Know Your Bible

VOL. 9                           March 28, 2010                           NO. 13

 God Conscious


            A truly godly man is one who lives with a constant realization of God's divine presence He is God-conscious. When he awakes in the morning, there is God. As he dresses for work there is God. As he goes in to breakfast with his family, as he drives to work, as he works through the day, as he drives home, as he spends the evening hours, as he lies down on his bed at the close of the day, there is God.


            Enoch was a man who was God conscious, for he "walked with God" (Genesis 5:24). He enjoyed constant companionship with God. Wherever Enoch went, God went with him, and Enoch was always aware that He was there. He could not flee from God's presence (Psalm 139:7), nor did he seek to do so. He was a godly man.


            How fortunate is that man who has developed within himself this God consciousness. It is easy for him to pray, for God is to him a close, ever near, companion whose "ears are open unto his prayers" (1 Peter 3:12). His talking with God is as natural as his talking with any companion.


            He does not fear, for he just places his hand in God's in his times of trouble. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear..." (Psalm 46:1, 2). Even when walking "through the valley of the shadow of death," he can "fear no evil," for God is with him.


            The power of temptation is greatly reduced, for he never forgets that "all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13). His desire to please his ever present God is greater than the power of temptation.


            He is thankful, recognizing God, with whom he walks, to be the source of "every good gift and every perfect gift" (James 1:17).


            He loves God. He talks to God. He walks with God. He is always conscious of God's presence.


            He is never without God. Yet, this relationship never degenerates into a "buddy-buddy" relationship, for he reverences God; he recognizes His awesomeness; he gratefully acknowledges his own personal unworthiness of such a relationship with Almighty God.


    This is the very essence of godliness. Someone, years ago, observing the similarity between "godliness" and "God-like-ness," assumed that the two words meant the same. That false assumption was passed on to others, and has now gained a strong foothold in the thinking of a great number of people. W. E. Vines says that godliness "denotes that piety which, characterized by a godward attitude, does that which is well pleasing to Him." A godly person, then, is one who has a godward attitude, and whose constant consciousness of God leads him to be obedient to Him.


            While visiting in a hospital, recently, we observed this sign, "Have you said Thank you, God today?" A godly person probably would have done so. Have you said, "Thank you, God" today?


                                                                                                                                                                                   ---Bill Hall


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QUESTION: -- What do some people mean when they claim that the books of the Bible are mere "love letters"?


ANSWER: -- In recent decades those seeking to implement wholesale changes respecting the view which people take of the Scriptures and their use of them have attacked the "traditional approach" as not considering the form of the biblical revelation. By form they mean (1) the particular genre (kind of literature) of the passage (for instance, poetry, epistle, parable, apocalyptic literature) and (2) how we view the passage (propositional truth like pattern, blueprint, or low vs. "love letter"). Supposedly they intend that all understand the Bible as a mere expression of divine love, as seen in whatever the text says, instead of legislation for people to obey.


            The weakness of this "love letter" approach appears immediately to the discerning student. Who ever wrote a girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse concerning such matters as going to law with one another, abusing the Lord's Supper, turning away from Christ to a different gospel, or failing to abide in the teaching of Christ? Furthermore, in these so-called love letters there are restrictions, mandates, warnings, and exhortations, all of which, on the very surface, call for obedient response to Jesus Christ on the part of readers, in a way that love letters sent to a girlfriend/boyfriend never can do. The New Testament comes from a superior Being with all authority, to inferior beings expected to submit to the divine will. To obey this fact is to show oneself either ignorant of the Bible or guilty of willful disobedience.


            This attempt to evade the authority of New Testament teaching has classified the NT as a "love letter," lacking the force of law usually associated with it. This approach is quite problematic, as seen in this seven-count indictment.


1.         It distorts "love" as found in the New Testament.


2.         It nullifies law.


3.         It makes it impossible for any to sin.


4.         It ignores the divine limitations designed to protect the Scriptures from human encroachment.


5.         It creates a false distinction between law and love.


6.         It is built on a disregard for the meaning of words (love, law, pattern, sin).


7.         It undermines the authority of God's Book and the holiness of God.


            Another weakness of this approach is its stress on the figurative nature of much biblical writing. The charge is sometimes made that figures of speech reduce the truth or validity of language, or at least alter its authoritative nature. While it is true that figurative language abounds there, the proponents of this "love letter" approach show their elementary understanding of the nature of language. Language does not lose its truth, validity, or force because of its use of figures; if any result follows, force is thereby enhanced, so that truth stands out more powerfully and concisely than in literal language. Figurative language has no bearing on the authority inherent in divine communication or on the ways in which it conveys the divine Will (direct statement, approved example, or necessary conclusion).


            The reader should beware of all attempts to make the Bible anything less than the revelation of God's Will to man calling for human obedience. All calls for a "new hermeneutic" or, on a smaller scale, for accepting the New Testament as just a "love letter," say more about the proponents' lack of faith than about the Bible itself.


---Bobby L. Graham

in Truth Magazine, Vol. 52, NO. 4, April 2008

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