Silver was heated over hot flames “in a furnace of earth” to burn off impurities, and after seven such treatments the silver was purified. David considered “the words of the Lord” to be equally pure.
Only the Lord’s words are infallible words. Christ’s saints often package His truths in their own words, and when such words do not conflict with His truths they are equally pure. But….
But christians are simply incapable of consistently expressing truth accurately. Evidence of this sad reality abounds….
Tithing is a good example.
Though the Bible never teaches or encourages the New Covenant believer to tithe, and though there is ample evidence within New Testament writings to indicate tithing is contrary to the heart of our God, many expounders within evangelicalism vigorously espouse the tithe. A non-tither in most evangelical churches is tolerated, not embraced, and chances of him/her advancing into a place of influence are slim to none.
If tithing really is just plain wrong, the insistence by many writers (over the centuries!) is proof that man’s words are often in opposition to God’s words. (See note # 1.)
Tithing is but one in a long list of subjects of disagreement within evangelicalism. In a room of a hundred learned writers none would find agreement on all issues with the other ninety-nine, because….
Because unlike the Lord Jesus, and unlike Adam and Eve before sin, and unlike angels, and unlike all heaven’s inhabitants, christians are partial.
Book writers, it seems, usually write within acceptable boundaries (a reason why more do not decry the evangelical tithing mandate and many etceteras so harmful to Christ’s church). Boundaries – set by denominations, local churches, friends, colleagues, spouses, etcetera – are unwritten, but real. A man writes with pen in hand and fences in mind. Being accepted trumps being true. Like every believer, writers can be infected with a fear of man that keeps them in line with the way it is. Christians, with very few exceptions, really are partial.
Francis Asbury, a circuit rider during the American Revolution, requested permission from John Wesley (the famous writer/preacher) to baptize his new converts because the war prevented a Wesley representative from travelling from England to the United States. Permission was denied. If Asbury were impartial, he would simply have investigated New Testament writings and determined that all believers are equally free to baptize. But no, the converts to Christ were denied water baptism.
Christians of all generations have a history of partiality. (See note # 2.) Having heroes (and lords) can engender partiality, giving more consideration to the insights of some than others.
The one who is partial is not led by the Holy Spirit, not fully, perhaps not primarily.
The best of books are not flawless because writers are flawed. Only a pure heart can write a pure book. Book writers are purveyors of both truth and untruth. As cargo travels from province to province by way of the train, untruth travels through sequential generations via books. (That’s why today, for example, a christian with cancer is so infected because of the sovereignty of God!)
To be fully managed by the Holy Spirit (who “will guide you into all truth”) one must be firmly attached to (fully devoted to) the Lord Jesus Christ. The characteristic dearth of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” in writers’ material indicates poverty of relationship between Lord Jesus and writers.
Christianity would be healthier if most books in your favorite christian bookstore were never written, though all contain degrees of truth and relevance. Don’t be beguiled; a book can declare many truths and yet be a false teaching. Anything ‘christian’ that is acceptable in non-christian circles probably isn’t. Many books ignore, even negate, Christ and His Calvary, preaching instead the world’s cures…. sprinkled with a few Bible verses to give credibility.
And yet it would certainly be unwise to disregard all books (a mistake akin to avoiding all preachers). The Lord Jesus Christ gave us the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher, who often communicate via books, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine”. (Ephesians, chapter 4)
Perhaps every book, the Bible the only exception, is a mixture of truth and less-than-truth. We would be wise to seek the Holy Spirit while choosing reading material, and be cognizant that all books of all generations were built by frail men, themselves influenced by frail men. We enter a book, not alone, but with “the Teacher”, the Lord Jesus. We must develop “ears to hear” what “the Spirit of the Lord” Jesus is saying to us.
There is in our possession a book of truth. Truth is valuable, and The Word should be considered a treasure. The Bible is God’s compilation of “pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times”. It is God’s word – infallible, creative, living, authentic, prosperous, awesome, praiseworthy, colorful, convicting, honest, redemptive, immovable, uncompromising, eternal, complete, changeless, sharp, inspirational, sure, lively, warm, protective, sincere, powerful, faithful, knowledgeable, just, holy, satisfying, joyous, life-giving, secure, effective, wise, medicinal, pure, fruitful, prophetic, indestructible and divine. (See note # 3.)
Note # 1: Reading Financing the Great Commission, chapters two and three, available at larryjones.ca will convince most that tithing is not a New Covenant requirement.
Note # 2: Francis Asbury: God’s circuit Rider, by Charles Ludwig.
Note # 3: This last sentence is a quote from A Catholic No More (available at larryjones.ca).