There are two ways to read the Bible: We can read it with awe and wonder, believing it all and wishing from the bottom of our hearts, that we too, could drive out demons, could heal the sick, make the blind see and the lame walk. Oh to be able to walk on water like Jesus and Paul!!
Or we can read the Bible like the Pharisees, and wow, did they ever read, study and memorise the Bible! Probably few, if any Christians today, could hold a candle to them. But for all their great efforts, unlike the men of valour and fame in the Bible whom they studied, not even one Pharisee ever heard the voice of God! I know this only because Jesus said so in John 5:37
“And He sending Me, the Father Himself, has borne witness of Me. Neither have you heard His voice at any time nor seen His shape.”
How sad is that? They spent lifetimes and generations reading the train timetable, but then the train arrived at the platforms, and they missed it!
Though the Pharisees claimed to be looking for the Messiah, they never really excepted supernatural phenomena to be repeated in their lifetimes. As a result, they effectively blinded themselves to that which was so blatantrly obvious to the most uneducated serf. Theirs was a theoretical belief in the supernatural, and academic view of God with no expectations whatsoever, of seeing the coming of the Messiah unfold before their own eyes.
The Pharisees never sought to hear, or expected to hear, God’s voice outside scripture; and they never did. Nor, unfortunately did they ever hear God’s voice within the Scripture.
Many Christians are just the same and so are many of our Churches!
If we read the Bible to learn theology and doctrine, on the base understanding that the Bible is full of myths which were never meant to be taken literally, we miss God’s point and are Pharisees. If we think God gave us all the stories in the Bible just to illustrate great theological and doctrinal viewpoints, we miss God’s point and we are Pharisees. If we read the Bible like orthodox Christians looking for abstract truths about God, rather than a love offering from God and a guide to using God’s supernatural powers, then we miss God’s point and we are Pharisees.
In James 5:14-16 we find this view confirmed in Scripture:
“Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer of faith will cure the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. And if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him. Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.”
James was telling the Christians in plain and simple language that the miracles and supernatural occurrences which the Lord Jesus and his Disciples performed are still alive and well and work for those who have faith. James goes on to tell them in the next two verses “Elijah was a man of like passion as we are. And he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for the time of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth caused its fruit to sprout” (James 5:17-18).
Now to be honest, receiving these words from James to pray and heal, “Just like Elijah” must have set the hearers back somewhat. “How can we compare ourselves to the great and esteemed man of God, the Prophet Elijah?” they must have asked themselves. But this is what James wanted. He wanted these Christians, these normal, unassuming and faithful Christian to come to the real understanding of who Elijah was “… a man of like passion as we are,” with all the imperfections and character flaws which go with it. In other words, James wanted all Christians to know that we are exactly the same as Elijah, people of passion; for he was a man, just like us!
God gave us His Holy Bible so that we may know who we are in Christ and use it for our education and correction. With faith, as Jesus said, we can move mountains. With faith, as James said, with the prayer of faith, we will cure the sick.
It all comes down to how you read the Bible: Like a Pharisee; or like a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ wanting to emulate his teacher.
As we read in Second Kings 2:9 “… Elijah said to Elisha. Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken away from you. And Elisha said, please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”
Brothers and Sisters, please know that Jesus expected us to ask for the same double portion of spirit to be on us, as He said in John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, He who believes on Me, the works that I do he shall do also, and greater works than these he shall do, because I go to My Father.”
In God, we usually get what we expect. If you expect nothing, that is precisely what He will give you.
Amen and Amen.