Neither the Scriptures nor the power of God

Is not this the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?

The words of Jesus to a delegation of Sadducees. This particular religious group (small but influential at the time of Jesus) did not accept the doctrine of the resurrection and this was the subject of their question to him.

They spin him a tale of seven unfortunate brothers who in turn marry the same woman according to the custom of levirate marriage. Presumably their intent was to put Jesus on the spot, rather than seek to learn from him.

In response Jesus charges them with error and that based on their ignorance both of Scripture and of the power of God. He quotes from God’s words to Moses in Exodus, making the point that the Patriarchs were still alive.

Five thoughts:

  1. Not only did the Sadducees’ theological view limit the power of God, it was actually defective – as Jesus points out.
  2. What about professing Christians today who are ignorant both of Scripture and of the power of God? Presumably one potential result of that is a bland, nice, religious form of faith.
  3. What about those whose aim is a sound, detailed mastery of the Scriptures, but who are ignorant of the power of God? I know they would want to say that the Scriptures = God’s word = power, but I think we need to be constantly on our guard to ensure that our quest for theological precision (as important as that is) does not come at the expense of limiting the power of God.
  4. Or are there some people who are so keen to experience the power of God that they have little time to grapple with an accurate understanding of the Scriptures?
  5. Has the church managed to create a dichotomy between Scripture and power, between Word and Spirit?

I know that the answer to that is ‘not always’, or ‘not necessarily’, but I am reminded of these words of David Watson:

All word and no Spirit, we dry up; all Spirit and no word, we blow up; both word and Spirit, we grow up.

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