“Straight from the horse’s mouth” is a phrase that describes information that has been received straight from a source of authority and has not been constructed or distorted by a third party. When we want to make a statement or persuade someone that the information we have to share comes from a trustworthy source, the author himself, we often use this idiom to make our point.
Paul, in his letter to the church of the Thessalonians makes an incredible declaration of truth that points us to the authority and source of the words given to the people through the ministry of Silas, Timothy and himself. He writes, “…when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.” (1 Thes. 2:13). “But as it actually is”, fast forward a couple millennia and we have a different way of saying these words.
I “believe the Holy Bible to be that collection of sixty-six books from Genesis to Revelation which, as originally written, was objectively the very Word of God” *. The writer of Hebrews says, “For the word of God is alive and active”, a statement that I believe is as true today as the moment it was written. As a believer, I hold fast to the truth of the promises found in the scriptures and have experienced the work which is indeed a part of my life. The Bible, filled with the words of God, communicate to us who he is; he reveals himself to us and leads and guides us into a closer relationship with him through his son Jesus (the word of life).
Have you ever taken someone’s word as true? Have you trusted their words and been let down? I imagine we have all been there. The word of God is the ultimate truth, one that will never let us down. These written words, through the work of Holy Spirit awaken our desire to live like Christ, they become a part of who we are. God directed the lives of some incredible men and women whose stories fill the pages of the Bible. As we remain faithful to and live out the words and instruction found in these sixty-six books, we are to accept them not as human word, but as it actually is, the word of God. Like Silas, Timothy and Paul we have received these words it is now our responsibility to share them with others.
*Fellowship Pacific Statement of Faith Article 1 – Scripture.
To fully know what something is we must also understand what that something is not. The antithesis (a person or thing that is the direct opposite of someone or something else) helps us hone or sharpen our understanding of the subject. John records many of Jesus’s “I am” statements in his Gospel. In order to grasp Jesus’s claim to be our “shepherd” we can understand what he means by looking at what a shepherd is not. Ezekiel uses the metaphor of a shepherd in a way that helps us understand what role a shepherd is not. Here are some of the highlights.
They focus on their own gain, not the well-being of the flock. (34:1-3)
They ruled harshly and brutally. (34:4)
When the sheep were lost, no one searched or looked for them. (34:6)
There are many more examples in scripture that use this same metaphorical language of “shepherd” to describe who Jesus is. Isiah puts it beautifully with these words, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: “He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;” (40:11). Johns record of Jesus’s clear statement in chapter 10:11 says “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The implications of what Jesus says with these words is beyond incredible. The role of the true shepherd in Ezekiel chapter 34 is described as fulfilled by God, Jesus makes the claim in John’s gospel that He (as God in flesh) is the one fulfilling this role.
Jesus came to care for his sheep and to lead them back into a relationship with His Father. His focus was not on himself but for the well-being of the people. He chose to seek out the lost, the broken and the hurting, to lead and guide them with love and compassion. Jesus willingly laid down his life for us as our shepherd, for the forgiveness of our sins. He came back to life and continues to lead and guide us through the work of the Holy Spirit, what an incredible gift. Who are you following? Are you trusting in Jesus as your shepherd? Have you experienced the life transforming power of the Holy Spirit in your life? Jesus, the Good Shepherd is calling out your name, he is your shepherd, take a moment to listen and follow his call.
Truth or Dare is the classic party game of embarrassment. A group of people take turns asking each other “truth or dare”? When someone chooses “truth”, they must answer the question truthfully regardless of how embarrassing it is. When someone chooses “dare”, they are given a task to complete. One example might be: Truth, “What is your deepest darkest fear” or dare, “lick the floor”. You must choose one, what would it be?
Let’s play another game – “Dare to live the Truth”. It is a game of life, real life. The object of the game is to live and walk in the truth. What is truth? When speaking to believers, John in his second letter defines truth as living in the knowledge and acceptance of the good news of the Gospel. He talks about living in the assurance of everlasting life through the death, resurrection and forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ. Truth is found in love and God is love. In 2 John verse 4 we read “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.” We are reminded of this joy in walking (living) in obedience to God’s commands because in the world (those “existing” outside of the body of Christ) individuals define truth in their own terms. In this letter, they are labeled as deceivers, “any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist”. (v7)
Sometimes the truth is hard to face, there are real consequences and hard decisions to make in life when we walk in the truth as John describes. Truth requires discernment, it requires courage, it demands obedience and gives us something to hold on to. When we look past the hard realities of living and walking in the truth, we can experience the same great joy and freedom that John sees in the community of believers whom he is writing to. Contrary to Colonel Nathan R. Jesseps’ (Jack Nicholson) statement in the movie “A Few Good Men”, “You can’t handle the truth”, know that you can handle the truth. God’s word tells us that “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32)
So let’s play the game: Truth: Do you believe that Christ died for the forgiveness of your sins? Dare: (Yes) Live out that truth in your life so others will see Christ in you. Dare: (No) Put your hope and trust in God today, pray and accept Christ into your life.