And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. - 2Corinthians 3: 18 (ESV)
The Bible is not just a book beloved. It is the final revealed will of God. It is one of the primary ways that God speaks to us. It is a slice of His wisdom for our lives that so desperately need it. The Bible is the essence of truth in a world full of lies. It is our primary defense against the enemy as well as the only offensive weapon in the armor of God. A preacher's job is to approach the Bible to hear what God wants to say to his people. His job is to perform what is known as exegesis; which means to critically explain the correct interpretation of Scripture. To correctly define what it is God is saying. Unfortunately, many preachers do not hold true to their responsibilities. They approach the Bible to prop up a thesis they have pre-decided to preach on. Thus you no longer are hearing what God has to say but rather what the preacher has to say. This is known as eisegesis; when we read into the text things that are not there. When we do that we are in fact misrepresenting God. We are claiming thus sayeth the Lord when it is really what we want to say. Not only is the teaching false then but we lose the opportunity to possibly hear something glorious from the Lord. Let's look at a quick example from this past week.
Pastor Joel Osteen preached a message entitled "Be Real." As his is modus operandi, Joel had a premise that he wanted to share that he felt was uplifting and relevant to people and then approached the Bible to prop it up. The basic premise is that we wear too many masks and that we need to be real with ourselves and with God. As a premise goes, this is not horrible. He had his usual problems however, of not wanting to seriously discuss sin and declaring God would bless everyone if they would just take their masks off but that is for another devotional. When it was time to prop up his thesis he turned to the key verse. Not in context, or even read wholly. Instead he just said that in 2Corinthians "God said" that we behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces and that this meant that we need to take off our masks (veils) if we want to see the glory of the Lord. For the untrained bible student I am sure this sounded quite deep. Very moving and possibly even pious. The problem is this is not what that verse actually means. It is what Joel Osteen wanted it to mean so his sermon would sound spiritual but it was not what God was saying. The real shame of it is that the real meaning is so much more awesome than his sermon.
Beloved the veil refers to the fact that because of the glory of God, Moses needed to wear a veil. There also was a veil in the temple that separated the people from the glory of God contained within the Holy of Holies. This was the reality before Christ. Before the work of the cross. But at Calvary Jesus tore the veil that kept us separated from God's glory. His presence is now inside of us through the Holy Spirit. That is why now we have unveiled faces to behold the glory of God! It is not about us or anything we have to do. It is all about Jesus and everything He already has done! Hallelujah! I hope we see the danger here. By approaching the Bible to prop up his pre-formed ideas, no matter how noble they may have sounded he cheated his listeners of the Gospel. We do not need to hear that if we would just be honest about who we are that God would bless us. Mostly because it is not necessarily true. But oh do we need to hear that Jesus tore the veil! Do we ever need to hear that there is nothing separating us from the glory of the Lord! Do we ever need to hear that His glory lives on the inside of us now as believers in Jesus Christ! Keep you three sermon points and a cloud of dust. Give me the what God has said. Give me what His Word is saying today. Give me the Gospel, any time, every time.