The Word of the Lord; December 3, 2022

Psalms 89:26 “He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.'”

Passages like this naturally stoked the Jews’ expectation of a strictly human Messiah, but the Pharisees still took strong exception to Jesus referring to the Creator as My Father. Human beings have quite a track record of giving strictly human, and therefore inadequate at least, interpretations to what God has said. We see that in “Bible teaching” all the time even today. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t read and understand the Bible. What it does mean is that we must have the humility and faith to let the Holy Spirit be our guide as we read, allowing Him to interpret it into our heart. After all, Jesus said that was a specific function of the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26) However, depending on a specific teacher or commentary is risky indeed. None of us get it all right! I’ll probably never forget a conversation I had with one pastor in his study. Seeing a full set of the Bible commentaries by Karl Barth, I asked him if he was more familiar with the Bible or with Barth, and he was honest enough to say, “Probably Barth.” I’m sure he is far from alone, but people would substitute various other teachers for Barth. Any time we read the Bible we need to ask God what He is saying, and understand that He is saying it to us. Human mental frameworks simply can’t contain God, but He will reveal Himself to us through His Word if we will be humble enough to receive it.

Of course this applies to me as much as it does to anyone. I am very aware of the human tendency to think, “Other people get it wrong, but I get it right.” I’m as fallible as the next guy, as much as I hate to admit it. Ever since I read it I have appreciated C. S. Lewis’ statement in The Great Divorce. “One thing we can be sure of is that when we get to heaven we will find that we were all wrong somewhere.” (I probably don’t have that quote exactly, but that’s certainly the idea.) Taking Preaching in seminary I greatly resented, and disagreed with, the requirement that every sermon had to quote commentaries. My attitude was, “What’s wrong with the Bible and the Holy Spirit?” I now see how much pride was in my attitude, and I do understand that a knowledge of geography, culture,  and historical context are very helpful in grasping the intent of each writer, but I also know that God often says things that are actually beyond the understanding of the direct writer or speaker. Many of the prophets of the Old Testament had no idea how their prophecies would be fulfilled. I have experienced that sort of thing myself, as I’m sure every pastor has. It’s a little unnerving to be thanked after a service for speaking something “so clearly” when I have no recollection of saying it, and it’s certainly not in my notes! I’ve got to operate in full humility, allowing God to use me however He desires and being grateful when He does so.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the incredible privilege of hearing You through Your Word and even through my own mouth. May I not limit or distort You, but always speak Your truth in Your love, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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