Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Him. Paul added that we cannot know Jesus unless we have heard the good news of the gospel. And where do we hear about Jesus? The only reliable source of truth is the 66 books which are inspired by the very breath of God. They must be taken as a whole, because each prophet or man of God was moved by the Spirit to write those words. They are not the words of man, but of the living God. This is why Marin Luther said we must live by the words of God alone; that we must let God's words dictate our doctrines and theology, not man's thinking.
"The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian."
~ A.W. Tozer ~
At first glance we might balk at Tozer's words here. God has made me righteous by grace alone through faith, not by religiously obeying God's word. But that is not what Tozer is saying. He is talking about "perfection" and scripturally, perfection means completeness. If we want to be complete and whole, we will not only read the cozy warm fuzzy parts of God's Word which tickle our ears, but we will read it in entirety. We must read Scripture in context, not making it say what we want it to say (not proof-texting) and we must not skip over the parts that are hard.
Remember the disciples said to Jesus after many a parable, "This is hard teaching. Who can follow it?" Yes, it is hard to be a disciple of Christ because a disciple is willing to pick up his cross daily - and death is never easy. But, Jesus left us the Holy Spirit to interpret His words for us and to enable us to obey them. We have His power in us to live obediently so we're not on our own.
Why do we want to ignore some scriptures? The writer of Hebrews says that God's word is like a sword - it pierces. Our first reaction when we are pierced is to deny the truth because the truth about ourselves can be ugly sometimes. The hardest thing to do sometimes is to admit that we were wrong and to allow God to be sovereign in our lives - to trust Him to lead while we follow.
Psalm 119 is a tribute to God's words, a hymn of praise for all of God's decrees, laws and precepts. Truthfully, it seems weird to praise decrees - I just "love" to be told what to do! I'm a little turned off by someone who "loves" laws because law is restrictive and I'm not sure I honestly love that. Then I realize that God has built a perimeter around my life that hems me in to safety. His laws are not just prohibitive but protective and that gives me comfort because His laws are all based upon His great love for me. This psalm is the longest one in the psalter because it is an acrostic - each stanza begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So, I sat down with Psalm 119 and created my own little acrostic of adoration for God's Holy Word. I'll post that tomorrow, but in the meantime, you might enjoy reading through Psalm 119 yourself and meditating on the power and beauty of God's Word.
"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from you mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8
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*Edited at 9:42 10/30/07 (Should have edited before I posted !:)