|Vol. 14 No. 4 April 2012||
What about Bible authority? Can one know Bible truth? Is it important that we know Bible truth? These are fair questions. The answer to these questions and other questions about Bible truth are contained in the Bible.
Some have the idea and even teach that Bible truth is relative or subjective. What are they saying? They teach that truth to one person is not necessarily truth to another. What this philosophy says is that you can do, teach and practice whatever you desire and God will accept it.
If this is the case, there can be no false belief, teaching or practice. If the Bible is relative or subjective, why did Jesus say, “Beware of false prophets…” (Matthew 7:15)? How can we “try the spirits…” (1 John 4:1)? How could we all “speak the same thing…”(1 Corinthians 1:10)? Would it be possible to do all this if the Bible is relative or subjective? The fact is, these verses cannot be obeyed without believing and understanding the Bible alike. The truth is – Bible truth is absolute and objective.
Some would have us to believe it is impossible to attain fully Bible truths. Can we all attain Bible truth? Jesus says we can (John 8:32). Yes, truth can be known. Not only can one know truth, one must know it in order to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). If truth is not attainable, why is study required (2 Timothy 2:15; John 5:39; Acts 17:11; Psalm 1:1-2)? The fact is, Bible truth can be known, that is, it is attainable.
Bible truth is all-important, for Jesus said, “ye shall know the truth…” (John 8:32). In knowing and obeying truth, we receive freedom from our sins (Romans 6:23). This freedom keeps us from the vengeance of God (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). If we plan to go to heaven, we must prepare properly – we must know and obey the truth (Matthew 7:21-23).
How can we know what is right or wrong, truth or error? We will not find this in politics, preachers, popularity, power, position, pleasing self or others. However, it is found in the Word of God.
We must have Bible authority for all we believe, teach and practice (Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Authority must not be overlooked. Truth about right or wrong – truth or error is found in Scripture. Thus, Bible truth is authoritative.
It is not enough to know the Bible is absolute, attainable, all-important and authoritative. All this is right and good scripturally speaking, but something else must take place. From the heart, Bible truth must be accepted (Romans 6:17,18; James 1:21,22).
Why do Christians listen to the preaching of God’s Word? One reason should be that we might learn, consider and apply the teaching of God’s Word. In 2 Chronicles 18, Ahab (Israel’s king) asked Jehoshaphat (king of Judah) to go with him in battle to Ramoth Gilead to retake the city from the Syrians. Jehoshaphat said I am with you, “but inquire first for the word of the Lord” (v. 4). He said in essence, “Let us check with God first!” In Jeremiah’s time, King Zedekiah did at least one right thing; he asked, “Is there any word from the Lord?” (Jeremiah 37:17). Though he got bad news, it was the truth because it was the Word from the Lord. Today, we too should consider the Word of the Lord.
Why consider God’s Word? We should consider God’s Word because it can and will change or impact our lives. The Word of the Lord is described in many ways, but none more interesting than in Jeremiah 23. Jeremiah wept over his people, for they would not consider the Word of God. He wept for them because his people were going to experience God’s wrath if they did not change their ways. They hated Jeremiah for preaching God’s Word, the Truth. They did not want to hear the Truth from God. They wanted to hear the false prophets who said, “Peace, peace when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).
In Jeremiah 23:28-29, God’s Word is described in vivid terms. False prophets were deceiving the people (v. 25-28). False prophets were willing to scratch their itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3). The people needed to be reminded of what Moses had said about the test of a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). If what a prophet said came to pass, they would know it was true and could believe he was from God (Jeremiah 28:9; John 13:19). Yet, the false prophets could say what they wanted to say. They were prophesying lies in the name of the Lord. God, of course, knew about it (Jeremiah 23:23-28). God, then, asked three potent, rhetorical questions. One, “Am I a God near at hand… and not a God afar off?” (v. 23). God is not limited like the false gods. He is above His creation, above time, etc. The second question, “Can a man hide… that I cannot see him?” confirms the omniscience of God (v. 24). Question three, “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” points out the fact that God is everywhere. He is omnipresent (v. 24). These are important teachings about God from His Word.
The prophet that had God’s Word was to speak it faithfully (v. 28). The Word of God was the wheat (grain) contrasted with the chaff (straw) that was the dreams of the false prophets. In this analogy, we see that God’s Word nourishes. Do you hunger for uprightness or right standing with God (Matthew 5:6)? If so, you will be fed and will be filled by God’s Word.
In Jeremiah 23:29, God described His Word as being like fire and like a hammer. Why did God compare His Word to fire? Fire could mean it purifies. It is used in this way elsewhere in Scripture (cf. Numbers 31:23; Zechariah 13:9). It seems reasonable to conclude His Word would overpower the straw (the words of the false prophets). They and their false teachings would be destroyed with the fire of God’s Word. It destroys that which is evil and false by the power of Truth. The Word of God is a compelling power. The fire, the Word of God, also gives light (Psalm 119:105, 130). Christians are to walk in the light of truth (1 John 1:7). James E. Smith in his commentary on Jeremiah penned, “The word of God is like a fire: it burns the conscience, purifies the life, illuminates the mind, energizes the will, warms the heart, fuses the fellowship, and consumes the ungodly.”
God also said His Word is like a hammer (Jeremiah 23:29). It would crush the false teaching. It would break in pieces the dreams of the false prophets. Yes, one use of the hammer of the Word of God was to break down the erroneous teaching in Jeremiah’s day. Yet, the Word as a hammer can rebuild as well. The Word of God can break us, show us we are sinners and convince us we need a Savior. It can take broken lives so marred by sin and purify our souls, washing clean in the blood of our Savior (Acts 22:16; Revelation 1:5).
Why consider the Word of God? Consider the Word of God – the Bible – because it tells us how to live and be pleasing to God. To enter the kingdom one must do the will of God (Matthew 7:21). To avoid the vengeance of God, one must know God and His Word plus obey it (2 Thessalonians 1:8).