"Nothing more impressive than an intellectual and spiritual approach to seeking truth and a willingness to embrace it unconditionally."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book, Chapter, and Verse?

Do we need "book, chapter, and verse"? Do we need specific scripture in order to act or not to act in a particular way? The answer is both yes and no. The answer is, yes, if you are asking about whether or not something is sinful. The answer is, no, if you are asking about whether or not something is wise. The answer is, yes, if you are asking about doctrine. The answer is, no, if you are asking about personal direction. The Spirit can speak to a person apart from scripture about direction for their lives (whether or not to take a particular church, etc). But the spirit will never, and can never, reveal commandments or doctrine that is not written in the word of God. The role of the spirit is to bring to our remembrance what the word has told us (John 14:26). The following are few things for which we must have "book, chapter and verse."
  • We must have B, C & V for any doctrinal faith that we bind to the conscience of Christians. 
  • We must have B, C & V for anything that we claim is a heaven-n-hell issue.
  • We must have B, C & V for any issue that we use to exclude one from the body of Christ.
Furthermore, the wisdom that we practice for which we do not have book, chapter and verse, we should have strong biblical principle. We cannot produce holiness by inventing rules out of our own imaginations. We cannot produce holiness by inventing rules that flow out of our own personal likes and dislikes. We may chose to not participate in a certain activity simply because we don't like it. But we have no authority to make our personal preferences a matter of holiness. Brothers and sisters: before we judge our fellow Christians let's make sure that our judgement is rooted in scripture. 

Too often what we "feel in the Spirit" is really just self-sanctification of what we feel in our own human spirit. We are destined to err when we equate what "we feel" with what "God feels." If God wanted to bind a particular thing on the church as a matter of essential faith, he would have written it in his word. He would not have left it up to the fickle feelings of one man, or a tiny group of men. 

I fully understand that local pastors should set certain guidelines that may not be spelled out in scripture. But that is quite a different story than using those local parameters as the standard for judging the body of Christ. Local congregation membership requirements are not synonymous with the requirements for membership in the body of Christ. The requirements for local church membership will always be more stringent than the requirements for heaven. 

However, way to often we begin to judge the universal church by the local church. We sometimes think that if everybody everywhere isn't doing what we do here, then they do not measure up. We must not measure who measures up by our local guidelines. For this brothers and sisters, we need "book, chapter and verse."