Your Personal Perspective is Important!

Dr. Bill BaileyTo explain how your personal perspective is, indeed, important; it is necessary to first define an important term. The term I want to define is “theology.” The term “theology” has come to mean a great many things to different people. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “theology” as “the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; the study of God and God’s relation to the world.” The second definition given is: “a theological theory or system, a distinctive body of theological opinion.” It is that second definition that I would like to elaborate on. We are a product of everything that we’ve been taught, everything that we’ve heard, and everything that we’ve experienced, in terms of our understanding of the world and how it works. This understanding can, and should be, informed by our study of God’s Word. To put it simply, no matter what we may personally believe from our personal experiences, our understanding of the world must be formed by what God says, and what His Word says alone! As I pointed out, the second definition that Merriam-Webster gives is that theology is a distinctive body of theological opinion. This body of theological opinion is formed by the understanding of the Word of God. Unfortunately, a lot of people allow their understanding of the Word of God to be affected by their life experience, and teachings, and doctrines that they’ve heard before. This allows two people from two different theological backgrounds to look at the Word of God and interpret it in a way that supports their basic understanding of theological study. For instance, let’s use Abraham and his experience with Isaac. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac to God on the altar. One theological opinion would look at that and say, “You see, God was tempting and trying Abraham to see what he would do.” Now, this same individual would say that God is omniscient… that he knows all things and he knows the end from the beginning. So, as a matter of course, why would God need to tempt, or try, Abraham if he are already knew what he would do? This is a theological position, yes, but it is inconsistent. In fact, James 1:3 says very plainly, “Let no man say when he is tempted I am tempted of God.” This word “tempted” in the Greek means “tempted, tested, or tried.” So the Bible tells us not only that God does not try, or tempt, anyone but further, they were not even to say that He would do so! From the perspective of Word of Faith theological thinking how do we see what some would call the “temptation” of Abraham? The first thing we would need to understand is that God is a God of covenant. The way that covenant works is that you get all of the covenant partner’s abilities, capabilities, and resources, and in turn, your covenant partner gets all of your abilities, capabilities, and resources. We know this from the study of covenant. When one partner cuts the covenant with another partner the first partner must be willing to do anything that the second partner would do in a given situation. He must use all of his ability and all of his resources to fulfill the covenant. What God was asking Abraham to do in sacrificing his only son, was, in effect, putting Him in a covenant position to sacrifice his only Son for mankind. Abraham had to be willing to do what his covenant partner was willing to do. God knew, because He IS omniscient, that Abraham would sacrifice his son. Further, from Abraham’s perspective, he had a promise from God that it was through his seed, that is, Isaac, that God would make him the father of a great nation. Abraham knew that the promise must come through Isaac, and if God required him to sacrifice Isaac, and burn him on the altar, God would have to raise him up. How do we know that this is true? Because Hebrews 11:19 says, “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Why does the Bible tell us this? In order to demonstrate that Abraham understood that the promise was through his son Isaac, and that if God was requiring him to sacrifice Isaac, God would necessarily have to raise Isaac up from the dead! This account in Hebrews 11 is in the list of those of great faith! In fact, this was one of the greatest demonstrations of faith that we have, which is why it’s in the “Hall of Fame” of faith. Abraham so trusted God, and so believed in God, that he was willing to sacrifice his only son knowing that God would raise him up. God, therefore, as his covenant partner, was able to sacrifice His only son, Jesus, and received Him raised from the dead, just as Abraham’s faith believed, and knew, that God would do for him.

You can see that the same incident from Scripture can be viewed from two different perspectives. If you look at a Scripture using the “rose colored glasses” of a theology that says that God can cause people problems, or tempt them, or do evil unto them, then the “tint” of those glasses colors everything you see in a given Scripture. However, from a Word of Faith theological perspective we can look at the same Scripture and get a very different message. We don’t get a message that God tempts, in fact, we know that the book of James says that we are specifically not to say that God tempts or tries, but rather, we get the message that God is kind and loving and is a covenant keeping God. Now there are those that would say, “Doesn’t God allow bad things to happen to Christians?” To understand this, we have to go back and understand the Scripture that says that God would allow sickness to come on his people in the Old Testament. The word “allow” that is used is used not in the causative sense but in the permissive sense. The difference is simply this, God did not desire, or engineer, sickness to come upon his people. The sickness came because of the people’s disobedience. I have often use the example of a person with an umbrella that holds the umbrella over their head and steps out into the rain. The umbrella protects them from getting wet as long as they stand under it. But if they drop the umbrella down, and close it, while standing in the rain, they will get wet! The bottom line he is, the rain is out there! It is possible to get wet and if you step out from under your protection… you will get wet! God had a covenant with his people even in the Old Testament, but when they were disobedient they stepped out from under His protection and the evil, and the sickness, that was in the world through satan; being the god (little g-o-d) of this world system, has sickness and disease, and calamity, out there. It’s like the rain. It exists, and it’s available, but it’s not for the believer if they stay under God’s umbrella of protection! How do we choose to stay under that umbrella? By our words! God tells us that He set before us life and death, blessing and cursing, and then gives us the hint to choose life! (Deut. 30:19) He also tells us that life and death is in the power of the tongue. What we say and what we decide, therefore, determines our outcome; whether we live in life or in death. The question that people ask, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to Christians?” The question should be rephrased… the real question is, “Why do Christians allow bad things to happen in their lives?” Why do they choose words that bring evil and negative things into their lives?

So we see that the theological perspective of some would force them to try to understand how a loving, kind, Father God could do the things that they believe He does to His own children. If God truly did the things to His children that He has been accused of, in our society, He would be arrested for child abuse! But our God is not abusive; He does not punish His children physically with sickness and disease, rather the Bible tells us that He chastens His children. However, God chastens His children in their spirit, He is a Spirit, and He chastens in the spirit. I’m sure there have been many occasions when you have read a Scripture and felt a prick your heart… that is the chastening that God does! He doesn’t cut off your arm; He doesn’t give you cancer in order to chasten you! We are told very specifically that if it is killing, stealing, or destroying it comes from the devil. In fact, John 10:10 says that satan is the one who kills, steals, and destroys; and it is Jesus that brings full, and abundant, life!

Now, there are those that say, “We can’t avoid problems, sickness, and disease. In fact, God may have a greater purpose in our experiencing these things.” I submit that this perspective is coming from a negative (non-Word of Faith) theological stand. In our Christian walk, from a faith perspective, these things are not inevitable, in fact, they under our control, not God’s! He has set before us life and death, blessing and cursing, and has told us to choose life, with our words. However, we do live in a world that is dominated by an evil force, that of our enemy the devil. We are in a spiritual battle. And Satan is constantly trying to deceive us to use our authority, and our power, to use our own words to put us in a situation that is evil, negative, and destructive. However, it still our choice! We can allow ourselves to be deceived by Satan and speak what he wants us to speak, and act as he wants us to act, and we will get the results of “stepping out from under the umbrella.” We will get wet! We will have pain, and sorrow, and sickness, and disease. But it is not God’s best! It is not His desire! In fact, it’s not even ultimately His choice. It is our choice, and God has given us the ability to make that choice and to stand against the devil and his plots, and plans, and schemes. This is the Word of Faith perspective rather than the negative theological perspective.

One has to decide which perspective they come, and then approach theology, and doctrine, with that basic understanding… a basic understanding of who God is, and what He will do, based on a solid theological perspective. The decision of which theological perspective you come from should be informed ONLY by your reading and understanding of God’s Word… NOT your experience, and NOT your past doctrine! Your experience is not to be your teacher, the Holy Spirit is your teacher! Biblical “meekness” means, in the Greek, “gentleness, humility, and teach-ability.” (James 1:21) We must remain teachable and accepting of sound doctrine from the Word of God!

Dr. Bill

http://www.wofm.org

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