Putting Scripture Into Proper Perspective: Part One

by Joshua Tilghman on May 5, 2012


For too long the Bible has been used wrongly. You probably know the drill. A religious leader stands in front of a congregation and preaches from verses in the Bible. The overall hope is that the congregation will believe the message, repent, and then struggle to live the way Jesus or God desires. Sometimes the verses in question are used to get someone “saved” once they accept the message. But this sort of Biblical perspective is completely counter-productive to what the scriptures were meant to do. In fact, the methods discussed above have wrestled the true power of the scriptures right out of the hands of the people. When used in this manner, the Bible, with all its awesome revelations and deep spiritual insights, has become a tool to promote religion. The only problem is that religion usually creates confused, mindless, or arrogant congregation members.

One of the great spiritual breakthroughs came in my life when I realized that the Apostle Paul has been largely misunderstood. He certainly didn’t help create the version of traditional Christianity we have today. You may have already read that the New Testament wasn’t compiled into its current form until a few centuries after Christ walked the Earth. However, what you might not know is that the Apostle Paul wouldn’t consider the New Testament writings scripture. 2 Timothy 3:14-15 makes this clear. In this letter he is exhorting Timothy on the power of the scriptures. The verse in questions reads:

“But continue thou in the things which thou has learned,  and hast been assured of, knowing of who thou hast learned them; (15) And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

I don’t know if you caught that, but the bold words indicate what Paul considered to be “scripture.” In other words, the Old Testament is the only “scripture” Paul was referring to, since that was the only written “scriptures” available when Timothy was a child. Paul certainly didn’t consider his letters to be scripture. It would have been heresy for Paul to suggest the things that he and others were writing would ever be or become Holy Scripture. But that’s not even the most significant point I want to make about Timothy 3:15. I want you to notice something much more important. Paul tells Timothy that the scriptures he knew as a child (the Old Testament) are where the wisdom is found to bring him unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus! This is significant. Basically Paul is letting Timothy know that contained within the Old Testament writings was the revelation of Christ Jesus. Since Jesus the man didn’t walk the earth until hundreds of years after the Old Testament was completed, Paul cannot be equating Christ Jesus here with the man Jesus Christ that was crucified under Pilate! Don’t believe me? Well let’s dig deeper so that you can see it clearly. Pay attention.

Many Christians don’t consider the fact that Paul NEVER met the physical man Jesus in the flesh. Jesus was already crucified by the time Paul had his Christ experience. Think about it…the only Christ Jesus Paul ever knew was the spiritual vision he had on the road to Damascus where he saw a “bright light.” This was a mystical experience. Paul also makes it a point to tell us that No MAN taught him about the revelation of Christ. Not even an established Apostle was worthy of such a thing for Paul! Some think Paul is being arrogant when he makes it clear that no man taught him, but I think he is making it clear that the Christ experience has to come from WITHIN! To further give evidence for this, Paul went into Arabia for quite a while following his Damascus conversion. No one knows why, although most scholars suggest it was for a time of solitude to work out his Christ experience. Hmm…sounds kind of like a time of solitude for meditation and other spiritual revelations to me.

So let’s review:

  1. Paul never met the physical Jesus.
  2. Paul had a spiritual revelation of Jesus by a bright light.
  3. Paul then went into the desert for a time of solitude.
  4. Paul makes it clear that his version of the gospel was not something taught to him by men (doctrine, ideas, dogma, religion).

Now I also want you to consider the fact that Paul NEVER mentions the virgin birth in his writings. Nowhere! He is completely silent on this important matter. Why? Didn’t he know about the virgin birth?

Paul didn’t write about the virgin birth because such things didn’t concern him. The real point in this discussion is contained within this question: What Christ Jesus is Paul referring to when he mentions that the Old Testament contains the wisdom to bring Timothy unto salvation through Christ Jesus?

The Christ Jesus of which Paul refers to being revealed in the Old Testament scriptures is not a physical man, but rather the Christ WITHIN! This is why Paul’s Damascus experience is so spiritual. This is why Paul went into Arabia afterwards for further spiritual revelation, much the same way the gurus of Tibet would. He went into Arabia to look WITHIN. Even the physical man Jesus stated that the KINGDOM IS WITHIN YOU! That’s where the REAL power of the gospel message is!

So many have missed the fact that this is also where the real message of the Old Testament is too. The Pharisees and others were blinded to this truth just as many today are blinded to the real purpose of the New Testament writings. Consider what Paul said:

“But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. (2 Corinthians 3:14-15).

What veil? What does this veil do? This veil blinds people to the real purpose and intent of ANY holy writing. Namely, that the scriptures were written to teach us about the Christ nature within each person, not to develop doctrine from!

 Paul also states:

“For so much as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

 In other words, Paul is not concerned with religions and doctrines formed from writings in “stone” or “ink.” He is concerned with a direct spiritual experience with God that NO MAN can teach you with ideas, doctrines, or salvation messages, from any written documents, be they the New Testament or Old Testament.

 Today, the traditional Christian message teaches us to look outside ourselves for salvation, but this is silly. The Kingdom of God is WITHIN you! All salvation must come from this place. Jesus the man NEVER taught us to look outside ourselves for our salvation. He wanted us to realize what he realized: the eternal nature of BEING that we truly are. This IS the Father, and this consciousness realization is the resurrection in which we realize our ONENESS with the ONE Father. This is also the body of Christ.

Doctrine doesn’t transform anyone, and the world will be a better place when people realize that there is no such thing as a correct doctrine. All doctrines are just mental ideas and concepts.

So is there any benefit to the scriptures at all? Of course! The Old and New Testament scriptures are some of the most brilliant words ever written down. And they are for correction and reproof as Paul states in Timothy 3:16. But this correction and reproof that Paul speaks of is to show us what is false in the world and what is true within ourselves.  

So what does all this mean? What are the ramifications for today’s millions of Bible readers? First of all, the Bible has to be put back into its proper perspective. Instead of developing doctrines, we need to get behind the heart and soul of the spiritual intent of the Biblical stories. We need to go beyond literal and historical interpretations and find the hidden meanings contained within these highly metaphysical writings. Then we need to awaken to our true selves, the Christ nature within each of us.

Next week I will post part two of this series. I will give further evidence that Paul didn’t think the scriptures should be used like we use them today to develop doctrine. I will also give more evidence that Paul has been one of the most misunderstood persons in the history of religion.

So reader, what do you think? I’d love to hear your perspective on the purpose of the scriptures. I would also love to hear any insight you might have on Paul’s damascas experience.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Engelbach May 6, 2012 at 8:47 am

So true, Josh. It is a wonder that some believers escape some of the arrogance and dogmatism and find the path to becoming loving new creatures in Christ. I imagine the spirit of God somehow manages to penetrate a stony heart and a closed mind until the Christ within, the Hope of Glory, is fully and quietly revealed, or as you mention, the veil is lifted.

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Jill Tilghman May 7, 2012 at 4:08 am

Josh, I have really enjoyed your blog and look forward to each new article.When I started studying and pondering the scriptures 11 years ago I came to many of the same conclusions that you have come to. After reading this article many other scriptures came to my mind such as the verse that says “Work out your OWN salvation” Salvation to me means truth. Another verse that comes to mind is Matthew 23:13-15 “Woe to you scribes and Pharises (preachers) hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those entering to go in

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Jill Tilghman May 7, 2012 at 4:46 am

Another scripture states that there is only one true and pure religion and that is to take care of the orphans, widows and poor. About Pauls “conversion” experience, I believe that he came to the knowledge that as he rode to persecute, torture, and murderI those who were not like him he was really committing those violent. acts against himself.

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Jill Tilghman May 7, 2012 at 5:05 am

Paul explains more in 2 Corinthians 9:7-11 and 2 Corinthians 11:21 where in verse 21 he speaks with biting sarcasm to awaken the people and lastly 2 Corinthians 13:7-11 Paul sums everything up. IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE THAT PAUL WROTE, read the last one for a summary of the knowledge Paul learned.

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pat veen May 8, 2012 at 9:20 pm

very nteresting, wha is your point?
are we not saved when we accept Jesus?

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Omar October 28, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Technically we are saved when we reach Christ Consciousness is what I am getting from this blog post. But first we need faith to get there. Jesus is just an example and teacher on how to do so ourselves.

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Trevor May 8, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Hey buddy
Very true my friend. I could never have written it so perfect. Im going to give some constuctive criticizm. I jsut think its missing punch or maybe power is a better word. I could be wrong, I’m not an expert by any means. Regaurdless your awesome its awesome. Keep up the great work! Peace

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AffirmingSpirit August 1, 2012 at 2:50 am

Kudos, Josh, for addressing the deeper truth about the Bible in your blog! I have been asking for someone like you to clarify biblical content for many years. I left the Catholic Church as a *9 year old* (ahem, quite a while ago) because, even then, I couldn’t live with the biblical disconnects and the hypocrisy of most Christians. Really…who cares if you go to church every Sunday when you are very un-Christian in your behavior the other 6 days and 22hrs of the week?!?

The irony in leaving the church/organized religion behind, is that on my own I developed a deep and loving direct connection with God/Infinite Divine/All That Is. Time in nature (my idea of a true Church) embedded God deeper in my heart. Regular meditation deepened that connection even further into every cell of my being. This powerful energy of Pure Awareness is my constant companion, always answering my questions, guiding me toward solutions and reflecting back to me. I doubt I would have this deep connection if I was still an active participant in organized religion! In that respect, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Catholic Church for alienating me all those years ago. 😉

I very much appreciate the time you take to explain the deeper messages of the Bible and scriptures. Keep up the good work!

Many blessings,
Nancy

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Joshua Tilghman August 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Nancy,

First of all, thank you for taking the time for such a thoughtful comment. And I know what you mean when you talk about your experiences with church. Like you, I find that a Sunday morning on a beautiful lake or mountaintop is a much better “church” than a building with four walls. Thanks again, and take care.

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tang February 5, 2013 at 5:37 am

Wow. Alot of information in an easy few paragraph. I feel………

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anny May 3, 2013 at 9:57 am

Paul never mentioned the virginal birth and I think that is true but I believe that the birth of the Christ still has to do with virginity = purity. It can only take place when body and soul are totally pure again, that is when all emotions and forces of ego have been processed totally and everything is in balance and harmony.

That we can also see in the names of the parents of Jesus. The parents of the historical Jesus might have had totally different names but within the story of the birth of the Christ they were not called Mary and Joseph for nothing. As all biblical names they stand for principles.

In Mary, Miriam, you find the words mar (bitter), jam (see) or jom (day or period). Miriam is the soul that has gone through a bitter period and has drunk a sea full of bitter water (which the Israelites were not prepared to do at first, even after the delivery from their slavery). She has done all her processing and is ready to birth the Christ. I think this applies to all women who are called Mary or Miriam in the Bible.

Joseph is a symbol for the body here, as the Joseph in the Old Testament was. I do not know exactly what it is based on but all of Jacob’s sons stood for something and I know that Judah stood for the spirit and Joseph for the body according to prof. Weinreb. Joseph receives a coat of many colours from his father which I interpret as the activation of all seven chakra’s. His brothers are jealous and sell him as a slave to Egypt. As I already wrote in another comment, he was seventeen at the time, which meant a bitter time at the end of a period after which something new begins. And so it was, Joseph might have been sold into slavery (again a last attempt by the ego to pull him back into its control) but he did not become a slave. He overcame all temptation and only served his fellow man. So he became ruler over this empire of the ego. This means also he is ready for the birth of the Christ.

As I already said about Mary, the way I read the Bible is that every time when a name reappears I attribute the same meaning to it that it had the first time. So in this capacity Joseph and Mary were the only parents who could give birth to the Christ.

And I noticed something else: after Jesus has been crucified and everything is prepared for the resurrection ‘on the third day’, who are the ones doing that by making all the funeral arrangements? Women called Mary (more than one this time) and another man called Joseph. He is called Joseph of Arimathea, but that is a Greek name. In Hebrew however it says Joseph of Ramatajim, which means Joseph of the Heights, again a sign of high awareness. Ramatajim was also Samuel’s place of origin, the one whose name could be read as: his name/definition is God.

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Albert July 31, 2013 at 11:39 am

The Scripture Paul refers to was the only Scripture at the life he was alive. The New Testament was not canonical until the late 300’s A.D. Paul does not emphasize what is written in stone, but rather what is inside. You are correct when you say people look outside themselves for salvation. Paul’s experience was mystical, but he was uniquely chosen by God. he has credibility. Informative post, bringing up good points to think about. Perhaps the Bible can be interpreted many different ways so we ask questions and try to learn. Thanks for the post as it is a good message.

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Joshua Tilghman July 31, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Good points, Albert.

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Betty Alark November 6, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Hi Josh!

Fascinating!! As always!

“Doctrine doesn’t transform anyone, and the world will be a better place when people realize that there is no such thing as a correct doctrine. All doctrines are just mental ideas and concept.”

Granted doctrine in and of itself doesn’t transform, however, I think the knowledge within the writen word can. When reading what you write in these post – it has the power to transform a persons thinking. The Spirit within recognizes truth and – is it not the Spirit that transforms?

Regarding Pauls Damascus experience: What do you think accounts for Pauls turning point/Damascus experience?

He had been persecuting the Jews when a voice came to him and Pauls response was “who are you Lord” and the Lord responded with….” What do you think the voice was that Paul heard?

Was Paul simply tired of persecuting the Jews and had a change of heart? What enlightening revelation could Paul have had that suddenly convicted him to have a change of heart? Did his conscious convict him?

What was Pauls temporary blindness symbolic of before he went off to preach the gospel? When Paul got up and was baptised after he had received the Holy Spirit – why did he still need to become baptised?

I never really gave it any thought until, now Josh. I always took it literally.

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waterstreams054 February 8, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Josh,
What a great article! Thank you for providing insight to the Biblical scriptures. Oftentimes, through the years, I have felt many aspects of the Bible were not to be taken literally. Unfortunately, some adults, even if they were well-meaning, did a good job of stunting my inquisitiveness about the scriptures. I am grateful that now, as an adult, I am able to let go of some of my younger year’s teachings and embrace writings from the Bible with more clarity because of writings such as yours. Keep teaching teacher!

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Cari August 12, 2015 at 12:44 pm

How do you interpret Paul’s derogatory comments about women such as women should not be allowed to teach or to speak in church?

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Joshua Tilghman December 25, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Cari, most scholars agree that Timothy was NOT written by Paul. I firmly believe they are right!

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Scott October 19, 2015 at 10:48 am

Thanks Joshua! Very well written article. I am enjoying your writings very much since I didn’t study the bible other than religious classes as a child. I have come to remembering truth like Paul did, not from any man. Your blogs are confirming that I am on the correct path with the assistance of A Course in Miracles.
Salvation can only come from within because that is were it is and always will be(that is why I used remembering truth’ above). It will continue to hide beneath the veil (the ego) as long as we try to look for it with the body’s eyes outside of ourselves.
The bright light Paul saw in Damascus is similar to what I have heard people who have studied ACIM have experienced. I haven’t had this happen to me as of yet but I am not discouraged in the slightest.
It is curious how the ego has us fooled into looking outside ourselves for salvation and making us believe it is out there when all we witness and receive from outside of ourselves, albeit temporary, is pain, suffering, sickenss, death, stress, ephemeral happiness and occassional euphoria frequently attained through the body but always brief.
I suppose these moments of enjoyment we scrape from the world keep us coming back for more and thus trapped by our ego’s until we get wise enough to retrain ourselves to think with our Christ Mind with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
I have been certain for a few years now that no event, no amount of money, no amount of bodily pleasure, possessions or worldly success has any power to produce salvation in anyone yet the world believes and behaves differently.

Looking inward for salvation really can’t come from learning from a man, blog, church or doctrine. We have to use our Mind’s(Christ’s) senses to see, hear and feel.

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Joshua Tilghman December 22, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Thanks for the comment, Scott.

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mlungisi khumalo June 21, 2016 at 7:04 am

Shalom Joshua,
Thank you so much for such a spiritual masseges, i truelly appreciate.
I’m base in South africa where almost the whole country is dominated by “literal” religeon, but thanks to you my brother. Now i know that sulvation is within and not without…

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