—Treasure Beyond Measure

Role Model

You might be wondering just what Christianity and the Bible are all about. "What, exactly, does God want from me?" you might be thinking. Is going to church what he wants from you? Does God want your money? Does God want you to stop having fun?

I am a very shy person. I am always uneasy meeting new people. I have always been different than everyone around me. I have always been the person who would break away from the crowd and go a different way, a way that I figured was better. In my early days as a Christian I was deeply concerned that because of my enthusiasm for God, and my dedication to the study of his Word, God would make me a preacher or something. This really frightened me. My fear that God would require me to stand up and lead kept me from fully seeking the Lord.

I now know that such fear is unfounded. I now know that God will both enable you to do what he desires, and give you the desire to do it, that is, if you are faithful to him.

People frequently ask me why I don't become a preacher. They say, "Why don't you start your own church, or something" (It is usually people who are not yet practicing Christians who ask.) I know what they really mean, so I don't bother explaining that there is only one Church, and I would never think of starting another. I smile and say, "Because the Lord has not told me to be a preacher."

I have had people within the Church ask me why I don't go to a Bible college or seminary and get myself ordained. And I always respond to them, "The Lord has not led me to do that."

The world has developed ideas about how exactly a person is supposed to serve in the Church. The idea is that if a person is to give their all for God they should go to Bible college, get ordained as a minister, then become a pastor or evangelist or possibly a teacher. You know, make it official.

Is this what the Bible teaches? Is this how the early Church operated? Did Jesus go to Bible college? Did the apostles? I have never found any place in the Bible that even suggests that Jesus had any formal Bible training.

Speaking of Peter and John, the members of the Sanhedrin thought:

Acts 4:13

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (NIV84)

Ordinary and unschooled men. Well, that sounds like me. I am certainly ordinary and have had no official Christian education."But," you say, "they were personally educated by the Lord himself." Well, who do you think has been personally guiding me through my Bible studies? I tell you, my beloved reader, that I love the Lord Jesus Christ, and I, to the best of my ability, and to the limit of my knowledge, obey his commands. So...

Christ: Our Tutor

John 14:15-17, 25-26

If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

...25 "All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (NIV84)


John 15:26

When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. (NIV84)


John 16:12-15

I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (NIV84)

What these Scriptures are saying is that when a person comes to Christ, and believes that he is the Son of God, believes that he was crucified for their sin, that he was resurrected from the grave, that he now offers salvation to any who will give themselves to him, that person enters into God; and God, through the Spirit, enters into them, which brings their dead spirit to life. The living Spirit of Christ then abides inside your heart, and teaches you all things, provided of course you are obedient to the teaching.

Think of it, a twenty-four hour a day personal tutor. And that the personal tutor is God himself. But remember, having the finest tutor in the world will do you no good, if you are not a good student. You must be attentive, diligent, humble, (that is, willing to accept what God says is true), honest, and obedient.

I am not saying that going to a place of Christian education is bad. There is nothing wrong with having other people help you along by showing you how to study the Bible, and pointing out how certain things fit together. The problem is not with the school, but with the student. The problem with the student is not exclusive with the student of a Bible college. Students of today, in all areas of study, lazily sit there and let someone else feed them, to the extent that they are paying attention at all.

Teachers Can Be Wrong

What if what the Bible teacher is telling you is wrong? How will you know? Don't think that because their teaching conforms with any given denomination's that it is for that reason correct. Don't think that because everybody agrees with it, that it is right. Remember that a great majority of the Bible teachers in Jesus' day rejected him as did their students.

Don't be like Adam, who when questioned by God concerning what he did, tried to pass the blame to his wife. God held him responsible, because he had God's Word on the matter, even though he listened to his wife and committed transgression. In the same way, you have in your possession, or can readily obtain a copy of God's Word, and are personally responsible to God for obeying his commands. If you aren't a good student, and don't apply yourself to reading his Word--personally--but rather let other people tell you what it means, then you are at the mercy of those other people. I am not saying that the Bible teachers out there are intentionally misleading the people. I am not saying that at all. Virtually every Bible teacher I have talked to, heard, or met, is teaching what they sincerely believe is right, but as I understand the Scriptures much of what they say has subtle errors in it, or only deals with the most basic aspects of Christianity.

A Modern Parable:

There was a land filled with people who loved mathematics, and believed that knowledge of it was important. That generation tried to instill a love for mathematics on the next generation, but was only marginally successful.

As the generations passed, so did the love for mathematics. The students resisted anything beyond the absolute minimum that they needed to get jobs and such. The teachers too had no love for it, and so they taught by rote the little the students could grasp.

Over time the whys, and hows, and the reasons, were lost. The students learned that this plus that was equal to that, and this times that raised to this was equal to this, and so on, and so on, and so on...

Eventually errors crept in, but no one noticed, because lost was the love for the purity of its expression. Very few knew the errors were there, and fewer still cared.

In the end many of the people began to question the value of mathematics. They reasoned that because more times than not it didn't work correctly, that mathematics is not a true science.

This is the state of much of the Christian teaching today. When the teachers start teaching things that they have been taught by other teachers and not received from God, then over time subtle errors creep in, because they don't really understand what they are teaching. This results in their inability to see the subtle errors. Over time that can develop into a very serious lack of true understanding.

God wants you to love him. He wants you to desire so strongly to know him that you will seek him out, earnestly, and diligently. He wants you to be honest in your knowledge, and humble, so that when you see something in his Word that seems to contradict what you hold to be true, that you will pray, and seek, and read, and come to know what the Bible really says, and not what someone has told you. He wants you to love him more than the people of the world, so that you will stand on what he has revealed to you, even in the face of persecution from your friends.

I tell you, my beloved reader, that I love the Lord. I will stand on what he has shown me to the end, even if I must stand completely alone. Many times, well meaning Bible teachers and ministers have tried to force me to conform to the accepted teaching. I have been advised not to stray from the traditional accepted belief. But my response is a gentle, but firm, "But the Bible says this-or-that."

One Christian pastor told me that I read my Bible too much; it gives me ideas. Well praise God for those ideas. Please don't get the idea that I preach some strange message. If you read through the articles you will see that they are only subtlety different. Little things can mean a lot though.

In my story above, the problem was not with mathematics, but in what the people had come to believe about mathematics. (I don't care one way or the other, personally, about mathematics.) Mathematics was no longer a living thing, but something to be remembered by rote. The same is true of the Bible today. For most people the Bible is not a living person, to be loved and known intimately, but a book of rules to learn and live by. And so the people let others teach them the rules, and never come to really know and love God.

My dear reader, I definitely don't want you to get the idea that I am speaking against Bible colleges. I am not. I am speaking against sitting there and letting someone, other than God, tell you what is what. You must seek out and receive from God a personal relationship with him. You must hunger and thirst for a personal, intimate, knowledge of him. God is courting you and you must respond. God is revealing his true self to you, in the Scriptures, in the hope that you will be drawn to him through what you see. This is a true courtship. It is not religion. God wants a true and alive relationship of love, and faith, and hope with you. But this will not happen by accident. You must seek him and desire him.

God is holy and righteous, and as long as you 'waller' around in unholiness you will be separated from an intimate relationship with him. Deep down in your heart you know this is true.

Think of this in human terms. What kind of relationship exists if your spouse is disappointed in you because of your crude and debase behavior? If your spouse views you in this way, is this the foundation for a loving and trusting relationship? Neither you nor your spouse would be happy in this situation.

God Desires You

The first thing in building a healthy and loving relationship with God is knowing that he desires it.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (NIV84)

So we see in this Scripture that God most definitely wants you. God will turn no one away who seeks him with a repentant and sincere heart. There is nothing you could have done in the past that God is unwilling to forgive, if you truly repent, and seek him with all of your heart. God desires you.

Be Faithful--Walk in Light

The next thing in building a healthy and loving relationship with God is remaining faithful to him. He expects you to henceforth live a holy and righteous life. (See Hebrews 12:14) He expects you to walk in the Light. (See 1 John 1:7) Now God knows that you will stumble, but he expects you, when you stumble, to get up, repent, and get back on the path.

Now you say, "Who can live holy and righteous before God?" Well you, for one, if you really want to, but not by your own power can you do it. It is God who gives you the power to live a holy and righteous life. Speaking of what Jesus would do...

Luke 1:74-75 rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (NIV84)

Be God's Love Partner

Is this required, this living a holy and righteous life? Yes. If you want to be God's friend, then you must live up to his standards, for it is certain that he will not lower his to please you.God is good, and loving, and kind. He is patient, and gentle. His desire is for you to come and love him. To be a love partner with him. His desire is to embrace you, and give you all things. But he is holy and pure and no vile thing can stand in his presence.

His desire is for you to want goodness, mercy, love, and peace, enough that you will leave the world behind, and seek to be conformed into his image and likeness. And this can only come about, if you repent of your past rebellion, and seek to know, and determine to be like him, through frequent reading of the Scriptures. It is impossible to know God apart from the Scriptures. Honest and true Bible teachers can vastly speed up this process, but you must, with all of your heart, be trying to know Jesus Christ, and to live like him.

To Know Christ is to Live Like Him

1 John 2:3-6

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (NIV84)

Jesus Christ must be your role model. Nothing less is acceptable. I know there are a lot of people out there telling people that if you confess that Jesus Christ is your Lord, you shall be saved. They have that "sinners prayer" all written down, but the truth is that you must love God. If you have repented, and have sought to know Jesus Christ, and have come to love him, then you will turn your life, freely, over to him, and you will gladly submit to him as Lord, and then your confession of "Jesus is Lord" will be made in truth, and not be merely words from your mouth.

Jesus is your Role Model

When you read the Bible taking note of the person of Jesus Christ--watching him, listening to him, with the intent to be like him, you will be changed in your inner self, by the power of God. You can't really make yourself grow or understand. The power comes from God. What you do is wash yourself daily in the Word, and seek, and ask, and knock, and as you associate with God, in the Scriptures, God reveals himself to you.

Spiritual Growth is Invisible to You

Mark 4:26-29

He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come. (NIV84)

Notice in this parable that the man scatters the seed on the ground, that is, he reads the Bible and it's words are then planted in his heart, and the planted seeds grow, but not by his power. Growth in God's Kingdom is the same. We read the Scriptures, and place ourselves in Jesus' place, and say to ourselves, "What would Jesus do if he were me?" and then we do what the Spirit guides us into. When we allow God's Word to work in us in this way, it becomes alive in us, and has the power to transform us.

The Bible is God made Visible

The Bible is not a rule book. It is a living and active manifestation of God himself, if mixed with faith. As I trust in God, he works in me to conform me into his kind of person. When I trust in God and allow love to motivate me, then I come to understand and know God.

Aspire to be Like God

My dear reader, consider carefully how you consider these words of mine. Pray and ask God if pleasing him is better for you than anything else you can aspire to. Pray and ask God if personal daily time in his Word is important. Pray and ask God to reveal his true self to you. Then aspire to be like God, to be his friend, to be pleasing in his sight. Aspire to be loving and kind and gentle and patient and at peace--like God.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD. (NIV84)


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