The person quite agreed:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. ~~2 Peter 1:2-4 (NASB95)
Absolutely, he said — Scripture tells us everything we need to know about God. In that respect, he said, we need no further revelation. Most definitely, we can affirm the sufficiency of Scripture. But he clung to the popular idea that God speaks to people directly, giving personal guidance on decisions like which car to buy or whether to change jobs. In his mind, Christians can’t make these types of decisions unless the Lord speaks to them specifically. The thought that God speaks only through Scripture was simply unthinkable.
As I contemplated his position, I realized that this person cared more about having God talk about relatively inconsequential details of his life than about knowing Who God is and how to honor Him. Scripture wasn’t enough for him because it focuses on the Lord rather than on our daily lives.
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For years, I researched several popular false teachers (most notably Beth Moore) with the motive of helping women escape their deceptions. To a point, that research benefited me, and hopefully benefited some of my readers. I still appreciate the bloggers and podcasters who keep up with these teachers and faithfully warn against them. Doing so requires a lot of time and effort, usually incurring a lot of abuse from followers of false teachers. When this form of discernment ministry is done properly and with a right attitude, it can be worth the persecution just to save one person from the lies that could damn their souls (Jude 22-23).
Aging with a physical disability has significantly reduced my desire to research false teachers, however. I now leave that work to people with more stamina. Oh, I might occasionally pop out a blog post alerting readers to a dangerous teacher, but I doubt I’d make it a regular practice. And the Lord has convinced me to compliment the ministries of those courageous bloggers who name names by teaching women discernment through sound doctrine.
This past month I’ve been reading 2 Peter, an epistle known for its teaching on handling false teachers (Chapter 2) and unbelieving scoffers (Chapter 3). Over the past few days, Chapter 1 has caught my attention, as Peter lays a foundation for the bulk of his epistle by encouraging his readers toward God’s Word as the source for knowing God. Interestingly, during this week’s Bible Study reviewing Colossians at our church, my pastor emphasized that Paul’s approach to refuting false teachers hinged on teaching right doctrine. The best way to spot false doctrine, he said, is to saturate oneself in true doctrine. Between 2 Peter and my pastor, I learned that the most effective approach to dealing with false teachers comes from knowing God through His Word.
Peter begins his second epistle with one of my favorite passages.
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Several years ago, a Contemporary Christian Radio station I listened to frequently played a haunting song entitled “What Do I Know Of Holy?” I no longer listen to much of Contemporary Christian music, preferring hymns (including modern hymns by the Gettys, Bob Kauflin and Stuart Townsend) that promote solid doctrine. But at the time, I was just beginning to practice discernment, and still allowed myself little compromises here and there. So I’d listen to that song, with it’s breathless female vocalist, agreeing that God’s holiness is more than even the most mature Christian can understand.
In one sense, I agree that we will not see the holiness of the Lord until we stand before Him in glory (1 Corinthians 13:12). Our earthly bodies simply aren’t equipped to see Him in all of His majesty, From that perspective, we certainly should have humility enough to say that we can’t understand His holiness. We can only anticipate that wonderful day when He takes us Home to be with Him.
At this point in my walk with the Lord, however, I have to rethink my assumption that we can’t comprehend holiness at all. Although the song once appeared to be a beautiful expression of humility, it now betrays an emphasis on personal experience. As I listened to the song again yesterday, I cringed at the absence of Scriptural understanding. So I’d like to demonstrate why I believe Christians can and must develop a robust understanding of holiness.
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