Thursday, October 20, 2005

Part 4 -- The preservation of the truth

2Ti 4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. –NIV

By the mid first century doctrinal creep was starting to complicate the proclamation of the Gospel. The teachings of Jesus as passed on by the Apostles were starting to shift as the people found them inconvenient or just plain too hard to follow. The beginnings of Gnosticism gave Paul and John much to write about, and much of what would become the New Testament was being written to counter heresies.

Today we are dealing with issues not that much different than the early Church, but these issues are complicated by the vast increase in knowledge over the past 2000 years. We have people who do not believe that resurrection is possible, that the supernatural cannot happen, that sexual standards are outmoded in a modern society, or that the Atonement was unnecessary.

In an earlier posting I told of how the Resurrection is the basis of my faith. Without it, nothing else makes any sense, and I might as well sleep in Sunday morning. With it, though, comes more than I bargained for: The Incarnation, Sin, Atonement, Repentance, and a host of other things that I must also come to grips with – all because I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, defeating the power of sin and the grave for all time.

So how can we know what is true? As reformed Christians the Word of God alone determines what we believe – the written word and the Living Word – and they are in accord.

How can we know if what we are taught is true?

1Jn 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

1Jn 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. --NIV

Since our beliefs are determined by Scripture, one should be suspicious of any doctrinal assertion that requires one to ignore the Word of God, or to set it aside as irrelevant, or even to dismiss it as outright fraud. Since the Reformation, the Scriptures have been available in our own language and are accessible to all believers. We are the first line of defense in the Preservation of the Truth and knowing Scripture is the key to sound doctrine.

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