FOR AUDIO VERSION CLICK HERE.From the very beginning there was a human tendency to organize, identify and label the early movement of Jesus' followers. These followers were called the "people of the Way" and "Christians". Later on, the followers of Jesus were organized around the early leadership-elders, bishops and priests. The bishops and the priests were the educated ones and when the Church was organized under Constantine, the priestly hierarchy prevailed.
These hierarchies of priests were naturally placed in positions of authority, because they were the only ones who knew and who could discuss the scriptures. The hierarchy was so highly developed that the position of the Pope emerged as the highest of all authorities. When the Reformation occurred, Luther challenged this system of authority by raising up the scriptures as the ultimate authority, even higher than the religious hierarchy.
But, in my opinion, the Reformation didn't go far enough. The Reformation movement was monumental, but didn't go far enough. The Pope was replaced by the Scriptures and put into the hands of many little popes in authority. In other words, the hierarchy remained in place, though altered a bit and the Scriptures became the ultimate authority.
At that point we re-entered the same perspective and stance of the Pharisees of Jesus' time. They were deeply into the study and memorization of Scripture. Even today, the modern-day Pharisees spend their lives studying the Scriptures.
Within Christianity the Scriptures were first authoritative, then infallible and then they were viewed as inerrant. Each time the Scriptures were being lifted up to a higher and still higher level of authority. The myth here is that the authority and power of the Scriptures can somehow bring a person into eternal life. I believe the Scriptures are highly important and God-breathed, therefore I diligently study them. But there is a great difference in how I see the Scriptures, since Jesus apprehended my life several years ago in a fresh way. The Scriptures are no longer my measuring stick, but Jesus is. Now, I know this is very difficult for many to handle, because we want to have everything written down in order to have something tangible to rely upon. But maybe you have gone a little too far in lifting up the Scriptures to a higher level than Jesus ever intended. Hear me out.
The damage that emerges out of this myth is threefold: FIRST-The Scriptures are so highly lifted up that there is a tendency to worship the written Word of God. This is called Bibliolatry. I just heard of a pastor who made the inerrant word of God (in the way he interpreted it) the primary rule of his church and that "doctrine will lead our church experience" he says. That's just wrong! The written word is not the head of the body of the church of Jesus-Jesus is.
SECOND-When you lift up the Scriptures too high, you tend to believe that the right understanding of Scriptures is most important for a person's eternal future. Without the right understanding of the Scriptures you may be left behind at the end of time. This has proven to be the most divisive methodology ever-I'm right and you're wrong. And, this divisiveness is most ugly and does not traffic in the love of Jesus.
THIRD-When you lift up the Scriptures too high, you tend to think that our youth today who are leaving Christianity can be won back by teaching them the Scriptures in a more effective way. It's teaching, teaching, teaching more of the right doctrine.
FOURTH-When you lift up the Scriptures too high, you tend to miss the only way to possess eternal life-the person of Jesus. The tendency is to equate the Gospel with a set of beliefs or a system of doctrines and to miss out on the dynamic of a personal, faith, followship kind of relationship with Jesus.
To debunk this myth, I want to use the exact words of Jesus as He addressed the Pharisees on this subject. In John 5:39, Jesus says, "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." This is why Paul explains how faith comes to us. He says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the spoken word of Christ." Faith comes not by studying and memorizing bible texts, but only to those who seek after Jesus and listen to what He says.
The Scriptures cannot give you eternal life-not at all! The study of the Scriptures is important, but only as they give you Jesus. By the way, the Scriptures Jesus was referring to here are the only Scriptures that they had at that time-the Old Testament. Luke relates the story of Jesus walking with a couple of disciples after the resurrection on the road to Emmaus: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. And later Luke says, Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Remember, in the 1st chapter of the Gospel of John: In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. It doesn't say "IT was in the beginning with God, but HE-JESUS-was in the beginning with God." Then, a few verses later, John says, "And He (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us."
Searching for eternal life in the Scriptures will prove to be futile. Yet, many find it easier than seeking after Jesus personally. It's so much easier to follow a list of do's and don'ts; it's very difficult to relate to Jesus.
It's all about Jesus-always was, is and always will be. The Good News or the Gospel is Jesus. The Kingdom is Jesus. And, only Jesus can give you eternal life. In fact, Jesus is eternal life. Follow Jesus and you can enjoy that life beginning right now.