I am learning to love the Bible. I find that as I spend more time reading it, my love for the Bible and the God of the Bible increases. I learn more about WHO God is, what He has DONE and more about what He still WILL do. Often though, when my daily tasks (or distractions) keep me busy and make reading the Bible slip down in my priorities, it becomes more a book to me than the Word of GOD and my love fades a little. I avoid Him. I forget Him. I become a little lack lustre, a bit more headstrong and a bit less aware of the wonder of His grace and the marvel: our Creator has revealed Himself to us through His Word.
Each generation seems to have particular areas of Christianity that come under attack. Over the past few weeks, it has come to my attention that currently it is the precious Word of God. The Bible. The breath of God. The need for and success of Kevin DeYoung’s book “Taking God at His Word” (2014, IVP) (read my review here) is an indication of the Bible being under attack. The Shepherd’s Conference (see note below) this year being titled “The Inerrancy Summit” also highlights the fact that many Christians are starting to doubt sections of the Bible and are claiming that actually those bits are ‘outdated’, ‘irrelevant’ or ‘against the culture of today’. People are starting to doubt that the Bible is without fault or error in ALL its claims and so are starting to pick and choose or lessen the importance of certain parts, because- hey, God is all about love isn’t he?
As I watched the news tonight, and saw again the issue of homosexual marriage come up (thanks Ireland), I was reminded just how important it is for us to defend the Bible as being complete and without fault. You see, as Christians, we can’t pick and choose what parts we believe or apply, for this deems the whole claim of the Bible to be the complete and accurate Word of God, void (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Revelation 22:18). Sure, there are parts that may make us uncomfortable- when we read those sections on divorce and turn up to have coffee with a friend who is considering leaving her husband (Matthew 19:1-9), or when we are fuming over our husband asking us to submit to him on that issue, and then we remember we are to submit to our husband as to Christ (Ephesians 5:22-24), it seems easier to ignore those verses or to squash the issue and keep the peace for the sake of unity and ‘love’.
At the moment though, the homosexuality debate seems to have not just the average joe (or jane) buckling their knees, pastor’s too are weakening their stance. When questioned on the Uniting Church having a float in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, Rev Dr Margaret Mayman was quoted as saying, “We are participating in the parade because sexual and gender diversity are part of God’s plan, part of the fabric of creation woven by God. Inequality and injustice are an affront to gospel values” (source: JourneyOnline). I am left wondering if we should ask whether it is the gospel of the Bible she is referring to? Rev Dr Mayman is not alone- a group has been formed titled “Christians4Equality” gathering support within the Christian community for homosexual marriage.
But the bending of churches to the homosexual debate is just a bi-product. The root? Satan is bringing doubt en masse to the hearts of Christians about what God really said, and it isn’t the first time.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1.
You see what he did there- he brought doubt to Eve’s mind. Did God actually say….? The thing about this question is, sometimes it is hard to recall. Or the fruit looks really delicious and it has been a while since we’ve eater. Or sometimes the distractions have been extremely distracting and it has been a while since we’ve heard from God. Or still other times, we don’t want to be labeled as ‘discriminatory.’ Whatever our reason, or excuse, it is time we stop approaching the Bible with “I just want to major on the majors,” and instead start sinking our teeth into the Bible and study up on what God actually says for ourselves. This way, when Satan fronts up to whisper in our ear through a well-meaning friend or our teenage son, we will know without a doubt what God says, because we would have studied it in His Word.
In “Taking God at His WORD,” Kevin DeYoung (2014, IVP) writes:
Traditionally, Protestant theologians have highlighted four essential characteristics of Scripture: sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity. … you can recall them by the handy acronym SCAN…(each) is meant to protect an important truth about the Bible:
Sufficiency: The Scriptures contain everything we need for knowledge of salvation and godly living. We don’t need any new revelation from heaven.
Clarity: The saving message of Jesus Christ is plainly taught in the Scriptures and can be understood by all who have ears to hear it. We don’t need an official magisterium to tell us what the Bible means.
Authority: The last word always goes to the word of God. We must never allow the teachings of science, of human experience, or of church councils to take precedence over Scripture.
Necessity: General revelation is not enough to save us. We cannot know God savingly by means of personal experience and human reason. We need God’s word to tell us how to live, who Christ is, and how to be saved.
As we go about our daily activities, may we remember that God speaks every day through His Word- it is complete, it is clear, it has authority and it is the only means for knowing the accurate gospel. If we want to know what God actually does say on an issue, all we need to do is open up our Bibles and read (or listen). In the days ahead, when we are invited to a homosexual marriage (because let’s face it- it seems inevitable), and we as Christians are labelled as old-fashioned and discriminatory, may we not water-down what God has said. May we hold on to the hope we profess and may we always be ready to give an account for the true gospel. Finally, may we be known for being Gospel-people- not judgemental, but standing firm on the authority of Scripture; not perfect, but striving for deepening our relationship with God under His grace. Thank God that the gospel doesn’t discriminate, otherwise I’d be found lacking. But the gospel sure does have a clear stand on right and wrong, otherwise there would be no sin and no need of Jesus.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.- Romans 6:1-4
Hallelujah for God’s Word that tells us first of our need for a Saviour and then of our Saviour Jesus! Let us defend it, for it will stand the test of time.
NOTE: For those of you who don’t know, the Shepherd’s Conference is a gathering of around 4,500 pastors in the US who gather together to learn from those who are leaders in Reformed Evangelical Christianity, under the leadership of John MacArthur. This year featured Kevin DeYoung, John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncun, Mark Dever, R.C. Sproul, Tim Challies and Sinclair Ferguson.