There have been a few things that have happened recently that have demonstrated how we really do view the Word of God and its relevance to life and faith. I want to look at these examples today in order to give a warning. We must still fight for truth. We must hear and do the Word of God. We must gird our loins by putting on the belt of truth. Why?
Because these three examples are taken from mainstream evangelical churches that claim to believe the Bible:
The first example comes from a worship service my wife and I attended at a local church. It was absolutely idolatrous. The “special music” did not even mention God or Christ, it was not even a religious song or a song of worship, but an emotional song about daughters in trouble and how they could count on their mothers to stand with them through the hard times. Totally man centered (or woman centered I should say), and completely inappropriate for the worship of God. Then the pastor started his message by talking about the cultic roots of pagan practice and showing how many in our culture are involved in the same activities today. But he never once actually used the Word of God to make his point about right and wrong. His basis for determining what was right and wrong came from a movie he had seen, not from the pages of Scripture. And so the congregation was encouraged to take the lesson of this movie and take it to heart in order to know the truth about how to act and think in certain situations. The other problem with this approach was that the scene in the movie that he used to make his point was absolutely contrary to the Scriptures. How pathetic and infuriating. We left before the service ended.
The second example we experienced years ago. A pastor from a church in our area broadcast his services on the radio and we heard one day that he was preaching a new series of messages that were aimed at helping Christians understand their new nature in Christ. His text? Well, there was no Biblical text. He actually said that his congregation and those listening on the radio would not need their Bibles for the next several services, so they could be left at home! Then he proceeded to “preach” four passages taken from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein!! I am not making this up. In order to be “relevant” and in order to reach people with “the truth”, he set the Bible aside and preached a work of literature that is fiction.
The third left me shaking my head in disbelief as two Christians decided to debate two atheists and proclaimed that they could prove the existence of God without the Bible or any appeal to faith. They could do it 100% scientifically they said. Now, these two brothers in the Lord were surely well meaning, but where they failed from the very start was where they removed the very foundation of the gospel by claiming that they could talk meaningfully about the gospel without the Bible.
The Word of God is His revelation of Himself to us. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17). It is the Word of God that the Spirit uses to convict us of our sin, to call us to new life in Christ and convert us! Look at Psalm 19:7-11. The Bible is the truth. It is effective. And without it there is NO GOSPEL! What is the point of trying to prove the existence of God if our goal in doing so is not to call sinners to repentance and faith in Christ?
As our own Confession of faith states:
The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.
Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God so much that man is left without any excuse, they are not sufficient to provide that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation.
Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in diverse manners to reveal Himself, and to declare His will to His church;
- and afterward, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church, protecting it against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and the world,
- it pleased the Lord to commit His revealed Truth wholly to writing. Therefore the Holy Scriptures are most necessary, those former ways by which God revealed His will unto His people having now ceased.
From these examples we must ask the question, “What is wrong with the church when we think we can do anything without the Word of God as our basis?” Our Baptist forefather, Benjamin Keach, sums this up nicely in his work The Travels of True Godliness as he defines true godliness. He writes:
Godliness consists in the right knowledge of divine truths, or the fundamental principles of the gospel. Secondly, Godliness is a holy conformity to these sacred and divine principles.
Keach warns us not to be deceived by false godliness but to be sure to receive the power of godliness, for godliness without power is no godliness at all. As a result we must not add to or take away from the Word of God, nor must we ever believe that God needs us to make it any more true or beautiful than it is.
The truth of God’s Word is foundational to standing against the wiles of the devil. The belt of truth must be worn, used, and relied upon if we are to fight and overcome. If we take off the belt, we will not fight and we will not win. If we take off the belt we have nothing to believe and nothing for which to live or die. If we take off the belt, we will fall into sin.
Today, let us look around us and examine ways that we and others try to lay the belt of truth aside as an inconvenient or useless garment. And when we see these things let us commit even more stridently to put on the belt and keep it on, believing God and taking Him at His Word. The way we handle the truth, the way it is preached, heard, and obeyed tells us everything we need to know about our churches and our lives.
Links for Further Study (links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)