My original thought for a career was to become a scholar of Biblical languages but would I seek that now if I could live life over again? I have reason to say, “No.”
The modern approach to studying the Word of God in seminary is something called historical-critical. This is contrasted to the old way of studying the Bible which scholars are labeling devotional and they are belittling the value of the devotional approach as unscientific and non-factual.
Treating the Bible on an equal plane with—say—a history of the ancient world fails to appreciate the inspiration that makes this book unique in the world of literature. The new worldview that starts with a disregard for the finger of God to direct the writing of this work treats the sacred text as anything but sacred.
If I had opportunity to relive life and choose again my career interest, I don’t believe I would choose to attend a seminary that mocked the inspiration of the scriptures. I have come to believe that because of this inspiration, because the book is somehow a divinely directed work of literature, because it is a story of grace and a history of God’s interest in His creation, we still need to credit the text as holy and the actual words in the original languages as holding the key to understanding eternal things. Even if God in His wisdom deemed it acceptable to allow the text to be carried along by oral traditions, scribal redactions, and the originality of those who held the stylus that betrays a very human individuality, none of these incidental alterations challenge a divine wisdom that knows how to get the message across. (He has been for centuries working through a very imperfect church!)
The short of it is that there is still much to learn by taking words and their contextual meanings into consideration. And these lessons are not only inspiring but revelatory and powerful to save the soul.
Take this simple example in Acts 16, a familiar story of the Philippian jailor enquiring about salvation. [This text came up last Sunday in the pastor’s sermon.] In verse 31 we read: “They [Paul and Silas] replied,
Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
That makes sense to believers, of course. But the historical note written by Luke reads in verse 34:
“The jailer … was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God.”
God!? And not Jesus!?
Is this a theological blooper? Is Luke hinting that Jesus is God and there’s no difference? Is this a weakening of the message of saving faith because salvation requires a recognition of the passion of Christ on Calvary? Or this is saying something else?
(I have heard christians complain when the preacher keeps mentioning God—God this and God that—but seldom speaks the name of Jesus.)
Well, there is a message here and it is providentially right on time in this historical-critical age of bible study. The jailor discovered through this seismic phenomenon that shook the jailhouse open that his previously held understanding of the divine was fictional. [In a historical-critical context jail unlocking earthquakes don’t—can’t—happen.]
When the spiritual light went on, the jailor suddenly saw that there is only one true God and He is “really real!” Theologically: the revelation first and foremost that leads to salvation is a revelation of God.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. – Hebrews 11:6.
One cannot embrace Jesus without embracing the reality of a loving God! And the jailor’s enthusiasm and joy—I might guess based on my own experience—exceeded anything he felt before. The salvation experience comes with an excitement in realizing how great is our creator God who alone gives to us a faith that encourages the heart to embrace the message of Calvary.