The Key to Understanding God’s Word

Photo by Bethan

Arnold Cook makes a wonderful point in his book, Historical Drift which we all must keep in mind as we study the Word of God and teach and preach its principles.

I again argue for a view of Scripture that begins with the question: “What appears to be the clear pattern in the Bible?” In our academic sophistication we easily forget that the Scriptures were written for the ordinary believer. The vast majority of Bible readers world-wide have no access to commentaries, seminaries nor even a formally trained pastor. But they do have the Holy Spirit to illuminate their understanding.

Let me take this a step further. Not only do many lack the access to “theological resources,” but many Christians and potential Christians (everybody) do not have the ability to read or learn through written means. We easily forget in Western culture that most of the rest of the world is comprised of oral learners, they learn through audio visual means.

I have no problem with Biblical scholarship, in fact, I support it and I practice it to the best of my ability. However, do we not at times over-complicate matters? Do we do more harm than good for ourselves and others by constantly question everything when the Bible clearly teaches that God’s Spirit will lead and guide us into all truth? The Holy Spirit is the key to understanding God’s Word.

Again, I don’t wish to oversimplify. I do, however, attempt to re-prioritize. We need to be in tune with the Spirit. Let’s allow the LORD to open up our understanding as He illuminates the Truth revealed in Scripture. In a world of confusion and questions, we must have a clear sound for those who Cook calls the “ordinary believer” as well as those who will never have the ability to read a single word of Scripture for themselves.

Ashamed of the Gospel: Book Review

To all of my friends and fellow ministers, I would like to recommend a great book that recently finished. Ashamed of the Gospel by John MacArthur is an excellent argument for the authority of the Word of God and the God-given ministry methods of preaching and teaching all Scripture. Of course, with any book you eat the meat and throw out the bones. However, in this book I found a lot more meat than I found bones. You will not be disappointed.

The book is full of great quotes. Let me leave you with a few of my favorite.

What marvel if, under some men’s shifty talk, people grow into love of both truth and falsehood!

Spiritual and biblical truth is not determined by testing what “works” and what doesn’t. We know from Scripture, for example, that the gospel often does not produce a positive response (1 Cor. 1:22–23; 2:14). On the other hand, Satanic lies and deception can be quite effective (Matt. 24:23–24; 2 Cor. 4:3–4). Majority reaction is no test of validity (cf. Matt. 7:13–14), and prosperity is no measure of truthfulness (cf. Job 12:6). Pragmatism as a guiding philosophy of ministry is inherently flawed. Pragmatism as a test of truth is nothing short of satanic.

“False doctrine and worldliness”—the same two influences Spurgeon attacked—always go hand in hand, with worldliness leading the way.

Real success is not getting results at any cost. It is not prosperity, power, prominence, popularity, or any of the other worldly notions of success. Real success is doing the will of God regardless of the consequences.

So the entire task of the faithful minister revolves around the Word of God—guarding it, studying it, and proclaiming it.

If we concern ourselves with the depth of our ministry, God will see to the breadth of it. If we minister for spiritual growth, numerical growth will take care of itself.

Biblical correctness is the only framework by which we can evaluate ministry methods.

Do you see how the new philosophy necessarily undermines sound doctrine? It discards Jesus’ own methods—preaching and teaching—as the primary means of ministry.

There is no danger of irrelevant doctrine; the real threat is an undoctrinal attempt at relevance.

Now observe, brethren, if I, or you, or any of us, or all of us, shall have spent our lives merely in amusing men, or educating men, or moralizing men, when we shall come to give our account at the last great day we shall be in a very sorry condition, and we shall have but a very sorry record to render; for of what avail will it be to a man to be educated when he comes to be damned? Of what service will it be to him to have been amused when the trumpet sounds, and heaven and earth are shaking, and the pit opens wide her jaws of fire and swallows up the soul unsaved? Of what avail even to have moralized a man if still he is on the left hand of the judge, and if still, “Depart, ye cursed,” shall be his portion?

The threefold response of that day—contempt, curiosity, and conversion—is typical whenever the gospel is faithfully preached.

If we forget that it is God’s prerogative to give results when the gospel is preached, we shall start to think that it is our responsibility to secure them. And if we forget that only God can give faith, we shall start to think that the making of converts depends, in the last analysis, not on God, but on us, and that the decisive factor is the way in which we evangelize. And this line of thought, consistently followed through, will lead us far astray.

“Jesus Christ said He would build his church, and I don’t want to be in competition with Him.”

The first step astray is a want of adequate faith in the divine inspiration of the sacred Scriptures.

Brethren, we shall not adjust our Bible to the age; but before we have done with it, by God’s grace, we shall adjust the age to the Bible.

Men are perishing, and if it be impolite to tell them so, it can only be so where the devil is the master of the ceremonies.

Words That Make Me Look Inside

There are some words that cause me to look inside; words from the Word. I am not elevating these words above any other words from that Word, but I highlight them here because they often have me stopping in my tracks and examining my heart. Above all else, I must be saved!

Matthew 7:21-23

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Matthew 24:22-24

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Mark 7:6

He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me.

Luke 13:23-27

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all [ye] workers of iniquity.

1 Corinthians 9:27

But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

2 Thessalonians 2:8-12

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

I Want To Be A Berean

Not much is said in the Word of God about Berea or the people who lived there.  The people of Berea are only mentioned in one chapter of Scripture, Acts 17.  This is all we know about the Bereans:

(1) They were considered noble people because…

(2) They received the Word preached to them by Paul and Silas with a ready mind.  And…

(3) They searched the Scripture daily to see if the message Paul and Silas preached was true to the Word.

I really like what verse 12 of Acts 17 says happened as a result of the Bereans doing these three things; “therefore many of them believed.”

These Bereans were so hungry for Truth!  And they knew that there was only ONE source to which they could turn.  It wasn’t their opinion, it wasn’t (just) tradition, it wasn’t (just) the preacher.  It was the Word of God!

They were considered noble because they received the Word with readiness of mind.  This speaks of the presence of eager interest and the absence of prejudice.  They had a sincere desire to be taught, and to know, the Truth.  When they were taught, they went to the written Word to be sure what they had been taught was true.

It seems to me that the Bereans must have believed in absolute truths, and that these truths are knowable.  A lot of today’s “Christians” would do well to spend some time with the Bereans!

Notice what happens when people get hungry for Truth and search the Scriptures…“Many Believed.”

I want to be a Berean.