John 1:1-5 AMP "In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. [Gen. 1:1; Isa. 9:6] (2) He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. (3) All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. (4) In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. (5) The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it."
I fear that we have made the bible an idol. We have given it a position it was never meant to have. I think this came about for two reasons. One honorable and one not so honorable. The honorable reason was solidified with the Reformation. It was obvious that church doctrine had run a muck and in an effort to eliminate the authority of church doctrine, sola scriptura was put in place. However, I believe that the original authors of sola scriptura meant it as scripture alone for explaining salvation, in the same way that sola fide, meant faith alone for salvation, the way that sola gratia meant grace alone for salvation, and the way that Solo Christo meant Christ alone for salvation. Over time, sola scriptura has been expanded to include the concept of scripture alone for all faith and practice. This greased the slippery slope that has led to thousands of denominations and beliefs, and was innocent in motive.
The not so honorable reason was inserted into church doctrine for control purposes. It has been made clear over and over on this blog that Jesus and the first century saints that wrote the New Testament changed the definition of "the word" from Torah (the Pharisees) to the gospel, and as seen in the above passage from the first chapter of John's gospel, and Jesus the gospel made flesh. The early church fathers went back to defining the scripture as "the word" to give it the authority that would give the clerical class control over people. In doing this, they also re-established the legal-constitutional reading of scripture that was the hermeneutic of the scribes and Pharisees. Sadly, still today, it is used to control people. In fact, I would safely state, that the control motive is the most widely used, and practiced method of scripture presentation in modern evangelicalism. It is much more widely used than the gospel message. This in view of the fact that for Jesus and the first century saints, redemption was the main focus.
So, let's look at the above passage from John in light of what Paul taught. Ephesians 1:3-8 AMP "Blessed and worthy of praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ, (4) just as [in His love] He chose us in Christ [actually selected us for Himself as His own] before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy [that is, consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven] and blameless in His sight. In love (5) He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will-- (6) to the praise of His glorious grace and favor, which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ]. (7) In Him we have redemption [that is, our deliverance and salvation] through His blood, [which paid the penalty for our sin and resulted in] the forgiveness and complete pardon of our sin, in accordance with the riches of His grace (8) which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding [with practical insight]." I hope you took the time to read this passage that I have posted. This passage not only reaffirms what is written in John 1:1-5, but goes on to elaborate on why redemption was God's purpose in creation. Yes, you read me right. I wrote that REDEMPTION was God's purpose in creation.
The bible is the scripture! It is God breathed! It is inspired! But Jesus also revealed that it is the REDEMPTIVE NARRATIVE, and not a legal constitutional document for New Covenant believers. It is OK to understand that much of it, even parts of the New Testament is cultural and reflects the culture of those who were inspired to write it. It was NOT a description of the practices that God demanded. Paul's treatment of women is cultural! It was progressive for the times, however, the times were not progressive.
It amazes me as I look at my Facebook news feed and see discussions of whether or not women should cover their heads in church. Paul wrote some important things along with the cultural things. Romans 13:8-10 HCSB "Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (9) The commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and whatever other commandment--all are summed up by this: Love your neighbor as yourself. (10) Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law." No matter what you think, a saint is not to use scripture as a rule-book. Yes, it can generally inform us how to treat others and conduct ourselves, but once it becomes the law... the letter... it kills the love and peace we have for Father that is established by the gospel and no other way. That is precisely why so many believers are so mean, and intolerant!
They are devoid of the gospel and its effect. They erroneously have accepted the lie that the gospel is a one time thing, and once you are saved you need to substitute the rule book to make sure you stay and act saved. This is a lie out of the depths of Satan's deception. You cannot properly love when you see the scripture as a rule book that you must follow and are out of favor with Father whenever you mess up. Most of all, you cannot properly love Father.... if you don't know peace with Father away from the accuser of the brethren, you simply CANNOT LOVE no matter how hard you try.
Ephesians 5:14 HCSB "for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you." Wake up sleeper... believe the gospel and love!