By Larry Ray Hafley
Luke, “the beloved physician,” Wrote “that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou has been instructed” (Lk. 1:4). Paul told Timothy, “But continue in the things, which thou hast learned and has been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (2 Tim. 3:14). There is an anchor of assurance, a concrete certainty about the truth of God. It needs no alterations or amendments. It is firm, sure, steadfast, certain (Eph. 4:14, 15; Heb. 13:8, 9). It liveth and abideth forever.
Contrast this with the flimsy, baseless, shifting sands of denominational dogmas and doctrines.
(1) Before 1910, Methodist doctrine said that some babies who died in infancy were lost, but since that time, when they revised their creed, all babies that die are saved. What of mothers who lost children in 1909? They had “no certainty” regarding their child’s eternal destiny.
(2) Mormons advocated polygamy in the 19th century. Then they switched. Some, though, are now again pleading for a plurality of wives. What of the next generation? Can they or can they not have many wives as Brigham Young did? They have “no certainty.”
Mormon doctrine long forbade blacks from entering their priesthood. But, alas, in the past decade, they received a “revelation.” “Presto,” blacks can now be a part of the Mormon priesthood. Despite Galatians 3:28 and James 2:1-5, the Mormons have had “no certainty” on this matter.
(3) Popes were not infallible in matters of faith and morals when speaking from the chair of papal authority until 1870. But in that year, scores of fallible men decided he was infallible. Suppose you were a Catholic in 1869, teaching against papal infallibility? Again, “no certainty.” The same is true regarding the bodily assumption of Mary, Jesus’ mother, into heaven. Before 1950, it was not an absolute fact of faith, but not it is they say. Remember meatless Fridays? Well, that is all you can do with the, for they are no longer bound as they were until 1970 or so. Make your own list of similar items, relics and doctrines. They all say “no certainty.”
As an example, consider the following quote: “The Roman Catholic Church must rethink its position on celibacy and the ordination of women if it hopes to boost membership of its declining priesthood, the National Federation of Priests’ Councils said at a meeting in Orlando, Fla.” (The Commercial Appeal, p. A-2, May 2, 1991).
(4) Remember when most churches refused fellowship to one who put away his mate for a cause other than fornication (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)? Many Catholics and Protestants were summarily excommunicated for violating those plain passages. Now, though, multiple marriages and unscriptural divorces do not keep either a man or a woman from the pulpit, let alone the pew. What of those poor souls who were humiliated and embarrassed and kicked out of their churches years ago and who now see the pastors of those same churches in their same marital state? “No certainty” there.
The same can be said for homosexuality, women preachers and a host of modern sins. Before the 1960s, women were not bishops or preachers in most denominations and homosexuals were condemned as sinners in need of repentance. Now, it is different. Lesbian women can be pastors or preachers. This trend is gaining acceptance and will be a part of most denominations before too long. “No certainty” can be found on these issues.
And what does that portend concerning things that are ,sinful” today? Will they be “sanctified and meet for the Master’s use” tomorrow? What of drug use, abortion, pornography, euthanasia? Maybe later? Social drinking was once largely and widely condemned, but now Catholics and Lutherans use it openly, even at church functions. If social drinking is alright, what of social or recreational drug use – marijuana, cocaine? Oh, I know it is presently frowned upon, but what about later? There is “no certainty” about those practices, either.
(5) There is “no certainty” in some churches of Christ. Remember when denominational organizations, societies, and church sponsored recreation and gymnasiums were ridiculed as human additions and traditions? Now, those same brethren work out in fully equipped “church health spas.” Gospel preachers once reproved and rebuked the social, welfare gospel. Now, some promote and support it from church treasuries while they administer Day Care and Pre-School Centers. What will come next instruments of music in worship? Rummage sales, pie suppers, pancake breakfasts and car washes to raise money for the churches?
Worldliness, immodesty and unscriptural marriages were once denounced with great earnestness. And now? More and more there is less and less said about these things. Often, what is said is a defense or an excuse to be “like the (denomi)nations” round about us.
“No Certainty” Versus “Know the Certainty”
It is a case of “no certainty” versus “know the certainty of those things wherein thou has been instructed.” “It is high time to wake out of sleep,” and to “cast off the works of darkness,” and “make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:11-14). There can be no compromise with evil and error. “Awake to righteousness and sin not.” No personal sentiment for men can be allowed to obscure truth and stifle righteousness. If Scripture does not direct our sentiment, our human sentiments, feelings and opinions will color and control our view of Scripture.
If you have “no certainty” of faith and confidence in the “faithful word,” you will swerve and careen like a drunken driver and be “turned aside unto vain jangling.” As such, you will be like “children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14). Back to the Bible. Either you have “no certainty,” or you “know the certainty” of the things “thou hast learned and been assured of.” “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 13, pp. 385, 408
July 4, 1991