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.