“If the only way we know Jesus is by reading about him in the Bible, then the Resurrection is unnecessary.” – Gabriel Gordon
I had the most fascinating conversation with my friend Gordon the other day, and he made the comment above, which really struck me in a profound way.
He and I were discussing our relationship with the Bible, the concepts of inerrancy and infallibility and what it means to say that the Scriptures are “Inspired” or “God-breathed.” In the process of examining the claim that the only way we know Christ is through reading the Bible, he made the above statement and I think it’s pretty dead on and to-the-point.
It reminded me of another conversation I had earlier this year with someone at a Conference which was all about Jesus, the Bible and the Holy Spirit. One of the co-presenters at the event looked at me and said, “I have never heard the voice of God other than through the Bible. Jesus does not speak to me apart from the Scriptures.”
My response to that was: “So, you’re saying that – based on your experience – you believe that God only speaks through the Bible. But, you’re only saying that because you have never experienced Jesus apart from Scripture. Do you see the irony? You’re arguing that we don’t encounter Jesus through experience based on your experience that Jesus hasn’t spoken to you in that way before. It’s your experience of non-experience that convinces you that we cannot experience Jesus any other way than through the Bible.”
He didn’t get it. But, he’s not alone. I’ve come to realize that there are quite a few Christians out there – maybe the majority – who have never had an encounter with Christ or experienced the Presence of God or felt the Holy Spirit move over them in any way. That’s not only sad, it’s pretty much a direct violation and denial of what the Scriptures actually speak of.
See, we’re intended to know Christ in a very real, personal and experiential way. Not merely through information or “knowledge” but by intimate and direct contact with the Divine.
Paul goes on and on about this in Ephesians chapter 3 when he talks about praying that we would have the power to grasp just how high and wide and long and deep is the love of Christ for us, and how this kind of love transcends knowledge [mere information] to become an experience that transforms us from the inside out. [See Ephesians 3]
Jesus also goes on and on about this when he talks about how we should abide in him and he [and the Father] will come and make their home in us, and how eternal life is defined by “knowing God and His Son whom He has sent”, using the word “Ginosko” which is the word for an intimate sexual encounter between a husband and a wife, with the implication being that we should “know” God in such a deeply experiential way that a new life is conceived in us and we become pregnant with the indwelling presence of Christ.
This, my friends, is about so much more than mere information. It is most definitely about an experiential transformation that is expressed in the resurrection life of Christ birthed within us.
So, when my friend Gabriel said that this idea of only knowing Christ by reading about him negates the need for Christ’s resurrection, he is right on several levels. Because Christ is alive today, we can experience Him in a very real way. Because of the resurrection, we can hear His voice, know His presence, encounter His Spirit and experience His life in our own. Not only that, His resurrection means that we can do so much more than read information about Christ, we can draw nearer to Christ and find our identity in Christ and become transformed by Christ.
I realize that not many Christians today have ever really experienced Christ in this way, but I do believe that it is exactly what Christ came for, and is, in fact, truly longing for with each and every one of us.
So, how can we begin to experience Christ in this intimate way? I’d suggest starting with silence. Being still to know that God is with you is a great place to begin the process of becoming aware of God’s constant presence. Beyond that, wait and see what thoughts come to your mind. Listen for His voice. Wait on Him to move and to speak. If you don’t “hear” anything, that’s ok. Sometimes it’s just wonderful to bask in the peace and presence of God without either of you saying a word.
Try it. What do you have to lose?
Not much, and you have so much more to gain by experiencing Christ the way you were always intended to.
Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community.
Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.
His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.
He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.
Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean.
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