WHY AN ETHIC?
People behave in ways that is inspired by many internal forces. Many times internal forces are based on personal beliefs, attitudes, perspectives, assumptions and ideas that fuel behavior. Faith is the motivator that drove many of the famous spiritual figures mentioned in Hebrews 11 (commonly called the "faith chapter"). The writer of Hebrews showed how historical believers of God were driven by their conviction that God was going to fulfill His promises to them (Heb. 11:32-39).
The people mentioned in Hebrews all were driven by a set of convictions that drove them to live courageously for their Lord. Notice how other figures presented for our example (like Paul, Peter & the other apostles) lived their lives from their conviction in the power of the message of Jesus Christ, even to the point of martyrdom.
Negative examples (such as the Jewish leaders of Jesusí day) many times behaved out of fear, jealousy, anger and the like. They too were acting from a set of convictions based on the law (the hedge they built around itói.e. Their traditions and their unique interpretation of the law) that became the driving force for their response to Jesus and the apostles.
What about the motivation for Biblical literacy? Some people live in the word of God and discover fresh discipleship at the feet of Jesus, while other believers hesitate to dig too deeply. Unfortunately, there are as many reasons for remaining uninformed about the word as there are people. Whether one is engaged in the word of God or totally disengaged, both are living by an ethicóa set of beliefs, attitudes, interpretations, opinions, assumptions, etc. that fuel their behavior (either of acceptance of the word or avoidance of the word.
To be Biblically literate, one must adopt an ethic that will drive behavior that will promote personal growth and responsibility in the Lord. Such an ethic will recognize at least four overall perspectives: (1) A deep respect for the Lord; (2) A deep respect for the sufficiency of scripture; (3) A Biblically accurate view of humanity; and (4) A scriptural view of the mission of Christians united together in the Lordís assembly of believers.
By adopting and consciously adhering to a set of beliefs (based on scripture itself Ėand not necessarily a creed) that promote the above mentioned principles, Biblical literacy will most likely be developed in oneís life-style to the glory of God, rather than to the glory of humanity itself.
Many of the reasons why so many who claim to be believers but avoid discipleship through the word is that their ethic is based on their will rather than on the will of God. Submitting to God and His word is the only way one can be changed (Rom. 12:2) and understand the Godís truth. The Biblical literacy ethic is only a tool to promote Biblical literacy. The only true agent toward personal change is Godís word itself since it is bound by the power of the Holy Spirit (i.e. Hebrew 4:12).
To change the direction of oneís personal ethic, one must be changed in condition before God (Acts 3:19,20); allow God to change his mind to recognize His truth (Rom. 12:2); change his perspective of Godís word (2 Peter 1:16-21; 1 Peter 1:22-2:3); and submit to its changing power (Heb. 4:12; James 1:22-25) so as to become Jesusí disciple (John 8:31-32).
©2001 Thomas L. Reed II
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