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W.I.S.H. – Weekly Insights for Spiritual Health

Read:  Exodus 32:21-35 (again?! yep)

Last week we had what Bible scholars call a “hard saying” of the Bible: a verse or passage that says something that doesn’t fit well with other teachings in the Bible that we hold to be true.  Entire books have been written on “Hard Sayings” of the Bible, so it won’t be settled here.  Let’s review some of the dilemma.

We believe the following things about Jesus:
– He has been “with” God from the very beginning, and He is God (John 1:1-4)
– He is the incarnation or embodiment of God’s Word (John 1:14).
– He is the only begotten Son of God (John 1:14)
– He taught that if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father.  (John 14:9)
– He came to make the Father known (John 1:17)
– He is “Emmanuel”, or “God with us” as foretold by the prophets. (Matthew 1:23)
– Jesus is God (Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, John 1:1)
– “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Did God change from the Old Testament to the New Testament?  Or did our understanding of God change because Jesus revealed God more completely? So what about Biblical depictions of God that are inconsistent with Jesus?  Asking, What Would Jesus Do? (WWJD?) isn’t usually answered by, “Order the slaying of 3,000 people for the sin of idolatry”. So what do we do? Here are four basic steps:

1. We wrestle with the scriptures.  We study, research, pray, meditate, and ask others of faith how they understand or reconcile it.  Usually that will satisfy us.

2. We acknowledge that the Bible is a collection of 66 different books, with different authors, cultures, time periods, traditions, circumstances, and understandings.

3. We admit that some things we may never know in this lifetime.  It is mystery.

4. We affirm that our faith is in God, not merely in the Bible. Jesus, the capital “W” Word of God, is greater than the scriptures, (small “w” word of God, see John 5:39-40).  We stick with Jesus as the truest revelation of God’s character (1John 4:7-16).  He has proved His love for us and revealed God’s plan for redeeming the world.

John Wesley taught that we should use scripture, reason, tradition, and experience – all of them – not just scripture, to help us understand God and to inform our faith.

Shalom,

Pastor Rob Nystrom