Proper Attitudes Toward The Word
Jady W. Copeland
There are some subjects that need constant repetition and this is one of them. The need for such basic lessons is seen as we look about us at the religious division that is evident, while we remember Jesus' prayer for unity (Jn. 17). Prejudice keeps many from coming to the Christ. Nathanael said, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Prejudice toward the city and its reputation nearly kept this good man from believing the Christ. Republicans take "with a grain of salt" anything the Democrats say, and vice versa. In a book by a brother written many years ago, I noted that one reason for his faith was that he wanted to believe. At first, I wondered about this argument, but on further consideration, I realized that if one does not want to believe, he would never believe in God, regardless of the evidences presented. It is true that merely wanting to believe a thing doesn't make it so, but a failure to desire faith would stand in the way of weighing the evidences with an unprejudiced mind. Why do lawyers screen so many prospective jurors before a case is tried? They want the men and women to be completely unprejudiced in this case. God desires that we look at His word with a mind ready to accept the testimony. "What is truth?" it was asked. The wise man said, "Buy the truth and sell it not" (Prov. 23:23). The Guardian of Truth came out with a special early in 1983 on the word of God, but we need constant reminders of such important matters. We shall not attempt here to enumerate the claims of the Bible itself relative to its inspiration more than to affirm that it does claim to be from Deity, and not from man. If we are to receive from God's word that which is intended, we truly must have the proper attitudes toward it.
Faith In Its Divinity
By this I mean that we must believe that it came from God; that Diety is responsible for its contents. Paul was thankful that the Thessalonians "received from us the word of the message, even the word of God" (1 Thess. 2:13). He was thankful that they did not take it to be the word of men, but the word from God. Paul said, "Every scripture is inspired of God. . . " (2 Tim. 3:16). That which has been "breathed" of God - that which Diety gave us - is profitable for all spiritual goals and activities. We talk about plenary (full) inspiration in contrast to "thought inspiration. " We speak of verbal (having to do with words) inspiration. By this we mean that God guarded the words used by the inspired men so that none would be used that did not convey the message intended. Words are expressions of ideas. God makes Himself known to His creatures by intelligent thoughts, expressed in words, rather than by subjective authority (inner feelings of men). In other words, we do not believe in God because we "feel something" in our self; we believe God because He has revealed Himself to us in words understandable to us and received in an intelligent way. That such is true is seen in a close study of such passages as 1 Corinthians 2:6-13 and Ephesians 3:3-4. In other words, Paul says that the "words" he used (as an inspired man) expressed what God wanted him to say. Since words have changed meanings, more accurate translations are needed sometimes to express to us what the original text actually said. English words in some few cases have changed meanings since the King James translation was done, in 1611, and thus more exact translations are helpful in telling us what the original Greek words really mean.
For us to have the proper appreciation and respect for the Bible, we must believe it came from God and not man, since man could not know what is best for us and man could not give us a guide in matters pertaining to our relationship to our Maker.
Faith In Its Completeness
One is ready to say that surely, if an all-wise God gave us the word, then He gave us the complete word; and that's a good argument. But let us go a bit farther. First we ask I "Is all the information there that God intended us to have?" Since the Bible came from God, and therefore we have no doubt about is source, listen to 2 Peter 1:3: "seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue." If He gave us all things that pertain unto our life and godliness, then who could doubt its completeness? By that which He gave to the apostles we have the privilege of participating in His divine nature. The word must be complete to do this.
But another question is, "Can I understand it?" What kind of a god would it be that would give us the benefit of his mind, but in such words that could not be understood? "If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples" (Jn. 8:31). It would be ridiculous to think God would give us His word in such language we could not understand, and yet condemn us for not obeying it (2 Thess. 1:9-11). This was the reason it was written in the common man's language.
"Does it supply man's needs?" This also deals with completeness. It will save the soul (Rom. 1:16; Jas. 1:21). It will give light to show us the way (Psa. 119:105). It will convert the soul (Psa. 19:7). It is the seed of the kingdom (Lk. 8:11). It will give all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). It will thoroughly furnish a man unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17). What more is needed? God knows our needs, and to deny His ability to supply these needs is to question His power. If we deny His knowledge as to what we need, we impugn His wisdom. If we say that He knows our needs and is able to supply the needs yet refuses to do so, we impugn His mercy and loving kindness. "And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).
Faith In Its Authority
We assume the reader believes in the unlimited power and wisdom of God. He is our Creator and, therefore, has the right to command. Any authority must have been attained by legitimate means if it is going to rule properly. A governor gets his authority in a properly-designated way. He did not assume his authority. He has certain rights given him by the people of the state. God has authority by right of creation. Since He created the world, and all things therein, He has the right and the power to command. Jesus had power over the sea, the wind and mountains. He was Creator (Heb. 1:2).
The One who made the world (by creation) gave us the word of God and has the right to command. The Father has given into the hands of the Son authority in the spiritual realm as well. Paul said, "and he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell." Note that it was the pleasure of God that in Christ should all the fullness of the Godhead dwell. His authority didn't come by mistake or usurpation (Matt. 28:18).
While on earth, Jesus prepared the apostles to carry the gospel once He ascended to heaven. He told them He would send another comforter (Jn. 14:16), "even the Spirit of truth" (Jn. 14:17). He must go back to the Father, but the Spirit would guide them into all truth (Jn. 16:13). God made provisions for the apostles to speak as they were directed by the Holy Spirit. When He left, they were to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Spirit, which came on the first Pentecost after the resurrection (Acts 2:14). As Jesus spake from His Father, so the apostles spake as directed by the Spirit. Jesus said, "I have given them thy word. . . " (John 17:14). Jesus received authority from the Father (Matt. 16:18) and He gave the apostles direction to speak the words of God as they were given them of the Spirit. When these inspired men spake it was the Father, the Son and the Spirit speaking.
From Pentecost, these men went out preaching the gospel. They were later to write down these gospel truths and later generations can read and learn from the inspired words (Eph. 3:1-4). As we read these words today, we are reading the words from the Spirit, and learning what God wants us to know. How else are we to learn from Him? Can we find out what His will is by looking at a flower? We can learn there is a Maker somewhere, but we can't learn His will to mankind. To say "I feel like I am saved" is to give testimony of myself, not God. Am I my own authority pertaining to God? I must have the attitude that His word came from an all-wise Creator and that it came from one with properly constituted authority, else why should I believe it? If I believe it came from such a source, why would I not obey it?
The Bible came from God. It is complete and will make us perfect in Christ. It came from one with properly constituted authority, having the stamp of approval of one who made us and gave us all that we need to live with Him eternally.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 9, pp. 257, 280