To believe God is to submit our minds to Him 2 Cor. It is to recognize that God is truth and He alone has the right perspective on His Creation. This is a truly awesome thing to do. Because we are finite and sinful, we do not see things as they really are. We need God to teach us. The opposite of this wisdom is what the Bible calls folly — foolishness, insanity, nonsense.
Sin is the very epitome of folly. One key aspect of wisdom is discernment. It is the ability to tell truth from error, good from evil Heb. Adam and Eve lacked it when they believed Satan and themselves rather than God. Truth and error are opposites. They are irreconcilable enemies. They are as different as light and darkness. God is truth and light; in Him is no darkness or error I John Among other things, this means that a statement can be true or false, but not both.
A statement cannot be true and false at the same time in the same way. God has made things the way they are and does not play tricks with us. The Bible has no contradictions. It is Satan, not God, that is the father of error and lies John Modern Man greatly errs when he fails to see this difference. A true statement is one that corresponds with reality. Truth makes sense. Error is non-sense.
Truth is real. No, God has created things as real. It is sin that makes them illusions. We need to see things as they really are. Modern Humanism teaches that truth is relative. Each person invents his own truth. This is wrong, dangerous and sinful. We cannot create reality. To say that we can is to say that we are gods, which is what the Father of Lies wants us to believe Gen. Truth is absolute, not of itself, but because it is rooted in God.
God is the final absolute and He does not change. Mine is different. Truth is not contradictory to itself, but to error. Nevertheless, we are finite and do not generally see all the relationships between the things God has said and made. God has revealed some things as paradoxes. For example, divine sovereignty and human responsibility are both revealed truths, but we do not grasp how they are both true.
There are also mysteries, or things partly revealed and partly hidden cf. The Trinity is the mystery of mysteries. We know there is only one God and that He has three persons or aspects. But we cannot fathom the depths of this great mystery. One final thing about truth is important. The deepest theological truths are not the complicated ones, but the basic ones. This is to be truly wise. All believers must be able to give a good answer for their faith and hope I Pet. We call this apologetics, not in the sense of a wimpy apology for something wrong but a virile defence of something right.
Every Christian, not just preachers and theologians, ought to be able to give basic answers to the objections and questions of unbelievers. It is especially useful in evangelism. We need to refute those who oppose us Tit. Apologetics specifically refers to answering the objections thrown at us by those persons and systems which do not claim to be Christian. Polemics aims to refute and expose the various kinds of false Christianity. Our fight is not only with those outside the Faith, but with those who promote false gospels and heresy of the first order while still claiming to be Christian.
One is outright war; the other is sabotage and treason. Both are dangerous. But pseudo-Christianity is more dangerous and sly than outright non-Christianity. We are to be watchmen on the wall Ezek. It is mere human wisdom, which is really foolishness. Philosophy sprang from Greece. In Acts 17, Paul opposed the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. The major Greek philosophers were Plato and Aristotle, and many others. In the modern era, others include Hegel, Marx, Kant, Hume, and many others.
Philosophy emphasizes the use of human reason, the mind, rationality. If unchecked, it tends to become atheistic. All Non-Christian Religions are False. Philosophy is not the only ancient enemy. There are dozens of non-Christian religions, mostly coming from the East. They emphasize the heart, not the mind. They tend to mysticism and pantheism. Some are closer to the truth than others, but they all lead to Hell. Even post-Biblical Judaism is a false religion, for it does not accept Jesus as the Messiah, denies the Trinity, asserts salvation by works, etc. The three main groups of false Christianity correspond to the three main groups of unbelieving Judaism at the time of Christ.
Roman Catholicism is like the Pharisees — huge, works-salvation, tradition-bound, etc. Eastern Orthodoxy is the same. The second is Liberal Protestantism, similar to the Saducees in their rejection of revelation, weak ethics, etc. Then there are the many cults, like the Jewish cults of the Essenes, Herodians, Zealots, etc, exclusivist and esoteric. The earliest form of pseudo-Christianity was Gnosticism, opposed in Colossians, I John, and elsewhere. There are many pseudo-Christian cults around today.
We may not use force, violence, brainwashing, fleshly temptations, entertainment, or other such means. Honest questions deserve honest answers, as Francis Schaeffer said. Some Weapons Are Useful but Insufficient. Other weapons are acceptable but insufficient. For example, some Christians argue from miracles, fulfilled prophecy, the endurance of the Bible and Christianity through centuries of persecution, the enormous popularity of Christianity, the many favorable words said about Jesus by important non-Christians, personal testimonies, logical proofs, empirical evidences and other such arguments.
These all have their place, but are not our primary resources, for each can be challenged in one way or another by non-Christians. At best, such arguments can only get a stalemate, not a victory. Such is the approach of Christian Rationalism e. The Word of God is our main weapon Eph. Jesus turned to it, not as a last resort, but as His primary weapon in opposing Satan Matt. Our opinions mean nothing. We do not use it as a magical or superstitious talisman, but rather by knowing and believing it and quoting and explaining it properly and appropriately in fielding the objections of unbelievers.
Any team or army will tell you that defence is good, but you also need offence to win. We must know what our opponent is saying, and then we compare it with what the Bible says on that point. Indeed, also challenge the underlying presuppositions of the argument. A presupposition is the underlying and often unconscious assumption of a system of thought. We must know the enemy 2 Cor. It can help to show where such views logically lead. But mainly we are to show where they contradict what God says. Quote Scripture whether the opponent believes in the Bible or not.
It is also important to be as clear in your words as possible. We need not know all the details of a pagan religion or worldly philosophy in order to refute it. Some Christians seem to know more about non-Christian theories than true Christian theology. Leave the detailed study to the experts and theologians. Our job is primarily to know the Bible, for it is sufficient to enable us to believe and defend the truth 2 Tim. He fills the whole universe, but does not show Himself in His full manifestation except in Heaven.
To us, He is invisible, inaudible and intangible. He conceals Himself. But He also reveals Himself. God is so great and far above us, that we would know nothing at all about Him unless He chose to show us Himself — and He has chosen to do just that I Cor. God has revealed some things about Himself, and left far more concealed. His revelation includes truths about the universe, man, sin, and especially about God Himself. This revelation makes moral and ethical demands on us.
Because only part is revealed, His revelation is often a paradox, a mystery, implying there is more to the facts. But it is never a lie or a contradiction. We may study His revelation, but may not pry into what is not revealed, such as the details of the future Matt. We know only in part, but will know far more when the revelation is full I Cor. God has been revealing Himself by stages and levels. Each one builds on the previous one.
This is working up to a climax. God does this in actual history, not in mythological saga or make-believe, as many Neo-orthodox liberals suggest. God also reveals Himself in various ways in different times and to different people. Similarly, when God sets out to save a person, He gradually gives him more light until he is saved, and then gives him progressive illumination and growth in knowledge. God reveals much about Himself in Nature.
All men everywhere have this revelation, and therefore are without excuse. Yet God does not reveal His special grace and salvation through Nature. All men know that God exists, but they do not know Him personally through Nature. God spoke or showed things to select people by dreams when they were asleep and visions when they were awake. These were not natural dreams like we have, but supernatural dreams. Angels also delivered personal messages to these select people, who as prophets were to pass on the messages to other people.
God Revealed Himself through Theophanies.
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Examples: the Burning Bush Ex. Sinai, etc. These were more direct than the other means of revelation, but still were not final. There was also some sort of Theophany in Eden.
God Revealed Himself Verbally in the Bible. The next highest form of revelation occurred when God not only spoke through these other means, but commissioned certain prophets and apostles to write certain words down. This is the Bible, the verbal revelation of God. He gave us actual words. These are the very words of God Himself. Hence, the Bible frequently describes itself as the Word of God, the words of God, and similar terms. Some terms point out that this verbal revelation was written, not just spoken: the Scriptures, the Holy Scriptures, the Scriptures of Truth, etc.
The fact that God reveals Himself verbally teaches us, among other things, that God is personal and not an abstract principle. He speaks, therefore is wise. He speaks to us, therefore He cares. Human language is adequate for this level of revelation. God condescended to speak human language. It is through the Bible, not Nature, that we learn about salvation. This is how we know God personally. Special Revelation is superior to Natural Revelation, and is the means by which we correctly interpret Natural Revelation. God no longer reveals Himself through dreams, visions, angels, prophets, Theophanies, or the direct voice from Heaven.
Our job is to diligently study this lasting revelation. To know God better, we read, study, understand, believe and obey the Bible. Special Revelation has ceased, but the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible continues. We call this Illumination, not Revelation. The light is on, but we need to have our eyes opened. This is how God now reveals Himself best. Jesus Christ is the Greatest Revelation of God. Jesus Himself often said that to see Him was to see God. To know Jesus is to know God. He is the greatest of all revelations, because Jesus is God Himself.
He is God in the flesh John He is the personal, living Word of God. This does not demean the value of the Bible, but fulfills it. Jesus is now in Heaven. We can pray to Him and love Him, even though we do not see or hear Him directly. We hear Him when we read His Bible. It still is. It is not a collection of merely human books I Thess. It is the Word of God already, whether we believe it or not. It is already perfect. In Biblical days, God spoke through prophets, dreams, visions and angels. But that has ceased.
See Heb. The Bible continues as the only Word of God. Similarly, preaching is not the Word of God. Preaching should be based on the Bible, but is not the same as the Bible. Also, the Bible is qualitatively different from every other book ever written. It alone is the Word of God. Even the books of the Apocrypha contain only human wisdom. The Bible is the Written Word of God.
God was pleased to commit His Word to writing.
It was inscripturated, or written down in human script. The finger of God directly wrote the 10 Commandments Ex. God used the human authors of Scripture as His fingers to write the Bible. God did this so that we would have His Word in black and white, in a permanent form to read and study and consult.
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We need not depend on a series of priests who passed it on down the ages by word of mouth to be contaminated by fallible human memory. We have it in writing. It stands written. God did not breath something into the Bible; God breathed the Bible out of His own mouth. Jesus referred to this in Matt. God sent forth the Holy Spirit, the very breath of God John 3. He moved certain prophets and apostles so that they then put down in writing the exact words God wanted them to write.
Technically, it is the Bible, not the writers, which is inspired. Also, it is inspired because of its source, not its effect. It is divinely inspired regardless of whatever effect it has on us. All of the Bible is Inspired by God. Rather, the text says that all of the Scripture is inspired. This means that all parts are equally inspired. Ruth is as inspired as Romans, Joel as much as John. Therefore, it all carries divine authority and we should read all of it. All parts of it are profitable to our spiritual well-being. The Very Words of the Bible are Inspired.
God breathed out specific words, not just vague ideas or feelings which the human authors were left to interpret and write down. The Bible is verbally inspired. In Gal. God inspired the words of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. This does not refer to any translation into English or any other language. Still, the authority of the original language carries over to accurate translations. God Controlled the Writers of the B i ble. They did not simply sit down and decide to write the Bible.
God chose who would do the writing, then He worked miraculously in them so that He controlled what they wrote. It was not left to the fallibility of humans. Some parts of the Bible were directly dictated by an audible voice e. In most cases, God moved in a deep and mysterious way on their hearts and minds in other ways, such as by dreams and visions. They certainly knew that the words they wrote were not merely their own I Cor.
God gave them the very words, not an-inner illumination of wisdom.
Also, this special inspiration has ceased. What we need now is illumination to understand what has been inspired. The light is on; we need to have our eyes opened. Because of sin, the natural Man is incapable of understanding the true meaning of the Bible 1 Cor. God Proves that the Bible is the Word of God. Scripture carries with it certain marks of divine authorship. Among them are its high spirituality and morality, its enormous popularity in history, its durability against persecution, its record of fulfilled prophecy, etc. But these alone are insufficient to prove divine inspiration.
The Spirit is the witness because the Spirit is the truth I John Even unbelievers are impacted by this power cf. Like the men with Paul on the Damascus road, they hear the sound but do not know the voice. The Word of God carries with it the very power of God. It is compared to a hammer that breaks rocks, light that overcomes darkness, fire that cannot be extinguished, etc. Just as God created all things by the power of His Word, so He changes lives today by that same power.
God spoke to the prophets and through the prophets. He still speaks today through His Word. Let us listen and be transformed by this powerful book, the Holy Bible. The Bible is true. Some other books may be true, in that their contents are correct; but only the Bible is truth itself. It is the only reliable guide to ultimate truth. Being holy, it is free of all impurity of error. The Bible is inerrant; it contains no errors. Truth and error are incompatible, like light and darkness. It is also infallible; it cannot fail to speak the truth.
It does not and cannot err. Thus, Scripture has no contradictions between its parts, such as the four Gospels They are complementary, not contradictory. The Bible also contains no myths Scripture itself warns against myths I Tim. Parables are not myths. It contains deep mysteries and paradoxes, but no errors. Nor does the Bible contain any forgeries or frauds cf. The Bible is completely true, in whole and in part, in all details as well as in the general content.
It is true whenever it speaks of things we could otherwise study or observe, such as history and science. It is true in all areas, not just the spiritual, religious and theological. If we do not believe God in the areas we could verify, how could we believe Him in the areas that we cannot verify? John Man can err; God cannot. But it is not true that to be human one must necessarily err. Adam did not err before the Fall, nor did Christ ever err, and they were fully human. The divine side of Scripture guarantees purity from error in the human side, just as the divine nature of Christ protected the purity of His human side.
Yes, the Bible uses round numbers, hyperbole, figures of speech, symbols, and phenomenological language. But these are usual for human language and are not errors. God is truth and cannot lie Tit. What Scripture says, God says. This is not to deify the Bible, as we are falsely accused of teaching. Rather, it is but to recognize what God says about His Word. To believe the Bible is to believe God. To believe God is to agree that God is and speaks truth John But let God be true and every man a liar Rom.
To judge it is to condemn oneself. God tells us to test all things I Thess. By what? By the Word of God, as the noble Bereans did in Acts Anything that contradicts the Bible is automatically wrong Isa. We err if we do not know the Bible or if we contradict it Matt. God curses those who preach false gospels contrary to the one true Gospel Gal. Sola Scriptura — Scripture alone is our final authority in all areas, such as faith and practice.
It carries with it the very authority of God Almighty Himself. In Matt. They appealed to their tradition; Jesus rebuked them by appealing to Scripture. Church tradition must be subject to the Bible, otherwise it nullifies Scripture. Roman Catholicism repeats the same error as the Pharisees with their tradition. They say that the Church gave us the Bible, therefore the Church is in authority. But this is wrong.
That includes all creeds, confessions of faith, catechisms and church constitutions. Men can and do err, but God cannot err. The Bible is therefore over the authority even the delegated authority of people who exercise some degree of influence and authority. While Scripture tells us to obey parents, preachers and politicians, we must obey God and not them if they ever go against the Bible Acts The words and books of theologians must be weighed by Scripture, as well as all sermons and Sunday School lessons.
Any preacher, priest, pope or rabbi who sets himself up as an equal authority to God is automatically a false prophet, for the true prophets themselves were under the authority of the Word of God. No exceptions. Thus, all philosophy, psychology, logic, reason, science and opinion are subject to the truth and authority of the Bible. Because of common grace, Man may learn and teach some truths. But if they contradict Scripture — whether implicitly or explicitly, whether in doctrine or in method — then they thereby condemn themselves as false.
This applies to our own thoughts as well. Even Adam before the Fall was subject to the spoken Word of God. He fell into sin when he rebelled against that authority. We dare not trust our fallen minds, which are prone to err. The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. He never contradicts Himself, for that would be contrary to His nature as the Spirit of Truth. Some groups need to remember this in their zeal for the work of the Spirit. All spiritual feelings, impressions and intuitions must be subject to the Word. We dare not invent exceptions because we feel that the Spirit is leading us — otherwise we are no different from the fanatic who murders his neighbor with an axe because he said that God told him to.
The Holy Spirit never contradicts what He says in the Bible. The Bible alone is our source of all spiritual authority. We must trust in God and His Word, even when we do not understand it. We must not lean on our own understanding or inclinations Pro. We ought to read it, study it, believe it and obey it.
Our attitude to the Bible is to be the same as our attitude to God, for it is His Word. This means we are to love it, even as we love God. Love God, love His Word. We Should Study the Bible.
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God gave us the Bible to read and study. It is a textbook to study, not a picture-book to browse through. There is a big difference between simply reading a book and seriously studying it. One is leisure, the other is work. God wants us to study our Bibles, not use them for pressing flowers. To study the Bible is to research it to discover its meaning. Eisegesis is twisting the Scriptures to suit our preconceived notions 2 Pet. When we study the Bible, we should set aside wrong presuppositions and preconceived ideas.
We need to be teachable. We should pray before and during Bible study, and rely on the Holy Spirit in us to teach us what He says in the Bible. Faith comes to us by the Word of God Rom. Without faith, we can understand the Bible only in a natural way, not a supernatural way. Studying the Bible profits us nothing unless it is mixed with faith Heb. Search and you will find. Dig deep and you will find new treasures of gold hidden in this field.
Alas, some Christians have not even read the entire Bible yet. Others try to read it through every year. It takes work, but the Holy Spirit enables us to understand cf. I John A lacksadaisical attitude betrays low respect for the Bible and little faith in God. But serious Bible study is work which brings rest. Though the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, it is still understandable through reliable translations not to mention the scholarly study of the original languages. We may profit from preachers and teachers who explain the Bible to us Acts The Bible is for everyone.
Though some parts are harder to understand than others 2 Pet. Even a cursory study of the Bible will yield great results. This, and this alone, changes our tastes and makes us deserters from our old colours, to take service under a new Commander. That mighty and unspeakable proof of Love will bend our hearts to obedience when nothing else will, and the voice of endless pity for us, and awful suffering for our sake, which sounds out from Christ on the Cross, is His heart-reaching call to us all to enlist in His service.
The message of the Cross is not only a message of forgiveness and blessedness for ourselves, but it is as a trumpet-note of defiance to all the powers of evil, and a call to us to take our part in the fight, which in one aspect was finished when He overcame by death, but in another will last till that far-off future day when He that is called King of kings shall ride forth, followed by all the armies of those who on earth were his soldiers, to fight the last fight, and win the final victory.
He has given Himself wholly for us, therefore He has absolute right of authority over us. Not merely because of His divine nature, not merely because, as we believe, He has been from the beginning the divine agent of all creation and of all providence, but because of His great love and of His utter and bitter sacrifice for us men, does He possess the right to their absolute obedience. His dominion is a dominion founded on suffering; the many crowns are twined round the crown of thorns, as the iron crown of Monza has for foundation a bit of iron said to be a nail of the cross beaten into a circlet, and covered now with gold and jewels.
Nothing but entire self-surrender for us can warrant entire authority over us, and only He who tasted death for every man has the right to assume the captainship over men. He gave Himself for us, therefore are we to give ourselves to Him. They are ours by the purchase of His exceeding bitter pains and death. Surely we shall not refuse His summons to service, which is also a merciful invitation to joy and blessing, but yield ourselves to the attraction of His cross and the magic of His love. Let Him take the command of your lives, and give Him all the secret springs of nature and desire to control.
He has called you to be His soldiers, and your plain duty is to please Him. Finally, the text brings prominently forward the discipline of abstinence which this warfare requires. When the hasty call went forth, the plough was left in the furrow, and the web in the loom; the bridegroom hurried from his bride, and the mourner from the bier. All home industries were paralysed while the manhood of the nation were in the field. That state of things suggests the language here.
What, then, is the corresponding Christian duty? The sort of work which a Timothy or a Paul may have to do may be peculiar to their offices, but the spirit in which it is to be done, and the conditions of faithfulness, are the same for all doers of all sorts of work for Christ. Now it is to be noticed that the parallel of the soldier on service and the Christian in his warfare fails in this one respect: that the soldier had to abandon entirely all other occupation, even the most needful and praiseworthy, because he could not both do them and fight; but the abandonment of the affairs of this life is not necessary for us, because occupation with them is not incompatible with our Christian warfare.
If these are abandoned, what is left to fight about? How then can that warfare be waged, and that ennobling self-surrender achieved, but by the heroic, patient effort to deal with all the affairs of this life in a Christ-like temper, and to Christ-pleasing ends? The Christian who abandons any of these is much liker the frightened deserter who runs from his post, and may expect a stern rebuke, if nothing worse, than the faithful soldier, whose face will one day brighten beneath the smile of his chief. It is not occupation with the things of life, but entanglement in them, that is fatal to the possibility of pleasing the King.
The metaphor is plain enough, and vivid enough. As some poor struggling fish in the meshes of a net vainly beats its silver scales off, and gasps out its life, and swims no more in the free deep; or as some panting forest creature is checked in its joyous bounding, and, tangled in the half-seen snares, only tightens the cords by its wild plunging; or as some strong swimmer is caught in the long, brown seaweed which clings to his limbs till it drags him under and drowns; so men are snared and caught and strangled by these multitudinous cords and filaments of earthly things.
If we are caught in the thicket whilst we are pressing on to the fight, out with the billhooks and hew it down. It may be full of pretty peeps, where there are shade and singing-birds; but if it stands in our way, it has to be grubbed up. It is better for thee. Does a certain thing - some legitimate, or even praiseworthy occupation, or possession, the exercise of some taste or accomplishment, some recreation, some companionship-clog my feet when I ought to march; clip my wings when I ought to soar; dim my eyes when I ought to gaze on God?
Then no matter what others may do about it, my plain duty is to give it up. It is entangling me.
It is interfering with my warfare, and I must cut the cords. I can only do so by entire abstinence. Perhaps I may get stronger some day, and be able to use it as not abusing it; but I cannot venture on that at present. So go it must. I judge nobody else, but whoever may be able to retain that thing, whatever it be, without slackening hold on Christ, I cannot.
So, brethren, if you find that legitimate occupation and affairs are absorbing your interests, and interfering with your clear vision of God, and making you less inclined and less apt to high thoughts and noble purposes, to lowly service and to Christ-like life, your safety lies in at once shaking off the venomous beast that has fastened on you into the fire. Unless the occupation be a plain duty, a post where the Captain has set you as sentry, and which it would be fiat disobedience to forsake, leave it at any cost, if you would kept your Christian integrity.
That they may not, they must always be rigidly subordinated, and used as helps to our higher life. Sometimes, when they cannot be so used, they must be abandoned altogether. Each must settle that for himself. Only let us make it our one great purpose in life that, whether present or absent, we may be well-pleasing to Him; and that single, lofty motive will breathe unity into our life, and giving us clear, sure insight into good and evil, will instruct us, by the instinct of hearts and wills tuned to harmony to His, to shun the evil and cleave strenuously to the good.
So living, ever looking to His face to catch His smile as our highest reward, it will not be hard to give up anything that hinders the light of His countenance shining upon us. So surrendering, we may hope to be His obedient, and therefore in highest reality, His victorious soldiers. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary As our trials increase, we need to grow stronger in that which is good; our faith stronger, our resolution stronger, our love to God and Christ stronger.
This is opposed to our being strong in our own strength. All Christians, but especially ministers, must be faithful to their Captain, and resolute in his cause. The great care of a Christian must be to please Christ. We are to strive to get the mastery of our lusts and corruptions, but we cannot expect the prize unless we observe the laws. We must take care that we do good in a right manner, that our good may not be spoken evil of. Some who are active, spend their zeal about outward forms and doubtful disputations.
But those who strive lawfully shall be crowned at last. If we would partake the fruits, we must labour; if we would gain the prize, we must run the race. We must do the will of God, before we receive the promises, for which reason we have need of patience. Together with our prayers for others, that the Lord would give them understanding in all things, we must exhort and stir them up to consider what they hear or read.
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