We had some friends over New Year’s Eve for Pizza and had a bit of a discussion of current culture changes and the best way to hear God’s word. I tried to make the point about the centrality of the Bible….particularly in the sharing of the gospel. I don’t think I was that Very effective in making the point. Two aspects I pointed out were: 1) notice the foundational position in Chapter 1 of the WCF of God’s revealed word the Holy Scriptures; 2) The pattern we observe in multiple speeches made in the Book of Acts. That link refers to a study we did in our men’s group a few years ago.
In the WCF, (which we agreed is not itself God’s word in the sense the Bible is) does give a valuable summary which is most often neglected today, in preference to the preferred contemporary writings of our favorite pastors and teachers: the NT Wright’s, Tim Keller’s, Rick Warren’s, etc…..or any of the numerous women authors our big publishing houses give to us.
No point in going further with that line of thinking, but do observe some that the WCF statements in the opening chapter….
CHAPTER 1 – WCF
Of the Holy Scripture
1. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.
5. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
The writers of the WCF, placed these words first for our understanding, before their discussion of any of the doctrines (teachings) of the Bible text that are summarized in the Confession.
I made a feeble attempt to point out much of our cultural changes today come from failing to teach all of scripture or attempting to reinterpret it. Anyway we didn’t really reach any conclusion in the discussion and moved on to dessert, something we could agree upon.
I wasn’t going to write about this but one of my favorite bloggers did a New Year’s piece on an often neglected verse, which is often left out of contemporary teaching.
Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Mike likes to do his own Greek translations. It is a worthwhile read. And refers to both John Bunyan and William Tyndall. Two very important Brits.
One reads earlier in Matthew, that Jesus tells us about persecution:
Mat 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Mat 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
But just as Jesus often slipped away from those who wanted to harm him, there are examples of others being rescued:
Luk 4:28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
Luk 4:29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
Luk 4:30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
Act 9:23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:
Act 9:24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
Act 9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
2Co 11:32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
2Co 11:33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.
Acts 12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
Jos 2:1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
Jos 2:2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.
Jos 2:3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.
Jos 2:15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.
Jos 2:16 And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way.
And even in Mike’s text and earlier in the chapter Jesus, speaks of times to avoid or flee from persecution.
Matthew 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
Matthew 10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
There will be some who are called to be witnesses to the truth of the gospel as Bunyan and Tyndall and many others were:
Mat 10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Mat 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Perhaps the best advise is found in verses 16-17 Mat 10:16 ….be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: …
There will be times to present the whole word of God directly and perhaps times to just speak softly to a person’s heart in words or action, if we see they are not ready for more than the milk…..but if we totally avoid persecution, we may be following the wrong path.
1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
BTW…if you are curious we didn’t have Milk Toast for dinner, and generally agree that none of us wants to be a Caspar Milquetoast either.