By Brent Siota
There is too much assuming and asserting going around in the religious world today and not enough proving, proving by the Scriptures. There is even the assertion that we need no book, chapter, and verse for what we teach or do in religion; after all, they say, it’s the “spirit of the law” that counts (one example of an unproved, non-Bible assertion). But, if I am going to assert my belief in the Bible as the word of God and pattern for my life, is it not inconsistent for me to assume the authority for the things which I believe and practice? As it has always been true, error gives no proof, neither seeks it, “for every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (Jn. 3:20). In order to show that the need for Scripture for our every belief and practice is not just an assertion, let us look at some verses which prove this fact.
The Bible commands that when we speak in religious matters, we speak only what God has spoken. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles (utterances) of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). If there is not an oracle of God to back up what one says about a certain subject, then you can mark it down, that doctrine came from man, not God. The next time you hear someone preach, be like the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). But, too many times the listener has to search the sermon, instead of the Bible, for Scripture. Can one say that one has “spoken as the oracles of God” when all that is heard are jokes and stories? Paul said, “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2).
In order to be pleasing to God, one must have faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb. 11:6). Where does one get this faith? “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10: 17). But, one cannot be said to have faith if he does not possess the “spirit of faith” as spoken of by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:13. “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.” So then it takes hearing, believing, and speaking the word of God to have the kind of faith which pleases God. If we hear, believe and speak things which are not found in the word of God, then we don’t have faith and we won’t please God. If we speak something in religion, then we must prove it by the word of God. Otherwise, it is a faithless, displeasing to God, doctrine.
Not only must we prove our doctrines by the Bible, but we must have authority (Bible) for what we practice. Jesus told the Devil “that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Lk. 4:4). The apostle John taught the same thing when he said, “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 9). If we live by, or abide in, something which is not found in Scripture, then we don’t have God. If we do something in religion, then we must prove it by the word of God. Otherwise, it is a faithless, displeasing to God, act.
The Bible also commands us to follow the example of those who taught and practiced only what God said. “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do” (Phil. 4:9). What do we see that Paul did? “And Paul . . . reasoned with them out of the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2). He didn’t just assert that Jesus was the Christ, he proved it to the Jews with Scripture. Apollos did the same by “shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:28). Let us “follow” their example (1 Cor. 11:1).
Let’s take some examples of some proofless doctrines, and examine them in the light of the Bible.
Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort (Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Church, The Articles of Religion, No. 69).
What about this assertion?
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only (Bible, Jas. 2:24).
Notice this statement from Jehovah’s (False) Witnesses:
Baptism does not wash away one’s sins (Make Sure Of All Things, p. 49; also see, The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, p. 183).
What about this assertion?
Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins (Bible, Acts 22:16, Ananias),
Notice this cardinal doctrine of Mormonism:
We were . . . created in the image of our Father . . . and we did not have a physical body, as he does (Eternal Progression, Study Guide 4).
What about this assertion?
God is a Spirit (Bible, John 4:24, Jesus Christ).
What about the assertion that one may make a contribution into the treasury of the church any time he pleases? There is just as much authority for that as there is for a pie sale, which is none. The Bible teaches that the designated day for a contribution is “the first day of the week” (I Cor. 16:2). These are just a few examples of unproved assertions.
Realize the fact that Scripture may be offered as proof ‘ but not actually prove anything. The Devil quoted Scripture, but he perverted it (Matt. 4).
“All scripture . . . is profitable for doctrine for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Any thing that we would ever need to believe or do to be pleasing to God can be found in the Bible. Be sure that you can “shew by the scriptures” everything that you believe, teach, and do.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 4, pp. 116, 120
February 15, 1990