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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Nothing More, Nothing Less, Nothing Else: The Truth and Fullness of the Word of God

"With the loss of truth we forfeit profundity; we are deprived of depth." - Seamus Heaney

"Truth lives in the cellar, error on the doorstep." - Austin O' Malley

The major issue that faces those of us who live in what is being called the "Postmodern Age" is the loss of objective truth. To put it another way, truth still exists - but only as it applies to the individual. Absoluteness is thrown out of the window. In short, truth is only relative if it's relevant. My own personal emotions and experience outweigh the importance of the information. The present-day Church has not gone unscathed by the spirit of the age. It's sad to say, but it seem that more often than not everywhere you turn, from Sunday Morning sermons to Christian Television, we are seeing and hearing more and more "gospel" presentations that are starting to sound more and more like tug-on-the-heart strings motivational speeches than strong proclamations of the true gospel as it is in Scripture.

What Ever Happened To Doctrine?

There are many ways that you can go in this discussion to look at particular failures that have brought us to this point, but the first and most devestating of them is an overall low view of Scripture (God's Word) itself. From this point the dominoes just keep falling. Since this is the basis for what we believe as Christians and foundation of our salvation and sanctification (Romans 10:17, John 17:17), it's only a natural progression to behold; a low-grade view of biblical authority leads to low-grade biblical acumen of preachers and teachers, which in turn leads to low-grade preaching, which leads to low-grade evangelism, which leads to low-grade "conversions"...etc. It becomes a vicious cycle of what Charles Spurgeon would call "Christianity on the downgrade". To have a low view of Scripture is to have a low view of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) himself. I was explaining this view to a friend of mine at work today. She too is a fellow Christian. However, when I pointed out the fact that scriptural error and faulty presumptions about God are considered sin, she bristled a bit. "I don't know about that", she said. "It's impossible to know everything or to get it all right...how can that be a sin?". That sounds like a good defense. And in most cases, I would say that it is. However, we must take into account what we are taught in scripture about scripture:

Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. - 1 Timothy 4:15-16 ESV

and again,

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. - 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:15-17 ESV

As can be seen from these verses, there is an undeniably high calling for us to understand and comprehend scripture to the best of our abilities. The funny thing about my friend's response to my argument in support of this view is that she (most likely, unwittingly) pushed my argument beyond its rational conclusion; not at any point did I say one should know everything (even though it is plausible to say that everything written in scripture can be understood if given enough time, or else, why would it be there?). I merely stated that it was a sin to mishandle, twist, or omit any passage of scripture, whether knowingly or unknowingly (sins of ignorance are still sins- Luke 23:34, 1 Tim. 1:13). We have to be careful about how cavalier we can be in our attitude toward the scriptures. If the truth claims of the Bible are pushed aside and not taken seriously as we make a mad dash to try to be more "relevant" to the culture, what does that leave us with?

Attention Deficit and A New Kind of "Gospel"

The lack of a true teaching and preaching of the Gospel (as well as a proper understanding of the function of the law in the light of the gospel) leaves a vacuum. It is here where we turn the corner; sucking up every new trend that comes along. Some may be helpful (in an extremely limited capacity), but since these movements usually consist of more author than authority, once they've run their course and worn out their welcome it's on to the next big "thing". Whether it be Purpose-Driven Mania, Body Worship or Clown Sermons (yes, actual clowns doin' clown shtick) we are all too willing to jump on the bandwagon. Churches are paying through the nose to have the latest fad implemented into their worship services. We've gone from "Truth for all time" to "Truth...for a dime". And if someone would take half a second to crack a Bible, it wouldn't take long for us to realize that this type of consumerism is not held in high regard when it comes to authentic worship (John 2:14-16). With no real anchor, the Church searches for her identity, giving in to the culture around it, asking what it would take for them to receive us. This type of Gospel can promise nothing and makes you a slave to the world; bring 'em in with bells and whistles, then bells and whistles it is - for good. The second the luster goes, so do the people. Sacrificing truth for social acceptability is not what it appears to be; it is the ultimate lose-lose situation. The Church loses its "saltiness" and the world loses its "light". Instead of self-denial, we are about self-gratification. Meanwhile, once the flock leaves the zoo and has to make passage through the wilderness that this world presents us with, we are ravaged and eaten alive. We can't defend basic truths of the Christian faith when confronted with the weakest of accusations. When the Satan asks, "Hath God said?", we reply, "well, I don't know, did he?". We rarely ever get our Sword of the Spirit out of the sheath; even when we do, we wound ourselves by mishandling it.

Yet as I say all of this, there is still hope. God's truths are eternal. All we need to do as the Church is to repent of our sins of dereliction and apathy. If we, as the people of God, stand on the veracity of the Scriptures we will find a freedom and relevance that relates to everyone, everywhere. The Truth of God's Word does not return void. It accomplishes its purpose. Flesh and human reason are of no avail in the battle for absolute truth. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness...

Truth of the Bible - John MacArthur

Truth of the Bible - John MacArthur (pt. 2)

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. - 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ESV

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12 ESV

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. - 2 Peter 1:19-21 ESV

There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. - 2 Peter 3:16-18 ESV

"Truth is not finally a matter of philosophy but of Theology." - Os Guinness

"God and his truth cannot be changed; the gospel is not negotiable." - John Marshall

Soli Deo Gloria,


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