Saturday, August 17, 2013

Must We Know The Scripture To Follow Christ?

Someone wrote this on Facebook, "Christians don't even know Scripture, let alone follow Scripture. So it’s not possible that they could follow Christ.” I saw that they had many likes and I thought I should cross-examine his thought and those who agree with him. There are three things to consider in this statement: knowing scripture, following scripture and following Christ. The speaker argues that to follow Christ, one must know scripture. All of these actions are actions en media res because one must first be saved. Can someone follow Christ from a distance like Nicodemus and Simon did, or can they follow him closely like Peter and the other 11 disciples did? How would we know if they are following him? Do people follow Christ differently? Therefore, we will also look at how we should follow scripture and finally what it really means to follow Christ.
When Jesus healed the blind man who was panhandling at the pool of Siloam, the man did not even know him, talk less of believing in him (John 9:36). It is in direct variance with the doctrine that one must believe in Christ to obtain anything from God. When people asked him who healed him, he said, “A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.) (Jn 9: 11). “We know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.” He is saying here that God does not listen to sinners to create a miracle. It does not mean that there are no false signs and wonders.  Was the man doing God’s will already? Why does God allow the sun to rise on both the just and unjust and the rain to fall on both the wicked and the righteous (Mt 5:45; 2 Tim 2:13)?  Job (Job 27:9; Job 35:13), David (Ps. 109:7; 66:18, 19), Solomon (Prov. 15:29) and Isaiah (Is. 1:15) all had the same worries, and I am pretty sure that many here do too. Knowing the word of God brings knowledge of the Lord and his delight will give the desires of one’s heart.
When Philip met the Ethiopian eunuch, he was reading, but he did not understand. He told Philip that he could only understand if someone explained it to him (Acts 8:31; Rom. 10:14-17). Many people have been hearing about Christ, but their spiritual eyes were still blind. They can only be opened by the word. The preaching of the gospel is for both those who are afar off and those who are near (Eph 2:17). People have to be taught about Christ because in Him alone resides the truth of salvation (Eph 4:21). The word of truth brings hope (Col 1:5). This is manifested through the preaching of the word (Titus 1:3). The cross is the only medium to follow Christ and the word is the only place revealing the secrets of the cross.  
When peter and Andrew saw Jesus, they left their nets and followed him (Mt 4:20-22). They did not have much to leave behind but that which was their most precious possession, they left behind so that nothing would hinder them from following him. When Matthew heard Christ ask him to follow Him, he immediately got up and followed him (Mt 9: 9). The answer to follow Christ should be immediate because no one knows tomorrow. It should be noted that the disciples forsook everything: family, possessions and pride of life to follow Christ in exchange for earthly and heavenly blessings (Mt 19:27). In the above passages, we are exposed to the sacrifice of those who want to follow Christ. Christ reiterated that the gain was more celestial than terrestrial (Mt 19:28-29).
 By refusing the disciple from staying to bury his living father and even the other from returning to bid farewell to his family (Mt 8:21-22; Lk 9:59-62), Jesus taught that heavenly calling supersedes any earthly business and the disciple’s love for him should be above that of the family. This was no different from the traditions that existed when people were called to follow God before the advent of Jesus Christ. When Elisha saw Elijah passing, and Elijah called him, he returned home and made his last sacrifice before coming to follow Elijah (1 Kings 19:20). On the contrary, Christ refused the young man from going to bury his father. It is not that his father was dead yet; the young man was making excuses and Christ saw through his heart. His father was an old man, and he did not know when he will die. To say that you want to postpone the gospel and wait until he dies before you follow Christ was putting away the opportunity to follow Christ and spreading the gospel.
It would seem that Christ was teaching people to hate their families especially when he said that, “If any man comes to me, and hates not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Lk 14:26).” The word hate there simply means to love less. If the first great commandment that Jesus gave people was to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Lk 22:37),” then it was certain that no one will have more love for their family than for the Lord.
To follow Christ, one must leave the things that are behind and look towards those that are in front (Phili 3:13). The Lord Jesus establishes that in the absence of the cross, there will be no crown (Lk 9:23). The word is what imprints it in our hearts.
Christ established from the onset that to follow him, the disciple must forget the earthly comfort for the sufferings that are associated with following him. To live a holy life is very difficult; that is a cross on its own. To please God, is a cross we must carry daily. The opposite of the cross is the world, and the world is guided by lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1Jn.2:15-16). The presence of the world in any disciple is the absence of love for the Father in the person.
When anyone hears the gospel of Christ and believes in it, they are included in Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit as a property of God (Eph 1:13). The belief in Christ wins a crown of life (James 1:12; 2 Tim 1:1). That is why them who believe in Christ will live even if they die. The new nature born in any individual comes by them hearing the word of truth (James 1:18).  Because they are words of truth that germinate belief in Christ, one must guard their words. The word of God becomes the tree that germinates truth in the believer’s soul. It becomes the belt of truth girding out salvation onto our souls.
The Bible adjures Christians to meditate on the word day in and night. Instead, they are running behind the eastern religion of Yoga for meditation. In keeping the word of God in the heart, the believer has the ability to act upon it; wherein a prosperous way and good success are carved out (Deut. 6:6-9; Jos 1; Ps. 1:2). The importance of meditating upon the word is that we refresh our memories with it and thus empower ourselves to act upon its content. You have Christians who cannot recite a single verse properly, but they can sing an entire record. By not meditating on the word, we create our own rules or operate on false ones. Sin will drive away the word of God from our hearts or the word of God will drive away sin from our hearts (Deut. 11:18; Ps 119:11).  It is then at that time that we can reproduce it for doctrine, reproof, correction and for instruction in righteousness so that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim 3:16-17). It is clear that without knowing the word, we will become very unfit followers of Christ.

Until then, let us learn the scripture more so that we can follow Christ better.

St Arrey of Ntenako.

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). "It is not how well you know a person; it is how well you treat them that they will live longer and happier with you." Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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