EVERYTHING IN THE SCRIPTURES
"Then He said to them, 'So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can't you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don't you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into His glory?' Then He started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to Him." Luke 24:25-27 (The Message).
What a Bible study! No one ever has, and no one ever will explain the Scriptures as Jesus did to those two that day! All the learned Jewish rabbis from ancient times could not have understood the Word of God as He did because He was both author and subject of the book.
Perhaps the message of these verses is the same for us today as it was for them then - we are thick-headed and slow-hearted because of our ignorance of the Scriptures. God has not only given us His Word but He has given us His Spirit to explain and interpret His Word. And yet we have so many teachings and practices that have "evolved" from the Bible that are not true to the Bible because, unlike the noble Bereans who "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true," - Acts 17:11b - NIV), we have not gone back to the Bible to verify the things we believe and practise.
Everything about Himself was there for them to discover if they had only taken the trouble to search. In fact, had they listened to Him with faith, they would have understood because He was the living Word right there with them for three years. John testified that "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have enough room for all the books that would be written." John 21:25 (NIV). That is quite a statement!
Firstly, Jesus gave one simple instruction to His disciples out of which flows everything else He taught and demonstrated. He said to them, and to us, "Follow me." And yet, if one considers the variety of superstructures that have been built on Him, the picture of true discipleship has been horribly distorted. All the rituals and paraphernalia that have been piled on Him have buried Him and replaced Him with nothing but another man-made religion.
Where do robes, incense, chanting, processions, hierarchy, priesthood and laity, rituals and every other belief and practice added to the simplicity of His call, fit into His purpose for coming? Do these things help us to live in harmony together as brothers and sisters in the family of God so that we can be witnesses to Him in the world?
Jesus calls us into close fellowship with Him with no trappings and requirements other than to love and obey Him. Out of that flows our fellowship with each other. "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:3 (NIV). Where does all this other stuff fit into that?
Secondly, we have built a world-wide prayer movement called "spiritual warfare" that in fact functions as though the death of Jesus were inadequate to deal with the devil. We are taught to "pull down", "take authority over", "break through", "cast out", "identify principalities", "bind and loose" and even do "prayer walks" with no regard to the truth that Jesus accomplished the total defeat of Satan at the cross.
"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code with its regulations which were against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV).
If we have doubts about the efficacy of Jesus' death, then we must add all these other things to try to subdue the devil. There is no evidence in the book of Acts that the Early Church was taught to do any of these things. By sharing their lives and their resources with one another and preaching Jesus as Lord, they turned the world upside down and brought down powerful religions like Diana-worship and eventually even the worship of Caesar.
The Bible sounds a serious warning to those who add anything to the sufficiency of the person and work of Jesus. "But even if we, or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned." Galatians 1:8 (NIV).
How important it was for those disciples then, and for us today, to know that Jesus had to suffer, to die and to be raised from the dead so that we can be living witnesses of who He is. Our transformed lives show the world that Jesus, and not the devil, is Lord, and expose his deception.
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