I have a fear. What is that fear?
I fear that there are many who, even though are followers of Christ, have not heard the voice of the Father.
I believe that when people transform the faith (Christianity) into a religion, using the Bible as a “rule” book what what must or must not be done, they have not heard the voice of the Father but, in reality, have fallen into the gross error of the Pharisees.
There is a monumental difference between knowing Scripture and hearing the voice of God.
The first is knowing rules and “laws” for behavior; the second is understanding the Spirit of God.
The first deems something bad if, in some way, no matter how small, it violates a written law; the second focuses on God’s intention and desired result.
The first uses Scripture to criticize, judge, and control people, while the second seeks to expose people to God’s heart and love for them.
This monumental difference is apparent from an episode between Jesus and the Pharisees and other religious leaders which is found in John’s Gospel. In chapter 5, John tells us how on one Sabbath day, Jesus happened to be in Jerusalem near what was called the Sheep Gate where there was a pool of water.
To make a long story short, Jesus had the audacity to heal a lame man who had been lame for 38 years. Jesus then commanded this man to take up his mat and walk. And this man did so.
The religious leaders told this healed man that he was sinning by taking up his mat because he was working on the Sabbath by doing so. He then told them that he was just doing what he was told to do so by the one who healed him.
Later on, the man found out that it was Jesus who had healed him, and then told those criticizing him who it was who had healed him. The Jews (meaning the religious leaders) took Jesus to task (John uses the word “persecuted”) for this law-breaking act. Jesus broke the Sabbath by healing this man and then had the additional audacity to claim God as His own Father, which they said was Jesus making himself equal with God.
Near the end of his response to them, Jesus says this: “And the Father who sent me, He has testified concerning me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor have you seen His form. And you do not have His word abiding in you, for him whom He sent, this one you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that testify concerning me.”
Did you see the monumental difference? Jesus told these people, those who were the experts on Scripture, on God’s Law, on the writings of the prophets, and said that even though they know the Scriptures and constantly search them, they have NEVER heard the voice of God at any time. And they demonstrated this by their approach and resulting actions toward people.
Their error was that they used the writings to determine, define, and shape the heart of God when it is God’s heart that determines, defines, and shapes the writings.
And that means we must start with the heart of God and then see the writings through that lens, not the other way around.
That means we start with God’s heart for people. We then move to where people currently are in their lives and seek to understand how to bring them to God’s heart for them. We then take that understanding and carry it out. And that may, on the surface, look like it violates Scripture as it is humanly understood.
But what must be remembered is that we start with God’s heart and allow that to guide us.