Write in a Book

When Christ reveals His ultimate purposes and plans to His church, to prepare her, guide her into all truth, edify and comfort her, He doesn’t simply send a prophet, an apostle or a teacher; Christ reveals the message to a trusted apostle and enables him to write it down in a book. (Re 1:11) This may seem uneventful to us at first glance, but I think it’s significant.

As we pursue truth, particularly in spiritual things, we have very few options:

    1. We may trust God to speak directly to us to confirm what’s true.
    2. We may trust other “selves” to tell us what God has revealed to them.
    3. We may trust what we read in a book which claims to be inspired of God, a text which bears up under the most intense scrutiny over time.

The first two options are obviously problematic because we’re all flawed and tend to misunderstand and misrepresent truth, even when God clearly reveals it to us. Even when we’re trying our best we often get it wrong, much less when we’re actually trying to deceive ourselves and others. This makes even written materials suspect, since they’re likely just more permanent variations of the same.

To be rightly grounded in truth, we need a book which not only claims to be inspired by God, but which proves itself out to be so over many generations, generally received as God-breathed by those loving and pursuing God, based on how its words encourage, strengthen and direct us.

And, ideally, this would be a book written down by holy people who both love God supremely and also suffer greatly in providing it to us, who receive its message under persecution and difficulty, who actually do suffer in their own pursuit of God, and who have no hope of profiting personally in any way from writing it.

And if this book actually is inspired by God, we expect to find those who aren’t pursuing God to be careless with it, taking it out of context and using it for their own benefit. And we find those hostile to God relentlessly and irrationally attacking it, opposing it, maligning and mocking it, blind to their own irrationality in the process.

The Bible, the Word of Truth, fits this expectation to a “T”, and it’s the only book which does. It’s the foundation of Western civilization, an ongoing miracle for us all to discover and cherish. Many who won’t claim to be Christians take it as truth on a moral and spiritual level, astonished at how such a book could have come to us by any natural means.

And those who attack and denounce it must inevitably take it out of context, twisting its words as they would no other text to which they’d give an honest read. It’s clear they hate its Author and cannot give it the chance it deserves. (Ro 8:7)

To love God is to love His word; it becomes the joy and rejoicing of our hearts (Je 15:16), just as He is. (Php 4:4)

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Pluck It Out

It is perhaps the harshest statement in the entire Bible: “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee.” (Mt 5:29) The command is at the epicenter of the greatest sermon ever preached, spoken by Christ Himself. It’s obviously important. (Mt 7:26) What does He mean?

Context is helpful: sexual sin, lust and adultery. (27-28) The implication is that efforts to avoid sinning, particularly in this area (1Co 6:18), are to be as extreme as necessary, such that if even a part of our own body is compelling us, it’s better to rid ourselves of that body part than live in sin. If our eye is forcing us to break God’s Law … lose the eye.

Yet, clearly, body parts don’t make us sin; they simply can’t offend us in this way: our body does what we tell it. The problem isn’t any part of our body, it’s our mind and heart. Plucking out our eye would only help if our eye were actually the root cause of our sin. It isn’t, so don’t take Christ literally here.

Perhaps there’s a hint in how Christ frames it: “if thy right eye offend thee”. How could one of our eyes be offensive and not the other? one eye flitting back and forth on its own whether we like it or not? Or our right hand be offensive (Mt 5:30), always getting into things without our permission? He’s speaking in metaphor, using body parts to illustrate heart tendencies.

Point is, nothing physical can make us sin: sin is always a choice of our will (Ja 1:14), a choice to move away from God, from Truth. This is why God holds us accountable, and why sin makes Him angry. (Ro 1:18)

And sin always springs from a lie we’re believing and clinging to instead of God. (Jn 8:32) The only way to root sin out is to supplant our lies with truth and move back toward God. (2Ti 2:25-26) It’s a journey, actually a battle, one lie at a time, and Christ is telling us to be intense about it.

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