By Fred Pruitt
“Could the problem at hand be that people are not taking the Bible seriously or literally enough? I’m thinking about what Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 5:39ff about searching the scriptures but being unwilling (unable??) to see that they point to Christ who is life?
If that is true – perhaps the fitting response is to pray mightily for the Holy Spirit to open blind eyes and soften hard hearts…
None of this stuff is particularly new either, is it?”
(Revised from the original) … I’m sure you are seeing something there. But in a way I think (humanly) it might be the opposite, people taking the Scriptures too seriously (in the wrong sense), in that the BOOK is the idol. The BOOK in that regard is like to many people a beefed up God which consists of “The Bible” + “The Trinity.” Or in the past I might have thought that when John says Jesus is the Word (logos) of God, I could not separate the true meaning of “the Word of God,” a “living word,” even in the Old Testament, and make the “writings” the infallible Word of God when that claim can only be made by the Living God Himself. He is the Word that upholds all things, by Which all things consist, says Colossians. This “Word” is something much more than a printed book though that book, mysteriously like nothing else, points us to that Word that has made and upholds all things.
But at least everyone agrees (among Evangs mostly anyway) that whatever the BOOK says is right. Problem is, nobody agrees with each other over what it says, or what it means when it says the things it says. There are a lot of different tunes purporting to all be the same Song.
Because, as Jesus told them they were doing, they took the husk (the stone-inscribed Scriptures) and didn’t peel them back, like the husks on an ear of corn, to get to the sweet meat inside the case — the corn kernels themselves. We do not eat the husks, but the meat within. Same with nuts. We do not eat the shells, but break open the shells and get the Prize inside. Jesus was the corn in the husk of the Holy Writings.
It would probably make some people right angry for me to describe the Scriptures as merely “the husk.” I can understand that, because it is hard for me to say that, because from the first moment I woke to Jesus until now the Scriptures speak God’s Word to me in mystery and clarity everyday, every time I pick it up. Its words bring tears, joy, renewal to this day. By God’s grace somehow from the beginning the Spirit has taught me Himself coming through the Scriptures, not bypassing them or tossing them out, but revealing the real kernel inside, that existed in the invisibility of spirit.
So yes, pray your prayer. Before you call He will answer and the redemption you have desired is at hand.
No, none of this is new. This struggle in the church is only a symptom of the inner conflict in every human person, between substance and form, between God and the creation, between God and our perception of us. That is what Jesus was getting to in that John 5:39 passage.
Through the fall we find ourselves, our worth, our identity, our supply, in the fleeting “things” of the world, whether physical, intellectual, emotional, or even spiritual. We cannot find a place of rest, all is unrest deep within, and we cling to these physical, mental, emotional “things,” all of which we learn more and more as we go through life, are all fleeting, temporary, and in them we can find no real true sustenance. “All things must pass,” as I learned early on from George Harrison. All the things of this world, as long as they are seen only in the light of their temporal nature, can eventually produce only sadness and vexation of spirit.
But as we move into this new reality of Christ living as “me” and the resultant sight of seeing God in His Love purposes in and through all things, we begin to more and more “see” the True Real, behind the “mask” of the things that are fleeting past our vision as we ride around the carousel of human living. Like passing scenery from the window of a moving train. There it is, this “life,” this daily grinder we all live in, and there is always something unfinished, something left yet to accomplish, something more to get to, and we are on the ride every day without thought except for that occasional “scenic view” along the highway, as we get to pull off the road for a while and consider all we’ve seen and are seeing.
So that’s what God is doing in the church and all over the world. Breaking dependence on the outer, on the fleeting, and bringing us through into realizing “no longer I, but Christ,” the Spirit begins the “positive” side of our education, teaching us through life the true Rock which we begin to know and see behind every fleeting thing, so that after everything “flees,” there is only this Rock still there, ever there, ever sure.
Finding that true Rock, which is within us and joined as one with us, we find ourselves. So that’s what it’s all about.
Praise the Lord He is bringing this all about in all of us in this conversation, and also throughout the whole world in all that are His.