8For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? (1Cor 14:)
The car you drive has what is called a dash board. On that dash board stands a row of gauges, switches and lights. These switches, like the switches in your home, activate some aspect of your car. The gauges you see tell you how your car is running, what condition it's in, and what needs to be looked into. Ignore a red light and the chances are strong that before long, your car will refuse to serve you.
Our lives are governed by gadgets such as the ones just mentioned. We have remotes to control our TV, radio and many other instruments that we can't live without. The microwave, the stove, perhaps even your bird cage and fish bowl has some sort of gauge to tell you if the water is too warm or if the bird seed is low.
When I was a young teenager my father bought us a TV. TVs in those days, for you youngsters who might be unaware that there ever existed such a time, did not have a remote. When my father wanted the station changed, he commanded me and I changed the channel. Of course as his remote control, I did the work, but I didn't get to choose what channel we watches. That was my father's prerogative. The only thing I could be sure of is that the channel he wanted to view was by no means the one I desired to see, the one I was commanded to abandon in lieu of his choice. Today when a remote refuse to remote, we shake it or change its batteries. When my father's remote, meaning me, refused to cooperate, he would throw a potato at me, which had the same effect as changing batteries.
TVs in those early years had antennas, something that, like the dodo bird has become fairly extinct. The antenna, in order to pick up the signal of the channel viewed had to be turned to face the source of the signal being sent. This action required me to go outside, and oft times climb up to the roof, and physically turn the antenna so it faced my father's choice of stations. You can see why I was happy when they invented the motorized antenna-turner and rabbit ears.
Fortunately in those ancient days there were only three stations available, and they were on the air a limited time each day.
As you sit on your divan or wherever your assigned spot might be, watching the TV, it looks all the world as if the TV is providing the pictures you're viewing. In fact, some time in your life, hopefully when you were very young, you investigated the back of the TV in order to spy on the little people who lived there and catch them in their act. If you were ever successful in this endeavor, let me know, because I still try, but as yet the little people have alluded me.
Your TV, your radio and your computers are merely terminals receiving a signal that is out there somewhere in the atmosphere and puts it all together for you. In its raw form the signals passing through the air or the wires are just undecipherable mumbo-jumbo. It take a finely-tuned TV or computer to reassemble those signals into a form we can recognize and understand. Those of you at all familiar with the computer understand this process since the computer uses what is called a machine language that is nothing more or less than a Morse code. The long and shorts of Morse is just a bunch of clicks to the untrained ear. It takes an interpreter to understand what is being transmitted to our screen. Every computer program that you buy, and every peripheral such a printer or a camera requires its own translator as well. The printer does not know what the computer is trying to tell it until a translator, the proper driver has been installed.
The gauges on your car tell you what the various parts of your car is doing. They are essentially little TVs. These gauges don't regulate any of the devices on your car, they merely interpret what is sent to them and display what they are sent into a language, a form that we can understand.
Have you ever had a car that its gas gauge would read that you have a quarter tank of gas, but the tank was in fact empty? The chances are you discovered this erroneous feature half way between nowhere and Timbuktu. That's where I was when I first learned of my failing gas gauge.
Some times a gauge will malfunction in the other direction. An oil gauge that forever says your oil needs changing, a seat belt alarm that refused to shut up, even though you bang it with your fist. A dash board light that only comes on in the daytime, and peters out when the sun goes down are some examples I think we all can relate to.
Gauges, TV screens, and all their ilk are nothing but translators, they do not control anything themselves. Your TV may not pick up channel 12,066 while another TV next to it picks that channel up easily. The signal is present in both cases, only one of the TVs is out of synch with what it is receiving.
The Word of God and the Bible is quite similar to the signals sent out by a TV station. What is sent into the airways is essentially exactly like what was occurring at the station that sent the signal. But what we receive may be very different than what was sent. Applying this principle to the TV, what you see on your screen may be people with green faces and wavy lines running from one edge of your screen to the other. These modern machines might stretch the people you see so far out of proportion they appear to be cartoon characters of themselves. Or you might be watching over an iPod or some such device, the heads of the people look like burst pimples rather than well manicured faces.
The Word of God in its pure form is absolutely true and understandable. In times past this truth was known and accepted to be so. There was no question but that God's Word was accurate. Whatever failure was to be had, was on our part, not on the part of the Word. Today we have altered this to say God's Word was accurate "in its original form." What does this mean? What is being said is that we no longer have God's truth because we no longer have the "original manuscripts." Since we no longer have at our disposal the accurate Word of God, that means however we choose to interpret the Word is just as apt to be true as anyone else's view of the Word.
If the truth of the Word of God is up for grabs, then that might very well mean that God no longer has control over His Word, and is unable to deliver it to us the way He intended it to be read. And as we see the various Bibles, interpreted, not only into thousands of languages, but in perhaps hundreds of different ways, saying different things, and including varying and different books, it could easily be accepted that God has indeed abandoned His original Word.
Besides the mangled world of translations of the Book itself, we have other translator difficulties. We have thousands of denominational views of each of these translations, all differing to one degree or another. Then, beyond the fallibility of the denominational doctrines created by their chosen theologians, we have the individual preachers themselves and their independent slant on what the Bible is saying. If you belong to a church that has had a number of pastors over the years, or that brings in visiting pastors or evangelists, you may have seen that each of these has his own twist to the way he sees what God is telling us. He has different ways of expressing a point that may or may not agree with what has been expressed by others. In fact, from my own experience, I've seen pastors, who over the years, seemingly even unbeknownst to themselves, have shifted from the right to the left in their theology. One church I know of, and another that I've attended, has made extreme jumps from high to low in an extremely short time just by the change of pastors. And there are many long-established and hardline denominations that have made turnabouts in their doctrine, and as far as I can see, no one even notices, nor do they care that they are being taught just the opposite of what thy had been brought up to believe.
When wires become crossed, they can create great problems. The switch on the wall I spoke of earlier that turned the light off when it should have turned it on. What if that switch was connected to something not as obvious as an overhead light? What if that switch turned on the heater instead. Suppose I was to leave the house for a few days and upon my return I found the thermometer reading 1100. Or, even worse, what if there was to be a short in the heater, which all too often occurs, and I found my house in flames when I returned?
Crossed wires often occur on automobiles. A mechanic knows what it's like to replace the spark plugs on a car and discover that two of the wires are not where they ought to be. The car may run, but not well, and the motor itself can be damaged by the error. Crossed or shorted wires anywhere can well cause a wire to malfunction, and even to catch fire. A wire that is not in good condition, that is not connected securely and to the terminal it belongs to, can cause much grief and even death of the car, or the driver of that car.
Besides accidental and intentional crossing of doctrinal ("teachings") wires causing problems in the interpretation we receive of the Word, there are misunderstandings and confused communications of what we hear. Many years ago there was a movie titled "Wrong Number" where Barbara Stanwick by accident overhears a phone call where two men are plotting her death. Later George Burns and Gracy Allen did a spoof of this movie. Gracy overhears a call that involves her husband George, and it appears all the world that these two men were going to assassinate her husband. She goes into a tizzy and tries to warn George of the fact, but he nor anyone else will listen. What was actually taking place is that Gracy had heard some rodent exterminators (with criminal-sounding voices of course) making arrangements to exterminate a rat that had been discovered in Gracy's house.
Sometimes we can hear the right words, and understand the meaning of the words we've heard, but we attach what we know to that which it does not belong, and come up with the wrong conclusions.
8And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you. (Gen 40:)
19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2Peter 1:)
11And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. (Luke 12:)
25These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:)
27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1John 2:)
10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. (Heb 8:)
Why can't we hear what God is telling us if we do in fact have a hotwire directly to Him? Could it be that we are not all we're told we are, and that we haven't received the source that comes from God? Wouldn't you think someone who has a direct communication with the president of this nation, who lived in the same house as the president, would not be seeking the will of the president through messengers and janitors who work in the White House? Do you receive your information directly from the Lord? Are you one of His sheep who listens only to His voice? If not, then why not? Isn't it something worthwhile investigating?
Another possibility that we aren't hearing the words of the Lord is that our wires are corroded or shorting out. Corroded wires might mean that we have heard the voice of the Lord in the past, and we know what His voice sounds like, but we no longer feel His presence. Corrosions have been described by Jesus in the parable of the Sower and the Seed. Here Jesus tells of some seeds falling into worldly concerns and lusts. Some seeds fell on hard ground and didn't sink in. Perhaps such is the case with you. Is there sin in your life that is blocking your communion with God? God does not see sin, we hear this in the sermons on Sunday. But if we're on the other side of the sin, that means God can't see us either. This you very likely haven't heard in church.
While corrosion is sin, shorts in our wires to God might very well be the cares of the world, or our family, and even of our church. Cares indicate a lack of faith. If we have total faith in God, then we won't be trying to control our own family, our own life, and our government. These are a part of God's domain and not ours. I have to battle lack of faith constantly. I am very weak in this department, and I don't seem to be making much, if any headway in my battle. Lack of faith is what caused the Israelites to be rejected by God in the wilderness (Heb 3:7-18). As much cause as they had to have faith, they failed to live up to what they had witnessed. How much more so is this possible with us, those of us who live in the day of silence, and of the Apostate Church? (Amos 8:11)
If we expect to hear God's Word, we have to be walking with God. We can't be running off doing our own thing like a two-year-old is so inclined to do. We have to have our rabbit ears tuned to God, and we have to be obeying His commandments if we desire to hear Him, and to have Him hear us. The closer we are to God, the closer He will be near to us (James 4:8; 5:16).
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2Tim 4:)
6But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4:)
4Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the (2Tim 3:)
We're told we should create resistance where the devil and our lusts are concerned, and we should allow a good flow of the Spirit where good works and the Word of the Lord is concerned. Paul says:
10Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. 11Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb 5:)
This is true of our Spiritual growth as much as it is our physical. What we are able to understand of the Spiritual depends on how much growing we've allowed ourself to do, and how much we have been delving into the Word in effort to learn about our Lord and what He expects of us. If we're not interested in learning, if we're not anxious to enter the Spiritual race and train at our maximum level for contention, then we will never graduate out of the milk stage.
One of the biggest problems I've found in the churches is that everyone already knows everything, therefore no one can be taught anything. In my mind, this is what Paul is telling those he's trying to teach. And as we've seen, this is certainly the condition of those in the Church Jesus was trying to teach. They already knew everything there was to know, and no upstart youth was going to tell them what to do or what not to do.
When I teach a class, whether it be fencing or whatever, I always begin with the basics, even if the person I'm teaching is more experienced and learned than I am. Art is a good example of this. I have had (and I designed my art school around) artists who had been in the business much longer than I had, and they were already professionals in their field. What I found is that people who are well established in a field have become unteachable. They have missed some very important aspects of the field, in this case art, but since they are gaining what they ultimately desire, which is notoriety and financial gain, they don't want to look at their weaknesses. Only beginners, those who will admit they know nothing, are open to instruction.
My art instruction always begins with the most rudimentary of stick figures. I taught anatomy, and I insisted the student begin with the stick figure even if they were accomplished figure artists. I wasn't concerned with their being able to draw successfully what they saw, what was there before them. I wanted them to learn what they couldn't see, in order that they could draw what didn't already exist. My students, after a time, could then draw a person from their mind, and make it more real than if they had been using a model. They could draw a person from any angle, at any age, and in any form. They could draw the hand from memory in any pose. If anyone has tried to draw a hand, they will understand what I'm saying here.
For myself, when I begin a field of interest such as music, I begin with the basics. I go for kindergarten books on the subject and work my way up. Just because I'm an old man does not mean I know a lick more about a subject than a 6 year old who has been doing what I seek to learn.
Consider electricity. I said I know nothing about electricity. Yet if I was to have an electrical problem in my home I would have to repair it myself because I can't afford to pay an expert to do it for me. Before I would attempt such a complicated and dangerous endeavor, I would first go to kindergarten. My first objective would be to do what is nearly impossible for most people, and that is to admit that I don't know what I'm doing. Then I would search the web for all the information on the subject I could find. After this I would check at the hardware stores for tools and material I might need, and there I would ask anyone who will stand still what I should ask them if I was smart enough to know what to ask. Then, before I tackled the job, I would try to find a knowledgeable someone who might be willing to supervise me and watch that I don't burn my house down. At least they would be there to call an ambulance when I electrocute myself.
This is me, and it's what I do for even the most insignificant of things.
When I began studying the Bible I followed this same procedure. I read children's books for an overall view of the Bible (and this was long after I reached adulthood). After a time of preparation I delved into the Word and into what other people had to say about the Bible. I was surprised that in the Spiritual world one plus one doesn't equal two. When I added everything together that other people, the experts, in other denominations had to say, I came up with everything but an answer of two, the answer I might have expected.
What I have been experiencing, and that I continue to experience, is that everyone is an expert, knowing all the rules, and all the answers, even though I see they have bandages around both hands, and their house is aflame.
If we want to know that God wants us to know, we have to be willing to step out of our understanding and be as a baby in a high chair and be fed pablum. Yet, if you notice, even the person who walks off the street and has never entered a church before, already has the idea, and is told, that they have everything they will ever need.
We cross the wires of the newly born Christian before they even know what the word Christian means.