The sum of your word is truth and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. – Psalm 119:160
I’ve been thinking what might be worth saying at the beginning of a New Year. Is there anything so important that it is worth writing about? More so, what might Jesus want to say to us?
We started writing nobrokenreed with just a single purpose, to encourage believers and especially new believers and those still wondering, about the singular importance of Jesus. With nearly a lifetime of ‘churchdom’ behind me, I was slow to realise just how important Jesus really is, and that understanding only by God’s grace.
So, let me introduce this year with just a single statement that hopefully continues to guide us for the rest of the year, and it is this:
Positional truth is not the answer that sets men free – only Jesus Christ, the person, is able to set me free.
Why is that so important? Let me share two examples from just this week.
I visited a man this week, who shared our passion for street preaching. To be fair, I was there to learn about some of the methods and means by which they go about it, to see if we could apply some of their learnings to our own experience here in Sydney. It was a delightful time and I learned a great deal. Throughout though, I was aware that I was constantly being “sounded out” to see if my theology lined up; at one stage, I was told that in their circle, if it didn’t align with the truth, then I wouldn’t be allowed to preach. Simple as that, I might’n measure up.
On another day, when we were on the South Coast on holiday, we received a brief phone call that went like this; “hello it’s Joyce here, you prayed with us on the seat by the wharf. You prayed about my daughter being reconciled to our family and coming home to visit this Christmas. Well, I’m just ringing to tell you that there was forgiveness in our home before Christmas, and our family was reconciled and my daughter came home for Christmas. So thank you for praying.”
We honestly couldn’t remember who Joyce was or when we prayed with her. But I wonder, on reading these two stories, which one you think came directly from heaven? Which was important?
In the modern church, we place a great deal of store on “truth”, believing somehow we alone monopolise it. We tear Bible passages out of context at every turn to validate our version of the truth. Baptism saves, no it doesn’t, the miraculous happens today, and on it goes. The verse in the Psalms, tells us that we are to view Scripture as a whole, the sum, before passing comment and judgement. Only in doing so, do we get to the truth. Yet, here is the irony.
In the Gospels, we are reminded by Jesus that he alone is “truth”, that within him there is no need for interpretation or judgement. He singularly stands as the entire and complete truth. The Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day were so intent on having their version of the truth proclaimed, they missed the absolute truth that stood in their presence. We may have the same tendency today.
There is more though. We are told by John, inspired by the Spirit of God, that Jesus is the “Word” as well. The Word and Truth come together in the person of Jesus Christ. Scripture is not simply about Jesus, it is wrapped in his very presence, all of it originated in him. It is not just writings in a book, and so perhaps we should be careful, in our speech and willingness to jump in with our interpretation. Do I really feel confident enough to interpret God?
What does all this mean?
Simply this, that as I meet more and more ‘believers’ I am gravely concerned about how the great Gospel of God has been reduced by us to formulae and method. We are, in the modern day, no better than the Pharisees in replacing a beautiful, powerful relationship with the God of the Heavenly Lights, the one whom Jesus called ‘Father’ with a system, or doctrine to be followed. It seems, like the religious leaders of the day, we prefer our own rote to a living relationship.
Our Bible reading, prayer life, sharing the Gospel, even the fabric of our belief – all of it, has become dangerously mechanical, a 3-step formula to a better life. When you read the story of the relationship the early believers had with their risen Lord, the total devotion Paul had, Peter, the Apostles, those who were persecuted in the early church and on down through history, is the impression that it was anything other than being alive with a Holy God through Jesus Christ?
This year, as with every year, we hope to introduce people to a person who can save them and who loves them beyond belief. That is not just any person, but this Jesus we preach is the only person who can save you and me. It is a reminder that no doctrine, or system of “truths” can ever do that.
We know, once we are immersed in Him as he was in the Father, that we will start to gain a complete picture of both Word and Truth in our lives. Can you imagine anything more delightful?