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“Holding forth the Word of Life” Philippians 2:16
“Holding fast the Faithful Word” Titus 1:9
In Christianity, faith is basic to all its blessed doctrines and precepts of life. Without faith, it is impossible to accept doctrines and principles of Christianity. It is a religion of pure, absolute faith. Such a faith is the gift of God. A sinful, unregenerate man, living in pride and self-glory, cannot exercise such a faith. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Christianity is a “walk by faith,” as Paul mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:7. We begin our Christian journey by faith; and we continue this journey to the end as we walk by faith. The whole Christian life, which is implied in the term “walk,” is influenced and directed by the principle of faith. Truly, “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1: 17; cf. Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38; Habakkuk 2:4).
The word “walk” also implies one's progress in spiritual matters. A man does not walk unless he makes some headway. We are not always practising the goose-step; we are not always lifting our foot, and then putting it down in the same place. We are always to be making advances; we are to be going from faith in its beginnings to faith in its perfection: from faith to assurance; from assurance to full assurance; from full assurance to full assurance of hope; from full assurance of hope to the full assurance of understanding; and thus onward, waxing stronger and stronger.
Where Christianity did not pursue growth by faith, there it failed. We know of churches which have rejected simple, absolute faith in God and His Word. They lost the glorious power and effectiveness of the preaching of His Word sooner than many have thought, and died a tragic death.
When preachers and theologians rejected simple faith in His Word and set out in the way of rationalisation and intellectualism, they not only forsook the path of faith, but also subverted the faith of their hearers. Intellectualism is a pernicious way, for it rejects even God's truth when it is not satisfying to their reasoning.
You cannot always prove the doctrines and principles of Biblical Christianity by means of data, information and knowledge from outside the Scripture. If you subject the truth of His Word to human collection of data and 'evidences' for verification, soon you will find yourself with enormous difficulty in accepting what the Scripture clearly says. Though many things in the Bible can be verified through archaeology and other scientific findings, the truth of the Bible is not dependent on human verifications and evaluation. The biblical doctrines such as Trinity, Creation, Virgin Birth of Christ, all the biblical records of miracles, etc., cannot be proven by scientific data.
We believe what the Bible says without questioning. Because God has called us to believe that God is perfect, and so are His words and His works. “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him” (2 Samuel 22:31; cf. Psalm 18:30). In His perfection, God has “tried” or verified the accuracy of His Word. He has then attested in His perfection that if we trust all that He says in His Word, every word and every letter, He will prove His truth and promises. Faith in His perfect Word alone will triumph, for God will protect them who believe from their scorners.
Faith is divine, because it is God's gift as we have noted at the beginning of this article. It is activated, sustained and perfected by the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Faith never works if it were to be based upon human wisdom. The Apostle Paul spoke of this in 1 Corinthians 2:4–5, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
Everyone who follows the witness and prompting of the Spirit of God will abide in true faith. Now, it is important that we note that the Spirit will not guide us in anything contrary to what He has revealed in His Word. So if any thought arises within us, which is contrary to what He has revealed in His Word, we should disregard it. Otherwise, we will be walking by carnal thinking rather than faith in the wisdom from God.
Only by divine working can we be assured in our hearts about the accuracy and truth of the things recorded in the Bible. When we yield to the Spirit's enlightenment, we shall have growing faith. This truth is illustrated in the record of Lydia's faith – “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” (Acts 16:14).
Paul affirms once again in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 that Christianity is all about absolute faith in His Word, generated by the power of the Spirit. “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance…”
If we follow our human logic, against the clear teachings of God's Word, no matter how wise it may seem, it is undoubtedly the foolish way of the carnal mind. On the other hand, if we take our stand with God's Word, though it may not be wise in human minds, we shall not be wrong. “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). Absolute faith in God's Word is to be wise in the wisdom of His Spirit.
We have seen so often that men of the best scientific minds, persons who have been exceedingly inquiring, men who have trodden the realms of knowledge and gone even to the seventh heaven of wisdom, have nevertheless proved that they could not receive the things of the kingdom of God, by their determined opposition and enmity against anything like the truth as it is in Jesus. Some of these men who pretend to be teachers of the Word have become evil judges of the Word. They wrest with the letters and words of God, which have been most purely and perfectly first inspired and then preserved by His singular care, and received by the church, for the pleasure and satisfaction of their own corrupt minds.
Let us be believers of the words of the Holy Scripture than being critics of them.
There is a saying known to us all – “Seeing is believing.” But how true is this? It is not a true statement in all situations, especially in the spiritual realm.
The apostle says positively, “We walk by faith,” and then he adds negatively, “not by sight.” Then the caution is, never mix the two principles.
We know that our sight and perception are always limited by our finite abilities. We are incapable of making absolutely perfect judgment. During my recent trip to Kenya, one day we set out to visit a primary school to share the Gospel. The car driver stopped the vehicle at a hill top and pointed to the school at the foot of the hill. I thought we could get to the school within 10 minutes. But it took us about 30 minutes to get to the school. What we see and judge are not always right. Faith derived from mere human observations can be embarrassing blunders. This is especially true, when we decide to take the path contrary to what is clearly recorded in the Scripture.
Certainty of our doctrines and principles are not to be verified by our sight or mental perception. If God has said it in His Word, then He has verified its truth; and that should settle for us to have a firm faith.
God has given us His Word completely and perfectly. No one should ever doubt the accuracy of His Word. None should go about to disprove the authenticity of any word in the Scripture. If anyone dares to judge any letter of His words to be wrong, he hath judged himself to be a fool. In His choice of time, God will expose the conceit of the one who judged the letters and words of His Holy Scripture.
The genuine foundation upon which we may rest our religion is this: “God hath said it,” not “I have seen or experienced it,” for there will often be times when my perception and experience may just be a delusion. But if “God hath said it,” we can never be afraid. On the oath and covenant of the Most High we must, every one of us, come and build our faith and practice. If we do that, all shall be well with us.
“The house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). The duty of the church is to believe, declare and defend every word in the Bible, which is the truth of God.
Never let our congregation waste a single moment or a single drop of its sweat to disprove the words of the Bible, which we have received and have been our blessing. Let us spend every moment and our every drop of sweat and blood to understand, to defend and to declare every letter and every word of the Bible.
We should not seek the false form of spirituality that supports critics of God's Word by a specious logic that neglects simple and plain truth of His Word. Be child-like in believing everything that the Lord has uttered in His Word. If we wear the intellectual hat and sit with the Bible with a critical spirit, we are nothing more than a congregation of Pharisees. We will be taken in by our own conceit.
I have written this article to call you, at this time, to the great duty of standing fast at your post for the truth of God, and to the equally great duty of endeavouring, wherever you are, to maintain that we believe that God's Word is true to every letter. Be ye not carried about by every wind of doctrine. Give not heed to every schismatic who would lead you aside. Hold fast to the oracles of the Most High. You know what you have been taught, and whereunto you have been called; and you know the foundation whereupon you have been built up. May God give us courage to stand up for what is right, even to believe His Word to be perfect to every letter.
Rev. Prabhudas Koshy is the pastor of Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church.
– Published in Bible Witness, Vol 2 Issue 4 (October – December 2002)