“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
Matthew 5:30, ESV
This immediately brings to mind the notion set forth firstly by Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” This is the idea of living a Christian life without discipline, repentance, and confession. In terms of analogy, ponder someone welcomed into a rehabilitation clinic without any effort to recover. They talk up becoming a better person, but never bother to actually put an ounce of effort into this lasting betterment. Sadly, this is so often the case for the Church, and especially me as well. I look into heady theology and talk about God while my life is in shambles, and it is a true shame as we will come to discover.
“The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress.”
– Joseph Joubert
No, I am not contending that this statement is heresy. No, I am not trying to argue that people who say this do not know Christ, or that they are intentionally leading people astray. Rather, I am simply intending to provoke more thought to such a bold statement. When something new and daring is said such as this, it is sometimes healthy to take a step back and critically think about something so profound.
“No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 2: 20-21, ESV
This post is not an attempt to ration the historical validity of Scripture. To reason such an argument would demand more than an exposition. Though I do indeed steadfastly believe in the reliability of Scripture for reasons outside of the Bible itself, this post is not dedicated to that argument. This post is intended to call those who proclaim Christ back to viewing the Bible as the final authority on all matters pertaining to life and godliness just as 2 Peter states.
“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8, ESV
Surely these are convicting words for me. As I have personally had many, many doubts in my life, this caused great worry within me. In fact, I have heard other wise sayings such as “Doubt is what keeps faith a living thing.” This leaves us with a predicament that is often debated about within the church. Above all, we must find the definition of doubt in the context of this letter versus how we discuss the notion of doubt nowadays.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7, ESV
As writer for Christianity Today JoHannah Reardon discusses, the occurrence of the word fear in reference to God is found throughout the Bible a mind-boggling 300 times. If this is the case, then surely the fear of the Lord is a biblical principle that is of relatively large importance. After all, it is the foundation of the entire book of Proverbs. However, the use of the word fear and God in the same sentence does not compute well with our minds. Is not God loving and approachable? In fact, Hebrews encourages us to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.” There is room for both of these concepts to not only coexist, but to also to live in harmony. The fear of God is often ignored due to the confusion that can arise from it, but with deeper investigation, the point of this principle can become abundantly clear.
“But he answered, ‘It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Matthew 4:4, ESV
Surely we have all heard a statement such that God alone and what he says shall satisfy and give us life over anything of this world. In theory, this is logical and makes sense that reliance on God should, in any circumstance, outweigh reliance and hope in the world. However, the idea of the voice of God has always been an enigma to me. If you were to ask any Christian how the voice of God is manifested, there would be an enormously wide range of answers. I feel as if I am constantly searching a barren wasteland looking for the voice of God, and end up feeling utterly alone. So, what truly is the voice of God?