Tuesday, June 10, 2014

People of the Book--by Linden Malki

All human societies have words. Even the most isolated and primitive people have stories, folklore, traditions and  some kind of shared memory. People who grow up in a preliterate environment have minds capable of learning to  read and write. It is amazing what all is hardwired in  the human brain from the beginning, talents that may not be expressed without the right opportunity.

God spoke  the world into existence; He also spoke with Adam.  He spoke to Cain,  Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses,  and many others--in different ways with different messages, some with promises and some with judgment.We have a record of many of these conversations. God told people to remember His words and teach them to their children. They appear to have been put into written form pretty early;  fragments have been found by archeologists. Other writings have been found from other similarly old societies, but they are in languges that were lost and only recently recovered. Hebrew is one of the oldest languages that has been in continuous use; not always as a common street language, but there have been scholars who have maintained it. The written word has been the glue that held  God and His followers together.

You may hear people speak of "faith" as "believing something that isn't true".  That is actually the opposite of reality! We are asked to believe truth on the basis of good evidence, experience and responsible authority.  One of those sources is the written word which we have been given.  I found 99 uses of the phrase "it is written" in Scripture, going all the way back to Deuteronomy.   We are expected to know the writings that God has inspired in His servants.

In addition to the books that the Jewish scholars and the Early Church accepted on good evidence and inspiration to be authoritative, we are also fortunate to have many other writings by people who have had experiences of God's mercy and wisdom over many centuries.  They vary from very profound and complex to very straightforward.  It is fascinating to read of amazing experiences of God  working in peoples' lives in many times and places.  One of my favorite writers said that some people are afraid to surrender to God, because they fear being turned into some sort of boring cookie-cutter person.  But if you look at people who have really gotten serious with God, they are not less than they were, but more individual and unique than ever. 

As I have been moving from my former house in Devore, I realized that I had to deal with a lot of books. Many of them are God-related:  inspirational, historical, theological, educational, geographical.  It was obvious that it is time to share many of them with others;  NorthPoint folks may have noticed the book box on the Welcome Table the last few weeks. Those are FREE for the taking; I am adding new ones each week, so check them out.  I will be posting a list on the NorthPoint San Bernardino Facebook page soon.  These are all ones that I recommend. 

Just because something is in writing doesn't mean that it is a dependable source; there have always been things out there that do not jibe with the main core teachings of Scripture.  Some of the New Testament books were written to counter off-center writings, and the early church had to deal with writings that did not pass the tests of inspiration and legitimacy.  Listen and read with your brain on; and if you have questions about something you've run onto, I will see if I can check it out.  

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