Knowledge of God beyond the Bible
When it got to spiritual things, I used to have an attitude that if its not in the Bible, I don't care. I used to think that if God wanted me to know something it would be in the Bible. That was before I discovered that not everything in the Bible is the 'Word of God' and the 'Word of God' is not limited to the Bible.
In the article 'Is the Bible the Word of God' we discovered how Jesus himself rejected some verses in the Bible. We also looked at the history of the Bible and saw how it was formed hundreds of years after Jesus left. That people that decided what books should be in the Bible were people that were very likely appointed for political reasons. They rejected all books that could have caused a problem for the 'religion' they were creating. A religion that they wanted to use to control the people.
Jesus said, "The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They have not entered nor have they allowed those who want to enter to do so. - Gospel of Thomas, Saying 39
Jesus did not only use scriptureJesus often quoted scripture - but that was not His only source of knowledge of God.
- In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us to look at nature to learn from God (the birds and flowers). We should look at creation to learn more about God. Science is a part of creation. We should not 'fight' the discoveries of science but embrace it - see 'Creation vs Evolution'.
- A lot of the teachings had nothing to do with scriptures - think of all the parables He used like the parable of the good Samaritan. There are many more examples where Jesus told us stories about people and even clever but corrupt people (more on this later in this article). His creation includes people and we can learn a lot by learning from other people and cultures.
Jesus called us to learn from other culturesOne of the last things Jesus did was to send His followers into the world to spread His message – but there was a problem. His followers, a couple of Jews, didn't like people that were different.
- They wanted nothing to do with people from other cultures (John 4:9).
- Jews had a fear of eating and drinking with people from other cultures (1 Corinthians 8:7).
So what did Jesus do?
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed [in Me] and has been baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]; but he who has not believed will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well. - Mark 16:15-18 (AMP)Those who are willing and obedient to this calling will 'speak new tongues'. The Greek word Jesus used is glōssa – a language – with other words, 'new languages'.
When we learn a new language, we not only learn a language, we learn a culture.
Language always carries meanings and references beyond itself: The meanings of a particular language represent the culture of a particular social group. To interact with a language means to do so with the culture which is its reference point. We could not understand a culture without having direct access to its language because of their intimate connection - taken from Language MagazineJesus were telling His disciples to go into the world, learn new cultures and spread His message. He knew they had a fear of other cultures, the food they ate and their religions … so He added 'if you drink anything deadly or pick up serpents it will not hurt you'.
He said to them – discovering this big new world will be scary and strange – but do not be afraid.
Today the world has become a much smaller place. No need to learn a new language to travel. In fact, you don't need to travel to discover new cultures and learn from people on the other side of the world - thanks to the Internet.
There are however still a lot of Christians that hold on to the old traditional Christian view that anything strange or new is evil.
Jesus did not have a 'have nothing to do with other religions/cultures' attitudeIn John 4 Jesus talked to a Samaritan woman. This was completely against what the Jews thought was acceptable at the time. Jesus didn't care and He also didn't try to convert her to His 'religion'.
It was no longer about a specific culture or religion - it was now about connecting to God in spirit and truth. Read 'Spiritual but not Religious' for more on this.
In Matthew 8:5-13 we read about a Roman Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. The Roman beliefs of that time were polytheistic. Again, Jesus did not expect him to 'covert' to His 'religion' before He helped him or even before his faith could perform a miracle (read verse 13, Jesus said to the Roman 'it will be done AS YOU believed').
Jesus was amazed at his faith. He then said to His followers:
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” - Matthew 8:10Jesus did not have the same 'have nothing to do with other cultures' attitude like the rest of the Jews.
Israel were chosen as the nation from which Jesus would have been born – but that is pretty much where it stops. God is the God of all nations.
If we read the Old Testament it is pretty much all about Israel – but we are reading the historic documents of Israel and their view of God. If all their knowledge about God was correct and all of it from God – then it would not have been needed for Jesus to bring new teachings about God.
Only ones did Jesus refer to an Old Testament command as 'The Word of God' – other times He referred to it as 'commandments from God' – but mostly He referred to it as 'Moses said'. He rejected a lot of verses in the Old Testament and replaced it with new teachings.
Read 'Is the Bible the Word of God' and 'Jesus and the Law' for more on this.
Israel had an idea of God – but not all of it was correct and they needed Jesus. I think they might have had the closest idea of God at the time, but there were a lot of nations that had some idea of God. Jesus could also have visited them and helped them on the correct path – showing them where they went wrong and where they had the right ideas.
because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. - Romans 1:19-20 (AMP).Some cultures are thousands of years old – it is impossible that they know nothing about God. I am not talking about what missionaries taught them about Jesus, I am talking about knowledge about God from within their own culture.
They still need Jesus and His teachings, but so did the Jews. Jesus did not start a new religion – Jesus is the answer to all religions.
I have [a]other sheep [beside these] that are not of this fold. I must bring those also, and they will listen to My voice and pay attention to My call, and they will become [b]one flock with one Shepherd. - John 10:16 (AMP)The children of God are not from one nation or one culture. We look different, dress different, talk different, worship different and even our ideas about God might not always be exactly the same.
We can learn from others (non-Christians)We can learn from everyone – even criminals according to Jesus. If you read Luke 16:1-9 Jesus is talking about a man that stole from his master – then He says we can learn from him. He never said we should also steal from our employers, but that we can learn to use money to our advantage just like that criminal did.
A lot of Christians will not read a book if it was not written by a Christian – and then when they do read a 'Christian book' they will believe every word without questioning anything. Even very intelligent Christians (Doctors, Businessmen, Leaders) will turn into gullible idiots for some strange reason and believe anything that was written by another 'Christian' (can't wait to write an article about this phenomenon).
We can learn from others and those that we learn from doesn't always need to have the same idea of God as we do.
A lot you can learn about God – but are you ready?Jesus said that there are things He wants to teach us but the followers at that stage were not ready for it.
I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear [to hear] them now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears [from the Father—the message regarding the Son], and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future] - John 16:12-13 (AMP)
He said that He will send His Holy Spirit to teach us what He couldn't - the close minded Jews was not ready for it (most already left Him because of His strange new teachings).
There is a lot we can still learn about God, life and the world around us – but only if we are brave enough to step outside the traditional confinements of the traditional Christian religion that were created by men hundreds of years after Jesus left. Only if we are brave enough to step outside our comfort zone and truly desire to know God and not be satisfied to let others just tell us what we should believe.
Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]" - Gospel of Thomas, Saying 2
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