Monday, April 7, 2008

You Don't Like Bible Verses Thrown Your Way, Do You?

"The truth is you need to do more than spout off Bible verses to combat racism in the church." --- statement by "anonymous" of W. VA in response to my post on the scheduled W. PA Annual Conference mandatory training sessions on racism.

Actually I find myself agreeing with "anonymous" from W. VA who objected to my post about the forthcoming training session on racism in the W. PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church -- well, up to a point that is.

Note the phrase, "The truth is you need to do more than spout off Bible verses to combat racism in the church."

Two things are most essential in experiencing the transforming power of God's Word:

First, there has to be a determination as to what this Bible, containing lots and lots of "verses," really is. The testimony, as given in the Bible, makes statements such as the following:

"Is not My word like a fire?" says the LORD, "And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" --- Jeremiah 23:29

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." --- Jesus in Matthew 24:35

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. --- 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. --- Hebrews 4:12

However, the Scriptures have not only been viciously assailed outside the church, but within as well. One survey among protestant pastors a few years back determined that only about 51 percent of those pastors have a Biblical world view! And among United Methodist pastors that number dropped to 27 percent! But little wonder -- in the latter years of the 19th Century a deadly "virus" was imported from Europe -- in the disguise of "scholarship" it infected people with the view that the Bible is not trustworthy and as that expanded the end result was that many things as reported throughout the Bible simply did not take place and were not true!

So it really comes down to this -- a decision as to whether the Bible is nothing more than a "rag sheet" and we really can't be sure of much of anything by way of its contents, OR we are dealing with a volume of information brought together over time by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. If the latter view is taken then there is also recognition that where there is faithful witness to that Word and it is received by persons who are open in mind and heart, then miracles of change will take place!

Second, however, there must be a willingness to receive it -- both the Old and the New Testaments record numerous incidents in which God's Word was rejected. God's Word is light -- it is truth -- it explicitly reveals Jesus Christ to be God in human form and exclusively the only way of salvation and hope for human beings -- it rebukes and challenges -- it enhances growth in the Christian faith -- it enables the believer to discern right and wrong -- it often calls for decisions to be made in order for one to be conformed to the will of God -- and it provides absolute assurance for the future in terms of time as well as eternity! I am tempted to "spout off" a number of Bible verses in support of all this but I won't at the present time.

Ooops! I forgot -- when one does such a thing you are guilty of "proof-texting" are you not? It is quite interesting what people do to avoid being exposed to God's Word -- how their "defense system" automatically kicks into high gear when one of us "Bible thumpers" has made reference to something God has revealed for His people's benefit. If I quoted from the latest issue of Newsweek magazine or an ancient mold-covered issue for that matter, the Bible resisters would likely accept that without objection.

Yes, "anonymous" from W. VA, it does take more than "spouting" Bible verses as you put it to combat racism in the church -- there has to be a recognition of what it is you are dealing with when you confront the Bible, and whether or not you are willing to receive the contents of said Book which have the power to bring about desired and very positive changes in human life and relationships!

Since our culture finds itself in about the same identical position as that of the ancient kingdom of Judah in its latter years just prior to invasion and destruction by King Nebuchadnezzar and his army, our response to God's Word is also identical to theirs as well. Consequently racism, which is but one of the many spiritual, moral and ethical maladies infecting our nation, will continue!

I close with one more "spout off:"

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He also did evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the LORD. And he also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear an oath by God; but he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel. Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the LORD which He had consecrated in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions. --- 2 Chronicles 36:11-19

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