To start today’s post, I’d like to compare two similar stories. The first is a story shared by Voddie Baucham in today’s lesson of The Ever Loving Truth. The second is a story from my life.
Story #1 – Jeff
“One of the most difficult conversations I have ever had was with a man I will call Jeff, who insisted on divorcing his wife because she did not support his dreams. A very committed, spiritual man, Jeff was married to a woman with half-hearted faith. He was miserable in his marriage and wanted out. I listened to him as he lamented the fact that he had married this woman and insisted that God told him to divorce her. When I asked him what biblical grounds he had for divorce, he said, ‘None.” Then he added a statement… ‘I have really prayed about this, and God has given me peace.’ ” (Baucham, p. 104, The Ever Loving Truth)
Story #2 – Me
Prior to this past January, the only career I had known was that of a middle school science teacher. I started teaching middle school science in 2003, and I continued teaching for 6 more years. At first, teaching was okay – I didn’t feel I was particularly good at it, but I did enjoy hanging out with the kids, and every once in a while, I felt they learned something, which was success enough for me. I was respected as a teacher, and quickly became a team leader for both my subject area team and my grade level team. But I still didn’t really care for the job itself, and I started looking for a new career. I knew I enjoyed computer-related things, so I signed up for a second bachelor’s degree in computer science. In the summer of 2009, I knew I was supposed to graduate with that degree that next December, and I would be anxious to find a new position shortly thereafter. But I also knew that if I started another school year teaching in August, I wouldn’t be able to quit mid-year. So, my options were to teach one more year, or to quit that summer, before school started, and start looking for a new job full time (even though I hadn’t even finished my degree). My wife and I prayed about it a lot. She wasn’t working, either, so for as long as it took me to find a new job, we would be without a paycheck at all – with a small child to take care of, a mortgage to pay, and plenty of other bills, too. We prayed and prayed and prayed, and we asked God continuously to show us what to do. The best answer we got actually came to my wife – she told me one day “I really just have a peace about you quitting. I think we’ll be okay, and that God will provide for our needs.”
Now, these stories are very similar, in that in each case, someone said that God had given them a peace about a particular matter. The difference lies in a part of my story that I didn’t tell you. When my wife and I would pray, we would also read the Bible and try to ask God to speak to us from His Word. We felt strongly like Matthew 6:25-34 was directed straight at us:
25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
These words of Jesus were telling us not to worry about the day to day things like food and clothes – He would provide. Our “peace,” that came after we prayed about what to do, was based completely on Scripture. Jeff’s “peace” in the first story was not based on Scripture, but more on what he wanted. He was using his feelings as an excuse to commit a sin.
The Sufficiency of the Book
Today’s teaching passage was from Hebrews 1:1-2:
1In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
Although in Old Testament times, God did choose to send prophets to speak to His people, this passage indicates that after the revelation received from Jesus Christ, no more revelation was needed. The words spoken by Christ and heard by the apostles, are God’s final revelation. Hebrews 2:1-4 says:
1We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. [the apostles] 4God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
So the New Testament, the writings of the teachings of the apostles, who were firsthand hearers to the words of Christ, is God’s final, perfect, and completely sufficient revelation. When God speaks to us today, it is through His Word, which is the message of Jesus. If we want to know what God is saying to us in a matter, we should pray, but we should also read our Bibles, because that is how God has chosen to speak to us since the time of Christ.
Have you thought about what things would be like if the Bible weren’t absolute and the final Word of God? Any and every one could come along and say that they received a revelation from God, that what God had told them was both real and relevant, and that we had to listen to them for fear of receiving God’s wrath. That kind of thing would completely invalidate Jesus – we wouldn’t be able to trust that He could save us, because He wasn’t (supposedly) God’s final revelation. Thankfully, this isn’t the case – the Bible, as it stands today, is the final Word of God. It is all-sufficient, providing all the instruction we need in this life. It is perfect and unchanging. It is the words of God, straight from Him to us. And it is relevant in all times and places, because it is living and active in us.
So, to finish, I’ll tell you that, in my story, things worked out great. I did resign my teaching position, and we went from July 2009 to January 2010 without one single paycheck. We put our house on the market – it sold the very month we needed it to (we wouldn’t have been able to afford any more mortgage payments). Our families helped us by giving us places to stay after our house sold. In mid December, I was hired by – get this – an educational software company, whose products I had used while I was a teacher. January 4th I started my new position as a Jr. Software Developer, and I really love it. I feel like I’m doing more of what I was created to do, which feels great. My wife doesn’t have to work, and can stay home with our daughter (and the one we have on the way). We feel like things are more in line with where they should be now. And it was really all brought on by the fact that God had told us that He would always provide for us. We trusted Him, and He proved Himself more than faithful.