Around the age of 16, I went through something that I believe every Christian and probably anyone from any religion goes though: a crisis of faith.
Until that time I had mostly grown up in the church with only a few significant breaks in attendance. I came to saving faith in Christ at the age of 9 and was baptized in one my deacon’s pool. After that, as much as any child can, I lived as a full believer, insisting on going to Sunday school and church on a regular basis and generally acting well behaved.
This was all fine and good until one day I realized that I didn’t actually know what it was I believed. I had strong feelings about Christianity but little assurance that the things I said I believed were actually Christian. Not only that, I didn’t really know what all I claimed belief in. Looking around my hometown at other Christians didn’t really do much for confirming or explaining the belief system.
I remember the day I told my parents about my doubts. I remember it being momentous, yet strangely undramatic. I declared to my parents that I really didn’t know what Christianity was and that I was going to go about figuring it out. I told them that I was not going to give up my beliefs but rather discover what they really are. They looked at me and then at each other and said, “Ok”. There might have been some offer of help or other such thing but as a willful 16 year old, I wasn’t listening and I certainly wasn’t asking for help. I needed to do this on my own.
Nearly 15 years later I have a much better idea of the things I believe in and agree with and things that I don’t. Not only that, I understand that there’s a difference between belief and agreement. I have little doubt when it comes to the truthfulness or dependability of the Gospel and I have become strong in my faith in Jesus as the means to salvation from sin.
How did I get here? Through the reading of scripture, specifically the Bible. It is one thing to listen to and read what others say about the Bible and still another to read it yourself and find out what it says. There is an overwhelming number of beliefs, traditions, and sayings that Christians have taken up that simply are not contained in their holy book or are taken so far out of context that they are no longer true (at least not in application). I don’t mean to put down Christians–I am one of them; yet I have to point out that many of us in the American church do not know whether what we say is true to what God actually says or rhetoric picked up from cultural or nominal Christians.
Since the day when I declared that I would discover what it was that I believed, I have taken two complete laps through the Bible and innumerable excursions through portions of it. This is not nearly enough for me to declare myself educated or authoritative. I am a layperson through and through. Yet I can say with certainty that the Bible fulfills it’s own claims. It is useful for teaching and for rebuke. It is sharper than any two edged sword and it does divide flesh and spirit. I have been unmade and reworked on many occasions.
Scripture alone is the foundation from which the Church is built. This might sound counter to the claims of Jesus being the foundation or cornerstone but through the reading of the Bible you can discover that they are one and the same.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5 ESV
To the believer, wisdom is freely given to those who chase after it. To seek to spend time in the Word is to seek to spend time in His presence. The reading of the Bible is the first and primary method for spending time in His courts. By consuming its message and washing yourself in its waters, you can test any other message for its truth and origin.
I have not come to the end of the journey begun so long ago. In truth, I am closer to beginning than I’d like to admit. However, I hope that you will be able begin your own journey into discovering what you believe. I hope that you decide to spend a day in the Courts of YHWH.