The Power of Scripture
I've been witnessing a new movement cropping up in the more charismatic areas of the church that I can't help but pause and wonder about. I don't appreciate the church pointing the finger at others in the church, so I'll attempt to avoid doing it. Instead, I want to give a bit of a warning to those of you who are hearing these voices, and to ask you to discern whether it's a pathway that you feel you really should work down.
I'm sure the movement is much older than I give it credit for, but I've noticed in the past couple years a new resurgence built of off the charismatic, Holy Spirit experience tangent of the faith. This idea impresses the importance of the rhema word, or active, new, living word of God. The rhema is the voice of the Holy Spirit, who gives guidance, counsel, and direction to the believer.
Christ told us He would send the Holy Spirit when He ascends to the Father, and that the Holy Spirit would be our counselor. This means that we walk each and every day with the Holy Spirit, and He is the one who energizes the transformation within us.
What I sense though is a swinging of the pendulum in which the Holy Spirit becomes such a focus of the believer, that they end up diminishing, questioning or stepping away from the power and necessity of Scripture.
Is Scripture Spiritually Necessary?
In Matthew 4, Christ is tempted by Satan three separate times. Christ received his baptism, the Holy Spirit landed on Him in a show of approval by the Father, and Scripture said He was then led, FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, out into the wilderness to be tempted. This means Christ, in direction by the Holy Spirit, placed Himself in a spiritually dangerous position, and Satan himself took the opportunity to come after Christ.
In the three separate temptings, Christ says something that is completely indicative of His foundation on how to know truth from the lie. He says, “It is written.” He says this in response to Satan, who also used Scripture to twist and pervert meaning to attempt to sway the believer. But, the fact remains: Christ used Scripture as the basis to speak truth and repel the wiles of the enemy.
Not only did Christ use it as his strength and foundation when He had been fasting for 40 days, and tempted by the greatest tempter in existence, but He spoke of the Law (read: the Scriptures laid out during His time) as something that He was fulfilling, not abolishing. He did not come to abolish the law, or circumvent it, or deny it. In fact, there were plenty of times His arguments with the Pharisees revolved around the proper interpretation of Scripture. Not a single time did He command His followers to forsake Scripture, or to be done with it. Mind you, this was after He had been baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Remember, He told the woman at the well that there would come a time when people would worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth. Truth is not just rhema word, but logos, and in fact the truth resides within the logos, and is justified through the rhema.
I'd further point out, that a good rule in Scripture is: weigh out the point somebody is making. Does it show up explicitly in Scripture? Here's where we can use this. The argument is that Scripture is no longer needed because we have the Holy Spirit, or that it is now diminished and limited because we have something greater. So we weigh it out. When we look through the letters of the Apostles, such as Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude, do we find an explicit argument that outright diminishes the use of Scripture in favor of listening to the Holy Spirit? Instead, we actually find the study of Scripture encouraged. In Acts 17:11, it states, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” The phrase “more noble character” is followed by the word “for”, denoting the reason they were of more noble character. This noble character was the result of their examining and eagerness with Scriptures, in order to weigh out what Paul was saying.
Scripture stood as the balance, the canon of truth that they could trust and use to weigh out what was being taught to them by a Holy Spirit filled believer.
I understand some people's apprehension. They've seen the countless Bible Schools and Churches that have their noses so far in Scripture that they wouldn't know the Holy Spirit when it rocks them off their feet. We watched in Scripture itself when the Pharisees twist and pervert it to use it to their wicked means, resulting in the execution of the Messiah Himself. We have been there when people used Scripture to justify their own sin, and beat sinners and unbelievers over the head. And we all know that person who posts Scripture verse after Scripture verse, yet their life is completely unchanged.
Unfortunately, I've also witnessed people diminish the power of Scripture, stating they are following the Holy Spirit, and all they need is the Holy Spirit, only to start talking of making choices that are clearly stated as sin or destructive within Scripture itself. I've witnessed people follow paths that could have been avoided, all in the name of the Holy Spirit.
We are built of body, soul and spirit. Much like the temple, which has three parts, we are built in three parts as well. Our body is the outer courts, and if we remember, there was plenty of irreligious sin going on in the outer courts. Our soul is the holies, or the inner courts. Again, sin happened there. Idols were placed there at points. Desecration happened. Our soul, or mind, emotions, will and desire are all susceptible to sin and misdirection. But the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctum of the temple was fully righteous, and so much so that the priest could only enter once a year, after having fully cleansed himself spiritually and physically. If he wasn't found righteous to be in there at that moment, they had a cord tied around his ankle to yank his body out.
Our body is the same way, and we are told by Paul that our flesh is at war with our Spirit. Our flesh (including our soul, which is our will and our decision maker, our holder of our beliefs, thoughts and desires) can be misdirected, and still wars against sin and temptation. The Holy Spirit is pure when He speaks, and He speaks to our spirit. But there is plenty of space for twisting, misinterpretation and misdirection to occur.
Have you ever told somebody plainly and clearly the truth, and it was as though they couldn't hear it? It was as though their ears were closed to you and they continued on with their inner monologue and “truth”? We can do the same thing to the Holy Spirit, and there are times where we don't even realize we're doing it. Hearing Him is like hearing a new language, and takes years of practice, discernment and MISTAKES to learn the language correctly. We can be carried away with enthusiasm, but if we're not discerning, we're in danger of hearing what seems like the right voice.
Don't forget, plenty of religious leaders went into the wilderness and heard from a voice or angel of light. Muhammad listened to the angel. Joseph Smith listened to the angel. Christ did not listen to the voice in the wilderness. He recognized the imitation that Satan attempted. And Satan did it powerfully. He used Scripture, the traits of the son of God, and the promise of power to attempt to sway Christ away from His directive. Satan loves to use slight twists and variations to get people off the correct path.
We take Scripture to weigh out what we're hearing, and determine if we are aligning with God and His heart. The value of Scripture is that it is a record, logos, established word. There is a reason that Christ is referred to as the Word of God. He's not just a physical embodiment of the Word, but the spiritual representation of the Word, as well as the fulfillment and the progress of the Word. He calls Himself the way, the truth and the life. That word “truth” is important because it all rests on whether or not He is true and the truth. If He is, then we have to look back through Scripture and recognize that all of it points to Him. And just as we reflect and point back to Him, we need Scripture to look at how He was pointed to from before He came.
The character of God becomes well-defined in Scripture, and if we do not use the blueprint and the road map in order to help discern His character, we can get off in the weeds real quick. That's exactly why people believe God is all-loving, and so therefore condones and promotes sin. We remove the power and authority of Scripture, then wonder why so many see God in such strange ways.
If you take the Bible and diminish it's authority and role in your life, you're actually cutting the branch that you're sitting on. Your faith was built upon that foundation, and the idea that you can then remove it from your life is a very dangerous prospect. You're telling yourself that you then have all the authority and direction you need to move forward, and forget how you received it.
It's like filling up at a gas station and then believing you can drive the car without ever filling up again. You may say the Holy Spirit is the gas, not the gas station, but there are many forms of gas that would ruin your car. You need the proper delivery system to provide you the right gas. You can even take gas with you in cans, but at some point, there is a necessity of going back to the source.
The Bible is a written account of God's character. Why wouldn't we promote the use of that invaluable resource? Why would we tell (especially new!) Christians that it is no longer needed, or that we shouldn't focus on it? I can't tell you how many times revelation has come directly through Scripture, and how much it has changed my life. Frankly, it has also provided the argument against plenty of things I've been told by people who feel that it doesn't have authority.
For instance, the deconstruction movement tends to begin by questioning the authority of Scripture. I have seen countless people led down a very dangerous path by not giving it the respect it is due.
The written word is a powerful medium in it's own right. If you want to organize your thoughts, sift through where you really stand on something, and attempt to build and grow an organized flow of ideas, then writing is one of your best tickets. The value of written word extends to the Scripture, and this written word is not the product of a couple of sheep herders high on drugs, but a consistent, in-depth, absolutely coherent collection of writing over 2000 years, 66 books and 40 writers.
I must uphold the value of such a treasure that God blessed us all with. It's one of His biggest proofs of Himself to us.
I don't write this to attack or diminish the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of the rhema word of God, but what I am saying can be summed up in this sentence, “It is always good to discern and weigh what you hear in rhema with the logos.”