The Need of the Day
One of the greatest needs amongst Christians is to actually believe the Bible. By this I mean not a bit of it, not some of it, but all of it. Some may be surprised by this assertion, but they only need to look out on the ever-worsening confusion of Christendom, with its multiplicity of doctrines, creeds, and opinions, to see that the unifying power of the Word of God has been largely ignored. God is not a God of disorder (1 Cor. 14: 33)––the disorder has resulted from men listening to voices other than His.
What do I mean by believing the Bible? If I believe it I shall obey it; if I do not believe it I shall not obey it. An unbeliever is an unbeliever because he does not obey the glad tidings of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1: 8)––if he believed what God has said in the Word he would obey it. The principle is the same with the believer. I say I believe God's Word. Fine! So how much do I obey it? This is not a question of head–knowledge. That is not belief. True belief in God's Word produces results. “Every good tree produces good fruits...Every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire” (Matt. 7: 17, 19). I say I believe what the Bible says of me one day being like Christ (see 1 John 3: 2). Well, “every one that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.” (v3). This is not a sterile filling of the brain with facts, but, because it bears fruit, it is shown to be a true belief in what God has said. Thus as I read the Scriptures I not only grow in the knowledge of His will, and of wisdom and spiritual understanding (see Col. 1: 9), but this has practical effects: “[so as] to walk worthily of the Lord unto all well-pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work...” (v10).
Many today speak of themselves as “Bible–believing Christians”. Actually, there is no such thing as a Christian who does not believe the Bible. Such may call themselves Christians but their religion is really just a form of mysticism. The only tangible thing a Christian has is Scripture. Without it all is hazy and indefinite. That aside, how many live up to the claim of being Bible–believing Christians? Often it appears to denote no more than a belief in the doctrine of justification by faith. Of course that truth is absolutely vital, but it hardly covers the full spectrum of what is contained in the Scriptures! What we believe initially at conversion is rightly seen as fundamental, but after that it seems we can exhibit a supermarket mentality, picking and choosing ‘truths’ at will. We believe God's Word for salvation, but then treat it like a shopping catalogue for everything else. The very fact that all kinds of disparate sects and denominations contain so–called ‘Bible–believing Christians’ is a witness to the fact that, to some extent at least, the Bible has not been believed. The one book of God does not produce the many divisions of Christendom. Plainly, that one book has not been heeded. The same goes for ‘Bible–believing churches’ themselves in all their variety. If the Bible were believed, and hence obeyed, there would be a great unifying effect.
The great cry of the Reformers was sola scriptura––Scripture only, and we need to apply that principle not only to the Glad Tidings, but the whole of our lives. Everything we do ought to be subject to the scrutiny of God's Holy Word, and moulded to its message. Some advocate a need to uphold the so–called “Reformed faith”. This is a subtle ploy of the enemy. Much of what the Reformers taught was wholesome and good, and they exhibited a deep and pious reverence for the sacred Scriptures, but they are not the standard. What we need is “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)––the teachings of God's Word. We need to get back to that which was from the beginning (1 John 2: 24)––not to the Reformation, not to the Methodist revival, not to the teachings of early Brethren, not to what things were like when we were younger, not to anything, but that which is Scriptural. This is not to say that we should ignore these things, for God has used them, but only that our over–riding need is to believe and obey the Bible. John's first epistle has in view the close of the dispensation––“Little children, it is [the] last hour” (2: 18)––yet he speaks nine times of “the beginning”. Things had changed since the halcyon days of the early Acts, the “beginning” of which he speaks: the antichrists had made their appearance (2: 18), there were those leading Christians astray (2: 26), and many false prophets had gone out into the world (4: 1). John, however, does not give the saints a new set of directions in view of the changed circumstances, but he takes them back to that which is from “the beginning”. There was a solid foundation which could not be moved despite all that the enemy would throw against it! Early on in its history the Church “persevered in the teaching ... of the apostles” (Acts 2: 42)––and in proportion to the degree in which it has diverged from that teaching so it has weakened in power and testimony. Through the grace of God you and I have that teaching preserved to us in the Holy Scriptures. We are not at liberty to take away or add to it, but simply responsible to obey it. “Times have changed” people say, “and therefore we do things differently”. What crass irreverence! Is not God capable of foreseeing our day? Could not He who made the worlds produce a volume applicable to saints of all times? Above all, who am I to sit in judgement on sacred Scripture, to reject it as not up to the modern world, and then seek to improve upon it? Our business is not to criticise but to obey: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?” (Luke 6: 46).
It is not enough to ride under the banner of “Bible–believing”, “Evangelical” or “Fundamentalist”, whatever those terms might mean. Nor is it right or desirable to be found exhibiting a slavish subservience to the writings of Spurgeon, Darby or Lloyd–Jones as if they wrote on a par with Scripture. God does not want clones of past men of God, for they had their bad as well as good points. What is needed is a whole–hearted committal to read, understand, and obey every jot and tittle of the inspired Word of God. I may find there things that run counter to my personal inclinations, that differ from that practised by saints around me, or that contradict the creeds, the traditions and the books with which I have been brought up, but that really is of little consequence. The great question is whether I am conformed to the Word of God, for then, in the power of the Holy Spirit, I shall be conformed to Christ Himself.