–A Practical Understanding, Part 2:


John 14 26But 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.
It is unlikely that anyone would trust his life to a surgeon who admitted that he hadn’t attended medical school or served an internship, but protested that he had read all the books. The practice of medicine requires not only memorization of facts about the care and repair of the human body, but carefully supervised practice and instruction. Why are there so many strange and often contradictory ideas about what the Bible says? There are thousands of denominations, often founded on arguments about whether certain things should be eaten or drunk (see Romans Chapter 14), whether there should be musical instruments in worship (read a few of the Psalms of David), whether the things Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 have the exactly opposite meaning to the one he actually presented in the text, whether the strict literary interpretation of a few words at a time from second- or third-hand translations of the Biblical texts into obsolete Elizabethan English should take precedence over praying for God’s understanding of what they mean (see James 1:5), and an apparently endless variety of similarly mystifying conclusions that have little or no basis in what the text of the Scripture actually says. Worse, there are probably more fraudulent or deceptive belief systems that pretend to be Christian denominations than there are major non-Christian religions---Catholicism, Mormonism, Adventism, the Witnesses, various Gnosticisms, Arianism, Deism, and a bewildering variety of similar nonsense which often doesn’t bear even a superficial resemblance to the teachings and Example of Jesus ( I can still remember when Scientology presented itself as a Christian denomination, tomato cans and all ). Why do people pursue these pretensions to Christianity when it is so much easier---and infinitely more effective---to believe and practice what the Scripture actually says? Like other vital, applied disciplines, Christian life cannot be based on merely reading and memorizing the Textbook. We are required to undergo a rigorous course of instruction and training---and an “internship” which requires the rest of our lives. We have to quietly sit in the Presence of the Teacher and learn about His Ways, study His Examples, and put the things we learn into practice in our lives.

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