One Bible, So Many “Truths”
I wrote this while ago . . . but it is worth reposting with a few additions . . .
The other night, I was talking with my husband about a teaching I heard on end times, one area where there seems to be more theories than mosquitoes on a summer night in the Deep South; all fighting for life. Okay maybe not that many, but sometimes it feels like it.
Christians seem to disagree more than agree about the various aspects of our faith. What gives us our name, Christ, we agree on but outside of Him most beliefs are up for discovery; end times, hell, salvation by election, prosperity, authority, role of women, and state of church to name a few. The array of denominations and new ones popping up testify to the extent of our dissentions, but that isn’t how it should be. 1 Corinthians 3:3-7
In this life, disagreement will always be there because we are all in the process of learning but it shouldn’t divide us but unite. Dissensions can be beneficial in that they remind us not to put our trust in man’s words, doctrines or interpretations but to rely on God. The thoughts of man are futile, but God’s Word is perfect pure truth. Psalm 94:11, 12:6
But if we are all reading the same Bible how can we have so many different theories?
For several reasons, but I think one is about trust. If we depend on God to be our Teacher of His Word and not humans we move closer to truth and not farther away. There is one truth and He wants us to know it. The problem is many believers trust people instead of God. Therefore you get a multitude of philosophies and interpretations. How many are learning from God verses from highly esteemed teachers who are just passing along their limited understanding? That system gets us further and further from the truth. It’s like the game of whispering a secret from ear to ear around a circle. In the end it is quite humorous because the statement is much different than how it started. You have to go back to the source to know what was really said. Dwelling in the Source, the Word, you’ll start to see the multitude of lies out there being taught and believed by many.
Many believers aren’t sitting alone with God and diving into the Word with the Spirit as their teacher. There is often the accompaniment of a teacher, commentary or study guide. Not that anything is wrong with these at certain times, but if we rely on them to show us the truth, we aren’t relying on God and probably will be misled. It’s necessary to be with God alone on a regular basis and spend significantly more time with Him listening to His pure words without man’s interpretation than any other source to establish Him as the source of truth in our lives.
In Matthew 23:8, 10 the titles teacher and Rabbi denote authority in the area of instruction. The Rabbi held an honorable place in the synagogues and he was seen as the authority and expert in spiritual matters. When Jesus came, He took the place of the teachers who held that superiority as noted in the verse. Christ alone became The Teacher having preeminence in instruction about Him and His kingdom. He gave each one of us the Holy Spirit to teach us. 1 John 2:27 The Spirit gives us understanding of passages, applies them to our lives, prompts us to dig deeper, and takes us into the depth of God’s Words. If we trust Him to teach, ask for understanding and wait on His instruction, then He is faithful to teach us what we need to know when we need it know it. No one can teach us like He can because He knows exactly where we are at, how to build our understanding, write it on our hearts, and how to explain it so we understand. Jesus came and made everything personal including instruction. Galatians 1:11-12
In contrast, Paul tells us that God appointed teachers in the church. 1 Corinthians 12:28 However, this role doesn’t contain the authority of what Jesus spoke about in the previous verse. If so the verses would be contradictory. Teachers among the brethren are simply that, our brethren. All they say is secondary to our Teacher’s words. Growing up I had two brothers. No doubt in certain areas they were knowledgeable and I could learn from them, but they didn’t hold the authority, wisdom and overall instruction that my father did. Though they had points of enlightenment, they were young and immature like me and often lead me down the wrong path. It is the same within God’s family. For a healthy family, our Father, God, should hold the role as the utmost Teacher in each one of our lives. Both can’t hold first place. We need discernment in listening to others and that comes from spending time in the Word with the Spirit as our Teacher. It’s critical for the strength of His body, the true church, that each one of us builds our foundations on Him and not each other. 2 Timothy 4:3
The Word says that each one of us should be able to teach. 2 Timothy 2:24 That skill is a hint to how we should be spending our time. Students learn from the Master teacher not other students. From our fellow comrades, we share an insight, see another side of an issue, or get confirmation, but we have One, who is our Teacher. Learning from others and disagreement can be healthy, enriching, and a wonderful experience as long as our trust is in God for the source of truth and not man.
Without God’s Word no one can know the truth. There is one truth. The only way to gain truth is by spending time with Him alone one-on-one. I believe He designed it this way to draw us near to Him because He loves us. The one-on-one time builds trust and intimacy which lead us to fulfilling the first commandment and our ultimate eternal purpose – to abide with God in a unity of truth and love.
God isn’t limited by our educational backgrounds. He is able to teach each one of us one-on-one. He is God after all. Yet, if we don’t believe we won’t find. Our minds will be closed off and we won’t seek. We can’t get frustrated by the diversity or throw our hands up and think, how can I know? That mindset is counter to God’s will for us. We will never have the full picture but we can get continually closer. He wants us to know. He wants us to seek and to learn from Him. We have been given the Spirit to teach us and we need learn to hear His voice and to trust Him to do His job.
3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
November 23, 2009 at 11:25 pm
Amen,amen, Rachel I truly agree this is so important especially now with the appearing of our Saviour being so close,we must spend time with God lest we fall for the tricks of the enemy and be shipwrecked walking in lies instead of God’s truth. And it’s so sad but many Christians can quote what the preacher said but when asked what has God said to you lately,there is silence.Spending time with God is of the utmost importance in our daily lives.
Rachel I hope you and your family have a blast for Thanksgiving Love you much.
November 24, 2009 at 12:54 am
Pat – what great points you made. Thanks for sharing your insights! And Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
November 24, 2009 at 12:07 am
Insightful post, Rachel. The Word is where we find our sustenance, our comfort, and our guidance. I admit, I didn’t always find reading the Bible so important or so enriching…it was something I used to do more out of duty, I think, but by God’s power to change hearts and lives, He gave me a hunger for His Word. I sometimes find myself distracted from it and not giving it the time it deserves, but still, I am amazed and humbled by the difference; I was starving for it and with what desperation and joy have I been reading it more eagerly than ever. It is precious and full of riches! and indeed, it must be where we go with all our questions, knowing that the Word and the Spirit will lead us into all truth.
November 24, 2009 at 1:06 am
Ruth – thanks for sharing part of your journey – I think a lot of us have had a similar experience with the Word – it is incredibly powerful in our lives therefore there is a lot of opposition to dwelling within its pages on a daily basis. Rachel
November 24, 2009 at 6:55 am
there is a lot of opinions and beliefs in christianity that are in fact the result of our pride and lack of humility: We want to know. And we want to have it right. We want to be the ones that have the “good version” of the Gospel.
when we learn to know God on a daily basis, all this pride becomes useless and stand for what it is: human pride. I often use the Psalms 119 words to describe what I mean: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” The word of God is not a flash-light that allow me to see things very far, it is rather a “lamp to my feet” which I need continuously.
I do not need to know the exact chronology of the return of Jesus, if there will be a millienium or not, if I will live the tribulations or not. The only thing I need to know is how to live today as if Jesus would come back today, growing with that hope.
I do not need to know a definition of who will be in heaven, and who will be in hell, and what are the “criterias” that are used by God. The only thing that I need to know is that “The Lord knows those who are his, and Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Timothy) and live my life accordingly.
we desperatly need the Spirit to read the Scripture.
November 24, 2009 at 5:07 pm
Tommy – you made some great points adn how true – we do desperatly need the Spirit to read the scriptures. May we all learn to listen to His voice above all others.
November 24, 2009 at 7:44 am
It tell us in the bible that we won’t fully understand everything in it but it will be revealed to us when the Lord returns.
That’s why there are so many contradictions, and theories on it.
November 24, 2009 at 5:05 pm
Donald – you made a great point in that we don’t understand all – and when man thinks he does that is a huge problem. I think there is so much contradiction because many look to man to teach them and not God. If more relied on the Teacher instead of a human teacher I think things would look very different though we still wouldn’t know fully.
November 24, 2009 at 3:22 pm
So many different teachers teaching who love not the truth. They settle for their traditions of men because they love not the truth. But even to love the truth is a gift from God. If they love not the truth, then God causes them to believe lies. ALL THOSE WHO LOVE NOT THE TRUTH, WILL NOT KEEP SEARCHING UNTIL THEY FIND IT. They will just keep on reading mistranslations and listening to blind teachers. All in the body of Christ are called to be there from before creation.(It is not men who cause any to be in His Body) Seek an you shall find. Search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so. These are more noble.
II Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
May God bless you richly in his deep riches found in His Word.
November 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm
Brother Mark – what a great point and at the heart of it all – a lack of love for the truth – thanks for bringing up such a fundamental truth.
November 24, 2009 at 8:22 pm
Our problem as humans is that we try too hard to understand God, to analyse His decisions and criteria, to question His motives and to dissect Him like an insect under the microscope. Our incessant questionings result in arguments amongst ourselves on what divides us; rather than rejoicing on what unites us.
God never asked us to understand Him. He asked us to dare to obey Him and to love and trust Him.
November 25, 2009 at 5:36 pm
Victor – you made a good point, but God does want us to know Him – and that means diving in and seeking Him out as He wants to be known. Throughout the Bible – God makes this desire clear. Knowing is important because then we truly are united to Him in truth and not some image in our mind. Knowing leads to trust which leads to abiding with Him in love. But to your point – we have to understand that He reveals Himself to us – too often people are uncomfortable with not knowing so instead of waiting to be taught by Him – they start trying to put His truths together in their own wisdom and get way off track.
November 25, 2009 at 5:25 am
The deepest level of our relationship with Christ is not what he does with us today but who he is for us today. We can’t predict from our experience what he’ll do, but we know from the Bible who he is. “The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore I will hope in him” (Lamentations 3:24
November 25, 2009 at 5:38 pm
Ike – thanks for your comments, and I love that verse – it is tremendous when we really stop to think about it.
November 25, 2009 at 11:40 am
“God isn’t limited by our educational backgrounds. He is able to teach each one of us one-on-one. He is God after all.”
I Like that…Amen
November 25, 2009 at 5:39 pm
Thanks Mike. Being taught by Him is an area many struggle with in terms of trusting God and suffer for it.
November 28, 2009 at 3:13 am
In our human arrogance, we have made a game of worshipping and serving God. We have argued about the “rules” of the game and we have divided into factions according to the “rules” (truths?) we hold dear.
It seems funny to me now, that a person might insist on using the approved filter (the one dictated by their “rules”) to seek God and go through a lot of religious rigmarole, when Jesus is so available, when He is so approachable. Why do we do that?
The short answer is pride, we imagine ourselves to be great explorers slashing through the jungle of misunderstanding, wrenching the truth from the darkest recesses of reality, through scholarship, tradition and “righteous” attitudes, discovering the hidden things of God. In this way we have been seeking, not God, but a path that we can take pride in, a stairway, a ziggurat (a man made high-place), if you will, to God. If we are proud of the struggles we have had and our mighty “successes”, then we are no closer to God than we were when we began.
This is where the deceitfulness of the human heart has led us astray. God’s ways are not our ways, He is so different from us, so far above our ways, that He must reveal Himself to us, by His Spirit, we cannot with our own puny brains comprehend Him. Without the Spirit we cannot know the first thing about Him, even if we were to spend the rest of our lives poring over the earliest greek and hebrew manuscripts. We cannot, from the vantage point of pride, force God to reveal Himself. He has stated numerous times in Scripture that He only responds to the humble, the meek, the ones who truly have need of Him, and He resists the proud.
The proud are pretty much on their own. If you are proud If you think you have it all figured out, the only chance for you is for Him to bring you down to the dust as He did Saul/Paul, and Nebuchadnezzar, and from that lowly place, for you to respond to Him in humility.
So what are we to do?
Rachel has laid this out quite well, there is only one rabbi (master) for us, we only have one High Priest. It is Jesus, He taught the apostles, He is perfectly capable of teaching us.
But wait, you say, there were teachers in the early church, Paul mentions them, Rachel even mentioned them, 2 Timothy 2:24!
Yes indeed, he does and she did, but if people claim to teach about Jesus without the connection Rachel is talking about, they might as well go home and forget about it. You must know Jesus before you teach others about Him, and the only way to truly know Him (just like knowing anybody) is to spend time with Him. We must seek Him through the Spirit and in His word, and we must teach others to do the same. Then we will all understand how to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
November 28, 2009 at 5:53 pm
Nathan – Amen, Amen . . . thank you so much for sharing your insights which I believe hold much truth.
November 28, 2009 at 5:08 am
Hi Rachel. This is such an important thing; to be in a place where we are hearing from God and not relying solely upon the words of others. I’ve seen many instances where instead of conforming to scripture, folks would become so indoctrinated that a “fitting scriptures into the doctrine” would result. It’s an easy thing to fall into.
As was mentioned in an earlier comment, pride also plays a factor in this. How important to be sincerely desiring and seeking to hear from the Lord without our preferred theological filters in play. Sound doctrine is important, but we must be careful that we do not shut the door on revelation from on high. (Which will always line up with the word.)
This is indeed an important topic. Blessings always in Jesus name.
November 28, 2009 at 5:19 am
Hello again. What I’m about to share is an extreme example of indoctrination as it involves a doctrine that’s not truly biblical, but it makes a point. CR has been getting visits from a Jehovahs witness named John H. who, upon each visit, brings a new proselyte. CR engages them in dialogue, but it always seems to go around in circles. On the last trip, John disclosed their belief that there is no hell. CR went on to make mention of the rich man and Lazarus, to which John replied:
“Oh that’s just a parable.”
This poor guy is so indoctrinated; so confident that the folks who write up the watchtower are telling the truth, that he never considers just how ridiculous his statement is. “Just a parable?” That’s a flimsy explanation in which to be placing confidence. We are both praying for John, but the deception is profound.
I know that this is a strange example, but it reveals the dangers of following the teachings of men instead of getting into the word without the spin of others.
Blessings again in Jesus name.
November 28, 2009 at 5:59 pm
Timbob – thanks so much for sharing your insights and story. Hell is a complicated on because many are canal minded on this topic. I think there is a lot of lies about hell – I in no ways claim to understand it all – in fact the more I read the more questions I have about this topic. Because the Word is only revealed by the Spirit it is easy to manipulate and control others by it who are carnal minded. This is an area where we need to seek the Spirit’s instruction as we dive into the entire Word of God. We need to be patient as He reveals the truth to us – which often seems to come bit by bit.
December 23, 2011 at 9:29 am
Hey Rachel, very true! As you know, satan has a conterfit for every covenant of God. This is why I brought up the subject of “Jesus approved scripture”. when God’s words have been changed in the slightest, it can send even a true disciple down the wrong path. Jer.8:8How can you say, we are wise and the law of the Lord is with us? But, Behold, the FALSE PEN of the scribes has made it into a lie.” The only thing I can find in scripture that tells me how to find Jesus approved scripture is, “when two or more are gathered together in MY NAME I will be there also”. Which says to me, only when people, that are not connected in any way, come togather to find agreeable clarity in the scripture: this has only happened twice since the emplimenting of lead by the Holy Spirit.
December 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm
Hi Eldon – one note here … a true disciple won’t be led astray because they are trusting the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of God, to teach them. There are so many ways one person can interpret the scripture, but if you are trusting and looking to THE interpreter then I don’t believe God will allow you to go down the wrong path – that is why we trust Him as our Teacher. He is our confidence.
December 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm
Hey Rachel, a big part in me says you are right. Yet, the words of Peter comes to mind, “If the righteous man is scarcely saved”. I don’t think we can let our guard down in any part of life. Still, Jesus said, Rev.2:24 but the rest of you who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of satan, to you I say, I do not lay upon you any other burden.” Furthermore, as you said, I have noticed in different versions of scripture, things that could not be right according to the Lord. In further study in different versions, I find wording that makes sence according to the rest of God’s word. I did not see these things before I had surrendered all to Jesus! I guess I am saying, when I read the word, I want it to be God speaking to me and not just another denominational preacher. —I am trying to learn 1 Peter 4:7-11; I must over come a life long hatred for people. I believe I can now honestly say I do not hate anyone. Jesus said I must do better! However, the worst thing I could do to another person would be to lead them away from Jesus. I suppose, if God called them, I would not be able to lead them away. —are you, now, confused? I mite be.
December 24, 2011 at 12:14 am
Hey Rachel, 11 Peter: First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.—Forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a dumb ass spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. —THESE STATEMENTS FROM PETER confurms your statement. —Paul said he and the other apostles did not “venture to class” in obtaining wisdom of God(not a doctorial degree from seminary). 11Peter: So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. —when we discuss the scripture, we are two gathered togerther in Jesus’ name & HE is with us to make sure we get it right! Praise the Lord and I do appreciate you.
December 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm
Hi Eldon – We are not to put any man’s (woman’s) words above God’s. We are each to seek Truth from Him. If each is doing this, we won’t lead them astray because God is having the final word in their life. We are each on our journey of learning, why we need to “test” all spirits.
There is a powerful dynamic between to seeking believers who trust in the Holy Spirit’s instruction coming together and talking about the Word and what they are learning — God uses it in a powerful way. Tremendous isn’t it?!