In the Preface to Joe Thorn‘s book, Note to Self, Sam Storms penned a paragraph that strikes at the heart of the difference between those with a vital Chrisian faith, and those who show little if any hint of actually being a follower of Jesus Christ. Here is what Storms says about the functional place of Scripture in the life of a Believer:
Merely affirming the Bible is inspired accomplishes very little. Asserting it’s authority isn’t much better. The inspiration and authority of the Scriptures are of value to us only so far as we change our beliefs to conform to its principles and alter our behavior to coincide with its imperatives. The Bible is meant to govern our lives, to fashion our choices, to challenge our cherished traditions, and ultimately make us more like Jesus.
The question for each of us, then, is whether the Bible actually functions in this way.
- Do we submit to its dictates?
- Do we put our confidence in its promises?
- Do we stop living in a certain way in response to its counsel?
- Do we embrace particular truths on its authority?
- Do we set aside traditional practices that conflict with its instruction?
In other words, for the Bible to be of value to us it must actually function to shape how we think, feel, and act, as well as what we believe, value, and teach.
I think Storms nails it here; hits it square on its head.
A number of dialogues I have recently had broached the subject of the differences of maturity levels between professing Christians. What Storms addresses is one of the most vital dynamics that explain the differences. In fact, since we who believe have all been given the same Spirit, perhaps the differences in the way we approach and apprehend the Scripture may be THE most important explanation for such differences.
Some see the Scriptures as they are to be seen, as a revelation of what is good and a mirror to show us what needs addressing in our lives, which in turn drives us to the Cross, where the power of transformation rests. Here they find the promises of God to be true: He is making us beautiful, to become a Bride for the King.
Others also see the Scriptures as a mirror. But, for these folks, this mirror is more like the one used by that witch in the story Snow White, who declared: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” All she wanted was to hear how good she was; how much better she was than others. Sadly some people look to the mirror of Scripture only willing to see whatever appears to validate them. Failing to see, by the mirror, the ugly-fying effects of sin in their hearts and lives, they see no real need to return to the Cross. Thus they seem to never be changed. They never become truly beautiful.