Then some of the Jewish exorcists who traveled from place to place tried to make use of the name of the Lord Yeshua in connection with people who had evil spirits. They would say, “I exorcise you by the Yeshua that Sha’ul is proclaiming!” One time, seven sons of a Jewish cohen gadol named Skeva were doing this; and the evil spirit answered them. It said, “Yeshua I know. And Sha’ul I recognize. But you? Who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit fell upon them, overpowered them and gave them such a beating that they ran from the house, naked and bleeding. (Acts 19:13-16)This passage has one of my favorite ideas regarding our spiritual duties as Christians.
"But you? Who are you?" the demon asked. Yes, of course demons know Jesus (James 2 says the demons believe--and shudder!). And Paul had a reputation in Hell, such that they recognized him. In a sense, they revered him. Like the soldiers of one army hearing the name of an opposing army's general; they would recognize it and it might even stir them a little to know that he was the one commanding their enemy's forces.
But these seven sons? Who are they? Nobodies as far as Hell is concerned. Seven brothers, sons of the high priest no less, who were all overpowered, stripped, and lashed by one man with one demon (never forget that Legion had thousands, and they trembled before Christ; let that be an image of power).
What really caught me about this today was that they tried to cast out on authority with degrees of separation; from Jesus to Paul to them. They had no first-hand experience with Christ, yet they cast out demons, "by the [Jesus] that [Paul] is proclaiming!" They knew of Jesus, but only because they knew of Paul's message.
How sad would it be to know of Jesus exclusively through the words of another? How vain our pursuits, to be shaped by only the image given us by mortal men? Without experience of Christ, what have we at all?
Here's something else to think about; the Bible is the true and infallible Word of God, but it was written/logged/chronicled by fallible men. In man's language. Translated into another of man's languages by other men. And then the translation process happened again.
The Bible as the Word of God has no flaw, but we, humans, do. So debate all you like about NIV, KJV, ESV, NASB, whatever translation you think is the right one; we're farther from the original Hebrew and Aramaic/Greek than these seven sons of Skeva were from Christ. Slight variations in wording is hardly consequential at this point.
To go a step further, take into account that the Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and that Acts was also chronicled by Luke.
Again i say, how sad would it be to know of Jesus exclusively through the words of another?
Now look around. We have preachers, straight out of seminary and Bible college, who have had no firsthand encounter with the Almighty (ironically, there's even a book titled, "How to Stay Christian in Seminary"). We have Biblical scholars whose connection with God is purely mental and not in the least bit Spiritual. We have missionaries that can only give a reason for believing in Christ from the text in the Bible (not to discount the authority of the Scriptures, but allow me to refer you to Revelation 12:10-11. Now a simple question: How do we overcome the accuser of the brethren?).
Because you have read someone's autobiography and believe it to be true does not necessarily mean you know the author. You may be capable of quoting it backwards and forwards and still not know the author.
How do you know Jesus Christ? Have you read his biography? The collected words of those witnesses?
Or have you met Him, known Him, trusted Him, and been a witness yourself? Can you look someone in the eyes and say, "Apart from the Bible, I know Him"? Is it in the mind only, or in the heart?
We must yada (know something by firsthand, witness' experience) Christ.
No one can stress enough the universal-scale of importance of Scripture. Each time you read the Bible, you are reading accounts of His qualities, you are being better-equipped to recognize Him. And how are we to know and to claim genuine witness about someone unless we recognize them?
But unless we have met Jesus and we have received Him and been witnesses in our own lives and people who do the will of God, He does not know us.
Reading the Bible does not save. Going to church does not save. Preachers and pastors don't save. Knowing Christ, with Christ knowing you, and having a relationship with Him does save.