The Word of God: Powerful and Sufficient (3)
In the first two articles of this series it has been pointed out that the word of God is powerful and sufficient to: (1) create and uphold the material universe; (2) convict and convert individuals from sin and secure for them safety for the soul; and (3) so discipline the lives of Christians as to mold them into the kind of men and women that God desires them to be. In this, the final article, your attention is directed to the fact that the Word of God is powerful and sufficient to keep the church pure.
So long as "the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" the purity of the church in doctrine and practice will be threatened. And, the kingdom of God, though pictured by Isaiah as a kingdom of peace (Isa. 2:1-4), must at the same time retain its militant and aggressive spirit against that which is evil. There is a common enemy against which the servants of the Lord must do battle, and this enemy is defined by Paul. In 2 Cor. 10:3-5, he says, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Further, in Eph. 6:10-12, he continues by saying, "finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whale armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." We should, therefore, beware when a spirit of pacificism creeps into the ranks of the disciples of Christ, for this enemy was common to them in the first century and it is likewise common to us today. There must be no compromise for the Lord's terms are "unconditional surrender" on the part of evil. Further, we should not be deceived into thinking that all of those who are in the camp of the enemy are without the church! It seems that there have always been those in the body of Christ who would exalt themselves against the knowledge and wisdom of God, and against them likewise we must wage a never ending battle. No quarter is to be asked. and none is to be given.
But the apostle does not stop with giving the information concerning who the enemy is, but goes on to provide us with weapons of warfare as he describes the Christian armor. Part of this armor is defensive in nature, as he speaks of our girding our loins with the knowledge of truth; adorning ourselves with the breastplate of a righteous life; having on our feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; using our faith in God as our shield; and taking our hope of salvation as a protective helmet. He then defines our offensive weapon as he encourages us to take the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:13-17) . You will note at once that the weapon with which we bring to naught the forces of evil and of error is the word of God. Truly it is powerful and sufficient to accomplish this task. Let no man be deceived into thinking that anything short of this will do the job, for it will not. There is no room for trust in worldly wisdom, for the wisdom of this world is the enemy, and the wisdom of God as revealed in his word is that which we seek to exalt. This is no time to trust in the writings of prominent brethren of this or any other generation. This is the time to trust in the word of God and every true soldier of the Lord should have it buckled to his side and ready for spiritual encounter. Here, do not let it be surmised that I speak disparagingly of the writings of good brethren at any time for such is not my intent. Their writings, if in harmony with the will of God will simply add to the myriad of voices that cry out against evil, but they are not the authority. The authority, both theirs and ours, is the word of God.
To see this principle manifested by way of example we have but to look at the conduct of Paul. In Acts, chapter twenty, as he conversed with the elders of the Ephesian church, he warned them of the falling away that was to come (vs. 28). Then in verse 32 he stated that which would have prevented the apostasy as he said, "And now I commend you to God, AND TO THE WORD OF HIS GRACE, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified." According to Paul, the word could have maintained the purity of the church. This same thing is evidenced in his writing to Timothy. In 1 Tim. 4:1-3 he spoke of certain departures from the faith which would occur. Then in the closing verses of that chapter he admonished this young preacher to "take heed unto thyself and UNTO THE DOCTRINE; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." By Timothy's patient continuance in the doctrine, both personally and by preaching, a correcting influence would be brought to bear against the departures previously mentioned.
This lesson would not seem complete, however, without at least pausing to read the apostle's charge to the young preacher in his second epistle. Paul is now the aged apostle; imprisoned, presumably at Rome, for the cause of the Master whom he had so faithfully served. Aware of the fact that he is soon to face the grim reaper at the hands of the Romans, he pens these final words of encouragement to one who had labored with him in the gospel, as a son would labor with his father. He begins by saying, "I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:1-8) . It is here an evident thing that inspiration declares, namely: that the preaching of the word of God would maintain the purity of the church and also secure for the body of Christ an entrance into the portals of Glory, when the Lord should come to redeem his own. Thus the word of God that was powerful and sufficient in the creation of the worlds; in the conversion of the sinner; in the disciplining of the Christian; is in like manner powerful and sufficient to keep the church pure. May God help us to cleave unto and to practice this sublime truth.
Truth Magazine V:7, pp. 13-14