First Things First
Before rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty, we should layout some starting points. These are our convictions before entering into this article.
1) We mentioned in Sunday School that we need to be comparing everything to the Bible. The Bible is the truth, the only truth, and nothing but the truth. Like our awesome ancient brothers in Acts 17:11, the Bereans we need to compare what we hear from everyone and check it against what we hear in Scripture. Not some, but all things we hear (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1).
Brief Relevant Tangent (BRT): If Satan is the Father of lies (John 8:44) and the great deceiver (Revelation 20:1-6) and he controls the world (1 John 5:19) then let’s not be naïve and think that falsehoods are uncommon. Let’s not think that we live safe and secure in our sanitary and insulated world of Christianity protected from Satan’s lies. The pollution of the Church in it’s teaching and practice is Satan’s top priority (read Acts 20:29-30; 2 Cor. 11:13-15 and Jude 3-4). Hence, all the NT exhortations to be alert, ready, poised for action, sleeping with one eye open, etc. Hence all the NT warnings of false brothers, false teachers, false prophets, false gospels, false doctrine, and so on.
We live in a world where deception is the rule, not the exception.
Are we living like it’s the other way around? Deception is systematically everywhere. It is not rare or off in some dark corner. That means scrutinizing everyone – even the Christians we rely on. That includes yours truly. This doesn’t mean we are adversarial about it. Not at all. But, we need to be exercising due diligence and we need to be cautious with what we’re hearing/seeing. We must be conscious of the Lord and our responsibility to Him to be safeguarding the truth (2 Timothy 1:14; Jude 3). It was said in a SS class recently, “We need to be more skeptical of man’s word and more sure of God’s.”
2) But there was something else besides all of this that I have been thinking about too. We need to not only ask whether a teaching/technique conforms to the Bible, but, we also need to ask whether it comes from the Bible. Does this teaching or technique actually find it’s source in the Bible? Are we commanded to teach or practice this technique (Philippians 3:17; 4:9)? Is it modeled for us in Scripture by the Apostles and early Christians (1 Corinthians 11:1)?
3) Truth comes from God. We didn’t receive it directly from God. The Apostles and Prophets did (Eph. 3:5; Gal. 1:11-12; 2 Pet. 3:15-16). They wrote it down and their writings are now contained in the Bible we have in our hands. So the “flow” of truth looks like this: 1) God, 2) the Apostles and Prophets (Bible) 3) Us. If it comes from that flow it is trustworthy. If it doesn’t then we have cause to examine it very carefully.
4) Scriptures are more than sufficient for everything we need in our Christian life. An important verse for us to keep in mind is 2 Peter 1:3, which says: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him…” The important part of that verse is that it is knowledge, gained through the Scriptures, that enables us to have life and godliness as Christians. Two key points: 1) Knowledge is what transforms us, and 2) all necessary knowledge is contained in the Bible.
We do not need anything outside the Bible. It is a complete package that lacks nothing for our full development as Christians.
Without it we cannot grow. We need nothing else in order to grow. To underscore the point further, listen to Matthew 4:4 where Jesus says, “Man does not live on bread alone, but, on every word that comes from God.” Then there is 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness.” Oh yes, and I love Titus 1:1, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of truth that leads to godliness”
***My point here is that in order to grow into mature spiritual adulthood as Christians we do not need to go to anything beyond the teachings and techniques found in the written Word of God. This will be important to remember going forward and looking at Contemplative Spirituality. So, you see, we’re looking at our yard and we’re going to dig under the ground to look at the roots of Contemplative Spirituality. Look close. If we can identify the roots that cause this thing to “sprout” we will be able to determine if it is something we should have anything to do with (2 Corinthians 6:17).
In our next post we will look at techniques used by Contemplatives.