“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” -1 THESSALONIANS 2:13
The graduates from the "Oprah Winfrey School of Theology" seem to be preaching salvation by baptism in the gray waters of self-enlightenment, sensual appetite, and the new age paradigm of the existential truths of an impersonal universal force that dwells in the sub-conscience caverns of our being with the hope of producing cosmic-planetary oneness within our inner child.
I have no idea what I just said there folks; and neither do they. That is the beauty of postmodernism; you disengage from the neck up and you’re in. You don’t have to think - you just have to feel.
But as Christians we are not called to feel our God but to know our God (Phil. 3:1-8).
Christian Music is not immune from this as well.
At one time CCM musicians were unashamed to declare Jesus Christ as Lord. But within a few years His name was replaced by the generic, but proper title of God. Still too offensive for some, dilution occurred, filtering the name of God to He, Him, "It", or to what is popular today – the non-specific cognomen, "Love." Today, His name is reduced to a multitude of pseudonyms: "The Man Upstairs"; "The Boss"; "The Big Guy"; "Chairman of the Board"; "My Higher Power"; "My Buddy', "My Pal" and "My Family Values Expert"- ad nauseam… ad infinitum.
Os Guinness was right when commenting on the sea-change that has and is still occurring in evangelicalism:
"this is a particularly important precedent because it was not so much from Calvinism to Arminianism as from theology to experience, from truth to technique, from elite to populism, and from an emphasis on serving God, to an emphasis on serving the self in serving God."Did you hear that? That last line especially: “an emphasis on serving the self in serving God.” Well said. Guinness has really nailed the current state of Christianity in the American evangelical world. That is why we must constantly remind ourselves that even the gospel never begins with man and his needs, but with God and His glory. It is not about us: it’s all about Him.
Truth by definition is exclusive.
When we declare the Scriptures to be the truth and Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life, who is full of grace and truth, we are declaring that every other claim to "the truth" is false. Every other way to salvation is a dead end. Every other faith system asserting eternal life is a path leading to death. God is not politically correct – ever. It is a narrow way that He calls to; it is only through Jesus Christ alone that there is salvation for our souls; if someone claims to know God but rejects the Son, he has not the Father either (1 John 2:13).
Therefore, if in our worship, we pervert His Word -
we pervert the truth about God.
If in our music, we distort His doctrine -
we distort a right view of Him.
If in our songs, we misrepresent the Scriptures -
we misrepresent the Savior.
And if in our ministries we twist His truth -
we dishonor His character.
Charles Hadden Spurgeon spent the final four years of his life at war against the trends of early modernism, which he rightly saw as a threat to Biblical Christianity. Spurgeon wanted to warn his flock about the dangers from moving away from the historic positions [of the truth]. John MacArthur insightfully writes the following quoting Spurgeon's thoughts of that hour:
"Biblical truth is like the pinnacle of a steep, slippery mountain,' Spurgeon suggested. 'One step away, and you find yourself on the down-grade. Once a church or individual Christian gets on the downgrade,' Spurgeon said, 'momentum takes over. Recovery is unusual and only happens when Christians get on the 'up-line' through spiritual revival.'I couldn't agree more with John.
History has vindicated Spurgeon's warnings about the down-grade. In the early part of the twentieth century the spreading of 'false doctrine and worldliness' -theological liberalism and modernism-ravaged denominational Christianity throughout the world. Most of the mainline denominations were violently if not fatally altered by these influences. A hundred years later, we are seeing history repeating itself again…. 'False doctrine and worldliness'-the same two influences Spurgeon attacked-always go hand in hand, with worldliness leading the way. Christians today tend to forget that modernism was not first of all a theological agenda but a methodological one.
What is the solution for this drifting; this downgrade we find ourselves on today in broader evangelicalism? We need to return back to Sola Scriptura - embracing the authority, perspicuity, infallibility, and inerrancy of the Word of God as being central in our lives, church, evangelism, and worship.
As Sola Scriptura pertains to the gospel, listen to these powerful words from Charles:
“When Jesus gave himself for us, he gave us all the rights and privileges which went with himself; so that now, although as eternal God, he has essential rights to which no creature may venture to pretend, yet as Jesus, the Mediator, the federal head of the covenant of grace, he has no heritage apart from us. All the glorious consequences of his obedience unto death are the joint riches of all who are in him, and on whose behalf he accomplished the divine will. See, he enters into glory, but not for himself alone, for it is written, “Whither the Forerunner is for us entered.” Heb. 6:20. Does he stand in the presence of God?—“He appears in the presence of God for us.” Heb. 9:24.
Consider this, believer. You have no right to heaven in yourself: your right lies in Christ. If you are pardoned, it is through His blood; if you are justified, it is through His righteousness; if you are sanctified, it is because He is made of God unto you sanctification; if you shall be kept from falling, it will be because you are preserved in Christ Jesus; and if you are perfected at the last, it will be because you are complete in Him. Thus Jesus is magnified—for all is in Him and by Him; thus the inheritance is made certain to us—for it is obtained in Him; thus each blessing is the sweeter, and even heaven itself the brighter, because it is Jesus our Beloved “in whom” we have obtained all.”
Take away the authority of God's Word
when it comes to defining and preaching the gospel
and you will be left with no gospel at all.
Put aside for a moment the centralityh of the Scriptures
from the nexus of Christian conversation to a postmodern world
and you will be vulnerable and susceptible
to the sandy gospel of the Emergent Church; Open Theism;
Romanism; Mormonism, NPP, Invitationalism, and Inclusivism.
The Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1 gives us tremendous insight into the certainty, authority, sufficiency and veracity of God’s Word. The entire first chapter of 2 Peter could be outlined like this:
1. The Certainty of the Savior: (1:1-4)For purposes of this article, we will only focus briefly on the third point: the certainty of the Scriptures.
Key verses: 1:2-4, 16; 2:20; 3:2b, 9-10, 18; 1 Peter 4:11.
2. The Certainty of their Salvation: (1:5-11)
Key verses: 1:8-10; 2:9; 3:9, 12-15a, 18 (Compare 1 Peter 1:2, 3-5, 8-9, 18-21; 2:9-10, 24-25; 3:18, 5:10-11.)
3. The Certainty of the Scriptures: (1:16-21)
This is what the Reformers referred to as Sola Scriptura, meaning: The Bible is the sole written divine revelation of God and alone can bind the conscience of believers absolutely. This truth flew in the face of abject Romanism that did not hold to Sola Scriptura and still does not. In fact, they deny it. The singularity of God’s Word IS the foundation for all matters of life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). There is no spiritual growth apart from it; and there is no authority in ministry without it. It is how we know God and His way of salvation for lost people. It is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. He has even exalted His Word above His name (Psalm 138:2). The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit and if we fail to honor it, embrace, read it, memorize it, teach it, preach it, fix our minds on it, hide it in our hearts, then we are ultimately defenseless in our daily walk through this world and are not honoring to the Spirit of God in our daily lives.
His Word can bring comfort, but also it can convict, rebuke, correct, train us in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We are to cherish it more than our daily food (Job 23:12); more than this world’s greatest pleasures and treasures (Psalm 19:7-11); and have it as the joy and rejoicing of our hearts (Jer. 15:16).
How sufficient is the Word of God? How is it a “more sure word…” The gospel is anchored in this truth: "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ." If you deny sola Scriptura, then ultimately you are denying the truth of the gospel itself. Strip away your confidence in the absolute authority of God's Word, and you will find yourself on the slippery slope of the downgrade as many were in Spurgeon's day.
Standing for Truth in the Blogosphere
As Christian bloggers, we have a duty to rightly divide God's Word in our posts; to represent it with reverence and truth; not to use it as a careless weapon against others, but to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, proclaim His gospel, edify His church, and encourage the weary. We must not shrink from the duty to confront error when it raises its ugly head (Titus 1:9); but we must also be patient with others in walking through the pages of God's Word when pointing out error, and by God's grace, bring some to the knowledge of the truth of the gospel (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
Some blogs make sport of this privilege; some blogs make comments concerning God's Word but never respond to others biblical questions; some blogs are so cutting and snarky in the Meta that unless you "flatter" the blog hosts you won't get an objective listen or response. And some blogs, if you dare challenge their assertions, be prepared to be attacked, belittled, and smeared. This should not be among Christian bloggers.
If biblical Christianity is worth defending, it is worth defending with grace, humility, truth, boldness and charity. We need a bold orthodoxy, but humble servants proclaiming it. Amen?
FAITHFUL MINISTERS AND STEWARDS OF GOD’S WORD ARE TO:
Crave the Word – 1 Peter 2:2
Believe the Word – John 2:22
Love the Word – Psalm 119:97, 127
Long for the Word – Psalm 119:20, 40
Delight in the Word – Psalm 1:2
Rejoice in the Word – Jeremiah 15:16
Treasure the Word – Job 23:12
Esteem the Word – Psalm 138:2
Reverence the Word – Isaiah 66:2
Honor the Word – 1 Thessalonians 2:13
Trust in the Word – Psalm 119:42
Sing the Word – Psalm 119:54
Meditate on the Word – Joshua 1:8
Memorize the Word – Psalm 119:11
Abide in the Word – 1 John 2:14
Obey the Word – Joshua 22:5
Be Conformed by the Word – Psalm119:133
Not to be ashamed of the Word – Rom. 1:16
Contend for the Word – Jude 3
Defend the Word – Philippians 1:7
Suffer for the Word – 2 Timothy 1:8
Don’t neglect the Word – 1 Cor. 9:16
Be empowered with the Word – 1 Thes. 1:5
Hope in the Word – Romans 15:4
Live the Word – James 1:22-25
Take heed to the Word – 1 Tim. 4:16
Rightly divide the Word – 2 Tim. 2:15
Guard the Word – 2 Timothy 2:13-14
Read the Word – 1 Timothy 4:13
Share the Word – 2 Thessalonians 3:1
Teach the Word – 2 Timothy 4:1-5
Exhort with the Word – 1 Timothy 4:13
Preach the Word – 2 Timothy 4:2
Seven Applications for the Sufficiency of Scripture:
1. How to please the Lord in every aspect of living (Col. 1:10)
2. It is complete in all things for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4)
3. God’s full and final self-revelation and redemptive plan for humanity (Heb. 1:1)
4. No modern “revelation” is authoritative or binding for the church—written or oral (Jude 3)
5. Guards us against Sanhedrinian Prohibitionism (Matthew 23:13-36)
6. Protects us from Licentious Antinominianism (Psalm 119:44f, 165; 1 Peter 1:22-25)
7. We must content in what God has revealed to us (Deut. 29:29)