On Scripture and Sacraments

John 5:39-40
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

In some churches, certain worshippers in the congregation would look surprised that I did not bring along a worn-out bible when I shared the word of God. I would use my smart phone with the bible app. Sometimes after the service, one or two would remark in jest that my bible was too worn out and was left at home. Many have this bias that it is unspiritual not to bring along the bible in print. And many will believe having a worn-out bible imply frequent diligent study and is definitely spiritual.

Jesus did not fault the Jews for not having studied the Scripture diligently but He faulted them for the above 2 assumptions. Firstly, there is no magic in having a printed bible. There is no eternal life in the Scripture per se. Eternal life is found only in Jesus. Secondly, diligent study of the Scripture is of no use unless one is pointed to Jesus to find life in Him. (The Orthodox Jews were so pious as to carry the phylacteries fastened to their forehead and their left arm but they failed to see that Jesus was the Son of God and come to Him.)

Like what John Stott said in his book, But I Say To You..Christ the Controversialist, that studying a prescription given by the doctor diligently, and even memorizing it, is of no use in getting healed for our sickness. Similarly, studying the Scripture diligently is of no use unless one goes to Jesus to get his sin-sick condition healed. The Scripture and the Sacraments merely point the way in word and in picture respectively to Jesus healing us of our sin and making peace with God. They are mere signposts pointing to the Way, the Truth and the Life in Jesus.

On the other extreme, the hyper grace believers tend to treat diligent study of the Scripture and the observance of the Sacraments lightly because they believe going straight to find life in Jesus suffices. But without realizing that these signposts are so important to understand the right union with Christ. (If they have studied the Scripture diligently, they will see clearly the fatal errors of their false gospel as well as the trivializing or twisting of certain teachings of Jesus.) The death of Christ on the cross is a death to sin. So we shall constantly count ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ and live as led and trained by His Spirit. Titus 2:11-12. Ignoring these signposts altogether will cause one to take the wrong broad way, which is another gospel and another Jesus, leading to destruction at the end.

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