By Femi Aribisala
The bible tells us about people who had intimate relationships with God in the past, and it shows how they were mightily blessed by them.
Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6). He says to Pilate: “For this cause I was born and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37). Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit he bequeaths to us as: “The Spirit of truth.” (John 14:17). However, many Christians are not committed to truth. Indeed, truth endangers the faith of most Christians.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the dogmatic Christian defence of the errors, contradictions and falsehoods in the bible; in spite of the fact that the bible is no less an invaluable book for these. The fear is that if anything in the bible is not true, then the Christian faith is diminished. But nothing could be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, what this fear shows is that the faith of most Christians has shaky foundations.
The Christian faith cannot be based on the infallibility of the bible. It is based on the infallibility of God. People in the bible did not base their faith on a book. Instead, they based their faith on what God told them personally. Jesus does not tell us to have faith in the bible. He says: “Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22).
The evidence indicates that those who don’t have a personal relationship with God are those who insist everything in the bible must be true. Jesus says to his Jewish opponents: “You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40).
The bible only points to Jesus. However, we cannot know a place by merely reading the road-signs telling us how to get there. We know a place by going there. Therefore, Christians should not just read the bible. We must go to the Jesus of the bible in order to receive and live the life he gives.
True Christianity is not a religion: it is a relationship. We cannot have a relationship with an inanimate book. We must have a relationship with a living God. What the bible does is to tell us about people who had intimate relationships with God in the past, and it shows how they were mightily blessed by them. This shows it is also possible for us to have similar relationships with God today.
Indeed, Jesus invites us to this. He says: “This is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3).
There is a limit to what we can know about God by reading about him in a book. To really know God, we have to interact with him on a personal one-on-one basis; the same way some people did in the bible. God expects us to draw near to him and to enter into fellowship with him. John says: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3).
Living a lie
Therefore, beware of dogmatic Christians whose faith is based solely on the bible. There are many human errors and contradictions in the bible. But the God we serve never makes a mistake and he never contradicts himself. When these “sola scriptura” Christians discover errors and contradictions in the bible, their faith is shipwrecked. To avoid this, they end up living a lie; pretending an error is not an error, and a contradiction is not a contradiction.
When you insist on the truth, their Christian facade disappears to reveal the demons beneath. They will curse you in the name of their idol gods. They will call you all sorts of unprintable names. Some even tell you to: “Go to hell!” And then there is the classic. They will say you don’t have the Holy Spirit. They will tell you that: “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
But when did the precious Holy Spirit become a spirit of error? When did the Spirit of wisdom become the spirit of ignorance? Indeed, if the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit, then no man can receive it. All men start out as natural men before becoming spiritual. Paul himself acknowledges this: “The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 15:46).
Knowing God’s voice
Moreover, God’s works cannot be limited to what is in the bible. John says: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.” (John 20:30). God declares: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19). We cannot perceive it if we limit God to what he did over 2000 years ago.
We must know what God is doing now. We must be able to ask him questions and receive answers. Jesus promises that: “everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:8).
Reading the bible is like reading letters addressed to others. The fact that God said something to Abraham in the past does not mean he is saying the exact same thing to everybody else today. He can fulfil a scripture in our hearing, but we must also be able to receive the specific word that God is speaking to us personally and individually today; even if this will never contradict what he has said or revealed in the scriptures.
Jesus says: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27). He does not say: “My sheep only read a bible.” As we fellowship with Jesus, we come to recognise his voice. Once we do so, we can no longer be misled or deceived by the voice of strangers. (John 10:5).
Therefore, we must not only read the scriptures; we must also experience the power of God. We must not only know the psalm about the Good Shepherd; we must know the Good Shepherd. However, most Christians only read the bible. They don’t walk with Jesus and cannot hear his voice.
Ask to receive
Ask for the Holy Spirit. Ask for him and keep on asking. Ask, and don’t give up until you definitely receive him. Ask, so that you can enter now into an intimate personal relationship with God that is real and tangible. “Today, if you will hear (God’s) voice: do not harden your heart.” (Psalm 95:7-8).
The errors in the bible have nothing to do with God. They have everything to do with men. No human error ever diminishes the truth of God. Therefore, Christians must know whom we believe. He is the one who leads and guides us. His name is Jesus. He died and rose from the dead 2000 years ago.
He is with us always, even to the end of the age. Amen!