How could they…they didn’t even have Bibles?

July 15, 2009 at 2:05 pm 8 comments

I was raised, trained, schooled, believed, and taught that the Bible was the only way to hear God.  To trust any other method of revelation (if there was any other method) was dangerous, suspect and generally untrustworthy.  So I did what so many other people do, I worked as hard as I could to master as much of the Bible as I could, so that I could teach others at a high level of competency and not mess up because I didn’t know the truth.  Nothing wrong with the process just the result.

If the amount of Bible we know were a protection from messing up then most of us who know the Bible would never mess up.  Obviously that is not the case, so what is wrong? 

Hearing the Father through the written Word is not an option, it is mandatory.  The Bible is limitless, timeless and complete.  It is the Living Word of the Creator God.  I cannot live without it, anymore than I can live without breathing.  Having a relationship with the Father through the Bible is a given.

But ask yourself, “self, how could the early church be so effective in changing their culture and how could they be so united in their efforts to build Kingdom, when they didn’t even have Bibles?”  The amazing fruit of the early church couldn’t have been because they had their doctrine squared away and their teachers were “fundamental,” doctrinally pure and went to the right schools to learn the correct theological positions.  The whole creed thing that started a few hundred years in, effectively stopped the forward motion of the church.

The more of the Bible we have broken down into doctrinal positions and the more we have become experts in theology and doctrine the less cultural impact we have had and the less united as a Family we have become. 

We have more teaching ministries, discipleship tools, multiple media options from which to learn, the best educated preachers, teachers, the finest schools and amazingly gifted writers turning out thousands of really great books. every year.  We have so much more “knowledge” available to us than all of the rest of history combined, and yet the culture could care less about our faith or our knowledge and we who claim to have such squared away doctrine are failing in almost every area of life to live as we know and desire to live. 

It seems our increasing lack of effectiveness has come from making aquisition of Bible knowledge the point rather than hearing the Father, the point. When we value the Bible and knowledge over the Holy Spirit it becomes idolatry and does the opposite of what was intended.

The Holy Spirit loves to add to our knowledge things we think we understand.  He loves to take what we think we know and reveal what we need to know.  Why?  Because it is the Holy Spirit that reveals the Word not the other way around.

My friend and pastor, Andy Taylor often says this: “we don’t tie the ends up on our doctrine”.  That doesn’t mean we are wishy washy about truth.  What it means is that doctrine must be kept elastic by the oil of the Spirit or it will burst.  If it is rigid and unmoving it will not yield to the Holy Spirit when He reveals more of the Word to us.  Rigid doctrinal wineskins have a way of becoming irrelevant, powerless and finally they break because we are more concerned about preserving what we know at the expense of what the Spirit is revealing.

It has been my experience that the most dangerous heresies have not come from humble people, filled with the Spirit, who allow the Spirit to open up truth and who regularly have their wineskin refilled, but from people who fixate and cling to one doctrine and build monuments around that teaching and proudly tout their position over someone else’s.  Heresy almost always comes from making one doctrine the issue and not allowing the Spirit to bring life to that truth. 

Every cult, every irrelevant denomination got that way, not from hearing too much, but from not hearing anymore.


Entry filed under: Authority, Belief, Bible, Church, Culture, Faith, Holy Spirit, Institutional church, Jesus, Kingdom, Revelation, Theology, Thoughts.

Monday morning meanderings. Vol.82 “How could then…they didn’t even have Bibles?” Part 2

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amanda  |  July 21, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    loved it too!

  • 2. Royal  |  July 16, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    That is a wonderful post, I agree with what you said, keep learning.

  • 3. Jeff R.  |  July 15, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Excellent posting, Greg.

    As a student of Church history for more than 25 years now, I, too, am impressed with the manner in which the Kingdom of God advanced and cultures completely changed by everyday men and women, not the scholars of the time. But then again, the Father uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise (I Corinthians 1:18-25).

    Of course, the Early Church had the benefit of the Apostles’ Oral Teaching, which we don’t completely have today. I encourage the readers of this blog to check out the writings of the Early Church Fathers because much of the wisdom of the Apostles is captured in these writings.

    Unfortunately, I’ve encountered the mentality among American Evangelicals that after the New Testament was complete, all Church writings were apostate until Martin Luther comes on the scene with the Protestant Reformation in 1517. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

    As for doctrine, the same Holy Spirit Who raised Christ Jesus from the dead was alive and active in the lives of the men and women of the Early Church. By the power of the Holy Spirit, they knew the Father’s heart and were willing to die sharing the love of Christ with the lost and dying world around them. They made a difference.

    It was these same men who set the canon of the New Testament and fought the heresies that attacked the Early Church through the discussions and decisions that took place during the Seven Ecumenical Councils. The Christian doctrine that we have today is largely the result of the men and women of the Early Church, many of whom died for the New Testament and the Christian faith that we know today.

  • 4. Sumi  |  July 15, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Great post, Greg, and one I wholly agree with.

    (I wrote you a long reply and lost it…sheesh!)

    We are supposed to worship God in spirit AND in truth (ie. knowing him though his word).

    Doctrine becomes a dry and dead thing when people refuse to marry the words on the page with the revelation of the Holy Spirit, who indwells us. This is where the baptsim of the Holy Spirit is so important. The words come alive as he illuminates it to us and gives us understanding.

    I LOVE my bible. I cannot imagine my life without it, and I esteem it more than my necessary food (Job 23:12)

    Doctrine is something I value, not as a dry and dead thing but as something sure and unchanging. For instance, I KNOW that God is for me, I know that His mercies triumph over his judgment, I know his heart towards me is filled with everything that is good and redemptive.
    It is an unshakeable knowledge, call it doctrine, if you will: God’s mercies endure forever.
    I know it because I have read it in his word, but it goes deeper than that: it is solid in my heart because I have encountered HIM, and I have heard his spirit whispering it in my ear.

  • 5. Linda  |  July 15, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Holy Spirit, may I hear You each moment of the day.

  • 6. A Son  |  July 15, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    loved it.

  • 7. bs  |  July 15, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    good stuff, dad!

  • 8. Dan Stiles  |  July 15, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Great post Greg! I wonder sometimes just what this world would be like if we could just go back to doing what the early church did. Just loving each other, helping each other and being a Family devoted to serving one another, Jesus and our Heavenly Daddy.

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