Monday 24 January 2011

The Authority of Scripture (Part 4)

The authority of Scripture is so important to the health of Christianity; it is important for me to keep working on this subject on this blog, but to approach the subject from different angles. Hopefully the 'penny will drop' for many and a new resolve and commitment will be given to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Our view of Scripture shapes the church's approach to worship, evangelism, preaching, discipleship, and so much more.

In the Second Reformation in the United Kingdom in the seventeenth century, there was a concern that the authority of Scripture was only being paid 'lip service' and there was the signing of The Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. It pledged to the 'reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland in doctrine, worship, discipline and government, according to the Word of God, and the example of the best reformed churches'.

Here we note that a commitment to the authority of Scripture has to be worked out in practice in four areas.

A. Doctrine
B. Worship
C. Discipline
D. Church Government

The Word of God has explicit teaching on all four aspects of the church. Sadly there has been a movement for many years in the UK that teaches that the Bible does not give clear guidelines on public worship or on how churches should be governed. This opens the door to private interpretations initially, which gives way to unbelief and widescale pragmatism. Simply deciding on the basis of 'what works best' not on the basis of Romans 4:3, 'For what does the Scripture say?'

Ask yourself some questions. Do you believe that the Scripture has clear teaching on the above four categories? Are you concerned as to whether the Bible has clear teaching on these subjects? Does your church believe that the Bible has clear teaching on these subjects?

If your answer is 'no' to each of these questions then you need to engage in personal critical evaluation. You may have unknowingly embraced liberal influences without even knowing it.

Let us join together in prayer for a recovery of the authority of Scripture in the lives of Christians and Churches!

Acts 2:42 'And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching ...'

Wednesday 12 January 2011

The Authority of Scripture (Part 3)

It is interesting that certain of my blog posts attract more attention than others. I do hope that this one will be of interest because our subject is crucial to the health of the church. I want to briefly mention five tests, to determine whether you accept the authority of Scripture or not. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says 'examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves'. The apostle John also taught that we we must not 'believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1)'. If it was true then, how much more the case today ... false prophets are everywhere, not least on so-called Christian TV channels.

Here are five simple tests to examine yourself, as to whether you hold to the authority of Scripture.

1. Do you seek extra-biblical revelations, dreams, visions and words? If the answer is yes, then you have fallen at the first fence and you really need to re-evaluate your belief system. Paul told Timothy that 'all scripture is breathed out by God 2 Tim. 3:16'. If the extra-biblical words that you are seeking agree with Scripture, then they are needless, and if they disagree they are false! The Bible is sufficient for the church.

2. Do you endorse the ministry of women preachers, elders, and even deacons? If you say yes to this question, then the heart of the issue is your rejection of the authority of Scripture. 1 Timothy 3:1-2, 3:12 and Titus 1:5-6 and all of the New Testament make it plain that the teaching of the Scriptures in the public assembly is to be by the elders, men who are to be qualified for the task. Men qualified in doctrine, gifting, character, while also having been tested by the church's presbytery.

3. Can you read the book The Shack without having a problem with it?
The Shack by William Young has sold millions of copies and most probably it has been read by professing Christians, mostly, and yet it is a blasphemous distortion of the Christian God. If you have read this book without any 'red flags' in your mind, then you need to ask yourself some hard questions.

4. Is your church committed to the exposition of Scripture? This is an easy test because your church preference probably is the most discernible aspect as to whether you are committed to the authority of Scripture. If you can attend a church week in and week out, one that fails to take the Bible seriously or one that only pays lip service to biblical exposition, then you may have become like Samson on Delilah's lap. Either you have fallen asleep spiritually or you are been sincerely misled and you need to seek out a church committed to the authority of the Bible.

In conclusion, let me quote the English puritan Thomas Watson (who was born in Yorkshire) on the matter of reading the Scriptures:

‘Read the Bible with reverence. Think in every line you read that God is speaking to you’
‘Read with seriousness. It is a matter of life and death; by this Word you must be tried’.
‘Read the Word with affection’.
‘Read the Scripture, not only as a history, but as a love letter sent you from God, which may affect your hearts’.

Saturday 1 January 2011

The Authority of Scripture (Part 2)

Here we continue with a mini-blog series on the all important theme of the authority of Scripture. Should it be a surprise to any of us, that in 2011, God's Word as revealed in the Holy Bible, will be under attack? It certainly should not be a surprise for any Bible reading Christian. Why? Well let us look at the fall of mankind.

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)".

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4-5)".

What does the Serpent do? Firstly he undermines the authenticity of God's Word; 'Did God actually say ...'. Secondly he undermined the validity of God's commands and he asserts 'you will not surely die'. Thirdly he suggests a false revised interpretation 'you will be like God'. We could call this the first Jacques Derrida style deconstructionist and post-modern reading of Scripture!

The followers of this kind of approach to the Bible are sadly everywhere and they often are allowed to continue unchallenged. The old line liberals would clearly represent this category; people who outright deny the authority of the Bible, that God is the author of the Scriptures, liberals who radically reinterpret God's commands with their fanciful imaginations. However, this erroneous thinking and teaching has also crept in unawares into sections of the church professing to be evangelical and we will look at some tell-tale signs of this rejection of the authority of Scripture in our next blog. The Bible does not simply contain the Word of God but the Bible is the very Word of God; inerrant, infallible, sufficient and thrilling!