“If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31).
“Consistency, you are a Jewel.” – Attributed to William Shakespeare.
If you follow the Gospels and what Jesus said throughout his ministry, you will get this sense repeatedly, of “continuing in his word.” Jesus said much the same in saying, “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” And, “if you abide in me, and my words abide in you…”
If you will note, this quote of “if you continue in my word,” or “continuing in his word,” is present tense. This is an important facet of this text.
You will also note that “if you continue in my word,” is conditional…based on “if,”… the fact is, many do not.
I have met many Christian folk of differing levels and stages and many get hung up on some facet, or endeavour, or nuance of Christianity or what the “Bible says,” and then go around and around in the “wilderness,” so to speak, for the rest of their lifetimes.
Many are hung up on the Bible.
They believe that the Bible is an object of devotion or worship in lieu of God. Don’t misunderstand. The Bible is an invaluable help to mankind.
That’s right… that is what I said…it is a “help.”
I have met people who carry the Bible around like some talisman, amulet or charm. You would think that the Bible wards off evil spirits or something by the fascination that some folks have for it.
Others always wear a cross pendant. This is a popular activity in the same sense, that the wearer believes the cross carries some sort of mystical power to assist them if they wear it “religiously.”
The same thinking permeates Catholic believers who adamantly believe that a Virgin Mary medallion has some sort of vicarious value.
Of course, if you believe in something strong enough that is inherently false or a lie, some evil spirit will attach itself to such a belief and well-lah, you start having coincidences and weird occurrences which seem to build and build upon each other.
Take off the pendant or medallion or medal or whatever…and you will weather a few storms of odd and trivial misfortunes and then you will be free of the power attached to your devotional object.
Yeah, it is that subtle and devious.
People can do the same with the Bible or some other near genuine object of devotion. I have known people to practically worship the Bible… Of course, they always refer to it reverently as… “the Word of God.”
Well, this is true… to an extent. The Bible is a record of God’s Word. However, it is not an end to a means… it is a means to an end.
I guess I need to explain.
The Bible contains God’s Word. But it is not an exclusive purveyor of God’s Word. You see, God is still speaking.
The problem is, no one is listening much.
The Patriarch Job noted this phenomenon back in his day. He recorded what he was told by Elihu, “For God speaks once, yea twice, but man perceives it not” (Job 33:14). Elihu added, “If there be a messenger with Him, an Interpreter, one among a thousand, to show man His Uprightness” (Job 33:23).
Finally, Elihu elaborated a little more. He did not get his knowledge from solely a written source… He got it from the original source.
“I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker” (36:3).
The Bible is a means to an end.
The end result is that you find and know God. The end result is that you have a knowledge of your Maker, based on a personal covenant relationship, in which you will naturally laud God’s Righteousness and promote your unworthiness.
However, more than a few think that the Bible is the end of the means. This is deception.
Even Jesus stated that, “And this is life eternal, that they (his followers) might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, who you have sent” (John 17:3).
Hence, you can have all the Bibles in their many translations and versions. You can memorize texts like the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, and even the Sermon on the Mount. You can affirm the many promises and inspired passages of the Bible as a sort of “positive thinking,” or “positive confession.”
But if you do not know God… you are wasting your time… and God’s.
Well, maybe not God’s, as He is not listening anyway.
When you get down to business with God… well, it can be “mano y mano.” This is not some macho deal. It is just removing the distractions and focusing on seeking God, and God only, with no props. The Bible can be a prop. It should be a help. But more than a few use it as some sort of God substitute and it is a hindrance.
If you are still reading thus far, there may be hope for you.
If you are offended… well, you can stop reading. Idolatry can take a lot of forms.
The Biblical type for this seeking God is similar to Jacob wrestling with the Angel. Jacob was aware of God’s promises. He wanted direct revelation with God on the basis of these promises. He did not take “no” for an answer. He knew that God was real. He had seen at times it in his father’s life and his own experiences.
Jacob wanted more.
Jacob could have recited the oral history of what was then known of the Bible. But, he didn’t. Jacob could have showed off his knowledge of this oral record to impress God. He could have taken great pride in such knowledge as frankly no one had such a body of this knowledge, save Jacob. Jacob could have used the oral record to tell God how devoted and faithful that he was. Jacob could have showed God just how “religious,” that he was.
The fact is, Jacob did none of these things.
No, Jacob knew these things were a means to an end.
And, Jacob wanted to know God. He wanted truly, God’s Blessings in a very real and personal way. He was not going to settle for words and sentiments like millions do each Sunday morning in popular Christianity.
Jacob wanted to know God. And, he wanted God to know this. Jacob wanted to know God more than anything else.
Jacob did lay claim on the promises that was known of the oral record. But only, to get God’s attention as to what God had promised. Now, it was time for a reality check. Jacob pressed in and challenged God in His Faithfulness. He then received a conviction of faith from God. Jacob knew that, as a result of this conviction of faith, he was not going to give up. Jacob knew that God was going to answer his petition. Here is the deal… Jacob did not just believe… Jacob KNEW. This is faith in action, not some wily-nily maybe, couldda, wouldda, …No. This is faith without doubt. God sent His Angel. And, the Bible says that Jacob wrestled with the Angel in the night to the early morning hours. Jacob did not release the Angel until he was “blessed.”
A lot of folks don’t know what this is. It is a Patriarchal function. Patriarchs expected to be blessed… their lives were filled with blessing. This blessing was an outcome of their individual covenant relationship with God. It was nurtured by prayer, walking upright with God, observing His Laws and Commandments. This is exactly what an Angel of God’s Face, aka “the Lord,” told Isaac about Abraham:
“Because that your father Abraham obeyed My Voice, and kept My Charge, My Commandments, My Statutes, and My Laws…so I will give to your seed all these countries, and in your seed shall all the Nations of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 26:5,4).
There is that “blessing” business again.
It comes from knowing God.
It comes from knowing God in a personal covenant relationship.
It comes from “continuing in My Word…”
When we really “continue in God’s Word..” then we become real disciples. We become genuine followers. We know God. We know Jesus Christ. When the Word becomes “flesh in us” then the Word of God has effectually worked in us.
The Bible. It is supposed to be “made flesh” in you. Paul spoke of God’s Word and Laws being written on our hearts. When you find God, then He will write His very Words on your fleshly tables of your heart.
Then, you will be a disciple indeed. You have then found the truth.
Then, the truth “will make you free.”
A lot of people quote this scripture verse above and have little idea of what it should mean.
There is no truth without the Father of Lights. His Word is truth.
His way is Truth. His Person is Truth. Jesus said the same about himself. He said that he was the True Shepherd. He said that “he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
Knowing God…now, this is Life Eternal.
Thanks for reading.
Copyrighted. Joseph Spickard, 2014. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this intellectual property without prior permission from the author is prohibited.