In his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, Paul encouraged the church again to stand firm in the face of persecution. He urged them to “keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter.” The Thessalonians heard from Paul both in person and by letter.
Supernaturally, by the Holy Spirit, we can experience the presence of God. We sense His leading. We feel His peace. We are strengthened by His power. We can hear from God in person.
We also hear from God through the Bible, His love letter to us, His children. The words in the Word are “living and active.” They are not merely ink on a page. They speak directly to our hearts in miraculous ways.
The danger is when our relationship with God is unbalanced, focused on one OR the other.
I know some Christians who have an entirely experiential relationship with God. They rarely read the Bible. They don’t memorize Scripture. They attend Christian functions, listen to Christian radio and music, shoot off prayer requests, even serve in ministry. But they depend upon experiences alone to hear from God. Maybe a word from the pulpit or from another Christian hits a nerve. But without reading the Bible on their own, they are like a boat without an anchor. They drift along from experience to experience without any foundation.
In the book of Acts, Luke tells us that the Bereans were considered more noble than those in Thessalonica because after they heard the word from Paul, they searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul was saying was true. The Bible calls itself our spiritual food (milk as babes, then meat), necessary to grow into mature Christians. When we speak we use words, when God speaks, He uses His Word. We need to keep a strong grip on His letters.
Then there are Christians who are scholars in the Word. They can cite verse and address and put myself and others to shame. But the danger here can be that it is just head knowledge. An old tract titled, “Missing Heaven By 18 Inches” teaches that 18 inches is the distance between our head and our heart.
If we know all about God, but lack a heart relationship with Him, we will miss spending eternity with Him. If we store up much information in our brains, but lack love, we are just a resounding gong and will be lacking the other fruits of the Spirit - joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It’s not enough to know all about God. We need to know Him personally as a friend, husband, brother, and keep to the teaching we learn from Him.
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With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter. 2 Thess. 2:15