A couple of days ago, I got in a confrontation with a dear friend. He believes things about the Bible that I don’t believe and I believe things he doesn’t. I have never tried to force my opinion on anyone, and had felt a bit blindsided. We are ok now, but I have felt it on my heart to write him a letter. As I wrote it, there are parts that I thought someone may benefit from reading. I have not included all of the information in the letter because it serves no purpose to share, and it only benefits my relationship with my friend. My intentions of writing this is to show that we are all different and think differently, but we can’t force anyone to believe like we want them, nor should we get angry with our reaction when they try to do it to us. This is a lesson I am learning. I hope these words bless some one’s heart today!
The Letter Excerpt
I understand you came to me with concern, but I don’t think you wanted to know what I believe for the right reasons. I am not going to argue with you about my views on things because I love you and there is nothing productive that can come of that. I apologize for getting angry, that was not how God wants me to handle situations like this, and I have learned a valuable lesson. If you are wanting to know what I believe, I will tell you, but I can’t just go around scripture plucking to show why I believe the way I believe. When I open the Word, I can’t un-see what I know, every dot and tittle reinforces my view. I would never want to tell someone something and then they just take what I say and go with it anyway. I think a person needs to search out their answers themselves, and if they hear something that they question, then they should test it with the Word of God.
The Bible is never going to contradict itself. The Bible is Truth. The Bible is God’s breathed words that He inspired men to write. What a beautiful promise we have from the Lord in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” God is always faithful to give us the wisdom we need! I know this is true because James 1:17 reads, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” His Words are never changing. His character is eternal.
With all this being said, I will tell you why I even ever came to question anything I was ever taught and to search out the Father’s Truths and not man’s. First of all, I wasn’t really reading all of the Words myself. I would read a few verses and then just look at the footnotes when I had a question, or I would read a commentary on the Book. I had so many assumptions because that is what someone else told me. I was going through the motions. I knew and believed the fundamentals of the Gospel of Christ. I knew I was a sinner and needed a Savior, and I was and still am so thankful for this grace that God has granted me. But sadly, that is pretty much where it stopped. I would repent when I felt convicted, but sometimes I would rationalize my actions because, well it wasn’t as bad as doing such and such. I thought if it was really that wrong, the Holy Spirit would tell me, because after all that is where I was told I get my instruction on what sin is. I would know it in my heart. I went to church, and listened to the preaching, and had fellowship with some of the most loving people anyone could ever know, but after church time was over, it was back to the same old stuff. I was for the most part a “Sunday only” Christian. Just coasting.
One day at lunch, I went to the post office and ran into an old friend. I hadn’t seen her in so long. We hugged and talked and just had a really good time visiting. I noticed that she was so overly happy. She was spewing joy and just glowing. I told her, “You just look like you are glowing!” She then began to tell me that she was just so blessed by the Father and the peace that He is giving her. She went on and on about His Word and His Love, and the more she talked the more I saw what it actually means to look like Jesus! I was staring at the face of the Holy Spirit!
After lots more talk, we went on our separate ways. I went home thinking about our encounter. I was asking myself, “What am I missing?” I sent her a message on Facebook and told her that I was so happy she shared Jesus with me. After this, I got a phone call from her. She was almost crying. She said I just have to tell you what happened today after we left the post office. She said that she went home and was praying and that she likes to journal her prayers. As she was praying she was led to turn the pages back on her journal. She said that she read what she had prayed weeks before. She said that in those prayers she asked God to help her to be a light to others, she prayed that she would “Glow” with His Love! She started balling and said “Haley, you said I glowed!” By this time we were both crying. I told her how I had felt so lukewarm and that when I saw her I knew there was something I was missing in all of this. We cried some more, and she invited me to Bible study with her. Ever since that day, I have been so convicted by the Spirit to search the Word out for myself. I wanted to have this Joy!
Then, one day a few months later, I was studying for a lesson in Sunday school. The topic was sin and judging. I had heard from someone one time that the Bible said “hate the sin and love the sinner.” I thought, this would be a good verse to bring up in class. So I searched for it, and then I searched for it a little bit more. I couldn’t find it. So I googled the quote and I was astonished to find out it wasn’t even in the Bible. It was a quote from Gandhi! I was so disgusted that I had ever repeated that, and had thought it was the Word of God. I got to thinking about if there are other things that I have thought that may not actually come from the Bible. Here are just a few things I found that I had always heard was the Word of God, but to find out it is not, “God helps those who help themselves.” “God works in mysterious ways.” “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” “This too shall pass.” And so on and so on!! I encourage you to go look these things up for yourself and see where they actually come from. Because I had never taken the time to study the Word for myself, I was hoodwinked by all this, just like so many other people! Not that anyone who told me these things were trying to be facetious, they were just reiterating what they were told by someone else just like I did.
All of these things have made me dig deeper into God’s Word. Then the more I looked, the more things I saw that just weren’t adding up to what I had always believed and was told. So I have been diligently searching out the answers in the rest of Scripture and making sure that what I am reading is in the correct context. I am trying to make sure all the instructions I am following are coming from God and not ordained by men or their traditions. I am in no way prefect at this but it is with my whole heart I am trying!
The biggest blessing I have received from searching God’s Word is finding His true character. I had always made a division between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New. I saw the God of the Old Testament as a tyrant who had his thumb on the people, who put people in bondage. Ruling with an iron fist. Then I saw the God of the New Testament as all about love, peace, joy, and grace. Praise the Lord I don’t make this separation anymore! God has always been about love, peace, joy, and grace. God is our Father. He loves us and corrects us like a good and just father would. It is my rebellious heart that made me see it in a different way. I challenge you to read the Words of God with the knowledge that God is the Father and that we are not only his children, but that we are infant children. Children who if left to our own devices will harm ourselves, and that God is the loving Father who just wants to protect us and guide us in the right ways. I assure you by doing this, you will never see the Bible in a different way, nor would you ever want to!! For once in my life I understand what David is talking about throughout Psalm 119, and why in the world he would be goofy enough to dance half naked in the streets glorifying the Lord! I also understand what Paul means in Romans 7:22, “For I joyfully concur with the Law of God in the inner man.” I hope that all of God’s children can see this joy too, but it isn’t my place to make them, nor would I ever force anyone to.
I pray that you do not take anything I have said to be with a derogatory attitude. All of these words are coming from a loving heart. Also, do not think I am in any way trying to say that it is wrong to listen to other believers preach or teach the Word of God. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” What I am saying is that we should be diligent to find the Truths for ourselves, straight from the Source and not just second hand. Oh it is such a blessing to hear the Word from a friend and then go look it up for yourself and see to what the Lord wants to show you! There is no finer treasure in the world!