Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
Matt 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
There is so much to become knowledgeable about within Christianity. Having a superficial knowledge about Christianity is not good enough if you want a closer walk with God. When I first became a Christian I would read the Bible and then write down any questions that I had and then follow up on them. That still happens for me today. Every time I read or study the scripture I find there are areas or things that require looking at more closely. I don’t think it ever stops and there is a beauty in that because our relationship with God needs to continually grow. I remember a bumper sticker that said, “Feel distant from God? Who moved?” There is a truth in that saying because a relationship needs constant attention in order to grow and mature. A truth I learned about marriage stated you are either building your relationship with your spouse or tearing it down. Building a relationship takes time and effort. There are no shortcuts.
When I was in the Canadian Armed Forces, I would read my Bible whenever there was some free time available. I remember one of my co-workers stating to me that all I was doing was programming myself and I acknowledged that this was in effect true. I then asked him what he programmed himself with. What you put yourself in front of indicates to a certain extent, what is important in your life. If you spend all your free time watching sports on TV then it shows that you value watching sports. Nothing wrong with watching sports but if that is all you do in your free time, and you are a Christian, then balancing what is important in your life needs to be readjusted.
Imagine if you will, that we maintained our relationship with our wife or husband, like we do wth God. Can you imagine saying to your wife or husband, “spending an hour with you on Sunday was great, we’ll do this again next week!” Wouldn’t be much of a relationship would it? If we did this with our spouse and we know it wouldn’t work, why would we even think that it will work with knowing God?
Nabeel Qureshi (Pakistani American global Muslim convert Christian speaker) indicates that once a year he re-evaluates his faith and I have practised this for quite a while. How do you do that? I can’t answer for him but this is what I do.
Questions (this list is NOT all inclusive)
Do I still believe that the beauty and order that I see in nature and the universe witness to me that there is a God? For me that means spending some time investigating my belief in Intelligent Design. Includes becoming knowledgeable about theory of evolution fallacies. The ever expanding complexity of God’s creation builds up my faith.
Do I still believe in the common sense morality that is ingrained within humanity to know right and wrong? For me this means identifying the source, remaining conversant with the standard arguments on this subject and the effects throughout history of immorality within humanity. Moral philosophy comes into play.
Do I still believe that the testimony of the Biblical scriptures (Old and New Testaments) is the best explanation of God’s revelation to mankind over other world religions? For me that means becoming conversant with the differences between Christianity and other world religions. World history, Theism and Monotheism come into play.
Do I still believe that the Protestant evangelical charismatic stream of Christianity is the stream for me to follow? For me that means being conversant with church history, the Reformation, Roman Catholicism, other Protestant denominations and heretic sects.
Do I still believe in the reliability of the Biblical scriptures? For me that means spending some time investigating what scholars say about the Biblical scriptures and other world religion scriptures. Biblical archaeology also comes into play.
Do I still believe that Jesus was and is the Son of God? For me that means studying His words as found in the New Testament and the source in the Old Testament, understanding the ‘Golden Thread” of Old Testament prophecy, the different covenants, being conversant with “End Times” eschatology (Old and New testament) – Daniel and Revelation in particular), the fore-pictures or types as portrayed in the vestments, furniture and festivals of the Tabernacle and Temple and the miracles that Jesus performed. The ministry of Jesus Christ, the Church Age, the Rapture, the Tribulation plus the final conquest of Jesus as Lord of Lords and King of Kings all come into play.
Do I still believe that Jesus rose from the dead? For me this involves the testimony of Jesus and the Apostles, early church authors and history. Includes the reality of the witness of the Holy Spirit in my Christian life. Also includes the “Gifts of the Spirit” and their continued operation in the Church today.
Do I still believe that I am saved by grace? For me this includes both Old Testament prophecy and New Testament scriptures that outline what God planned and Jesus achieved by giving His life on the cross for our sins. Also understanding the difference between “grace” and “works”. Helps to keep “judging” in perspective.
Do I still believe in the orthodox Biblical pillars of doctrine such as Salvation, Grace, the Trinity, Deity of Christ, Resurrection, Inspiration of the Word of God etc? For me, this is where reading and praying over the study of the God’s Word expands my knowledge and understanding of God’s will and nature. It continually has a positive effect on my faith.
Do I still believe that God’s love is the most important reality that matters and to be mindful of? For me this is vitally important and needs to be taken into consideration at all levels with those we encounter, on a daily basis. I question the continued reality of it’s source and importance and continually believe it is true.
Summary: I don’t have all of the answers, in fact I don’t even know all of the questions but I do know that this yearly evaluation (actually I go through it more than once a year) helps me to be mindful of the hope that I do have. It is not a shallow hope, it is a considered hope that is witnessed to by many external sources much smarter than me. In my heart I know it to be true. Jesus is my King and I have put my hand in His.
Proverbs 2:1-5 “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”