“We are living in a time where people hear with their eyes and think with their feelings.” – Ravi Zacharias
In a social media-driven world, how we communicate and think has been turned on its head from ages gone by. Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost not only some valuable interpersonal skills, but our ability to separate emotion from reason has diminished as a society.
In making a case for thinking biblically, I’ll make an observation of how I’ve seen some negative effects of this phenomenon creep into the church and into Christian thought. Then I will propose some suggestions.
Challenges to thinking biblically
First, It seems that the Christian church in the United States, to a large degree, has disregarded or devalued the authority of God’s Word. The results of such a deterioration are always destructive. It can be argued that the church has opened itself up to some highly damaging ideas as a result. Whether corporately or individually, if one replaces the highest authority with a lesser, inferior authority, sub-par thinking and action will result.
Many have replaced God’s word as their measuring stick with things like cultural standards, the approval of others, or their own personal experiences and emotions. These things are necessarily always changing, unstable, unreliable and 100% subject to the corruption of sin. So it seems they are highly faulty standards by which to guide our lives. God’s word, on the other hand, remains the same and was intended to be the final authority in the lives of Christians.
As followers of Christ, we ought to continually becoming more like Him (Colossians 3, Philippians 1:6). He is our example (1 Peter 2:21-25). If that is the case, let’s take a look at how he handled certain situations that may be instructive to us and serve as a guide after which we can model our decision making.
1. When Pharisees were testing Jesus about the moral law concerning divorce
Jesus’ response was, “Have you not read…” and then he proceeded to quote the law from Genesis in the Old Testament containing the answer to their question.
When Pharisees challenged that answer by citing an example that seemingly overrode the Scripture, Jesus’ response was to point to the original intent of the law, point out the sin that created an immoral exception, then not only reinforce the original law but expand upon its moral implications (Matthew 19:3-9).
Application: Jesus not only expects those who know Him to know the Scriptures, He does not deviate from demanding obedience to the law as given.
2. When the Sadducees challenged Jesus about an erroneous belief they held
Mark 12:18-27 details an account when the Sadducees (It’s so sad, you see. That couldn’t be helped.), who did not believe in resurrection, asked Jesus about it, hoping to trip Him up with a question to justify their unbelief.
Jesus promptly corrected their error: “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?” He then proceeded to cite another Old Testament passage and provided an application of it that completely destroyed their error.
Application: Scripture must be taken as a whole and rightly interpreted (2 Timothy 2:15) to correct errors in our thinking. Jesus declared the Scriptures to be the words of God. How can we possibly do otherwise?
3. Jesus stressed the work of God’s kingdom as the highest priority
The Savior Himself was on mission from God the Father the whole time He was on earth. He did not deviate from that directive, and pointed to that same priority for His followers.
- When His mother and brothers came to retrieve Him from the crowds, because they weren’t yet believing, He stressed that “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” Obedience to God as a result of membership in His family can and sometimes should be prioritized above our earthly relationships.
- In Matthew 13, our Lord gave some parables to indicate the value of seeking Him. An example: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
- Later, He issues this decree: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up His cross and follow Me.” – Matthew 16:24
Application: Nothing is more important to Christians than obedience to God. Nothing.
4. God provided a way for us to know Him and His expectations
Through the supernaturally inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), we have a trustworthy record of not only what He has done, but also what He is doing and what He will do in the future. Contained in that are hundreds of prophecies whose fulfillment has already come to pass, and those which will be fulfilled.
It is no secret that there is a lot to the Bible. Thousands of years of history, the law, the prophets, and the New Testament. It all works together to tell the story of creation and humanity. Yet, parts of it can be difficult to understand and apply correctly. God’s people down through the ages have endeavored to do so, and must continue.
It should be of great comfort to believers that Jesus, before He ascended back into heaven, took the time to explain the mysteries of God to His disciples. We are told that for those to whom He appeared on the road to Emmaus on the first Easter, “beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:27) (AKA the best Bible study in the history of the world!)
Shortly after that, He appeared to the eleven disciples, freshly resurrected from the dead. And “then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,” (Luke 24:45). It is no coincidence that some of these men, who received direct revelation from God the Son Himself, were appointed to write the New Testament. Furthermore, whose eyewitness accounts were used by other first century New Testament writers as primary source material.
Application: You can trust what God says in His word, because it has been tested and proven. God’s decrees and will are not a mystery. We must apply ourselves to learn what He has revealed.
So what does all this mean?
We as individual Christians, as well as the church, get ourselves in big trouble when we take our eyes off faithfulness to God’s word and instead allow shifting cultural morality, seeking the approval of others, and our own selfish desires to be our focus and the filter through which we think and prioritize our lives.
If we have wrong beliefs, thought patterns, priorities or actions, digging into Scripture with the intent to learn what God has to say will correct those. By that, I do not mean proof-texting isolated verses out of context to back up what we already believe. I do mean letting Scripture speak for itself and committing to learning the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
By pursuing the living word of God, we’ll see our lives transformed from the inside out. And by the kind intent of our Lord, His kingdom will be expanded for His glory and our eternal reward. Isn’t that better than any other alternative?
Have you seen your own life or that of someone you know be transformed by God’s word? Please share any comments or questions! Thanks for reading.