I have made it my goal to write short posts reflecting on my devotional reading every day. These posts are composed off the cuff, in 30 minutes or less. The following is one such post. Before writing this post, I read: Psalm 66, Proverbs 28, and 1 Corinthians 11–14.
It is shocking how easy is to fall into our culture’s unbiblical ways of thinking in little ways—little ways that add up over time. Today’s reading in 1 Corinthians brought that home to me in a very real way. In the middle of 1 Corinthians 11, Paul comments that the reason that some of the Corinthians had become ill and others had even died was because they had been taking communion in a manner unworthy of Christ (1 Cor. 11:30). Just after reading it, I thought something like, Paul is just spiritualizing, because that’s not really what happened.
And then I stopped, rather shocked by the thought that had just run through my head. What Paul asserts is exactly what happened; to say it was otherwise is flatly to deny the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. I am not for an uncareful doctrine of inerrancy any more than were those who carefully articulated it for in the latter part of the 19th century. I am all for a thorough doctrine of inerrancy, and I think we lose a great deal the moment we begin to think ourselves wiser than the Spirit of God who superintended the writing of the Scriptures. So I had opportunity immediately to repent and to submit my mind again to what God says.
Were there many things Paul did not know about how illness worked? Yes. But whatever the means of God’s effecting those Corinthian believers’ illnesses and deaths, they were nonetheless the judgment of our all-powerful God on his church so that we would know that he requires us to regard highly the sacraments he instituted. Whenever we find ourselves in a place where our minds butt up against the clear teaching of Scripture, we need to be willing to change our minds, plain and simple. We submit to Scripture; we do not require that Scripture submit to us.
Indeed, the contrast between my two separate times of personal reflection on the nature of the word of God today could not be starker. There, in my devotional reading, I was second-guessing Paul and the Spirit of God. Later in the day, as I worked on a short reflection paper (to be published in late April after it is due in class), I spent a substantial section of the paper focusing on the Spirit’s work of preparing the Scriptures and opening our eyes to see them. There, I was led to grateful worship in awe of what the Helper whom the Father sent us has done on our behalf so that we might see God.
It was a matter of just a few hours between these two radically different encounters with the authority of Scripture. A few hours and a lot of much-needed repentance and much-needed grace from the Spirit to open my eyes and transform my understanding so that I could see the Holy One’s revelation and worship instead of seize up with skepticism. May it be so more and more in my life.