Sunday, August 6, 2017

Guest Blogger Walter Aiken: The Myth-Understanding

Once upon a time, in a place far away, a story was told.  It wasn’t just any story, not folklore, certainly not imaginary, but a factual account based upon historical events.  Then that story was retold.  Then it was told again, and again, and again.  In Portuguese, there’s a saying that “one who tells one, adds one,” meaning that we all tend to slightly alter stories, rarely intentionally, in the retelling.  

Oops, it happens.

Aesop gave us fables, Puccini composed operas, Robert Frost wrote poetry and I write E-quippers.  With this one, I’m inviting you to think with me on some thoughts that I’ve been pondering for quite a while.

Jesus said, “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Matt.22:29)  Mistakes are made when we have “miss takes” on factual evidence.  Beginning with an erroneous premise leads to false conclusions.  Sadly, when flimsy “think-ology” replaces Biblical theology, people are “tossed to and fro, carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph.4:14)  

Our roots MUST keep going deep and deeper into God’s Word if we’re to have any expectation of growing deep and deeper in knowing Him.

HOWEVER, there are a few glaring “myth-understandings” of His Word that have crept in among us.  (Let me strongly affirm, avow, declare and emphasize with all confidence that I KNOW God’s Word stands forever!  Not a shadow of doubt, nary even a wisp, about the infallibility of The Bible as given to us by our Savior and Lord.  Questioning a translation, by no means, means i’m questioning Him.)

How many think that young David, the shepherd, killed Goliath, the Philistine giant, with a sling and a stone?  We’ve heard the story time and again, from Sunday school, to VBS, even from preachers in their pulpits and some actually believe it.  (Don’t think I doubt the true account.)  

David DID slay Goliath, just not as some imagine.  If we stop at I Samuel 17:50, then we haven’t read the whole story.  In 17:51, David took Goliath’s sword from its sheath, “slew him, and cut off his head therewith.”  Yes, he “got stoned” but then lost his life by the very weapon he’d planned to use against the Israelites!  JUSTICE.

How many times have we heard of Jonah and the whale?  Innumerable!  The whale encounter happened to Captain Ahab (not in The Bible) resulting in a less than desirable ending.  Jonah was swallowed by a FISH.  

I studied over 50 English versions of Matthew 12:40, finding “fish” (29 times); “whale” (14); “sea monster” (10); “animal” or “creature” (once per).  BUT in Job 1:17, all these 50-plus versions used “fish” to translate the Hebrew word “dag”.  How easily misinterpretations lead to a myth-understanding.

Jonah is factual, actual, historical and the events occurred exactly as God has declared.  Jonah was called to be a missionary.  He attempted to outrun God’s presence.  No soul can escape an OMNIPRESENT Creator.  

The heart of the story of Jonah is not about a fish.  The heart of the story is about God’s heart for lost people who need to hear His message of forgiveness and redemption.  

Another “myth-understanding” – How many believe that we’re saved by faith?  (Please don’t stop reading just yet.) Yes, we are saved in Christ!  And, indeed, “without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God.” (Hebr.11:6)  Good works don’t bring us to faith, yet faith must result in good works. (James 2)  

The Bible’s clear. We’re saved by GRACE (Eph. 2:8).  Saved by Jesus’ gracious sacrifice on the Cross.  When we emphasize we’re saved by faith, then that faith waivers, some imagine that we can lose our salvation.  But we have an incorruptible inheritance, undefiled, never fading, reserved in Heaven, KEPT by the power of God. (I Peter 1:4,5)  Let us not “myth” the truth that our salvation is thru God’s love!

Sometimes we meet folks who “myth-understand” the Great Commission, thinking that Jesus’ words, “Go ye, therefore” are akin to a drill sergeant barking, “A-ten-hut! Forward! March!”  The verbs “going, baptizing, teaching” are present, active, indicative.  To “make disciples” is the imperative.  

“Therefore” refers to the “before” (in 28:18) “ALL authority” is Mine, both in Heaven and on earth.  We understand better when we hear Jesus saying, “Therefore, going . . .”  We’re called to evangelize along the way, wherever we might be.  

Our CO-mission is the mission of making disciples.  Crossing foreign borders doesn’t turn a Christian into a missionary, yet missionaries feel driven to cross borders.  

The commission is NOT just for some, not even for most, it’s for ALL of the redeemed.

How many believe that Saul, going to Damascus, intent on murdering disciples of Jesus, “fell off his horse” when confronted by the Lord?  Okay, read Acts 9:3-9 and find me the animal.  The Bible affirms that Saul fell to the ground, got up from the ground and was led by the hand into the city.  BUT there aren’t any horses!  Even one of my seminary students wrote, “We, like Saul, must fall off our horse for God to get our attention.”  Some folks ride high horses, but I don’t think that’s what is meant here?!

When “tradition” is met by “Truth” we find ourselves in a dilemma of (1) rethink our traditions or (2) rewrite the truth.  The latter option leads only to more “myth-understandings”.  Thus my encouragement is re-read, re-think, re-consider these things.

Thanks especially for reading these thoughts up to this point.  Please understand that my aim was for us to look at familiar stories from their BIBLICAL basis.  It was never my intention to offend, never to cause any doubts about my steadfast confidence in the faithfulness of our Lord.  As Job said, so I affirm that “i KNOW that my Redeemer lives!”  The Lamb of God who offered His life for our salvation is The Lion of Judah who lives and reigns forevermore.  Let us know Him and make Him known, ALWAYS!

“The world passes away, and its lusts, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (I Jn.2:17)

Soli Deo Gloria,


(The above was excerpted from Walter Akin's newsletter, THE E-QUIPPER 58 – Such a Myth-Understanding! – July 2017. Walter is a Global Outreach in Brazil. You can read more about his ministry with this link: Walter Aiken)
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