Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shut Up and Listen

Not very long ago I wrote to someone whom I love very much words that to most people would sound contradictory. I wrote:

     You truly need to shut up and listen. You need to set aside the Scriptures and stop seeking to understand them according to your own reason and strength. You need to listen to one who truly knows the God of peace, mercy, and love. Then you can pick up the Scriptures again and be free of your own interpretations. Then you will be free to hear the merciful love of God that the Scriptures declare in connection with Jesus.

In this connection St. Peter writes:

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:19-21)

In Acts 8 Luke records the account of the Ethiopian eunuch’s encounter with St. Philip. The eunuch was a very sincere man, who came to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel, purchased portions of the Scriptures, including the book of Isaiah, and eagerly sought to know the meaning of the Scriptures but could not understand apart from having the Holy Spirit’s true interpretation preached to him. Upon hearing the one true faith of the Scriptures from Philip, the man carried the Gospel back to Ethiopia with joy.

One of the problems in the Church today and with those who seek to understand the Scriptures is that many, even most, seek to interpret the Scriptures for themselves. But God has appointed that the Scriptures be used to preach the Gospel, or as Luke records with Philip, to preach Jesus, which is one and the same preaching. But this Jesus cannot be known apart from the right preaching. To one who has not been regenerated, as well as to one who has drifted into other interpretations, the Scriptures become a stumbling block rather than a source of life. Without the right knowledge of Christ, which is purely by the faith created by the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures become a tool of the devil. The devil used an interpretation of the Word to deceive the woman. The devil tried the same thing with the Word Himself, Jesus, of all the insane things that the devil could try.

Sometimes, when a person has become confused as to the testimony of the Scriptures, the person actually needs to be advised to stop reading the Scriptures, to set them aside, and allow one who knows the true testimony of the Holy Spirit to proclaim it. Then, like the Ethiopian eunuch, the Scriptures can be picked up again and read to the everlasting benefit of the person’s soul. Otherwise the person continues in the self-deception of his own reason and strength and follows after a false doctrine and a false faith, that end in death rather than in life.

No comments: