Tomorrow, Christians will gather in many different churches in many different traditions in many different settings. Some will meet in buildings with stain glass windows and steeples. Others will meet in buildings that resemble arenas or warehouses. Some will meet in hotel conference rooms and some will meet in homes. There will be 300 year-old hymns and 3 year-old contemporary songs played and sung by bands, choirs, and soloists with the accompaniment of pianos, keyboards, drums, guitars, organs, or nothing at all. There will be 20-minute, 30-minute, 45- minute, 60-minute (maybe longer?) sermons preached. People will sing. People will pray. People will give. People will sleep. Some things will never change. However, some things already have.
In American churches, theological liberalism is experiencing a resurgence with the dramatic social and cultural changes, especially with regard to marriage. Many denominations are experiencing change as a result of their willingness to submit to cultural pressure. Fears of appearing irrelevant, intolerant, and ignorant have led many denominations to flee biblical orthodoxy for the sake of cultural relevancy and approval. While the issue of so-called gay marriage is by no means the sole factor in the rise of theological liberalism, I believe it is proving itself to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back on many denominations and churches within denominations. As a result, denominations and churches that had not previously denied the inerrancy of Scripture, are finding it much easier to do now since it is virtually impossible to hold to the inerrancy of Scripture and affirm homosexual behavior and relationships.
The point of all this is to say that every single church in every single Christian denomination is going to be faced with the same question tomorrow morning: Will you trust the Bible?
Trusting the Bible is Trusting God
For theologically conservative churches, this question will be empowering to answer affirmatively and debilitating to answer negatively. In what most conservative scholars agree to be Paul’s final letter, the apostle reminds his protegé, Timothy, to hold fast and continue in the sacred writings he has learned from childhood as he leads his congregation and faces false teaching in and out of the church. He strongholds Timothy’s ministry by describing the character of the word of God he would later command him to “preach” (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Paul writes,
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Because the entire Bible is inspired by God, it is wholly infallible and inerrant. Paul also describes the Bible as being profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and for training in righteousness. What this simply means is, trusting the Bible is trusting God himself.
Will you trust God’s Word? Every single text of this holy Book is God-breathed and therefore holy, divine, inerrant, infallible, Spirit-empowered, and Christ-centered. It is all that we need for salvation and holiness. Do you trust that today? Your soul is craving and your heart is searching for answers on how to deal with all sorts of physical, emotional, and spiritual afflictions and sufferings. Will you rest in the grace and power of God in his Word? While there are invaluable resources that can aid in our sanctification, most deeply, we need the God-breathed Bible to transform our hearts so that we may think, feel, and act to the glory of God. Left to our own devices, we would cave at the pressure of false teaching and suffering, and so would Timothy. But like him, as children of God, we must heed Paul’s reminder that our satisfaction and most ultimate good are found in the all-supreme and all-sufficient Word of God.
Trusting the Satisfying Word of God
However, if you have not experienced God’s grace of teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness in his Word, it is probably due to the fact that you are not in his Word. It is difficult for us to hunger and crave Scripture when our minds and hearts are filled with sports, work, and TV. I assure you and Paul assures you that the Word of God is more satisfying than these things. Food will ultimately fail you. Sports, work, and TV will all eventually fail in satisfying you. But the Word of God will never ever fail to satisfy your soul. Trust God’s Word for your joy because it is gloriously supreme as breathed out by God. And trust God’s Word for your joy because it is completely sufficient for your sanctification in Christ. There is a deep craving within your soul that is far greater than any other craving that will be satisfied by the all-supreme, all-sufficient God-breathed Scripture. Face false teachers and suffering with confidence in the grace of Scripture to sustain you and satisfy you. May we dive in head first into the glorious sea that is God’s Word and swim to find our greatest treasure.
“More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10).
“The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (Ps. 119:72).
“Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold” (Ps. 119:127).
Closing Thoughts on the Word of God
Will you just stop with me for a moment to consider and marvel at this thought? The book that you will hold in your hand tomorrow morning is not just any book. It is a book in which every single word is God-breathed or uniquely intended by God to be written in a specific time by a specific writer. We should hold this book in the highest esteem and approach it with fear and trembling. It is not a plaything to be tossed around or a worldly work to be treated lightly. These words that we are reading and studying are from the One who created the Milky Way galaxy and the amoeba. May we never be flippant or silly with this Word. And may we always fall before this Word in submission and worship because of its unbelievably God-like nature. What unfathomable love! What amazing grace!
All churches, despite their preferential differences in worship style, will continue to face the same question. Some have responded with rebellion for the sake of unity with the culture. Thank God that some have responded with submission and obedience for the sake of unity with the Christ. God has revealed himself in his word. The question is yours: Will you trust the Bible?
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies, Dec. ’14). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife Erica and their dog, Simba.