Sunday, September 6, 2009

If the Bible be Holy Spirit Inspired

Reaching back two posts, I listed three bulleted interactions between a person and the Bible. In a simplistic way, I intended to illustrate a common perspective on the Word. That is, people often don't know exactly what to do with the Bible on a personal level other than to read and attempt application. In that reading, they will be stirred emotionally, even if that is described by the reader as, "I'm not getting anything out of this." Dulled, disconnected emotional reactions are still emotional reactions. Most often, individuals will seek out others regarded as more knowledgeable in understanding scriptures for aid in the quest. This may or may not include a trained member of the clergy. Sitting under the instruction of designated teachers or seeking out a friend who is trusted as more mature in the faith is a basic way of gaining a handle over the meaning of those glorious words. Attending a Bible study is a different formula toward the same end of wanting to hear what others think.

Christian tradition focuses on the study of the Bible to divine its Truth. Therein has developed a constant focus on scripture reading in both formal and informal gatherings of believers and the fairly common practice--expectation?--of the discipline of a daily quiet time to include scripture reading pervasive among (as far as I know) most modern Christian circles. Nothing in the assertion I made in the previous post negates the validity of the Word in those practices. I fully receive the Word of God as the word of our living God and consider it a miracle living in and of itself.

Consider the statement made in the previous post, The mind and heart of Christ known through the in-dwelling Christ, the Holy Spirit, is the only source of truth and wisdom available to us within the current paradigm of the natural existence. Does this line suggest we live without the Bible? Only if someone reads that into it. If the Bible is to be revered as the Holy writ, infallible and trustworthy, is this perspective itself not based on a belief, no...more the faith, that the Holy Spirit inspired its writing? To call God the Author when we know men penned the words is a full acceptance of the Holy Spirit's Presence and actions. Coming to an understanding of the Word in line with God's intent and heart is recognized as a function of the Holy Spirit. We consider it revelation. Something active in the Holy Spirit of God must be received by the reader for the Bible text to become "spiritual knowledge," for the life in the words to spawn life in the heart of the reader.

My assertion is not an attempt to encourage spiritual life without the Bible. Rather it is an appeal to receive the words in the fullness of their meaning. The life of God has become available to sinful man. This is the wonder of both the grace in the Father's heart and the spiritual work of Jesus in the atonement at the Crucifixion. The life of the written Word, by faith, then becomes a real and continuing exchange of the dynamics of the emotions and dialogue of the intellects between the believer and the resident Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit is the living Spirit of the Living Word who became flesh, held in the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant within one's heart. This joining of the Holy Spirit to our spirit birthed by God removes the reading of the Word from the confines of our self-absorbed souls and the constructs of the traditional teachings of men and brings to fruition the maturing of our spirit, the new creature.

Life in the spirit then is beyond the written Word but a result of the same. Further use of the written Word is not stopped because this relationship is the core of faith but becomes more purposeful from this vantage point. I no longer use the Word to seek out my relationship with God. That treasure is fully mine. The written Word is part but not the center of my communion with the Living Word. Jesus living within me as the Holy Spirit is the center, the object, the sustainer of my spiritual life.


Josiah said...

The Bible declares Jesus to be the way, truth and life; the only path to the Father. The mystery of Jesus being the Truth was awakened to my mind in college studies on philosophy. The classroom was arguing over WHAT the truth and an old Lutheran Pastor pointed out to me that Truth was a living a person not a what at all. How freeing! His being Truth is our calling to Be Truth. The great treasure of the soul, truth is found only in relationship and is greater than an intellectual understanding of the Book. This is the point I see working in Ded's last post.
In discussing the written Word of God it is blessing loved by the Spirit. In Revelation many things are held in books some so Holy only one could open the book.

craig v. said...

That the Truth is a person is, I think, very profound. We seem to forget this too easily. I appreciate the many reminders from both of you of this great saying of Jesus.

The question I believe we need to ponder a bit has to do with how we read the Bible. Ded is, I think, trying to wrestle with this. The Bible isn't a person. We say God speaks through it. God could speak through a phone book! So imagine it's morning and I have my Bible in front of me and I want to read it. Jesus tells us the whole Bible is about him. How does that affect how I read?

ded said...

Josiah, thanks for sharing the story of college class.

craig v.,
I am not quite sure that I follow your question about "how?"

I guess in the post, I am not specifc. For me, I read when prompted or when I have a question in which study and looking at related scriptures is useful. I also read just to do so. However, I do not read as a discipline. That is reading the Bible for me is not a daily part of a quiet time.

The Bible serves as an illuminator of that which I do not know or understand yet, but for the light to go on, the Spirit must open my understanding. The Bible serves as clarification of what I think and feel. I am often checking to see if some understanding I think I have from my times of fellowship with God during meditation lines up with scripture, believing this inward place of inspiration I have come to know will never violate the inspired words of the Bible.

I practice meditations throughout the day, listening for His inner guidance continually. Some are more quiet and focused, most are as I am interacting with others. I do not know this factually, but I do wonder if this is not what Paul meant by "pray without ceasing."

Overall, I guard against turning the Bible into an object to be considered as a another religious duty. It is a guide in my spiritual walk with Jesus, but the walk is more important than the guide book.

Josiah said...

I hear you saying the Bible is certainly a kind of Spiritual Encyclopdia to help us define, articulate, and check our spiritual walk and knowledge.

I think I do take it is a kind of duty to understand the Bible. If I were not a inclined toward my intellect or were not a good reader I think I would not feel the duty as strongly. However, as a christian (who reads alot); I feel subject first to God and secondly to the Bible. If it is in the Bible and I can understand it, I feel a duy to obey even if I have not got a specific leading in my spirit. Are you warning aginst this? or is there a particular bondage of duty against which you are warning likened to differences in Law described inthe Bible. Law bringing death -- law bringing Life

Josiah said...

I meant to preview rather than post, so please over look the problematic grammar...again

craig v. said...

I believe I would give more legitimacy to regular (daily) Bible reading. I agree that there are abuses and misunderstandings. Perhaps an analogy would help clarify my view. I'm married and have a relationship with my wife. We are together much of the day, but that doesn't mean I'm really listening to her. I suffer from the male ability to look and sound like I'm with her even when I'm not. If our communication begins to decay, it would make sense for us to agree to a regular time together where we focus on one another. Sadly, I might still hear her words and not really listen, but that doesn't mean the discipline of a regular meeting is a bad idea. It only means I can use it poorly. Given how easily distracted we are, it's not a huge stretch for me to see (at least of myself) that even though God is in me through Christ in the presence of the Holy Spirit, I'm still quite capable of not listening. A daily time in His Word, where He speaks and I focus on listening, makes sense to me.