I Know That My Redeemer Lives

Early in my graduate studies in religion I was shocked to learn that there was considerable difference in the variety of Ph.D.’s who authored our texts. It never occurred to me that a professor of Old and/or New Testament could be an unbeliever. Of course while I was not a real new believer, I was not well versed in the world of biblical scholarship, or biblical anything else.

I soon learned that in the world of Christian education as well as certain denominations, that, indeed, there were those who did not believe the Bible to be the word of God. It was puzzling then, as it is now, why these people continue to consider themselves Christians when they deny the very foundations of the faith. They are committed either to undermining the faith of others, or have invested so many years in the field that they have no other choice but to remain. Most will, however, align themselves with like minded “liberal” churches or schools.

The question seems to be, how can two (to compare) men or women who hold doctorates and have studied essentially the same material, come to such opposite belief systems? And that is, that the Bible is in fact the word of God, or it is not. It is easier to understand how that could happen to parishioners who may have grown up in unbelieving denominations, but not so, it would seem, of scholars who have spent a lifetime studying most of the same material.

There was even a slight split in the school at which I attended. I made an intentional comment to one of our known more liberal professors that a certain author, a conservative Christian, was one of my heros. His comment in response was a distasteful, “Well he’s not one of mine.” Nothing irritates liberal “Christians” more than to find others who don’t buy into their “enlightened” understanding of the Bible, meaning essentially that it’s not all true. I recall a televised debate between, again, two Ph.D.’s, one a believing Christian professor, the other a card carrying Humanist. The debate was very “heady” and mutually respectful until the Christian stated, in answer to a direct question, that he believed in the biblical account of the flood. That changed the tone of the debate from respect to ridicule and condescension from the humanist.

One of my favorite stories concerns the late Swiss theologian Karl Barth. There is more than one version of this incident; the following is my favorite and the one I have read most often. This world renowned professor, pastor and author was lecturing in the U.S. sometime in the early 60’s, when he was asked by a student, “What is the greatest thought that has ever passed through your mind,” to which he replied, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” After having published millions of words and countless volumes of complicated theological ideas and theories, it is all distilled down to that one statement. How can that be? Simple. Karl Barth was a born-again Christian. Words, thoughts, theories and whatever, can never supplant the experience of his relationship with the Savior.

Heretics throughout history have the same thing in common. They read and study the Bible without the spiritual glasses provided by the Holy Spirit. Current day heretics who are making inroads into the Christian community are from the so-called emergent church which embraces, among other things, the mystical practice of contemplative spirituality. They use other terms to identify these practices that lead to altered states of consciousness. This results in a merging of eastern religions with Christianity that compromise the word of God. Practitioners end up embracing eastern religions, pantheism, New Age, occult and other beliefs while trying to add Jesus in the mix.. It doesn’t work. That is, unless the veracity of Scripture is compromised.

That compromise can be found in congregations of the emergent church, which deny the main truths of the Gospel. In claiming the need to be socially relevant, the leaders use literary deconstruction to remake the meaning of the word of God. This movement is especially dangerous in that they use Christian language but mean something different. Unfortunately, some well known pastors and Christian organizations are either willingly moving into their camp, or have lost any spiritual discernment.

Well, back to the reason why some believe the Bible to be the word of God and others do not. Whether the deniers can be professed Christians or atheists, the reason is the same. In II Cor. 4:4, and 3:16 we read, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”

That is the answer. We know that the word of God is true because God, in our heart and spirit, tells us it is. When we are born-again, the “Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” ( Rom. 8:16). It is then that the word of God comes alive. It leaps off the page to speak to our heart and spirit. It is no longer paper and ink, but life giving truth and wisdom from God. It is now the “word of God which is at work in you who believe” ( I Thes. 2:13 ). As Heb. 6:5 states, the word “penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit.”

In Rev. 19:11ff, Jesus is presented “dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.” This is the only place in the Bible where Jesus is named the Word of God. The Word of God (Jesus) and the word of God (the written and revealed) are the same. If you know Jesus, you will know His word. The Bible will speak to you because if Jesus knows you, His word knows you as well. In a way that is difficult to fully understand, the very essence and nature of God and His word are one in the same. We know that our Redeemer lives, and because of that we know that His word is true.

 That inward assurance is manifest in the witness, as expressed by Job 19:25, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” George Frederick Handel’s visitation by God gave us the oratorio Messiah which immortalized the musical chorus “I know that my Redeemer lives.” When William F. Buckley Jr., one of the twentieth century’s great intellectuals, was asked what his epitaph should be he replied, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” I will add my witness to the centuries of believers who have said the same. God touched my life as a young man from which I have never recovered, and from that time until now “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Praise be to God.

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