“Look. Here’s the problem. It’s like we have to follow a script. It’s like we are limited in what we can do in ministry because of Scriptural parameters.”
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“What are you suggesting?”
“Well, I don’t feel I am suggesting anything, I don’t think, but merely pointing out the problems that arise from always having to keep reverting back to Scripture, as in, well, ‘the Bible says this’ or ‘the Lord said we must,’ or ‘we have to apply this Biblical directive…’”
“You think your ministerial work is suffering because you invoke Scripture?”
“No, no, not necessarily, but because, well, because I think there are other applications that probably work better in some instances, and…”
“But don’t you realize that the application of Scripture, especially the teachings of Jesus, is exactly that which provides solutions?”
“But does it always? Sometimes I’m not so sure. I’ve seen…”
“Are you having a personal crisis regarding your faith?”
“What? No, no, I just think that, that, well, that sometimes I want to help someone get through whatever they may be dealing with and show, you know, my heartfelt sympathy or concern, and, I think that trying to quote Scripture at such a time is, just, not working, or won’t work, like it’s being cold.”
“My goodness. How long have you been doing this?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ve obviously been attempting to minister to people while also holding a clear lack of faith in Christian teachings. Do you not see this?”
“No! No, that’s not it. I know the Scriptures are the Word of God but I feel like I’m hitting people with a book, like I’m merely parroting verses and passages instead of reaching them at the point of their need, and showing sincere concern, and…”
“Did the Lord engage in ministry in such a way?”
“Well the Lord was certainly right there and touching hearts, and…”
“Yes! Yes, that’s it. He showed compassion. He granted mercy, He…”
“He watered-down the Law of Moses because that might help people not feel offended?”
“The Law! What?”
“You have a problem with the Law!”
“Wait. We’re Christians! We honor the New Covenant not the Old! We…”
“The Lord Jesus was never against the Law of Moses! The Lord actually fulfilled the Law of Moses! What is wrong with you?”
“Why are you getting so upset?”
“Because you have obviously gone off the deep end and need strong correction! How long have you been carrying this lack of respect for the Law?”
“But Paul was always talking about the deficiencies of the Law. It’s throughout all his writings.”
“You’re exaggerating. Paul spoke of the New Covenant superseding the Old Covenant but he also strongly defended the Law of Moses! Yes! The Law as delivered originally by God through Moses was certainly not deficient but was simply in need of its final fulfillment which could only be done by the future Messiah. To state that the Law was deficient or that there was a problem with the Law is grossly incorrect.”
“Okay… I’m thinking… I’m wondering where I picked this up…”
“It could be through a simple misapplication of Scripture.”
“Yes… But no. I must have received my understanding of the Law through those New Testament passages which refer to the Law in a negative sense.”
“Then you have an incomplete understanding of Scripture and need further teaching. Or you could have received it through the teachings of others in that regard.”
“But that, that would indicate that there are Christian teachers that get it wrong.”
“Yes. And what else is new?”
“No, I don’t mean… I mean, that they are doing it deliberately…”
“Which would mean exactly that or that they also have been deceived by a false teaching regarding the Law. They are doing what they think is right or…”
“Or they are not deceived at all but are deliberately teaching something that opposes the Scriptures…”
“Yes. Some are deceived. But some are agents of the enemy who have infiltrated our schools and churches.”
“How do we… What do we do?”
“First of all I appreciate the respect you are showing an elder. All real ministers of the Gospel at some point come across this sad state of affairs, this deceptive invasion, usually when they’re relatively young, as yourself. I discovered it when I was a young minister but I had no elder to help me out. I’m glad you came to me. Secondly, what we do is what any real minister of the Gospel would do. You know the answer…”
“Study to show yourself approved.”
“Exactly. Paul knew so much, so much more than he could readily share. People have to be able to receive it… When he wrote those words to Timothy he knew that Timothy, though relatively young, had gained enough maturity to know what to do.”
“Even if he didn’t fully understand. Like me. Right now…”
“But again, Paul knew Timothy would know what to do and he knew he would work very hard to succeed. And would do anything he must.”
“Timothy had to study. He had to read the Word. He had to pray.”
“That’s right. Real ministers know they often don’t know so they work very hard so they will know. That’s how they learn. It’s an ongoing process. The Word of God is Truth. It is filled with spiritual truths. It is our job to work hard at finding those truths. Then we can apply them.”
“That’s what I thought I was saying at the beginning of our conversation.”
“Well, you were seeing that merely relaying Scripture or quoting verses was kind of, kind of wooden, in some instances. You want to connect with people on a heart level instead of simply give directives toward the written Word.”
“Then don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. You can minister all day long but it will be worthless without the Word of God. And I specifically mean the teachings of our Lord. His teachings were pure and they were purely delivered. He never ministered without the Word. It would have been impossible anyway. He is the Word.”
“So I need to study. Wait. Can I see your Bible?”
“Okay… I need to read this… Here it is: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
“There’s a lot there.”
“He has given us His Word.”
“He trusts us with it.”
“It’s a high calling.”
“And I feel ashamed, but not like, I mean, I know He understands. But I must work harder. I must be diligent.”
“It’s the only way. We only have so much time. And we have to get it right.”
“I need to focus more on the Word than on someone else’s teaching of the Word.”
“Well, there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. We just need to always make sure that our primary Counselor is the Lord Jesus. He will confirm the truth but also reveal untruths. For every untruth there is a lack of spiritual freedom. If you collect too many they act as chains tying you down. You came in here with a burden. We had to fish out its cause.”
“Thank you. I thought I knew what I was talking about.”
“You got a hold of some bad information. It wasn’t intentional. You see, if a believer gets some bad information in the context of Biblical teaching but doesn’t know it’s bad, and accepts it as truth, the only way to ferret it out is by reading and studying the Word. The more you read and study the Word the more likely it will get exposed. It is the Living Word you know. The New Covenant Scriptures were divinely inspired by the Lord and are actually alive. They will do the work as long as we do ours.”
“They didn’t even have written New Testaments in the beginning…”
“But they had Spirit-filled anointed preachers and teachers. There were a great many of them. They came to maturity rapidly.”
“And they handled the Word of truth accurately…”
“That’s right. And when they got it right the Lord confirmed what they taught with signs and miracles. Those miracles had a dual purpose. They acted as endorsements—a sign of approval.”
“That was the proof.”
“And if they were somehow wrong…”
“No miracles. No attesting signs.”
“Wow. The written Word is a deliverance mechanism…”
“Well, yes. That is why it is so important that we get it right. We are charged with delivering the Gospel as He delivered it. When we do we get the results He got. The originals got it right.”
“On a colossal scale.”
“So you see why it is so important to never let anything foreign or false enter into our curriculums because they act as a drag on the power of the Word.”
“So a great many ministers want to get it right and many are very strong about teaching what they believe is Scriptural truth. They insist on their versions and doctrines. But they never test their teachings against the only proof that would confirm them. They are satisfied without proof.”
“Yes. Many Christian teachers never put their teachings to the Scriptural test. Instead of seeking God’s confirmation they get their confirmations from others. They seek the approval of others.”
“They mainly seek the confirmation of the congregation. Oh boy. You don’t want the church folks on your back. Or they seek the confirmation of their betters, their higher-ups. Whoever’s paying you. Whoever’s giving you permission to preach. That’s who most ministers are trying to please. …Yes, I get it. We must seek only the Lord’s confirmation. It’s the only way to know we’re getting our teaching right.”
“You mean His teaching.”
© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Belief can become so powerful that truth no longer matters. A person with such deep-rooted though inaccurate beliefs will likely never be convinced to change his mind, not even by provable facts.
Some people call it manipulation. But it’s much more than that. We all have memories of some off-putting relentless salesman who almost convinces us to do something we don’t want to do. Such people have an incredible ability to make us think we need something we don’t need, want something we don’t want, and that we better do as they say or will miss out on a great opportunity and then feel stupid.
I think this is part of the reason why people walking the streets in some major metropolis, let’s say, for example, New York City, since it has the best reputation for that, to never, ever make eye contact with anyone else, especially if someone is trying to get their attention. They’ve probably been hit up a million times on such streets and may even have been scammed a time or two. They have learned to keep moving, never say a word, and stay on their way or will end up late for wherever they’re going. They know they cannot trust themselves to not fall for some sales pitch or sob story or whatnot. And even if they believe they could stand their ground it would all be a waste of time and could probably even result in an argument which they obviously do not need. It is part of why many people, if not most, learn to keep their beliefs to themselves. Life is too short for such unnecessary philosophical interruptions.
DON’T CONFUSE ME WITH FACTS
No one wants their beliefs to be challenged. After a certain age, we decide on what we will believe and stick to it. We build up a superstructure around our chosen beliefs called life, and our lives thus become diffused throughout with a set of convictions and principles that seem to work for us. In reality, though, such beliefs usually have never been challenged fully or even fully thought out. It would be much better if we submitted our beliefs to truth in order to verify their veracity. But that’s a scary proposition.
It can be confusing. The world is filled with enough superfluous knowledge to keep one reading and learning for probably at least about a million years, give or take a few centuries. There are endless minutiae to be dealt with on a never-ending scale that can be so overwhelming it causes small flames and sparking in tender brains never meant to be subjected to such and may even cause a complete burnout or at least an all-day headache. These are not things most people desire.
Hence, society sends out semi-caustic and wearified refrains such as, “Don’t mess with my head, man. It’s taken me years to reach this place of oblivion and I’m tired.”
This is probably why those Krishna guys don’t bother people in airports anymore. It’s probably also why Christian witnessing is largely the work of new recruits. Seasoned followers of the Lord learn to be a tad more careful about who they witness to and how they witness as they gracefully age.
But let’s get back on track. When people only want information that supports their beliefs and want nothing to do with data that does not, they are doing the mental equivalent of painting themselves into a corner and then constructing a wall around it. A Big Beautiful Wall. They only want the stuff that confirms what they believe, or actually, what they have chosen to believe (but don’t tell them that. It’s too confusing). We all go through life doing the equivalent of tip-toeing through the proverbial tulips with a don’t bother me with facts attitude because I already have all the facts I need thank you very much now step aside please. And this protects our chosen belief system. And if we’re really good we store our little box of beliefs why up high and far in the back on a hidden cranial shelf where we haphazardly stuck the old duck decoys and other assorted junk we haven’t used in decades and arrange things in a way that no one will ever find them and the last thing we want is to be asked, “Where’s the box and what’s in it?”
This is the human problem. We somehow semi-surreptitiously acquire beliefs as if by unconscious ongoing osmosis from somewhere or someone without checking on their validity and then guard them like a junkyard dog. Could it be because we can’t explain them? That they cannot stand up to scrutiny? As if we got the answer from the back of a suspect math book and cannot work out the problem properly on a whiteboard in front of the prying eyes of the entire classroom?
Here’s a question: What Would Jesus Do?
I think it would be cool to get about fifty Christian men and women of the cloth who are each experts in their own denominations and just start asking questions such as, “Why in the heck do all of you profess to be Christians and yet each of you believes something so different from one another that you can’t get along for long and insist on eternal separation in your ubiquitous little boxes spread out all over the countryside? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”
And this is why I insist on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And for those philosophy students out there, I always make my final and only appeal to authority to the Lord Jesus and His teachings, found only in their purest form in the New Covenant Scriptures.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
And there it is. That’s what the Lord Jesus would do. He would teach us all His truth, because He is the Truth, if only we would let Him. I say enough with all these millions of different Christian classrooms with different math books and different answers teaching anything and everything but His pure teachings. The cure for hopeless and intractable Confirmation Bias is the Lord Jesus. We must subject all of our beliefs to Him. We must subject them to His light. Then we will see what kind of garbage fish are stuck in our nets and simply remove them and throw them back in the lake while keeping the good fish.
When we get to heaven we will all believe the fullness of the same truth. We will have all knowledge. There will not be any bad beliefs or false doctrines or misunderstandings or confusion. We will not be unsure of what we believe or have to guard our beliefs from inspection. We will be open books of truth and light shining from proverbial hills filled with facts and the knowledge of the Lord. We will know the truth. But wait. Didn’t He say we could have all this before heaven? At least with regard to His pure teachings? I’m pretty sure He did. And He related it to the means of gaining freedom.
So rather than insisting on refusing to subject our beliefs to the light of truth, perhaps we should simply vacate our respective mazes, end all the confusion, determine to gain ever more spiritual knowledge, clean out our mental closets, allow the light of the Lord to shine upon and within our hearts, minds, spirits, and bodies all the way to the DNA level, and begin the maturing process toward the wonderful and inevitable byproduct of breaking down the walls of separation and suspicion and achieve being on the same spiritual page with untold numbers of previously unknown spiritual brothers and sisters and thus experience the full joys of real fellowship. Amen?
While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” [Matthew 12:46-50] 
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.