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Reflections of a Reformed Biblical SkepticJanuary 9, 2023
A college Professor declared that he could prove there was no God. Addressing the ceiling he shouted: “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you 15 minutes!” For ten minutes the lecture room was silent. Then the professor started taunting God saying, “Here I am, God! I’m still waiting!” A marine, just released from active duty and newly registered in the class, walked up to the Professor and punched him full-force in the face. He was out cold before he hit the floor. When he finally regained the power of speech, he glared at the young marine and asked, “What’s the matter with you? Why on earth did you do that?”
The Marine smiled and said, “I heard God speaking to me, and he asked me to do Him a favor.”
In our cynical and skeptical world many, including Christians, doubt that they can hear God speaking, even though the Bible is clear that God speaks to people so that we can know what His will is for our lives. Of course, in our cynical and skeptical world many, including Christians, doubt the truth and authority of scripture.
When I graduated seminary, I was taught and believed that the Bible was a good book with important teachings in it, but it was written by flawed human beings and therefore had its flaws because of the writer’s prejudices, motives, and desire to preserve their own power. I had never read the Bible through completely and so I found all the Biblical critical theories convincing. When I finally read the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, I was overwhelmed with how the Bible held together as the complete story God wants us to have, and I began to look at the Bible differently.
At the same time, I was finding something very important. Since I didn’t take many parts of the Bible seriously I depended on my own charisma, energy, and positive attitude to lead people as a minister. For people whose lives were going well this worked. But for people whose lives were falling apart I didn’t have much to offer. They found me ineffective as a minister.
I really wanted to be a good minister and God kept finding ways to show me the Bible was really His word, not the interpretations of flawed humans. For example, II Peter 1:20-21 are very intriguing verses. We read, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Peter’s declaration that scripture is not “the prophet’s own interpretation of things” intrigued me. As my experience increased in the ministry I learned to hear God’s gentle whisper to my soul like Elijah described in I Kings 19:12. Also, I have met more and more people who have the spiritual gift of prophecy and experience hearing God’s voice in their soul like two people talking. I can now see how Isaiah would never declare, “Thus says the Lord,” unless he knew He was hearing God’s voice with clarity, and he knew that his words were God’s words.
As my knowledge of the fullness of scripture kept growing I started to do ministry differently. I decided to live, teach, preach, and pray as if the Bible was true to see what would happen. As I lived seeking God I found I was often at the right place at the right time to do God’s work. When I taught people about all the theories of Biblical criticism they were utterly bored. When I taught them about what the Bible said they were changed. When I preached with the conviction that the Bible was always true, lives were transformed. When I prayed certain that God could and often would bring healing miracles I saw God use my prayers to bring spiritual and physical healing. Ministry changed. God was glorified.
I am no longer cynical or skeptical about the complete truth of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. What about you? Have you read the Bible completely through from Genesis to Revelation? My church’s website, lagrangepres.org, has a link to “Read through the Bible in a Year” on a rotating ribbon. It starts on January 15, so January 1-14 has the readings from Hebrews – Revelation for the end of this year.
It took about ten years for God to convince me the Bible was completely true. Reading the Bible through was a key to that transformation. Living as if it were true was the other part. I invite you to make this the year you test the scriptures. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.org).