And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
While contemplating God and His word, the psalmist observed, "Righteous are You, O Lord, and upright are Your judgments...Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it" (Psa. 119:137, 140). Since God is righteous, we fully expect His word to also be righteous. We are not disappointed. We marvel at the harmony of God's word. We trust its power to save souls and transform lives. We are dismayed at those who choose to dishonor God by dishonoring His word.
Many religious people discount the credibility of the Bible and discredit the Scriptures as the only authoritative, binding standard for faith and practice. They appeal to "church tradition", to "new revelation" or to "personal testimony" while rejecting the Bible as the very word of God. The apostles of Jesus preached the "word of God" and not the "word of men" (1 Ths. 2:13). The Spirit of God gave the apostles the very words to speak and write (Matt. 10:19-20; 1 Cor. 14:37). To relegate the Bible to human origin either displays a lack of knowledge or a willful rejection of the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16).
Others, wanting to deflect the validity of the apostles' teachings, say there is a big difference between the words of Jesus and the words of His apostles. We hear the uninformed say things like, "Jesus didn't say it, just Paul (Peter, John, etc.)". Yet, Jesus told His apostles, "He who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me" (Jno. 13:20). Jesus sent His apostles into the world to preach His gospel (Mk. 16:15-20). The apostles spoke and then wrote "the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37). We cannot minimize and reject the apostles words without also minimizing and rejecting Jesus.
The apostle Paul said, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8-9). This declarative statement calls on us to preach the same gospel the apostles preached.
The teaching of Christ's apostles and prophets about the nature of God's word strengthens our faith and revives our love for His truth. They assure us that God's "divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (2 Pet. 1:3).
Every teaching that contradicts Christ's first century apostles and prophets indicts the purity of God and His word. Here is what they taught about the nature of the word of God.
All truth. The apostles of Christ were guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth: "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come" (Jno. 16:13). This is most reassuring since we are sanctified by truth (Jno. 17:17). If we only have some truth then we can only have some sanctification. But, God's word "is truth", and "all truth" was given to the apostles. We have all of God's word through the apostles. We have no need for direct, personal messages from God. God has already given us "all truth" to follow. The Bible is enough.
Fully adequate. The Scriptures, because they are inspired by God, are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). To "be complete" means to be adequate, filled up, sufficient. The Scriptures are adequate to supply us for "every good work" of faith, without any additional revelation (Eph. 2:10). They are our pattern for doing God's will. The Bible is enough.
Incorruptible. The words of men fall by the way side and are cast into the dust bin of history. But the word of God is living and powerful, vibrate to convict of sin and to convert sinners (Heb. 4:12). It is enduring, never fading away: "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Pet. 1:23). When people say God's word is no longer relevant in modern culture they expose their unwilling heart to accept and live by the living word of God. There have been and always will be different cultures on the earth, yet the incorruptible word of God applies to people of every culture (Mk. 16:15). Some say men have corrupted truth and we need the truth restored. No, men have fallen away from the truth; the truth has not fallen away (1 Tim. 4:1). The Bible is enough.
Once for all delivered. The gospel is not repeatedly delivered from heaven to earth throughout the ages. The faith was fully delivered to mankind by the first century apostles and prophets of Christ - "...once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Jesus Christ died a single time ("once") as a sacrifice for sin (Heb. 7:27; 9:28; 10:10). Once was enough. Likewise, "the faith" was delivered "once" (a single time). The Bible is enough.
Full and final authority. The apostles' teaching carries the full weight of heaven's authority. When we accept the apostles' teaching we are accepting Christ because He sent them into the world with His word (Jno. 13:20; Mk. 16:15; Acts 2:42). The writings of the apostles of Christ "are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37). God speaks to us today "in His Son" by the words of His apostles (Heb. 1:1-2). Their word has binding authority over us (Col. 3:17). The Bible is enough.
Understandable. Amazingly, by reading what the apostles wrote we can understand what they knew about the will of God! "...how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)..." (Eph. 3:3-4). It is false to say the Bible is not understandable (2 Pet. 3:16-18). We do not need a new revelation to understand the first century revelation. We need to read and learn it. The Bible is enough.
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10
1. We are creatures of emotion, given to us by God as expressions of
I. WHAT WE FEEL IS NOT THE STANDARD BY WHICH GOD IS HELD. Jno. 12:48
God's Thoughts and Ways are not Ours, Isa. 55:8-11.
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 16:1-6
1. Everyone believes they are right in their thinking, emotions and actions
- but God judges correctly, Prov. 16:2; 19:21.
I. WHEN EMOTIONS RULE, WE WILL QUESTION AND REJECT THE WISDOM AND WORD OF GOD. 1 Cor. 1:21
Doesn't Matter what You Believe as Long as You are Sincere." 1 Tim. 1:12-16;
Acts 22:7-8, 16
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Assisted Suicide in the News
The recent decision by 29-year-old Brittany Maynard (Oregon) to end her life due to a terminal brain tumor renewed debate about assisted suicide. Similar debate is happening in England, where an Assisted Dying Bill is before the House of Lords. A leading bioethicist warns of the problems when we divorce ourselves from suffering:
"Dr Trevor Stammers, Programme Director in Bioethics and Medical Law at St Marys University in London, told Christian Today that western nations have become "totally distanced from suffering, because we see no purpose or reason for it, and therefore people say it's better to die than suffer".
"I think that's a very dangerous argument or principle," he explained. "And that's why there's a certain bandwagon for assisted suicide, which I would insist on calling it. The other side have manipulated the language to say that the only way to die with dignity is by euthanasia; a natural death is no longer dignified...But to assist people to take their own life is assisting suicide, which is a criminal offense in this country and should remain so." ("Leading bioethicist condemns Assisted Dying Bill", Carey Lodge, christiantoday.com)
Life is a gift from God (Gen. 2:7; Eccl. 12:7; Acts 17:25). In all his suffering Job still regarded God as the One in whose hand is life "and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:10). We should not treat life as if it belongs exclusively to us.
There is purpose and benefit in suffering. Some are...
1) Godly fear. When Jesus faced great suffering, He prayed and He was heard "because of His godly fear" (Heb. 5:7).
2) Focused faith. Present suffering and impending death helps us trust God's grace (see 2 Cor. 12:7-10 and Jas. 1:2-3).
3) Influence for godliness. A life that is lived unto God, especially in moments of great trial and suffering, has a great impact for good that cannot be measured in the moment (see Heb. 11:32-40 and the "good testimony" of the suffering faithful). We need such influences to draw upon when we face suffering.
Let us uphold the weak and bear each others' burdens (1 Ths. 5:14; Gal. 6:2). In times of suffering let us honor life, God who gave it and those who put their trust in Him.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 11/10/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA