We have been looking at the two traditional ways of trying to identify truth. I mentioned this because sadly many have lived lives and said things which completely goes against what God says in His Word. So it is out of concern that I ask: how do you know if what you are experiencing is from the Holy Spirit? How do you know if what you have been taught is from the Lord?
Some would say that studying the Bible is dry, not lively and boring. Theology is not exciting and uplifting. They say it’s not the way we commune with God. They would tell you ‘if you really desire to experience the real God, then stop studying your Bible and allow Him to come into your life’. For some reason they separate Christian living and experience from the Bible. They remove theology and replace it with experientialism. They believe that in this life you need something more ‘real’ than just having communion with an ancient book. The ‘real’ God is to be seen in the supernatural, in the miracles and in the experiential encounter that He invites to into. This is how one becomes sanctified and grows in the faith they say. Well that is kind of what they would say, because they used to tell me back when I was a charismatic. But again, how did they come to this conclusion? Don’t they know what our Lord prayed about in John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth”?
Seems that many (Charismatics and Pentecostals) use John 5:39 to warn those who are students of the Bible, that studying the Bible diligently is not having communion with God, it is rather the spirit of the anti-Christ and it will make us intellectually proud.
Looking at John 5:39.
They quote John 5:39 where the Lord Jesus has just performed a miracle on the Sabbath day and He is answering to his accusers who forbid Him to do the will of God on the Sabbath day by showing them His true identity that He is the Son of God. He speaks about the testimony of John the Baptist (John 5:32-35) His miracles as evident of His deity (John 5:35-36, 14:11) He speaks of His relationship to the Father (John 5:37-38, John 10:3o, 14:10) and the last point He makes is the testimony of the OT Scriptures defend what He says to them (John 5:39-47).
He says to them “search the Scriptures” (KJV). In the original Greek the word “search” (verb) can be understood as a command from our Lord. Christ was talking to some very proud men. They would claim to be well known in Scriptures. In fact, Nicodemus, a Pharisee was a very proud and well known as (The) teacher of Israel (John 3:10), did not understand what Jesus was saying to Him about the new birth (John 3:3-9). Nicodemus began talking to Jesus saying “Rabbi, we know”. But our Lord’s points to him is that he did not know anything concerning his own spiritual state and its need. In the same way, our Lord says to the Pharisees and the Scribes to because of their blindness and folly to “search” to investigate the OT Scriptures concerning Him.
This implies that though the Pharisees where known for being well taught with verses of the OT, they have rejected to investigate carefully what the Scriptures say regarding the Messiah. To find as our Lord says “eternal life” because they did not possess it. But they thought they did. Their pride deceived them.
The second point He said to them: “in them (the Scriptures) ye think ye have eternal life:” this is not saying that the Bible is not sufficient to have communion with God by seeking to earnestly understand it. This is not saying that we ought to press away from using rational thinking and not study diligently the Bible.
In order to show them that what He says and does is not contrary to God’s will, He calls them to go back to the OT Scriptures to study them carefully (Acts 17:11). And what our Lord is exposing to them is the fact that they claimed to be well grounded in Scripture but in fact those claims were not true. Because they are rejecting the very thing which the Scriptures do testify about the Christ. They would teach to others the very things that they themselves do not practice (Matthew 23:3). Christ later calls them hypocrites and liars.
That is why the Lord commands them to search the Scriptures to study them carefully and He gives the conclusion to why they should: “and they (OT Scriptures) are they which testify of me”.
He plainly says to them ‘if you look into the Scriptures, you will see and God will show you the truth and the truth will set you free. You will know what salvation is, what it means to commune with God and all the OT prophesies that have come true because I have come into the world’.
How do we know that this is what our Lord means in this text?
He repeats it to them again in verse 46 “For had ye believed in Moses, ye would have believed my word?”. In Matthew 22:29 He said to them “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, not the power of God”. And usually when people came to test him or question Him, He replied “have you not read”? He keeps encouraging them to search the Scriptures and to be well taught in handling the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15). Or who can forget Luke 16:14-31 the event that our Lord says to the Pharisees about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus who both died. But only Lazarus went up into heaven and the rich man died and woke up in Hell (Luke 16:29-30). The rich man in Hell debates with Abraham and says if his brothers and everyone see a miracle, if someone rose from the dead, they will come to a saving knowledge of salvation. But the response Abraham in heaven said to the rich man in Hell is that even if someone comes from the dead and warns people about Hell, they will not believe him. The whole point that our Lord is making in Luke 16 is that Scriptures are sufficient, they are enough. They have Moses and the Prophets. So we also must trust that the Bible is sufficient for us to understand the will of God in the Christian life.
(to be continued…)