Keeping God in a Box?

Hi all
Currently doing a DTS in YWAM. Lately I’ve been having comments about how students need to have a balance between having knowledge of the Bible and having Relationship with Christ, even saying things like if you have too much knowledge of the Bible, you’ll have a Pharisee mindset, because (according to them) the Pharisees knew the Scriptures, but they never knew Jesus. I’m not sure I agree to this, because I’ve heard that there were a lot of Jewish schools of thought besides the Pharisees, and it’s my suspicion that the Pharisees were influenced by their theology, not by the obviousness of the Scriptures, to disbelieve in Christ, as well as their hypocrisy (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

But

Is it possible to have relationship with God through just enjoying the Word, or is it possible to go beyond the word? I ask this because people are saying that God is more than His word, and so the whole Pharisee mindset and just sticking to the Bible is considered to be “Keeping God in a Box”.

But I think this is circular reasoning, since we need the Word in order to know it’s Him. Any thoughts?

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Hello, @AlphaOmega,

This is an interesting question you bring up. Jesus, being the Word incarnate, was in support of scripture. When He spoke against the Pharisees, it was in light of the fact that they were maintainers of more than just the Scriptures:

Mark 7:5-8 NASB
[5] The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” [6] And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. [7] ‘But IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ [8] Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

The pharisees frequently abused the Word (Mat. 23). If someone has missed these point, then it shows they need more scripture (and some intertestimental and 1st AD church history). :^)

Sometimes these arguments stem from a personal issue where the individual may have felt oppressed possibly in an unbiblical manner, so then arguments are made (sometimes rashly and zealously) as a polemic to counter what was seen as unfavorable. Again, scripture could help in these situations to bring clarity and truth.

I’d be curious if the perspective presented here would stand in light of Paul, who knew the life of a Pharisee better than any of us:

2 Timothy 3:14-17 NASB
[14] You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, [15] and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; [17] so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

The Word is how Christ has washed and sanctified His bride:

Ephesians 5:25-27 NASB
[25] Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, [26] so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

With 66 books in the Bible, there is plenty to be learned and interpreted. The Bible is the primary source of Christian theology, so I think there is not an excuse to actively pour it over one’s life for the glory of God.

Finally, to your question, if someone can enjoy a relationship with just God’s Word. Prayer, worship, fellowship, fasting… these are some other things that are a part of a healthy Christian walk. As a part of DTS, I would personally recommend Richard J. Foster’s book which has a great approach to healthy, well rounded Christian development.

Let me know what you think about this, and if you have more details on this perspective the other students are supporting that you think may help this discussion.