“Christian Epistemology”: The Blind Leading the Blind
Here are some study questions to keep in mind as you read this:
What is the source of Lisa's problem?
Why does Lisa have such a problem?
How would you answer Lisa’s questions?
What do you think is the proper solution to her persisting dilemmas?
How would Christians whom you know answer Lisa's questions?
If you are a Christian, how would you address Lisa's concerns? How do you address them in your own life?
Pastor Billy Bob: Come, young Lisa, take me into your confidence. What seems to be troubling you?
Lisa: Well, Pastor Billy Bob, you know how you were sayin’ in your sermon yesterday, how we should live for Jesus and do what he wants us to do?
Pastor Billy Bob: Yes, that’s right. Jesus wants you to live a wonderful life of obedience according to his plan for us all, including you, Lisa. Jesus loves you and has many things planned for you.
Lisa: But that’s just it, Pastor Billy Bob, how do I know what Jesus wants me to do?
Pastor Billy Bob: That’s a good question, Lisa. You need to let the Lord guide you. You need to immerse yourself in the Scriptures and always be prayerful.
Lisa: I am, believe me, I am, Pastor Billy Bob. I’m reading my Bible and praying every day, often for many hours at a stretch. It’s just that…
Pastor Billy Bob: Yes, it’s just that what?
Lisa: It’s just that, I still don’t know what choices to make in my life. Should I get a job? Should I go to school? Should I continue living at my parents’ place, or should I move out? Should I buy a car or stay on public transportation? Should I open a bank account or enroll in a credit union? Should I stay home and take care of my kids, or should I volunteer at the Salvation Army or the soup kitchens? I have question after question, so many decisions, it’s bewildering. I’ve tried to find answers to these questions in my Bible reading, but nothing there seems to speak on these matters. I pray and pray and pray, but still I find myself facing these and other difficult decisions.
Pastor Billy Bob: That’s why the Lord wants you here, Lisa. Your church attendance has been a little, shall we say, irregular lately. Is everything going okay?
Lisa: Well, I suppose so, except I just don’t know how to make even insignificant choices any more. That is, they seem insignificant to me, but how do I know whether or not they’re insignificant to Jesus? I’ve prayed and prayed, I’ve read my Bible – I’m reading Lamentations today, again. Yesterday I tried to find comfort and guidance in the Psalms. It’s at the point where I don’t know if I should eat whole grains or eggs for breakfast, or eat breakfast at all. I know what I want to do, but I just don’t know what Jesus would have me do, and I don’t know how to find out. Please, Pastor Billy Bob, I’m sure you can help me.
Pastor Billy Bob: Now don’t worry so much, Lisa. God is not the author of confusion. You need to be careful that the Enemy doesn’t sneak in while you stress about these matters. Have faith. The Lord knows. He will protect and guide you.
Lisa: But I’m trying so hard to be careful, that’s just the thing. I’m spending hours every day reading my Bible and more hours praying to Jesus for guidance. The closer I draw nigh to the Lord, the further I find myself from the world, the more detached I am from…, well, from my life. That’s what the Lord wants, isn’t it?
Pastor Billy Bob: The Lord wants us to be saved from the world of sin, that’s true. Come out from among them and be ye separate. Draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh unto you. The Lord wants you to live for Him, not for yourself.
Lisa: But I still don’t know how to find out what Jesus wants me to do when I face any choice in my life.
Pastor Billy Bob: The Scriptures say, Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. The Lord hears you, Lisa. Do you believe that?
Pastor Billy Bob: Do you understand what the Lord is telling you in that verse?
Lisa: Yes, I… I guess I do.
Pastor Billy Bob: Now Lisa, the Lord is not a guessing game. He wants you to be sure, rock solid, a foundation on stone, not sand.
Lisa: Yes, I know, I’ve read that. I understand that Jesus wants me to be confident in his word, and I am, Pastor Billy Bob. Please know that I am. My confidence in Jesus couldn’t be more solid. It’s just that when I’m facing these choices in my life, I don’t know what he would have me do. It’s like torture not knowing. I’ve searched the Scriptures for hours on end. That’s one reason why I haven’t been able to come to church as often lately – I’m immersed in the Word and I feel compelled to let it continue ministering to me. But soon as I get up from my reading and praying, I find that I need to make choices again, and I just don’t know what Jesus should have me do.
Pastor Billy Bob: Choices? What kind of choices? Can you give me some examples?
Lisa: Oh yes, of course, sorry Pastor. Such as, well, when I get up from my Scripture reading, I don’t know. Should I brush my teeth? Should I make a cup of tea? Should I call my grandparents? Should I water the lawn? Should I go to bed? Should I get back on my knees and pray more? Should I do the laundry? Should I make an appointment with my daughter’s teacher? I’m perplexed. There seems to be no rule, no standard, no principle which can guide me in any of these choices. The Scriptures do not seem to help. The disciples all left their families and led a life of self-sacrifice for the Gospel’s sake. Is this what the Lord wants me to do?
Pastor Billy Bob: I detect a great desire in you to have faith, but Lisa, I’m concerned that your faith has become weaker. You’re questioning your every move. The Lord doesn’t want you to do that.
Lisa: But see, Pastor Billy Bob, how can I know that’s the case? How can I be sure that the Lord does not actually want me to be more mindful of the choices I make, seeing that I am to do what he wants in my life, not what I want?
Pastor Billy Bob: Again, you need to put you trust in the Lord. Trust him. Let him lead. He’ll show you what he wants.
Lisa: But how will he show me? How will I know? How will I know that he’s showing me something and I’m not just hoping he’s showing me something? You see, Pastor Billy Bob, I’ve been struggling with this. You say that the Lord will show me what he wants. But if I am showed something, how do I determine whether it is really from the Lord or not? How do I know that it’s not the Enemy trying to deceive me? I read my Bible and I pray. I spend upwards of 12 hours some days just praying.
Pastor Billy Bob: Are you fasting, too?
Lisa: Of course. Every Tuesday and every Friday, I fast until 6 PM. Just like you taught us.
Pastor Billy Bob: Have you considered fasting on Sundays, too?
Lisa: I can try that, but I’m worried it won’t make any difference. What I need is a way to know, I need to know how to know, and right now, if you were to ask me how we know things, I could only say we know without knowing how we know.
Pastor Billy Bob: Your problem is not in determining how to know, but in that you insist on understanding. But the Lord wants you to put your trust in Him and not lean unto thine own understanding. You see, the Scriptures have it all figured out for you, Lisa.
Lisa: So what do I do when I face a choice, like whether to stay home and do chores or go out and do the shopping?
Pastor Billy Bob: The Lord knows you need to live your life, Lisa. Knowing how to make these kinds of decisions requires wisdom. And the Lord distributeth amply.
Lisa: But that brings it right back down to my earlier quandary: how do I know what the Lord wants me to do?
Pastor Billy Bob: The Lord wants you to live for his sake.
Lisa: But the Scriptures tell me that I’m supposed to die, not live.
Pastor Billy Bob: That’s right, die to flesh, die to sin, die to yourself. You don’t belong to yourself, Lisa. You never did. Before the Lord saved you, you belonged to the Enemy. Now you belong to the Lord. You need to get Self out of the way. You need to get flesh out of the way. Let go and let God!
Lisa: So I should die, then, not live, right?
Pastor Billy Bob: Yes, die, but not die literally. You need to mortify your flesh.
Lisa: But when I eat meals, drink fluids, clean myself and take care of my body’s needs, I’m feeding and caring for my flesh, not mortifying it.
Pastor Billy Bob: The only solution to all this is to let the Scriptures be your guide.
Lisa: Okay, Pastor Billy Bob, I really thank you for your time. It’s been so helpful!
Pastor Billy Bob: Do you know what to do now?
Lisa: Yes, I sure do. I’m just going to trust in the Lord, I’m going to do his will and not mine, I’m going to mortify my flesh and die to myself, and lean not unto my own understanding. I need to trust and believe, not understand.
Pastor Billy Bob: That’s right, Lisa. That’s exactly what the Lord wants for you, and he will be very pleased.
Lisa: Thank you, Pastor Billy Bob! The Lord has blessed today!
Pastor Billy Bob: He sure has! Now you run along now, and don’t forget about our guest speaker this coming Sunday. We’ve got a pastor from another district coming, and he’s going to talk about Christian epistemology, just the kind of stuff we’ve been talking about today. It's the only way to have true knowledge.
by Dawson Bethrick