This blog is primarily written to and for other believers, but I hope all who sincerely seek the Truth will also benefit from its contents.
I am a disciple of Christ. I do not apologize for my beliefs, but neither do I boast in them. They do not make me special, just forgiven. However, it does mean that I see the world through the lens of Scripture. Everything I write should be understood from this perspective. Unless one reads my posts from a Scriptural perspective, it is unlikely that my posts will make a great deal of sense to them. On the other hand, if one does read my post through the lens of Scripture, not only will they make much more sense, but I am confident they will help to bring the story Scripture tells into sharper focus.
This blog is named The Oil for Your Lamp after a picture the Bible paints to help us understand the connection between the Lord’s Word and salvation. Scripture often refers to the Lord as ‘The Light,’ and to His Word as ‘oil.’ This is a picture that every ancient Hebrew would have easily understood. In ancient times, people used small lamps to provide light, like the one in our picture. They were usually made out of baked clay and fueled by olive oil. By connecting the Lord’s Word to the image of the lamp, every ancient Hebrew would have immediately understood the relationship between the Lord’s Word that the Lord’s Word can be thought of as the oil that fuels the light by which a person can see to stay on the narrow path which leads to eternal life.
We find this illustration throughout the Scriptures. The Bible teaches us that the Lord is the Light of the World (John 8:12). Without the Lord, the entire universe would be in darkness (Gen 1:2) and all of us would be hopelessly lost. This is not only a statement about a physical reality, but also a statement of a spiritual reality. Without light, we stumble and grope in the darkness. Without the Lord’s Word, we stumble and grope in spiritual darkness. One darkness refers to physical blindness, the other to spiritual blindness. Likewise, the Lord provides both physical and spiritual light. He helps us to see both physically and spiritually. This is why all those who seek to follow and obey the Lord should seek to know and understand His Word fore, without Him, no one can hope to find their way.
This is why I blog: to help other believers strengthen their faith by sharing what I have learned about the Lord’s Word and how it applies to our modern lives. Hence, this blog is oil for your lamp (only, in this case, your lamp is not the Lord, but your understanding of His Word).
I used to be very wrapped up in the things of this world — especially politics. Back then, I thought of myself as a “Conservative.” Later, as I started to learn more about what that means, I came to think of myself as a “Classic Liberal.” I started blogging so I could ‘share’ my opinions with others, but I was really just looking to get recognition for running my mouth. I started on a local news paper forum. That lead to me being invited to participate on a friend’s political blog, both as a guest contributor and editor. From there, I started two blogs of my own, The Road to Concord and The OYL. Back then, I believed I was doing something useful, but today, I know I was just servicing my ego. I really wasn’t doing any good at all. In fact, I was just making things worse.
When I first started blogging, I did so mostly because I thought people needed to be ‘educated,’ and I was presumptuous enough to believe I was the one who needed to ‘educate’ them. Blogging gave me the voice I needed to do this ‘educating.” At the time, I did not see how wrong I was. Not only was I wrong about the things I believed, but I was wrong in the way I was trying to convince others to agree with me. I was proud, arrogant and — frankly — an ugly person. Worse, I reveled in it all. Had I stayed that course, I am convinced it would have cost me my soul, but no more! Thankfully, the Lord saved me from myself. Now, nothing I do is about me. Now I blog to build others up by sharing what the Lord has revealed to me.
It started about five years ago, when the Lord grabbed hold of me and I finally surrendered to His will. Believers refer to this as ‘conversion,’ and I can testify that it is very real. I am living proof that the Lord can and will change those who chose to follow Him. Since I converted, I have come to understand that most everything I had believed was wrong. So was my attitude. Now, don’t get me wrong: this does not mean ‘the other side’ is correct, or has the proper attitude, because it isn’t and it doesn’t. No, what I learned is that there are only two sides, and they are not Left and Right. The two sides are with the Lord or against Him, and the only proper attitude is that of a humble servant. Once I started to see the world through this perspective, everything started to fall into place. I started to understand things I previously could not explain, and I started to see and understand how everything fits together to tell one coherent story. What’s more, I learned how to explain it to others. to help them see through the same Scriptural eyes.
This is how I The OYL came to be what it is today: the result of my obedience to the Lord and my desire to share what I have learned about His Word with others.
The Lord has made it clear that He expects me to teach the believers. To this end, He has equipped me with a desire and ability to learn. As a result, He has driven me to not only read the Scriptures, but also to study the revelations He has given to other believers. He has also given me a spirit of discernment; an ability to sort wheat from chaff, so to speak. He has made me so that I can put the bigger picture together by sorting through all the teachings I encounter and holding to the Truth while discarding false teachings. Once I have a sound understanding of something, the Lord pushes me to teach that Truth to other believers. In fact, He will not let me rest until I do. However, I do not claim to be a prophet or to have some special revelation. At best, I may be a scribe, but nothing more. All I know for sure is that nothing I do it for or about me. My calling is all about serving the Lord by helping to build up the faith of other believers. I do this primarily by helping them to better understand the Lord’s Word and how He works in our daily lives.
Let me say that again. I am not a prophet. I do not claim to have any new or special revelations. My only gifts are for reading a great deal more than most, holding what I read up to Scripture and spotting contradictions. In this way, I am able to weave the little pieces that we are each given into a bigger picture, then share that picture with other believers. This is all I do: I put the pieces of the puzzle together, nothing more. But this does not mean that I am not qualified to teach others. The truth is, anyone who can demonstrate they have a proper understanding of the Lord’s Word is qualified to teach and, in many cases, has a duty to teach. I know this is the truth because it is exactly what Scripture teaches. So I am not offering my opinion on this matter, I am merely repeating what Scripture has already said.
This is the purpose of The OYL: to help me teach the Lord’s Word to whoever has ears to hear.
[That said, it is my sincere prayer that this blog will lead at least one person who is currently off the narrow path to know and accept the Lord as their personal Savior.]
USING THIS BLOG
This is one of those areas where I have difficulty in properly expressing my thoughts. This is because I write the same way I speak, and, in most cases, it is much to blunt for the average person’s sensibilities. I have begged the Lord to help me with this, but — so far — He has seen fit not to answer that prayer. Therefore, I beg you to accept that I do not mean to sound harsh in what I am about to say. In fact, if anything, I am pleading with the reader to a point just short of begging.
This blog is intended to help believers learn and understand how the Lord’s Word applies to our daily lives and to the world in which we live. It is my hope that others will benefit from me sharing and explaining what the Lord has taught me about His Word. But it will only help if people read and remember my posts. Even though I write each post to stand alone, they are meant to work together. Each post is a small piece to a greater picture, and the fuller understanding of that picture only comes when you have read and understood all the pieces. The OYL is intended to be understood this way, as a whole. Everything is interconnected. Each post supports every other. To get the most from this blog, you have to see it this way.
You also have to do your homework. Whenever I want to make sure something I say is clearly understood, or I mention something about which I think the reader might like more information, I try to link the reader to additional references which agree with the Lord’s Word. But those links cannot help if they are not used. On top of that, I might not provide a link for everything. It is up to the reader to make sure they understand what I am discussing by either following the links I provide, or searching for more information on whatever it is they do not understand. I have also made it so the reader can ask question after every blog. I monitor all comments on The OYL, and I will do my best to answer any question that may be asked. But education is a personal effort, and unless an individual puts forth the effort required, they will never learn. So I can only implore you to read and to research and to question until you are satisfied that you understand whatever it is you are reading. Now, don’t get me wrong. This does not mean you have to agree. It just means you owe it to yourself to make sure you understand well enough to either agree or explain why you disagree.
Finally, you will find a great deal of help with understanding how to study any subject under the REASON page at the top of this blog. But to save time, I have taken the liberty to tailor some of the most important principles to the subject at hand. When it comes to understanding Scripture:
1 — Assume the Scriptures are true. Whether or not one agrees with the Bible, before one can deal honestly with its claims, one must allow for the possibility that it is true. Only then can a believer properly understand it, or a skeptic properly object to it. Anything less is intellectual dishonesty.
2 — Know and understand the Scriptures. This is closely related to #1. If one wishes to know something, or even if one wishes to refute it, one must first know and understand what is being said. In this case, that requires a great deal of study as the Bible cannot be understood without first understanding the ancient Hebrew culture and language, to include their poetry and figures of speech.
3 — Look for a harmonized understanding. One of the most important claims made by the Bible is that it is the Revealed Word of God. This means that it cannot be in error, nor can it contradict. Therefore, in trying to understand it, we must look for an understanding that brings everything the Scriptures say into harmony with itself. We cannot exclude a single piece of Scripture. It must all fit neatly into our understanding of what it says.
4 — Do not make assumptions or force things to fit. If you find something in Scripture you do not understand, do not assume the Bible is wrong. Do not try to force things to fit. Simply accept that there is something you do not understand — yet. Do as the Scriptures instruct: keep studying and praying and asking the Lord for His understanding. He will reveal things to you as you are ready for them, and even then, only as He wants you to know and understand them.
5 — Be patient and persistent. Scripture teaches that the Lord reveals Himself to those who seek Him with a sincere heart. It also tells us that He reveals Himself to those who persist, or chase after Him. Therefore, be sure you are sincere, patient and persistent — and pray continuously for wisdom and understanding.
6 — Put in the work required to understand. This is more than just being patient and persistent. It means you have to read your Scriptures, then study them. This will almost certainly mean you will need to go outside of your Bible. You need to find teachers who can help you understand the things you do not understand, and that requires work. The OYL exists to help you with this, but it cannot and should not be your only source of help. So do your homework.
7 — Hold to what you know. First, until you can explain it, you don’t really understand it. This applies to anything. Once you can explain it, you know it. Then, work in whatever new understandings you learn on top of those you already have, making sure they all fit together properly. This will build your understanding layer upon layer — exactly the way Scripture says we are to learn it. Once you know something, hold to it. Unless someone can show you where, how and why you are mistaken, do not let go of your understanding (remember, Scripture provides its own witness, so anyone who seeks to correct you should be able to show you their Scriptural evidence in at least two or three places). By following this practice, we make ourselves less susceptible to wondering with whatever new teaching we encounter. In other words, we can be more assured of having a firm foundation in our understanding of Scripture.
8 — Do not accept anything I say as fact. This is true with all things, but it is especially true when dealing with the Lord’s Word. By all means, hear me out, and carefully consider everything I have to say. But after you do so, do exactly as the Scriptures instruct you and test everything I say against the Lord’s Word. If I am in error, show me. I will accept correction. If you have questions, ask. Just be sure to do everything you can to make sure that your understanding matches with the Lord’s Word, and never take anything for granted in the process.