A Touch on Scripture, Youth, The Holy Spirit, Spiritual Growth
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The Word of God, Our Youth, Education
Scripture is the plumb line of my life. I love knowing it is God-breathed, a bedrock of true knowledge, and godly wisdom; profitable for doctrine, reproof, inspiration, and instruction in righteousness.
Jesus, in His temptation in the wilderness, defeated Satan by rightly dividing and quoting passages from scripture. When Jesus repeated the words, “It is written,” the devil had no choice but to slink away- at least for the time being.
But what really draws me back to center is our Lord’s’ rebuttal to the Pharisees (who delighted to argue scripture, but hated its author): “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” John 5:39-40 (KJV).
The divine perspective here revealed hones right in on the Person of Jesus Christ and His preeminence: exactly where we belong.
The Word of God talks about itself. I don’t know why, but this, reminiscent of Maria Von Trapp's line in the movie “The Sound of Music,” sometimes... makes me laugh: not irreverently; but a laugh that arises deep inside and makes me giddy with joy.
What other book could be so bold and stand ready to back up its claims? Among other things, it says it is the foundation of knowledge. In our institutions of higher learning (nowadays) a proper foundation is most sorely lacking. So when the foundation is faulty, much structural mischief results. Young people are set adrift and often succumb to total disillusionment with life. Students with great intellect and potential are either lead or bent to the will of professors who propagate a type of twisted and empty philosophy. To quote Ravi Zacharias, a leading apologist, “The thickest volumes are written about the meaninglessness of life.”
Our youth thirst for something, but they don‘t know what: a firm foundation, in some instances; for answers that will satisfy the intellectual challenges thrown at them; for a cause worth dying for, therefore worth living for. They want leadership, in the right sense of the word, which equals authority that beats with a servant’s heart.
Mainly, though, I think they need love. Sounds too simple and so hackneyed, right? But Jesus’ love is inimitable. Encompassing every human need on every level, the love of Jesus invites us to put Him to the test. For who could anticipate better our needs than the One who pieced us together with so great wisdom and care in the first place: and who more than the One who entered His own creation and walked, so to speak, in skin of His own making? Truly he is the God who stooped, who continues to stoop to our needs.
One of the principles Jesus stressed is that we become as little children. “Unless you become as little children,” He said, “you can in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven.” Strong words, these. Just as a very young child looks up to and trusts her parents, so should we look to our heavenly Father. The acute difference being our heavenly Father, in the perfection of His love, never fails us as our are human parents are bound to do.
Notice though, He said little children. For as children mature, life happens to them. I see this all around me.
God and study of the situation, trials and tribulations, the experiences of their own lives have birthed in many of our Christian leaders a strong desire to establish our youth: to see them rise to the incredible challenges flung like a dueler's glove before every stratum of human personality and experience for this generation. I fully believe our youth today face immense pressures above all previous generations.
But Jesus, as promised, does not leave us orphans. When we ask He will supply, He will send, is even now sending in fact, teachers who have schooled themselves in true knowledge to point the way back. But we must be vigilant to pray for more. Plead with God to help us recognize our gifts and use them to His glory, equip this generation, pass the baton of hunger and a quest for knowledge.
Scripture is the foundation of knowledge. but for a house to be complete it needs more than a foundation. Framing, walls, a roof, inside finish work, and furnishings are also necessary. This is where further education comes in: and what a wondrous plethora of knowledge there is to be had when we pursue it with all our being. The span of a lifetime cannot begin to plumb its depths.
In this our judgment must be flexible, yet not flaccid, in any sense or direction. Some boundaries are necessary, but these must be tested. Truth is truth but we must discern between actual truth and cherished notion. For instance, did the Bible really say to former generations the earth was flat, that slavery and ideas of racial or gender superiority, or inferiority, concurred with Christ’s teachings? We've gotten over some of these bumps in the road but the culture ever presents new challenges to the validity and timelessness of scripture as the 'magic' book it truly is. Often among religious folk there is an emotional sort of a knee-jerk reaction, rather than response committed to patient investigation.
The best advice is found within the scripture itself, “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.” Without stating this says, “Let go of that which is not good.” This, I think, is harder to do.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit guided, governed, and empowered the early New Testament church. In those days, the church was not left in doubt about who was the Person in charge. What has happened that so much has changed? When once I challenged a friend with this query, she answered, “Only about two-thousand years, is all.” I was momentarily taken aback. “If you want to see changes, she advised, “join a committee.” But isn’t that just the problem? That day I didn‘t ‘suffer long,’ with my friend, ironically this being the very fruit of the One we were discussing. She offered to hash it out, to "help" me, but I left in a huff stating grumpily, "I don't need help." How hypocritical of me was that?
But really. In the span of eternity, what is a mere two thousand years? God changes not. And things work out so much better when we as a body of believers make use of that with which He has already empowered us. Paul said he came not in eloquence of words, but in demonstration of power. We read of a congregation of people who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.
So how do we get our power back? I believe there is only one way, and that is by coming together in earnest and prevailing prayer. When God sees we are serious about this issue, and of one voice, he will answer in powerful ways.
And then we must yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and His direction: listen to Him.
In order for faith to be honest and line up with scripture it is necessary to heed the command to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For a good understanding of this passage, it helps me to pay attention to each word, individually.
Grow. Like a healthy plant, our roots must probe deep, stems and palms turn upward toward the sun, expand, stretch, mature. We must fruit (of the spirit), and flower. But a plant doesn’t grow by striving, trying, or must-ing. Growth comes by nourishment and pattern set in advance by the Creator. I believe there is pattern similar to the genetic code present for all physical life God has set in us for spiritual life and growth.
In Grace. When grace expands in us, we breathe easier. We move… more like ballet dancers, less like robots, or storm troopers. Grace is lovely, freeing, never stultifying. With a deeper understanding of grace comes thankfulness, healing, and a longing for others to know our awesome Savior as well. There exists this one little spot, an opening, I call it in the heavens, where Jesus parted blurry clouds and let grace through.
In Knowledge. Not dry bones, dusty, disputation-of-words kind of knowledge, but that which increases our wonder as we study the attention to detail, power, and intelligence it took to create His awesome universe.
Of (not about). A lot has already been hashed out on the difference between knowing about God, as opposed to having an intimate relationship with God. Jesus calls us friends. Friendship includes much communication: speaking, listening, spending time together. It is also about trust and agreement: “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” And that leads me right into the next word (s) grouped, of necessity, together:
Our Lord and Savior. We know Him as Lord, meaning we submit to Him out of reverence, gratitude, and love: then Savior for the champion He is to rescue us from a most terrible death. And finally, the Name above every name:
Our whole lot culminates in Jesus our Lord.
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