Escaping Biblical Idolatry

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Contents

The first and greatest commandment found in scripture is central to any persons relationship with the living God.  It says,

“I am the Lord thy God, have no other God’s before me.”

Anciently, the Jews refer to these as the ten words – not the ten commandments – just the ten words, and they are primary, first and a preface to any and all other Laws, commands or Words. Yes, there are other things that the living God has given to the human race that are beneficial and good and help human kind to know and follow Him better, but those things can never, ever take the place, or hold a place of supremacy over our honoring and worshipping the One True God.

Is it possible to take something that is meant for Good and used for Good to become an idol that people place ahead of their relationship to the living God? Recall the story of Moses and the brazen serpent found in Numbers 21:1-9.

It describes how during when the Nation of Israel was in the wilderness that a plague of fiery serpents fell on them and Moses went to YAHAVAH and He instructed him to make a bronze serpent and to lift it up above them to see.  And YAHAVAH told Moses if the people would simply look on that serpent their life would be spared if bitten.

Was this a good item? Absolutely.  I mean not only did it serve a good purpose (to heal and save people stung) but even Yeshua likened Himself to the item in John 3:14-15 saying that He too would be lifted up and draw all men to Himself!

That’s a pretty important thing, this brass serpent, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, the Jews not only preserved the damn thing for more than 800 years they allowed themselves to start to worship it.

Suddenly in 2nd Kings a man of God named Hezekiah came in who was dead set against idolatry, and he took it, smashed it to pieces, and said,  “Nehushtan” (which simply means, just a thing of brass).

In this simple example the Nation elected and called out to be the Living God’s wife, elected to insert or place some other, even something good “other” between God and themselves.  That, my friends, is called idolatry, and it is just one example of what displeases the living God the most with His creations.

If you know of us, you know how focused we are on studying the written scripture, Old Testament and Apostolic Record.  Adnan, Grady, Sarah, Mary, Delaney, Kathy Maggie, Danny, Margo and myself have spent thousands upon thousands of hours in the text seeking, searching and trying to gain better insights into what has been, what is fulfilled and what the Living God offers all people through faith and love.

I think Grady has read through the Old Testament alone dozens and dozens of times.

Is it of value?  Enormous value.  Does it do good?  In the right hands?  Is it useful?  Again, in the right hands.  

But this body of writings, which again we cannot reference enough in our search for Truth  – does not save us, is not what we trust, is not what we worship – its not even what we go by in this world anymore in terms of practicing religion!

Is it the Word of God?

No, it’s not.  Yeshua of Nazareth is the Word of God.  See how easy it is to slip a material item God blesses us with onto the throne? See how easy we call this collection of Books, the Word of God, when this is the very name given to the very Son of God who saved us?

I won’t go into how this happened extensively, but I do what to point out that it happening to followers of God today is not the first-time human beings have taken written words and worshipped them instead of the Living God. In fact, when Yeshua showed up on the scene the Jewish leaders had done this very thing – and they took what was written (collectively called the Law) and worshipped it MORE than God Himself.

Long story short, which we will get into in our Twelve Steps for Escaping Biblical Addiction, the Bible today has become as much of an idol in the hands of many well meaning believers as the Brass serpent was to ancient Israel and the Law had been to the Jews of Yeshuas day.

And He criticized them for it.  Hard core.

When seekers of God looked around and watched institutional religions really botch the faith up through traditions and manipulation (specifically Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxies – things which people will also lift up and make idols) a few brave souls came forward and suggested a departure from such, even a protestation.

Sola scriptura (Latin for ‘by scripture alone’) is a Christian theological doctrine held by most Protestant Christian denominations, in particular the Lutheran and Reformed traditions.

It suggests that 

[1] the Bible as the sole infallible source of authority for Christian faith and practice.

I’ve always wondered about the power of the Spirit as a sola but that was completely ignored in the creation of things at that time.   While the scriptures’ meaning is mediated through many kinds of subordinate authority—such as the ordinary teaching offices of a church, the ecumenical creeds, councils of the Catholic Church, or even personal special revelation—sola scriptura in contrast rejects any infallible authority other than the Bible. And that is a problem not unlike how the religious leaders of Yeshua’s day could not, would not hear anything from Him that challenged their Law in any form.

In sola Scriptural, “all non-scriptural authority is derived from the authority of the scriptures or is independent of the scriptures, and is, therefore, subject to reform when compared to the teaching of the Bible.”

Sola scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation who taught that “authentication of Scripture is governed by the discernible excellence of the text, as well as the personal witness of the Holy Spirit to the heart of each man.

Some evangelical and Baptist denominations take this a step further and say: 

Scripture is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter (“Scripture interprets Scripture”), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.

Other protestant traditions like Anglicanism, Methodism and Pentecostalism uphold a doctrine they call, prima scriptura, with scripture being illumined by tradition and reason. 

In the 14th century, Marsilius of Padua[a] believed that “the only authority for a Christian is the scriptures,” instead of the Pope. The same point was made by John Wycliffe who foreshadowed the sola scriptura doctrine also in the 14th century.

Johann Ruchrat von Wesel, Wessel Gansfort and Johannes von Goch also foreshadowed the Protestant view of sola scriptura and they viewed the scripture as being the only infallible authority and denied the authority of the pope or the church as infallible.

Sola scriptura was one of the main theological beliefs that Martin Luther proclaimed against the Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation.

Luther, a 16th-century Catholic monk said that “a simple layman armed with Scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it”. 

The intention of the Reformation was thus to correct what he asserted to be the errors of the Catholic Church, by appealing to the uniqueness of the Bible’s textual authority as Catholic doctrine is based on sacred tradition, as well as scripture. 

Sola scriptura rejected the assertion that infallible authority was given to the Catholic magisterium to interpret both Scripture and tradition.

Luther said, “The true rule is this: God’s Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel can do so.”

It all sounds so natural and good but by taking the written words in ink on paper, and assigning them ultimate authority on all matters great and small (how to do church, how to baptize with water, ecclesiology, soteriology, theology, doctrine, practice) enormous problems were created which we will mention a few:

First, who gets to interpret the text?

When Luther proposed sola Scriptura the wise thinker and linguist Erasmus said something to the effect of,

Yeah, Luther proposed sola scriptura as all fine and good until someone differs with his interpretation.

That was and remains a direct problem of the stance – if sola scriptura is sound, whose interpretations reign?

(beat)

The Reformers suggest that the Spirit guides but if that’s the case how has the Spirit guided hundreds of different interpretations on salvation, hell, water baptism, the afterlife, tithes, sabbath day and on and on and on.

Yahavah knew all of this and made plain His plan for the world after Christ.  When you come to see what the Bible reveals in this area you will have all the historical battles solved and will experience liberty in Him – which has always been His intention.

And what should guide when there are differences of opinion among readers of the Bible?

Ironically, biblicist’s will often and circuitously say – “the Bible itself!”  And 100 scholars run back to their ivory towers, churn through the text, and regroup six months later with the very same differences of opinion.

And they look at each other and ask, “Well, how do we solve this impasse?”

And after staring at each other, they say, “the Bible!” and for nearly 500 years our placing the Bible on the throne, even before God, has done very little in bringing any solution and any peace.

But again, God Himself laid everything out to free all people from every form of idolatry, and through the victorious work of His only human Son, the real Word of God, you too can learn to appreciate and use the written scripture to follow and worship the Only True and Living God.

We are now going to work through our twelve steps to overcoming Biblical Addiction.

Test everything that challenges you.  Use the contents of ancient scripture by the power of the Holy Spirit to discern truth from error.

We are going to take you on an scriptural journey – an exodus of sorts – out from the bondage of Biblical idolatry and into a direct relationship with the God through His True and Living Word, Yeshua of Nazareth.

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