|Vol. 16 No. 2 February 2014||
We live in a society that has become increasing hostile to the values in which Christians believe, to which they hold and by which they live. Laws have been enacted in some states that are designed to limit the expression of Christian thought to church buildings, prohibiting even the reading of certain passages of Scripture in public that some would construe as controversial. The problem is exacerbated by those who wear the name Christian but who do not have a clue what it means to be a Christian and to live as a Christian. This is the legacy of the influence of secularism that permeates so much of life.
How do we respond to such an attitude? We remain consistent to our calling as Christians. Paul reminded Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2), whether in season or out, whether popular or not. Why? Because only the Word of God reveals His truth about salvation, about the life those who have salvation in Christ are called to live. Only the Word of God is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), able to penetrate to the innermost part of our being and help mold us in His image. Only the Gospel is God’s power to salvation (Romans 1:16), and only by teaching and living the truth, a lifestyle consistent with the message of the Gospel, will we have an impact on others. “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evil doers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
Even with this, we know there will be many who will still reject the Gospel because they have been deceived by Satan and have allowed sin to harden their hearts. How do we respond to this? We must continue to live the Christian life. Jesus told us, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:4-5).
This reminds us of an important point. This life is brief, as a vapor or mist (James 4:14). If we are faithful unto death, we have the promise of eternal life (Revelation 2:10). No matter what we face in life, whether trials, difficulties, persecutions or whatever, they are short-term compared to eternity. How sad it is for those who reject Christ, who would spend their time living in sin, in seeking to eliminate the influence of Christ, to face what comes in eternity. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18). To reject God is to be given over to sin, and without Christ there is no hope after this life is over.
While many of those who are without Christ would laugh at such an idea, it does not change its truthfulness, because Scripture is true. The rich man in the Gospel of Luke, who lifted up his eyes in torment (16:23), realized his lavish lifestyle had been nothing more than a wasted life. So it will be for those today who reject the Gospel and live a worldly lifestyle and who are hostile to godliness. While we would like to live peaceably during our time here and now, even if we face trouble and distress, what joy will it be to see our Lord in eternity! Trouble today will fade into nothingness in being with the Lord. No matter how good life can be without Christ, it will be meaningless instantly when one realizes it brought judgment forever.
I do not minimize anything anyone has to endure for the sake of the Lord in this life. However, we must realize it is temporary. I do not minimize the problems the ungodly can generate, but without Christ, one’s problems will truly begin after this life is over, and that for eternity. We must keep our perspective about life, no matter what life brings. Remember what it is we live for, and remember those outside of Christ, those who do not obey Christ, are those most to be pitied. “But for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Romans 2:8).
Mark N. Posey
The phrase sola scriptura is from the Latin: sola having the idea of “alone,” “ground,” “base,” and the word scriptura meaning “writings”—referring to the Scriptures. Sola scriptura means that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. The Bible is complete, authoritative and true. Paul stated: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Here is the bottom line:
FIRST, Scripture is inspired. Here, Paul told us the source of Scripture. It comes from God (literally, it is God-breathed), and in its autographs it displays His perfection, being inerrant and absolutely reliable. No one can deny the greatness of the Bible; it is completely unique among all books ever written. The Bible is unique in its:
Continuity: It was written over 1,600 years; over 60 generations; by more than 40 authors; on 3 different continents; in different circumstances, places and times; in different moods; in 3 languages and concerning scores of controversial subjects, but it speaks with one united voice.
Circulation: It is the most published and popular book ever written—far and away; anything else is a distant, distant second.
Translation: It was the first book translated, and the Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book in existence.
Survival: It has survived the ravages of time, manual transcription, persecution and criticism.
Honesty: It deals with the sins and failures of its heroes in a way unknown to ancient literature.
Influence: The Bible has had, far and away, a greater influence on culture and literature than any other book in existence.
SECOND, Scripture is profitable. “Profitable” is a financial term, meaning “gain.” Profit may be derived from spending time with the Bible. The people of God are directed in the following way:
Profitable for Doctrine (teaching)—what is right. The word “doctrine” (didaskalia) occurs 21 times in the New Testament. It means, “teaching, instruction.”
Profitable for Reproof (conviction)—what is wrong. The word “reproof” (elegchos) occurs two times in the New Testament. It means, “a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested.”
Profitable for Correction (improvement)—how to get right. The word “correction” (epanorthōsis) occurs once in the New Testament. It means, “restoration to an upright or right state.”
Profitable for Instruction in Righteousness (training and discipline)—how to stay right. The word “instruction” (paideia) occurs six times in the New Testament. It means, “instruction which aims at increasing virtue.”
THIRD, Scripture equips. “Furnished” means, “to furnish perfectly, to finish, accomplish.” When we let the Bible guide our thinking, our minds are renewed and transformed (Romans 12:2), so we begin to actually think like God thinks. Paul began the chapter warning Timothy about dangerous times. Some Christians are swept away by perilous times and some others go into hiding. Neither option is right for us. We are to stand strong and stay on the Word of God.