I began to attend a local
Congregational Church, and the pastor
had a class to train future church elders in which he included deeper
research into Bible passages using a Green/English interlinear
Bible. This allowed me to gain greater insights into what God
wants to impart to me and the rest of His creation through His Holy
So now, as of the writing of this
page I have home studied the Greek
Old and New Testaments for about thirty-seven years, and as a result I
have been able to glean truths from the Scriptures which I have never
heard taught in the various churches which I have attended or
para-church organizations which have touched my life.
But there remains a factor of
understanding the Bible of which I have
become aware which I have never heard taught by anyone. It is
what I call the 'Learning Curve Factor'. It is part of the
recognition of the difference between carnal and spiritual Christianity.
I first became aware of this factor
by divine revelation. In the
summer of 1997 I attended the National Promise Keepers rally in
Washington, D.C., and thereafter the local church which I attended
continued monthly Promise Keepers men's fellowship meetings. At
one such meeting one of the church pastors arrived with scratches and
minor cuts on his forehead. As he sat down in the meeting we all
asked the obvious question - "What happened to you?!"
He told us that he had just returned
from his annual family vacation,
during which his family members walked a trail in a park by a lake as
they did every year. The trail led by the lake and over a natural
stone bridge over a stream which emptied into the lake. As he
crossed the stone bridge it gave away, and he fell into the stream and
some small stones fell on him and caused the cuts and scratches on his
head. Then he made the statement which jarred my life: "I
have crossed that stone bridge for years, and always thought it was
solid and safe. But now I know better!"
God used that statement to show me
that there are things in our lives
which we consider to be solid and safe, but they are not. They
may work for years and years, but ultimately they will fail.
About that time I was reading in the
Bible about King David. He
was known as 'the man after God's own heart". Yet in his later
years he entered into temptation of sexual sin with a married woman
named Bathsheba, and his life and family and kingdom were ripped apart
by the scandal. He committed not only the sin of adultery, but
also murdered her husband, and tried to cover up his sins, and nearly
succeeded. But God brought him to account.
The result was that King David
admitted his sins, repented of his
sinfulness, and recorded his summary of this major episode of his life
in Psalm 51. I know it as the Brokenness and Contrition
Psalm. It contains the following verse:
The sacrifices of
God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will
It then occurred to me that
this huge change in King David's
heart had affected his previous writings. For example, David had
previously penned Psalm 61 which begins as follows:
Psa 61:1 To
the Chief Musician.
On stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. Hear my cry, O God; attend
to my prayer.
Psa 61:2 From the end of the earth I cry to You when my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the Rock higher than I.
When my heart is
overwhelmed. That sounds like a crises
situation. My heart was overwhelmed on May 15, 1976, and in my
desperation I was open to the monumental decision to ask Jesus Christ
to come into my heart to take over management of my life. Not a
decision to be taken lightly. It turned out that desperation was
a good thing for me at that time! And God made sure that I also
was broken and contrite at the time as well. He had the person
who was telling me about Jesus give me this KEY to brokenness and
contrition - she told me that my whole life was one big SIN because I,
like everyone, had always lived for myself, and not for God.
But I have known Christians,
including pastors, who experienced crises
without becoming broken and contrite.
DEFINITION TIME: By the way, brokenness simply means
that I realize that I can never lead a happy and successful life
without God, and contrition
means that I realize that it is my fault that I am not completely happy
and successful because I have been leaving God out of my life.
BACK TO THE STORY: The
realization I had was that King David had
been the best of carnal believers in God all of his life until God
called him to account over the Bathsheba 'incident'. Then, as a
result of him experiencing brokenness and contrition, he became a
spiritual believer! This was what might be called a 'sea change'
in his life. He became really humble, and appreciated certain
adversities as gifts from God to keep him humble!! 2 Samuel
THE CRUX OF THIS STORY: I
realized that it would have been better
for Psalm 61 to say, "When my heart is broken and contrite, lead me to
The Rock that is higher than I" rather than 'When my heart is
ANOTHER EXAMPLE: I was also led
to read the account of the
Apostle Paul's arrest in Jerusalem recorded in Acts 21. Paul had
previously been told by the Lord to leave Jerusalem because the Jews
would not receive his testimony about Jesus. Paul argued, but
Jesus said, "Go!" Years later Paul goes to Jerusalem and the
disciples in Jerusalem recognize that the Jews still hate Paul.
So they advise him to go to The Temple in Jerusalem with four other
believers who had taken a vow, and follow the Jewish rituals of
cleaning so the the Jews would see that Paul is still practicing the
Jewish laws and then the Jews would leave him alone. Paul follows
their advice and ends up in prison and bound as a prisoner on his way
The question raised in my mind was
this: was the
counsel of the Christian
elders to Paul to go through the motions of observing the Jewish
rituals spiritual advice or carnal advice? The intention
of this advice was to nullify the hatred of the Jewish leaders and
people toward Paul. The result of Paul following their advice was
exactly the opposite. I came to the conclusion that the Christian
elders' advice was carnal rather than spiritual advice from the
Heart-Knowing God. God's advice would have worked. It's as
simple as that.
The impact this had on my use of
Scripture in my life was this:
It confirmed to me that I need more than ever to trust God with all of
my heart, and to stop leaning on my own understanding - even of
Scripture!! Just because some Christian leader gives me advice,
or orders, does not mean that God wants me to take that advice!!!
Then I came across a verse which
showed me that this was practiced by
regards our brother
Apollos, I greatly desired him to come to you with the brothers, but it
was not altogether his will that he come now. But he will come when he
Here we see the Apostle Paul 'greatly
desiring' Apollos to do
something, but Apollos was not yet willing. I understood that to
mean that Apollos was following the leading of the Holy Spirit, and
Paul recognized and trusted the Holy Spirit to get Apollos to the right
place at the right time!! So much for 'following orders'!!
And that is the Unrecognized Factor
of Bible Study which I find so
liberating and refreshing. I am truly free to follow the leading
of the Spirit because I have committed my ways to our Heavenly Father,
and He is able to establish my paths accordingly. But He is not
free to do so if I am still taking control of my own life. It's a
matter of faith. Don't you agree, dear reader??
Unfortunately my freedom has not been
accepted by the church
leadership, and has resulted in the termination of my membership from
my church of choice, but I would rather obey God than obey people who
have not yet experienced brokenness and contrition. My
acqaintenances who have experienced brokenness and contrition seem to
find my freedom as refreshing as their own freedom!!
WARNING! The current church
system of Bible study is defective to
the degree that it relies on our own goals, understanding and willpower
to live the Christian life. I believe that we all need to be
intentionally crucified with Christ by claiming His cross, death,
burial, resurrection and ascension as our own cross, death, burial,
resurrection and ascension in order to truly be set free from ourselves
so that we can freely live for God. See Galatians 2:22. I
believe that God does as deep a work in each of our lives as we want
Him to do, and then He waits for us to ask Him to help us to dig deeper
and deeper until we really and truly have nothing that separates us
from Jesus as the foundation of our lives.
Faith is not like sin. Sin is
automatic to the human race, but
faith is an exercise of our will to get God to do what we cannot do for
ourselves. Yes we all need to be saved from our sins, but we also
all need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and we all need to be
buried in water baptism, and we all need to be saved from our delusions
and the enemy's deceptions, but this does not happen unless the Good
News of Father's provisions for these aspects of eternal life are
brought to our attention. Father, please bring every lost truth
to the attention of everyone who needs to know what the possibilities
are for each creature in Christ Jesus our Savior and Lord!!
In the same way that the Toronto
Revival was and is an aspect of God
which was not known to those who were seeking more of God and knowing
that there must be more, our current knowledge of God cannot limit us
to the unlimited possibilities which our Heavenly Father has in store
for us. As a close friend likes to say, we don't know what we
don't know!! So I recommend this prayer for one and all:
Heb 13:20-21 Now may the God of Peace who brought again from the
dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep, by the blood of
the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do
His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through
Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.