I found this in J. W. McGarveyâ€™s compiled writings volume titled Biblical Criticism. As McGarvey was a considered scholar in both the Hebrew and Greek, I thought it might be useful to note his remarks concerning the use of plural pronouns in the Hebrew language. The response was posted to a radical question concerning disputing the authorship of Moses for the Penteteuch; however, the answer is interesting on other levels as well.
Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that Christianity is a completely individualistic pursuit. I don’t read anywhere in God’s instruction book that anyone can be saved corporately. And there are no magic words and incantations for anything. My salvation is based on what I do; and yours is about what you do. Faith or holiness is not found in any building unless some saints are meeting there at the moment. We may be aided by the teaching in one place or another; and we may fulfill the obligation to assemble on the Lord’s Day here or there, and that is all well and good. Through the help of some of the Christians that may surround us, we may gain knowledge and wisdom in the work of the Lord. Yet in every way it is still about what you and I do to serve the Lord.
And if we are sincerely seeking answers – we will find them. God is not a trickster or capricious. Jesus is not a jester laughing while souls slide away. If we seek the truth we will find it. If we are looking for a teacher of the truth, one will be supplied. The only problem I can see is that we might not see it or the teacher when they come into view.
Many years ago, and in the middle of the night, someone asked me what he needed to do to be saved. It was a test. I asked him what he thought. He was already in Revelation when he asked. He and his wife had worked their way to the end of God’s Book without any outside assistance. He answered that they believed that Jesus was the Christ and that they needed to be baptized. They had figured it all out on their own. I told him that as it was Sunday morning and the end of our shift was nearing, that he ought to go to the closest church of Christ and I would have my brother meet them there, as they all lived over an hour away.
What a dummy I was I later thought. I should have gone with him to meet his wife that very morning and taken them both to the assembly where my brother worshiped, to the closest beach, pool or baptistery and immersed them myself. I have witnessed many baptized in rivers and the ocean; and more than a few in someone’s pool. The where and by whom is irrelevant, only the why of immersion has any value. I thought I really missed it, but my part had yet to be played.
It turned out well even with my notion that I had missed the details. You see, it aint about me and never has been. I and my wife were to be blessed to be some of the teachers for a short time when they were seekers and as they became disciples. I was “sent” to them by my having come into contact with him on that midnight shift we both worked (he had said that he knew I was a religious man). No miracles, no visions, just events that I sure didn’t understand then. We spent a few years at the same assembly both teaching and learning. For a long time now, he has been serving as an elder; and she has raised godly children and grandchildren, having also been a teacher of the gospel. So, it seemed that whether I understood it or not “All’s well that ends well.”
It really had nothing to do with me; but a lot to do with conviction, sincerity and the will to find out what God wants everyone to do. There is the Word and there is “us.”
So, it is about whom we decide to serve, about our obedience, and how we spend our time. We can’t offer or obtain the information by injection, and we won’t find it under a rock. And I’m sorry to have to report it this way, but you won’t receive a vision in the middle of the night. Buildings, windows, pews, songbooks, podiums or overheads ultimately have nothing at all to do with it. It is my responsibility for ME, and your responsibility for YOU.
All of modern religion is now mostly illusion, an ethereal invention composed of the thinnest and flimsiest of materials. And there is no hallowed space and nowhere to turn to except for the Word of God. It is about the common work of individual Christians. You won’t get a merit badge in Christianity and obtaining a doctorate will do you little good. Just follow the instructions and do the work that is commanded. Whether I can hoist a cross on my shoulders or pierce my hands has nothing at all to do with worshiping God.
If what I need is instruction, I need to read the Word of God. And if I do that and cannot seem to sort things out, what I ought to do then is to pray for a preacher to be sent just like Cornelius had prayed. God will never leave someone who truly seeks him in the dark. Just don’t expect a miracle and keep your eyes peeled so that you know when the news is being delivered into your hands.
So, with no one to provide the quick answers and point to the two-step solution; we need to go to where the Holy Spirit left the care and wearing instructions for the whole armor of God. Be prepared, preach the Word in season and out of season – when it is accepted and even when it is not (and whether we see things working out or not). We may be surprised at what happens.