The Word of God: Powerful and Sufficient (2)
In the first article of this series we noted how that a failure to abide in the power and sufficiency of the word of God has always characterized the human family, and that the inevitable and uniform result was that of spiritual calamity and moral decay. We then pointed out how that the word of God is powerful and sufficient and applied this principle to the creation of the material worlds, and also to the conversion of an individual. From this we then brought forth the exhortation that this is no time for the "watering down" of our preaching of Biblical principles, and reliance upon things material to win people to Christ, but rather that it was a time for our firm stand on a "thus saith the Lord" in all things. In this article I should like to further direct your attention unto the power and sufficiency of the word of God, particularly in its ability to discipline the lives of individual Christians.
As we appeal to the scripture, note please, this evident thought; that those early disciples who were led to the Lord by the apostles, were converted by preaching which had Christ as its center and circumference. He was the center of their lives and, furthermore, their conduct was circumscribed by his teachings. Unto them, He was all in all and their own self discipline and the purity of the Lord's church was their first love. I think that no better expression of this is to be found than in the language of Paul as he said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
The word of God became the disciplining force in their lives, for first, it set forth the demand for holiness. Paul points out that we are called by the gospel (2 Th. 2 :14) ; that this calling is holy in its nature (Tit. 1:9); and that those who are obedient unto this word are sanctified and called to be saints, that is, called unto a life of holiness unto which they had been set apart (1 Cor. 1:1-2) . Moreover, it would be hard for one to read such passages as Eph. 4:17-24 and 1 Pet.1:13-16 without understanding that the word of God expresses his demand for the holiness of his people. The second point of consideration here is that this word sets forth the pattern of holiness. Paul says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:1-2) . Here, the fundamental principle of the pattern of holiness is stated and the hortatory portions of all the epistles conform to it. Thus, that word not only expresses the demand of God for our holiness, but also establishes a pattern whereby we can measure ourselves to know whether or not we meet that demand.
With these two points established, note now that this word is capable of revealing us unto ourselves, manifesting our short comings, and at the same time gives us incentive to correct the errors in our lives. The first part of this statement I base on Jas. 1:21-25; Heb.4:12-13. There we are informed that the word of God will reflect the nature and character of our lives in much the same way that a mirror will reflect the physical features we possess. If we will but allow it, this word will pierce into the innermost recesses of our hearts and minds and lay as naked and open unto ourselves. It will reveal unto us what we are and at the same time contrast that with a revelation of that which God expects us to be. But the word does not stop here. I have said that it furnishes us with the incentive to correct the errors it exposes in our lives. A reading of Rom. 2:5-11 will establish this firmly. There, as the apostle sets forth the principles concerning the judgment of God, he points out just what the alternatives of the judgment will be. He affirms that, "to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality", God will give them the reward of "eternal life." On the other hand, unto those, "that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness", God will visit them with "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish". Furthermore, this judgment will be rendered unto every man, and at that without respect of persons on the part of God. Here is the incentive for one to correct the errors of his life.
Now then, since this word sets forth the demand for holiness; establishes the pattern of holiness; so reveals us unto ourselves that we may see our shortcomings and then furnishes the incentive for correction; I affirm that it is powerful and sufficient to discipline the lives of the individual Christians. It effectually worked in the early church and I am certain that whatever it accomplished in the primitive disciples, it is yet capable of accomplishing in us if we will but let it have free course in our life.
This again brings us to some questions involved. It is sometimes asked, "Why are not Christians maintaining the standard of righteousness revealed"? Again I answer that it is a condition of the heart. Paul said, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God" (Heb. 3-12). This evil heart of unbelief can creep into any one of us and when it does, departure follows. This is all the more reason for genuinely converting individuals with plain preaching of the word of God that we might have some foundation upon which to build, and to ward off the creeping in of unbelief. But I suggest to you that if we can but retain the same kind of heart within us that allowed that word to first convict and convert us to the Lord; then we can have the kind of heart necessary that the word may discipline and mold us into that which will be "meet for the Master's use". I further suggest that every one of us, whether we stand in the pulpit, before classes, or just in our every day walk of life-we need, I say, to intensify our efforts to exhort and encourage one another to hold to the high standard of holiness prescribed by the Lord. It is only in this way that we can wage an effective warfare upon the multiplicity of evils that run rampant in our time. Let us cease to compromise on moral issues, but rather, let us stand four square on that which the word of God teaches. It was powerful and sufficient to uproot the evils in the lives of the early saints and it is the only thing that will perform that task today. There must be no room either in the pulpit or printed page; in the classroom or the home; for that kind of teaching which would cause the saints of God to compromise with the world and be wooed away from Him who died that we might have life.
Truth Magazine, V:6, pp. 11-13