Hebrews 5:13-6:3 (New International Version)
13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
1Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[a] and of faith in God, 2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And God permitting, we will do so.
John Calvin ran away from the persecution of the Catholic Church as a vinedresser. After finding shelter in Geneva, he spent his life preaching, teaching and writing all dedicated to the Word of God. He wrote the magnificient 1500+ pages Institutes as an attempt to show the waywardness of the Catholic Church to the king, wrote commentaries on almost every book of the Bible, and many other tracts and letters. He suffered under a lot of diseases but fatigue never let him stop working. When his friends told him to slow down or stop he would respond by saying “If God were to come down today, would he find me idle?”. He would even preach or teach from his bed when he didnt have enough energy to stand. His definition of leisure was reading and writing. All his work was handwritten.
Jonathan Edwards would make sure he didnt eat too much so that he would not get drowsy so that he could remain fully focus on his writings and study. Now that’s dedication!
Charles Spurgeon would spend long hours meditating on small portions of Scripture every day.
Back in his day, William Shakespeare’s plays would be enjoyed by the poor and uneducated who were homeless. Now we strain to understand them in college.
C.S Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” started out as a radio talk before it was printed as a book. Now many complain of it being too complicated.
I often wonder what was the difference between us and them. It seems that somewhere in between we have lost the ability to think well. The main medium of communication in their days was reading and writing, I believe that something is seriously wrong because we have traded that with Twitter, youtube and facebook. We have succumbed to communicating ideas in 140 characters or less because anything more than that would be too tedious. We seem to take comfort in not being able to deduce the logical conclusions of our assertions as we throw out half-baked ideas. Compare the letter of a farm boy to his mother when he is away 100 years ago and of a soldier sending back a letter today and you will see astounding differences.
Compare the lyrics hymns of a century ago and the lyrics of today’s contemporary worship and you’ll see the differences. It’s quite clear. (Although Stuart Townend’s got it right!)
Unlike them, I find it ridiculously hard to just sit down for a couple of hours, completely focused on trying to understand a book in front of me. Every ten minutes or so I would be itching to check my twitter news feed, give it an update or to check my phone. What happened?
And then as Christians, often times we buy into the lies that secular culture throw out at us. We are often called “Bible fanatics”…. really? I doubt that. I wonder how many of us can recite the ten commandments. I wonder how many of us can restate the basic argument of the letters to the galatians. I even wonder how many of can state the fundamental truths of the Gospel. I wonder how many of us have actually read the whole Bible.
Bible Fanatics? No. We are hardly even Bible readers. Something’s wrong.
I bet that many of us have not spent even an hour just sitting down to think about the trinity, creation, sin, man, the divnity of Christ, and all the implications that come from these serious yet fundamental biblical truths. I wonder how many of us could even focus on prayer for more than ten minutes. I know I still struggle. And yet people call us Jesus Freaks? It’s not true. We are far behind.
What saddens me even more is that I have heard Christians arguing that ignorance would be a spiritually superior position. That the study of theology would actually hinder a genuine love or relationship for God. This is absolutely ridiculous. Yet how many times have we heard it said:
“Just love Jesus”
“Just be a good person.”
Wow. Well if Hebrews 5:13-6:3 is not clear enough. Let’s examine this for a little bit. Professor Thoennes gave a wonderful analogy. Imagine going on a first date… you start telling your date a bit more about yourself, where you grew up, the things you love, the things you hate… and then your date stops you mid-sentence and says “I really want to love you…. but all these details about you, and all these information are seriously stopping me from being able to love you genuinely… so please let’s not get into the details and feel good!” … The point should be clear here.
Furthermore, let’s check out that first statement. What is love? Today love is almost always associated with sex, or with warm fuzzy romanticised sentimentality. Is that biblical love? If not, how do we love? How does God love us? What is holy love?
And Jesus…. well, which Jesus? We certainly cannot love someone we dont know. Cosmic Jesus? New age Jesus? Santa claus Jesus? Weak Jesus? Prosperity Jesus? Jesus who wants to save everyone but cannot? Or the Jesus who actually saves all of His elect? Sovereign Jesus or Butler Jesus? Truth matters. Which Jesus matters. Sound theology matters.
And about the second statement, well what is good? Who decides what is good? What is a good action? Is that even possible? Who is good? But before we can answer those, well… what is a person? Are we just a bunch of cells? a mere rational animal? or are made in the image of God? What does the Bible say about us? How does God view us? How does sin affect personhood?
It seems to me that people have forgotten the deep and inseparable connection between belief and behavior. What we believe will always affect our behavior. Wrong beliefs = Wrong behavior. Survival of the Fittest lead to the Holocaust. Sovereign Grace leads to Humility. We cannot behave the way God has called us to without believing what God has told us we need to believe, and all of this depends on an understanding of the Bible. We need to study the Scriptures.
And the connection between love and Knowledge should be clear. What we know about a Person affects how we love them, when we truly love someone we want to know them.
So let’s turn off our phones for a while. Let’s turn of twitter for a while. Close your laptop after you read this note. Take sometime in prayer, meditation and in thought.
Open the Word of God. Read it. Study it. Love it. So that you can love God.
To think well, about what really matters, is the business of the Saints.
“Good lovers are always intense students of the Beloved” – Prof. Erik Theonnes