9 July 2022
We have considered the times we are living in as Christians and the Church. We noted the call to be loyal and faithful to the Lord Jesus in such difficult times, in the face of spiritual warfare, false teachings, persecution, and pressures to compromise.
The church on earth comprises imperfectly sanctified sinners – there are always two defects in the lives of her members, corporately and individually. These are ignorance and error – these cause omissions and mistakes in the belief and behaviour of her members. To combat these, two essential needs are needed – instruction in the truths by which believers must live (the authority of the Bible here must be acknowledged), and correction of the shortcomings by which the life of the church is marred (here there is a definite need for teachability and ‘openness’ on the part of all).
Scripture is given by God to meet this twofold need: it is “profitable for teaching… and for training in righteousness” on the one hand and for ‘reproof’ and ‘correction’ on the other (2 Timothy 3:16).
The church is responsible to use Scripture for this intended purpose – this she does by exposition in preaching, teaching, and study, followed by reformation and ‘transformation’, sometimes with the requirement of ‘discipline’ and ‘correction and rebuke in love’.
To accept the authority of Scripture implies that we are willing in practice to first believe what it teaches, and then to apply its teaching to ourselves for our correction and guidance (and this applies to all members equally under one Head – the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit’s ministry). God demands and desires this in the life of the church (particularly in the midst of spiritual warfare where the devil and his minions are out to distort the truth and to deceive many).
The words and lives of Christian men and women must be in continual process of reformation by the written Word of God; otherwise, a slight distortion and wrong emphasis can lead many to deviate from the narrow path of discipleship and to end up incurring the wrath of God. Heresy and wrong teachings often ‘start with slight error impeded in doctrines and theology’, hence the warning that even the elect can be led astray.
Traditions, even ecclesiastical traditions, and private theological speculations must never take the place of the word spoken by God – they are to be classed among the words of men which need to be judged and reformed by the Word of God. In that light, there must always be the spirit of humility and dependence when we come before God and His Word and not allow human intellectuality to displace the wisdom, transcendence, majesty of God and His revelation. Even the best of theologians and spiritual leaders can be wrong in the eyes of God; we cannot afford not to ‘handle the Word of truth’ correctly with humility and a prayerful spirit (especially when the Lord Jesus Himself has warned us of the danger of encountering many false prophets and teachers in the last days),
The words of Apostle Paul to Timothy are so very relevant: “Watch your life and your doctrines closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16 TNIV). Realise the gravity of this exhortation which applies to all believers too in all generations.