Some thoughts that sound rambling but aren’t really
When I want a Whopper© I go to Burger King, and I do occasionally enjoy a Whopper©. When I crave a Big Mac© I go to McDonald’s, and I do occasionally crave a Big Mac©. If I want good seafood, but I’m stuck in the mid-west…I choose something else instead, because you should never get seafood if you can’t see the sea. When I want a good steak I don’t bother going to Burger King or McDonald’s because they don’t serve steaks, and if they did, I still wouldn’t get the steak there because it’s not what they’re good at doing, they are good at making the Whopper© and Big Macs©. If I wanted a Whopper© I wouldn’t go to McDonald’s…If I wanted a Big Mac I wouldn’t go to Burger King, although both have their own versions of each other’s signature sandwich they are still not as good as the original, if it is indeed the original sandwich you crave. (Side note: I will invent a burger for my invented burger chain and I will call it…The Original…patent pending.)
Occasionally, when I am the grocery store, I will see a product called “Imitation Vanilla Flavoring” It’s sold in large bottles and sort of resembles brown water, which it mostly is. On the same shelf in the grocery store I will see a much smaller bottle of a product called “Pure Vanilla Extract” I usually don’t buy either because I get my vanilla from foreign countries when family members come back from mission trips…BUT if I did need to buy vanilla, I would buy the one called “Pure Vanilla Extract.” The reason being that I want the finished product I am baking/making to taste like vanilla…not, sort of taste vanilla-y.
While Burger Kings version of a Big Mac is a fine sandwich it’s not the same as the original. Burger King might as well just named their sandwich the inadequate Big Mac (at least Imitation Vanilla is honest enough to say so up front.) The point being that when I want to hear from God I go to the source, I go to the Bible. The Bible is Gods revealed word to us. It is complete and sufficient in itself to teach you everything you need to know about God, Jesus, and your place in the Christian story. (HINT: You’re the sinner Christ died for) Just as it would be silly of me to order a Big King© (aka the imitation Big Mac©) and be satisfied when I really wanted a Big Mac©, it would be equally silly of me to read a book other than the Bible and expect to hear God. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
These verses are telling us we don’t need any sort of extra-Biblical revelation or extra-Biblical teaching to be a complete man (or woman) of God, and to be equipped or ready for every good work. These verses are also telling us that we don’t need to look anywhere else, except in the Bible, to hear from God. 1 Peter 2:2 says:
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation“
The Greek word for pure in this verse, carries with it the idea of being full strength, or not watered down. The concept being that we are to crave the Word of God—all of it—that is our “pure, spiritual milk” that will grow us up in holiness. When we take medicine we don’t take half the prescribed dose and expect to get better—we take the full dose. The Word of God is medicine for all of us infected with the sickness of sin, and all of us are infected. When we look to something other than the Word, or when we water it down to just a moral teaching, we dilute its power and authority over our lives.
There is an ecclesiology lesson for pastors in here too…when pastors try to teach us something from the stage that isn’t found in scripture, they are trying to pass off a burger like it’s a steak, Imitation vanilla for real, and give watered down medicine to the sick. we don’t need to hear a “How to…” sermon…we need to hear from the Word of God. We don’t need to learn how to have a better sex life, how to manage our finances or how to biblically diet…we need to hear from God. When a church members sit through a sermon and the pastor has not presented them with the Word of God and the pastor hasen’t given a clear exegesis of the scriptures, then the pastor hasn’t done his job. Pastors who eisegete the scriptures are only making their congregants sick…spiritually speaking…(and for some of us physically) and they aren’t giving their congregation the goods. A sure way to tell if your pastor is doing their job, as they are Biblically called to do, is to ask yourself this question when the sermon is over: Did I hear more about Jesus and His work on the cross and what that means for me or did I hear more about the pastor? Or you could also ask this question: Did I hear more about Jesus and His work on the cross and what that means for me or do I now have a long to-do list before I’m good enough? If you heard more about the pastor or come away with a long to do list, then it’s time to find a new church, because the one you’re in isn’t staying true to its mission…and it isn’t staying true to the Bible, and as I have tried to convey over-and-over here in this blog post…the Bible is all we need.