Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Living By Every Word That Proceeds From the Mouth of God - Part 2

The Appeal to Scripture to Reject Scripture

(This is part two in a series that examines the view of Justice Boshoff who advocates that God’s word comes to us personally and directly from the Holy Spirit through prayer for wisdom and that the scriptures are a hindrance to hearing the word of God. You can read a transcript of two of his You-Tube videos: According to the Scriptures, You Won't Make It and Breaking Through the Bible Barrier.)

In his short videos, Mr. Boshoff, who is arguing against the application of scripture to discern God’s will, alludes to or cites at least sixteen biblical references in making his case:

John 10:1ff Jesus is the Shepherd of his sheep.
John 10:4 Christ’s sheep hear his voice.
Matt 4:4; Deut 8:3 Man shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Eph 6:17 The sword of the Spirit is the word of God
Heb 4:12 The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword.
John 1:1; Rev 19:3 Christ is the Word of God.
Rom 7:6 We serve in the newness of the Spirit, not in the oldness of the letter.
Prov 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and don’t lean to our own understanding.
James 1:5 If any lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.
John 15:13 When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide into all truth.
Rev 20:11 Judgment before the great white throne.
Roman 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10 We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Matt 7:23 Jesus will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

Precisely what Mr. Boshoff has in mind in the term ‘will of God’ is not clear, but he seems to be talking about God’s will regarding what an individual is to do in a certain circumstance. I would say he has in mind such things as whether one should take this employment opportunity as opposed to another, or whether a certain amount of money should be given to this individual or that individual, or whether I should marry this person, or whether I should have more than one child, or whether God wants me to shop today or stay home and work on my painting. Perhaps he is referring to those things in which the right decision is not obvious and that no choice is particularly good (beneficial), or for that matter, particularly bad (detrimental). The problem is that whatever one chooses there are consequences both desirable and undesirable, and one had better be sure that the choice is what God wants. In Mr. Boshoff’s view, the only way to be sure is for God to reveal his will through the inner speaking of the Holy Spirit. Only in this way can there be obedience to the words of Jesus and assurance of not falling outside of God’s will.

Mr. Boshoff does not deny that God has spoken to others through the scriptures. The problem, as he sees it, is that what was said to them cannot be applied to our situation. God has spoken to them, but for us that speech is just “words on paper.” We must hear what God himself has to say to us, and that word comes from the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth. To know the will of God we must hear from The Word (Jesus Christ) who speaks to us through the Holy Spirit in response to our prayer for wisdom.

If we reflect on this for a moment, we will see that there is a more fundamental question that Mr. Boshoff, wittingly or not, is addressing. That is the question, What is God’s instruction, or method, or means as to how I discern God’s will? or succinctly stated, What is God’s will as to how I discern God’s will? I would like to know how Mr. Boshoff came into this knowledge; how did he come to know God’s will regarding the means by which he is to know God’s will? It cannot be the scriptures because that would be contrary to his premise that to do so would be to lean on his own insight. If he says it came by way of an inner revelation from the Holy Spirit, how can I be sure he is not mistaken as to what he heard, or worse, that he is lying? What rule can I even use to judge the validity of his claim to receive new revelation from the Spirit, and if new revelation were being given today, how can I be sure his expression of such a revelation is not simply contrivance or wishful thinking on his part?

On his own premises, therefore, Mr. Boshoff must say that his instruction on how to know God’s will came to him as an inward word from God through the Holy Spirit; if he came to that conclusion any other way, he would be guilty of using his own insight.

Yet, Mr. Boshoff has no qualm about appealing to the scriptures to make his case. I find this very peculiar. On the one hand, Mr. Boshoff vehemently objects to the application of scripture to discern God’s will, and yet it is through an appeal to the scriptures that he argues his position. Through scripture, he has gained the insight that God speaks to us not through scripture, but directly, in prayer through the Holy Spirit. Is that not contradictory and self-refuting? Be that as it may, because he does appeal to scripture to make his case, he should not object if I were to assess his teaching in light of the scriptures, to see if they are in accord with what God has spoken through them.
Obviously, Mr. Boshoff does not reject scripture outright saying it is of no value at all; otherwise, he never would have listened to the gospel. But to him, that is all the scriptures are valuable for, only to lead us to Christ. That is one application of scripture to our situation that he would not object to.

Mr. Boshoff and I would both agree that scriptures must be applied to our situation to lead us to Christ. Our situation is one of death in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1) and the only remedy to our situation is the atonement of Christ. It was through a careful examination of scripture that Martin Luther and subsequent reformers regained the insight of justification by grace through faith without the accompaniment of meritorious works.

But is that all the usefulness we may find in the scriptures? Is that all that God ever intended? To think that God's intention for the scriptures centuries after they were written was to lead to Christ for salvation only and not for sanctification as well is contrary not only to what one would expect, but also to what the scriptures attest (2 Tim 3:16).

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