This is the second part of a two-part series on the supremacy of God’s Word. After seeing a new resource for young adults called The Bible Study by Zach Windahl, I recognized four fundamental errors regarding our approach to reading God’s Word.
In the first part of this series, I addressed the areas of Presumed Authority and our Fear of Discomfort. In this article – The Supremacy of God’s Word, Part II – I will be discussing the issues surrounding our tendency to add to the Bible remedies of euphoria and mountain top experiences, exciting encounters, and spiritual highs as well as our growing propensity towards ‘the Instagram bible.’
the bible and…
Windahl decided to move to Australia to spend time only in God’s Word; reading the Bible for 70 hours every week! As he explains his decision to move to Australia and the impact that it had on his life and faith, he makes the point very clear that it was in fact, life changing.
I greatly appreciate and applaud Windahl’s dedication to the study of Scripture and I think it is incredible that he utilized the resources, time, and opportunities that he had to pursue deep, personal study and understanding of the Bible. However, there is something that I wish he would have made more clear.
When it comes to true change, there is no ‘and…’ The Word of God which reveals the glory of Jesus Christ stands alone, for the Lord is exalted over all nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth (Psalm 113:4-6, NIV)?
The Bible drives this point over and over again throughout the entirety of Scripture. There is no one and no thing like our God. The holy Word of God stands alone when it comes to true, deep heart change (ref. Jeremiah 10:6; 1 Samuel 2:2; Deuteronomy 33:26, 3:24, NIV).
Ezekiel 36:25-27 says that it is the Lord who will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; He will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. He will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; He will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And He will put His Spirit in you and move you to follow His decrees and be careful to keep His laws.
So often we feel it necessary to add to Scripture the remedies and euphoria of mountain top experiences, exciting encounters, and spiritual highs. Experiencing God and encountering his glory are good things, however they are not what actually change our hearts.
2 Corinthians chapter three reminds us that it is only when we turn to the Lord that the veil over our hearts and minds is removed and we are able to, with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory; being transformed into his image with an ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:12-18, NIV).
It is the glory of Jesus Christ which stands above all else that saves us, changes us, sanctifies us, and refines us. No experience can add to or subtract from the God of the Scriptures.
So whether it is a trip to Australia or to your living room; whether it is 70 hours per week or half an hour a day…the Word of our God on high is what reveals the glory of Jesus Christ, reaches into our muck and mire, removes from us our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh that is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and daily refines us into the image of Christ.
the instagram bible.
I first stumbled across this concept of ‘the Instagram bible’ as I read through some of Jen Wilkin’s writings not too long ago.
In her October 2, 2016 article, Jen Wilkin explains that what is often presented as gospel truth according to Instagram ‘comforts but rarely convicts; emotes but rarely exhorts; warms but rarely warns; promises but rarely prompts; moves but does not mortify; builds self-assurance but balks at self-examination; chooses brevity over breadth, inspiration over intellect, and devotion over doctrine.’
This is dangerous and Jen Wilkin persistently warns us against the pomp of ‘relatability’ and encourages us to be devoted followers of Christ and students of the Bible who daily affirm and submit to the supremacy and entirety of God’s Word, which means even the parts that don’t leave us feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
As he encourages his audience to check out this new Bible study, Windahl excitedly describes his Bible study as being ‘super instagramable, because hello…its 2018 and things need to look good.’
I understand the need to market to one’s audience, but it is concerning that this component of his Bible study is held in higher regard than the actual, life-giving truth of Scripture. While I have not actually utilized this resource on my own, the fact that it’s ‘instagramability’ finds a place in the promotional videos before there’s anything mentioned of God, Jesus Christ, and the true life-changing reality of Christ crucified and raised to life raises several red flags.
Where does our worship and devotion lie?
What do we consider as having upmost importance?
What is it that attracts our attention and devotion?
I fear a resource that is described as being ‘super instagramable’ might fall severely short of helping its readers understand the fullness of God’s Word.
I so often see this in young adult groups, ministries, and Bible studies and have caught myself several times pondering the external factors that are likely to draw an audience rather than the deep, foundational truths of God’s Word on which we base our relationships, our discipleship, our gatherings, and our worship; the foundational truths that bring about deep change.
There is nothing wrong with posting an encouraging Instagram post with a verse or a passage. There is nothing wrong with double-tapping that image with Jeremiah 29:11 on it.
But, brothers and sisters, let’s not neglect the very breath of God for that which temporarily satisfies our self-bent desires for approval and affirmation. Let’s be men and women who know what we believe, why we believe it, grounded in the very Word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As followers of Christ and students of Scripture, we must daily return to and submit to the entirety and supremacy of God’s Word.