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The Word of God, Not the Word of Men

January 23rd, 2020

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. (1 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV)

A hallmark of true Christianity is respect for and reverence toward the Bible as the Word of God. As such, the Bible stands in contrast to the words of human beings. It is the divine message that God’s Spirit has inspired through human hands and minds, and though each of these human authors conveys his own unique personality, it is still the Word of God that we have.

The Concreteness of Circumstances

We should not be discouraged that these various books of the Bible came from various individuals dealing with specific concrete circumstances, for that fact commends their practical value to us. It has often been observed that among all the great speeches of humanity that each of them was given on a specific occasion to address a specific concrete circumstance. And the Bible was also written in real situations for real and historical people.

As such the books are peppered with various customs that applied to those circumstances but are not demanding on all people for all times. For example, Romans 16:16 says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss,” and a practical interpretation for that verse does not demand that Christians through all centuries and in every culture must kiss each other, rather than we are to acknowledge our Christian brothers and sisters and to greet them in a culturally appropriate way that reflects true holiness.

This interpretation is called the Grammatical-Historical Method of Biblical Interpretation and it simply means that the Bible is to be interpreted in light of its original historical situation, using the rules of grammar, and in consideration of where it lies in salvation history. For example, many things that were bound or forbidden in the Old Testament were loosed or allowed in the New Testament — the eating of different meats, for example. Mark 7:19 states that Jesus declared all meats clean, and Paul affirms this in Romans 14:20, so those commands in the Old Testament that forbade the eating of certain foods are no longer obligatory on a Christian.

The concreteness means that it is readily helpful to us today. When we read that Paul urged two women in Philippi to agree with one another and stop their divisive feuding, we can understand the relevancy of the biblical point. When we read about fleeing temptations, we understand and can apply that to our circumstances. When we read about James rebuking the gossips in his church, warning on the danger of the human tongue, we understand that we also deal with those problems.

And historically, when we read of Obadiah’s rebuke to the nation of Edom, descendants of Esau who was Jacob’s brother, when they stood aloof when their brother Israel was in need, when they looted Jerusalem with the invading armies, we see the condemnation against every Christian who ignores his spiritual brother’s or his spiritual sister’s spiritual needs.

The Power of the Word

The word of God is to be embraced with faith and obedience, and in this is our hope. God has spoken to us today and His word is always fresh to the one who believes it. The true power of the Word is not against demons, that we read it aloud to merely cast them out, but its power is found in the way it touches the human heart, leading people to repentance and faith and obedience.

No one can be a good growing Christian without a daily diet of the word of God. It is the “word of life” (Phil. 2:16) or the word that brings life to our hearts.

  • It saves us from our sin: Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes through hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
  • It feeds our souls; Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
  • It cleanses our consciences, as Paul wrote, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Eph. 5:25-26).
  • It unites the church: Romans 16:25 says, “Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ.”
  • It strengthens us against temptation: Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
  • It encourages us in difficult times: Psalm 119:81 says, “My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.”

Both for the church and for the individual believer, the Bible is God’s message of salvation, hope, strength, direction, wisdom, encouragement, rebuke, and more.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

1 Thessalonians, Bible

God Will Do It

October 24th, 2016

He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this. (1 Thes. 5:24 NET)

In the midst of the spiritual struggles we experience in this life, we can be discouraged and wonder if we will ever be fit for heaven. If the work was left up to us alone, or even us mostly, we would surely not become fit for heaven or worthy of its reality. We would become – sooner or later – a moral blemish in the community of those perfected saints.

But this truth applies not just to us as individuals but to every person, and we would all fail if our moral and spiritual perfection was left in our hands. Of the human community on earth it is said, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and it would surely be said again of the redeemed human community in heaven IF our perfection was achieved by us, that all will sin again and fall short again of the glory of God. In fact, in such a case, heaven would not be heaven at all, in fact, it would be worse than life here for the simple reason that we could not die to get out of it.

But thank God that is not the case. Thank God that, just as He took on lostness and called us to faith in Christ, just as He sent the Christ while we were still sinners, so He likewise assumes the responsibility to bring us to maturity and to moral perfection. We read, “And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). Albert Barnes wrote:

There is a connection between justification and glory. The one does not exist without the other in its own proper time; as the calling does not subsist without the act of justification. This proves, therefore, the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. There is a connection infallible and ever-existing between the predestination and the final salvation. They who are subjects of the one are partakers of the other. (Albert Barnes, New Testament Notes)

The use of the past tense “glorified” paints a picture of the sureness of this happening, though it has not yet happened to us as we are still upon this earth.

The apostle does not explain all the means by which God shall achieve this, but we are not left entirely in the dark on this subject. We can glean from other passages some of the tools that God will use in eternity to bring us to this perfect level of glorification.

Completeness of knowledge: Here we know in part, not in fullness or completeness. It is good to learn and grow in knowledge, but we all still dimly grope our way through life in some way – even the most learned and devout Bible scholars. But the apostle wrote that in eternity, “Then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). The truths that puzzle and perturb us here will be clarified. We will know the depth of our sinfulness and the greatness of the redemptive love of God.

Perfected in love: In heaven we will understand and experience the fullness of the love of the Godhead. Christ taught that eternal life is a life of knowing God (John 17:3). He prayed on the night of His arrest:

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (John 17:24)

So the nature of this personal knowledge of God is to be in the presence of pure love, and to become intimate with the One through whom it comes. To know that we as individuals are loved and accepted in Him, that this love is secure and eternal, will be a revolutionary thing in our hearts. This is, by the way, an experience that the Spirit wishes to give to us in part today.

The two alone are precious truths to our hearts – that in heaven we will have full knowledge and unhindered closeness to Christ.

And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him, and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, and they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will shine on them, and they will reign forever and ever. (Rev. 22:3-5)

The destruction of the tempter: We should also remember that in eternity Satan will be destroyed and there will be no more tempter.

The healing of our hearts: What about the wounds and hurts that we feel in our souls? One of the most precious images of heaven is in Revelation 22:2, that in heaven there will be the tree of life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. Whatever memory of sin and hurt that may arise in our souls in heaven will be immediately and for all eternity healed. Just as we experience full forgiveness of our sins, so we share full forgiveness with one another.

There is no lost man who is so vile and sinful that God cannot save him. And there is no Christian who is so weak and unsteady in his faith that God cannot bring to maturity. The apostle said, “Faithful is the One who calls you, and He will do it!”

1 Thessalonians ,