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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Whole Bible

For the past nineteen years I have studied the scriptures to learn more and more about the Father of the Man that died on the cross for me. I have also studied to learn how to live my life more like the example set by Jesus, the Christ, and through this entire process, ever since that night of New Years Eve, nineteen-ninety, the Holy Spirit has indwelt me and given me a passion for reading and learning the scriptures.

I have encountered a number of people that proclaim themselves to be New Testament Christians and when I have queried them they have, almost all of them, informed me that they do not read, nor do they need the Old Testament. I find that statement to be alarming. When I first began to teach, at forty-seven, I taught the Primaries Class, what better class could a Baby Christian, not two years old, teach? As I studied the lessons each week, I became grounded in the Word of God, the Bible.

In that class we sang songs of praise to the LORD and one of the first I learned to lead the Little People in was Father Abraham and over the course of better than three years we learned about Samson, David and Goliath and of Abraham and Sarah. In short order, I learned that Christianity was rooted in the history of Israel. In the letter to the Roman Gentiles, Paul uses the example of an aged Olive Tree to represent Israel and the root and the trunk are God and the branches are the Jews. The gentiles, that's us, are the Wild Olive branches that are grafted to the tree. From the creation of Adam, in the Garden, there is a continuity throughout the history of man that will not be severed.

The most serious problem I have observed in the Church is the one of taking a scripture out of context and building a religion around it. This also happens when a passage of scripture is removed from it's context. It all sounds so true because it is from the Bible, after all. One of the things I learned in the Vietnam War was that for propaganda to be passable, a.k.a. believable, was that at least ten per cent of it must be true. The same is true of heresy. The thing about the Bible is that while approximately 40 different men penned the scriptures, they were, every one of them, inspired by the same person of the Triune God to write them. So we have about forty men, living over a period of better than two thousand years, many of them having never read the others writings and yet the message is one continuous flow, one idea. That makes the Bible to be of one context from “In the beginning...” through the last “Amen” of Revelation 22 and just as in the reading of our favorite novel, we cannot open it to the middle, or at any other point, and read one paragraph and then, from that reading, claim to know the story.

I have encountered “homosexual Christians” from time to time and in taking the time to sit down and to engage them in exploring their beliefs I have found that they have completely discarded the passages in the Law about the homosexuals and totally disregard the Romans one passage from verses eighteen through twenty-seven. The only way anyone can become a follower of Jesus, including homosexuals, idol worshipers, adulterers and all other sinners, is to repent of their sins and never do that again. Turning my life to move in the other direction involved a twenty-three year process so it can take a good mentor a good portion of his or her life to turn a lost person around. I remember three that worked with me over that twenty-three year period, I certain there were more and I just do not remember them in my later years.

In the last three verses of Matthew we, the followers of Jesus, receive the Great Commission. With the present line of thought it is very difficult for the pastor to see this commission fulfilled. The congregation, the real Church, has placed this responsibility on the back of the pastors and evangelists. Admitting that I cannot do it, I also know that those of us that are following God and we that have been called to service must pray for God to do what we cannot. If you feel that you cannot witness, preach or teach, you can pray. And there is an important passage in 2 Chron. 7:14. Will you open your Bible and read it? Will you obey God?