Divinely Inspired is Not Divinely Dictated

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Today I am going to do something totally different- I am going to have a short and to-the-point message.

That message is this: the Bible is a book, written by human beings that were divinely inspired by God’s spirit. The entire book is not dictated by God, and although there are many parts that do state exactly what God said (for example, the 10 Commandments Moses wrote down) the majority of the Bible is what people remembered about a certain event.

Certainly you know that if 5 people see the exact same thing, when you ask them to recall it later you will get 5 different versions. Some parts will be exactly the same, some will be a little different, and some parts will be so outlandishly different you will have to ask yourself, “What was that person looking at?”

The Gospels were written by those who were eyewitnesses to the events. We have many parts that are exactly the same, some parts that are unique to that Gospel, and some parts that retell the same event but differently. Does this mean that the bible contradicts itself, therefore we cannot believe any of it?

Of course not. That is the argument that Atheists and people against the bible use to try to discount everything in the bible.

It is simple: people aren’t perfect, their memory isn’t perfect, and therefore the bible isn’t perfect. I know there are many of you who are defensively thinking you want to strangle me for my blasphemy, but the truth is the bible is the Word of God that was divinely given to imperfect human beings, who wrote using their imperfect understanding and imperfect memory.

But that doesn’t change anything! The bible is valid as a book which tells us what God wants us to know. If there are imperfections within it, due to the imperfections of those that compiled it, we still can trust the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, to give us the understanding that God wants us to have.

The bible is about God and what he wants us to know; it is not God, Himself. It is a book- a darn good book, yes, but in the end it is just a book. A book written by people who received their inspiration from God to write these things down. Some of it is divine dictation, but the vast majority of it is divine inspiration filtered through human recollection.

If you are all up in arms right now, thinking the bible is God’s word and therefore God, you are wrong. Sorry, but that’s how it is: God is not restrained to pages of writing. The bible is the ultimate User’s Manual for gaining understanding, wisdom, and salvation. It isn’t perfect, but God is perfectly able to make each and every one of us understand what he wanted the writers of the bible to convey to us.

So, nu?  What do you do now? You read the bible, and before you start reading ask God to show you what he has in there…for YOU!

Just like 5 people looking at the same event will recall 5 different versions, the bible will have different messages for different people who are reading the same exact passage. And that’s okay- God has different plans for each and every one of us, so the bible has to be flexible enough so that we can can decipher what it is that God wants us to know.

When you read the bible do not trust in what people have written down, but trust instead in the spirit of God to teach you what he wants you to know.

Get out of the way

We are usually all about ourselves. There are many more people in the world, at least in my experience, that would prefer to talk about their life and their ideas than listen to what others have to say.

I include myself in the talkers group.

When God speaks to Moses, and instructs him what to tell the people, it is all about Himself, too, but not the same as with us. We want people to acknowledge us, we want to feel liked, respected and wanted. We like the “ego rush” we get when we are authorized to tell someone what to do. But with God it’s not the same. He doesn’t need our approval, He is no respecter of persons, He doesn’t need to feel important, and He tells us that He is God, over and over, not to please Himself but to remind us of who He is.

We are created a little bit above the angels- we are the sons and daughters of the Almighty, but we are not Him! We are about ourselves for selfish reasons, and God is about Himself for selfless reasons- He reminds us of who He is so we will listen; He reminds us of who He is so we will pay attention; He reminds us of who He is so we can live!

When we talk about what we want, it is to please ourselves; when God tells us what He wants, it is to save our souls!

I don’t have enough room to quote everywhere God tells us that He is the Lord, and you don’t have enough time to read it all. The phrase “I am the Lord” and similar words are used throughout the Tanakh, mostly in the Torah (especially throughout Leviticus) and throughout the writings of the Prophets (Nevi’im).  In Leviticus it seems to follow almost every commandment and regulation, which makes sense- the Lord is telling us what to do and reinforcing just who it is telling us.

It is easier to make friends by listening than by talking. When I was in sales, the hardest thing for me to do was to listen, but a really good salesperson knows that when you listen to the customer they will tell you how to close them. You can’t really talk them into a sale, at least, not one that will “stick”. You need to listen in order to know what to say that will close them. The same thing is true when talking to people about God and trying to minister to them- we need to listen to people and tell all about God, not about ourselves.

Of course, you can talk about how in your life obeying God and accepting His Messiah has helped you, but when talking about how God can help them, you need to get out of the way. You need to be about God, how the peace you feel comes from His Ruach, about how the hope you have is from His promises, which historically have never failed to come about. And you need to ask the person about their needs.

Ask what is important to them, ask if they feel there is more to life, ask if they care about others, ask if they are certain of their beliefs. Ask, ask, ask…that is the only way you will learn about them.

And if you ask, they will tell. When they tell, you will know, and when you know (what is important to them) you will be able to show them how God can make what they really want to happen in their life come about.

If you want to bring people to God, get out of the way. When we talk all about what God has done for us the people we are talking to don’t care a rats’ butt about what God has done for us- but they do care about what God can do for them.  Tell them briefly how God has done something wonderful in your life (and I mean, briefly), then ask them if this is something they would like to have.

Ministry is sales, and what we “sell”  is salvation. God is the manufacturer, Yeshua is the delivery system, and we are the field reps. To get people to buy they have to want what the product can give them.

I was a very successful salesman when I was in that business because I wore a rubber band around my wrist. It was suggested to me by an excellent teacher- he said every time I feel like saying something I think is important I should pull on the rubber band and let it go. Ouch! The pain was to condition me to listen and not talk. Nowadays I don’t sell for a living, and I have upgraded the rubber band to a gold bracelet, but it is still on my wrist- I never take it off because it is a reminder to shut up and listen.

It is all about God and them, not about God and you. When you talk about God, keep focused on what they want and how God can make it happen.