Did you ever think that there are no Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Pentecostals, Charismatics, you name it, in heaven? There’s only one family in perfect union with Christ, and each other, in the Father’s embrace by the Spirit (Eph.3:14-15; 2 Cor.13:14). And, by the way, you are seated there with Christ now.
Furthermore, have you ever noticed that the New Testament writers didn’t used word studies? In fact, they never seemed to follow any exegetical or hermeneutical approach in their teaching. For that matter, as I said here, Jesus was said to have never even studied (John 7:15).
They all taught by way of revelation.
Now, they did know and use Scripture, but they didn’t know or use it the way most of us have to been taught to know and use it. It was by way of divine inspiration in fellowship with God (1 John 1:1-4). And they invite you and me into this same fellowship. Here’s how John put it (bold-type added for emphasis).
“that which we have seen and heard we declare to you,
that you also may have fellowship with us;
and truly our fellowship is with the Father
and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)
You see, the religious people of Jesus’ day had commentaries; Jesus knew the Father. The former were earthly; the latter was Heavenly. John says this about Jesus.
“No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matt.11:27)
That’s an amazing statement in light of the history of man’s relationship to God leading up to this time. For this includes Adam, Enoch, Moses, Elijah and the prophets, David…everyone! Think about it. No man actually knew the Father until Jesus came in flesh. We were all spiritual orphans, as I have talked about many times on this blog. Jesus came to change that by sending us His Holy Spirit (John 14:18).
The same is true today. Not that commentaries are bad, in and of themselves. The problem is, we rely on them for Bible knowledge when we can truly only know God, or even truly understand His Word, by way of spiritual revelation (1 Cor.2:11-16).
For this is how we’re told to interact with God.
“These things we also speak,
not in words which man’s wisdom teaches
but which the Holy Spirit teaches,
comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” (1 Cor.2:13)
And what about us not being divided?
A.W. Tozer said in “The Pursuit of God” that one hundred pianos tuned to the same tuning fork are automatically tuned together. And that “tuning fork” is the Holy Spirit.
Relationship based on doctrinal interpretation always divides; the Spirit always brings the unity of the faith (Eph.4:3, 13).
So, perhaps this is why we have thousands of commentaries that don’t agree with each other, even more denominations and sects dividing over what the Bible says and what it means to be a Christian. And why there’s so much confusion for those who aren’t about what Christ and Christianity is all about.
Just saying… 🙂
Now, I believe that God loves diversity. I mean, look at us! So denominations or cultural differences in our worship aren’t bad…unless they become divisive.
Our divisiveness just shows we have not been fashioned by Love, because we deem other things more important (Col.3:14).
And we usually divide over interpretation. Of course, we like to call our interpretation “the truth,” but as I’ve said before, Truth is found in a Person (John 14:6).
And the only way Jesus–the Truth–said that the world would know we are His is by our love for one another (John 13:35; 17:21-23), not by our interpretation of Scripture, or anything else we seem to think is more important.
Paul called the Corinthian’s sectarianism carnality, acting like “mere men” (1 Cor.3:1-3); they didn’t know who they really were, they still regarded one another according to the flesh, so they could not receive spiritual things (2 Cor.5:16).
All our exegetical and hermeneutical tools for interpretation that we value–seeing everything through our Western rational, earthbound “glasses” inherited from the ancients Greeks–are great when you don’t have spiritual revelation.
They’re also severely limiting in that they keep you stuck inside your own head instead of His. And then we come under the delusion that we understand what the writers were actually trying to describe when we’ve most likely not even touched it.
Why is this so? Because revelation cannot be deciphered by the mind. It must first be received by the Spirit to our spirit, then, and only then, can we try to find language to describe it.
But you do know that you have the greatest search engine of all (1 Cor.2:10) and the mind of Christ (1 Cor.2:16), don’t you?
This heavenly revolution started with Jesus and proceeds forth even today. So I invite you into this communion–where God’s Living Word becomes incarnated in us, where our life overflows with the Spirit, flowing in and out to and through one another–as we abide in the superabundant grace of Jesus Christ and unfathomable love of the Father.
On that note, I will end with Paul’s blessing to us.
“The grace that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love that is of God the Father,
and the fellowship that is ours in the Holy Spirit
be with you all!” (2 Cor.13:14 PHILLIPS)
Very encouraging thoughts!
You’re welcome, and thank you for your encouraging comment! Blessings to you.
Your writing always makes me curious, so now I have another question. What do you think of the writings related to non – Christian religions? I’ve come to think each religion carries in it a fragment of truth. It’s like they’re all reaching for the same thing and not quite grasping it. While they may not regard Jesus as Christians do, I know many still respect his message because of how similar it is to the message of their own religion. If we as a race could just embrace discussion of spirituality – where there is no 100% right or wrong revelation – maybe we’d be able to get closer to understanding the truth of God. To be honest, though, I doubt complete understanding of divinity is with the capabilities of the human mind while it wanders the earth.
I just got back in town (briefly, then leaving again) so I won’t be able to give a definitive answer here. Let me say first, there are elements of truth in all religions. For God gives revelation to everyone who is open to it. He looks at the heart first and foremost. And since everything good comes from the Father, it can come from everywhere, including atheists. But, if we’re to believe Scripture at all, we must come to grips with the fact that Jesus was not like any other teacher, nor did He come to bring another religion. As John states in his writings, God became flesh in order to include us in this Divine fellowship that God has had from before the foundation of the world. He did this by dying for us on a Cross, as us, fulfilling every righteous requirement so that we could be placed IN Him.
Secondly, we must consider that if there were other ways to be right with God, then Jesus died in vain. Because the Father sent Him to die a horrible death on the Cross for us. Furthermore, Jesus Himself said He is the only way to the Father (into this divine fellowship). In this sense, Jesus made the “way” extremely narrow–Him! This is why it’s not even a religion in the normal sense. It may engage in religious activity but that doesn’t make it Christianity. Christianity is being placed in Christ in God. We died with Christ, now our life is His life. Again, I can’t do that justice here.
Third, all religions (including some religious versions of Christianity) have requirements, sacraments, steps you have to take to become godly, go to heaven, be right with God. It’s performance and ritual based. But (Scriptural) Christianity is not performance-based at all, it’s faith based. Jesus did all the requirements forever. The ONLY thing you can do is believe. Jesus’ life becomes our life (we grow in our understanding). We’re not better people now. We’re a new creation (2 Cor.5:17), which means an entirely new species. We are the temple of God. I wrote about that here.
Having said all that (rather in a hurry!), that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love all people from all religions and that they have nothing to offer. I think we can and should have honest dialogue. We can learn from one another as people. Paul did this in Acts 17. In fact, Christ’s life in you causes you to see and love all people like He does. You’re not threatened by what other people believe. And the truth is, anyone, no matter what their religion, can come to know Jesus Christ by believing in His finished work of the Cross. But when we finally do see our life in Christ, and we see ourselves crucified in Him, all religion ends for us. Hope that answers it. 🙂
I can talk more about it when I have more time. I will be back in town on Tuesday. Blessings.
I agree. The way i see it, all religion is trying to understand divinity. All religion has ideals about peace and mercy. This is what makes me think all religions were originally creates to pay homage to the same divinity. I feel like I have come to understand why Christ is an essential part of understanding and embracing divinity. I wonder, though, would there be any with in reading Islamic text or Buddhist text? While they like Christ, might they have something else to offer, something to help us come to our own realization of divinity?
I’m sorry, I’m rambling here. My comments here are just me trying to understand my own feelings about divinity. I think it was Gandhi who said something like “I like your Christ but I do not like you Christians.” Maybe the world would be more open to understanding the importance of the death and resurrection of Christ if Christians didn’t turn so many away with their actions.
I will discuss this more when I have time. It’s too important just to leave here. But on your Gandhi quote, you’re absolutely right. If we were actually like Jesus, we wouldn’t drive them away with our canned speeches and trite answers. We would engage in seeking to understand through love and show the Father’s heart. Sadly, the word, “Christian” is so misrepresented anymore and Christ’s character and nature is so maligned by “Christians.”
But, like Paul, we DO need to engage in conversation with all religious people. To share with them the beauty of what Christ accomplished on the Cross and invite them into this fellowship (1 John 1:1-4). I have found that my religious arguments go nowhere with people, but love always wins. 🙂
Btw, keep rambling! That’s how you wrestle through these things. This is what the early church did for centuries. It’s too important and too wonderful to leave to some doctrinal statement. They worked though it until it was incarnated in them. We need to encounter the love of Christ for ourselves, and the people around us deserve to know how much God loves them, too, and be able to encounter that love for themselves.
But is there anything related to the actual truth of divinity that a Christian can learn from other religions? I’m not trying to say anything about conversion. I’m just think, Christianity has the Christ thing down but still doesn’t seem to know the whole truth. Could they find some of what they are missing by learning about and understanding another religion?
P.s. you keep saying you’re busy. Sorry for dropping all these long comments on you.
No prob. 🙂