A philosophy of faith, to have any significant value, must be built upon an unassailably sound foundation. Philosophy has been variously defined as a system or interpretation of life, a love of wisdom, or a study of the ultimate reality, and for these purposes there is only one sure basis, and that is the word of Scripture as originally written, a recourse to that favourite phrase used by the Hebrew prophets, "Thus saith the Lord."
Granted acceptance of this basis, a means of communication becomes available for those who believe, not merely IN God (as many people do in a vague and general way) but who believe what God has said. Such a belief entails acceptance of the fact that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for teaching, for conviction and for discipline in righteousness, whether addressed specifically to Gentiles such as we are or to other groups of believers either past or future, provided that we are careful to distinguish things that differ. The acceptance of this fact, in turn, requires us to treat this inspired revelation with at least the same degree of respect as regards its scientific accuracy as we would accord to a purely human document in the authorship of which we had absolute confidence, and of which we had a conviction that our proper understanding of its contents is essential to our survival. Such an approach would even then be a minimum requirement, for no human author and no human document can be compared at any level with God and the declarations that He makes.
No one who has ever applied himself to the serious study of Scripture can ever entertain any doubt as to its super natural character. This is evidenced in many ways; by the complete interlocking of its parts, by its complete absence of self-contradiction, by exterior and interior evidences which can be piled one upon the other, and not least by the extreme precision of the original language used. The careful student will find it is indeed true that " The words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace, words of earth purified seven times."
All who would understand Scripture have had, to do so by means of translation, and despite the many versions that have been made there are still passages that are obscure, although God has always ensured that at all times His essential message to mankind has remained clear for the most simple of us to under stand, and if certain crudities of translation have obscured some of its truths it is always possible for the reader, even without personal knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, when faced with a difficulty or a seeming contradiction, to find his way back to the original facts. In this respect the saying of our Lord was never more true, that he who seeks shall find.
To some of us the seeking and finding of truth is more important than anything else whatsoever. The language of the King James Version is superb, and without it we should be immeasurably the poorer, but the real seeker after truth will frequently find it necessary to compare various renderings of some passages in order to be sure of their exact meaning. A concordant translation, in which an attempt has been made to be as literal as possible by the consistent rendering of each Greek word by an assigned English equivalent, is of enormous help in this direction.
We must always beware of giving to our own ideas about Scripture the same final authority that Scripture itself alone possesses. The test of any doctrine is simply this: Can it be expressed in the plain words of Scripture? If this should not be possible, then such teaching immediately becomes suspect. This test, if applied to many of the widely-adopted theological dogmas, at once reveals their unsoundness.
The greatest hindrance to intelligent faith all down the ages has been the human tendency to substitute something else for the sure Word of God; and anything else, however attractive, is completely inadequate and useless.
The Living Word, the Logos, through the whole period of His earthly ministry bore constant testimony to the truth of Scripture. He was in Himself the fulfilment of Hebrew Scripture, as He told the disciples on the Emmaus road, saying these Scriptures concerned Himself. And to the Pharisees He said, concerning these same Scriptures, "These testify of Me." The events of His earthly life were providentially determined "that the Scriptures might be fulfilled," and the many quotations which He made from these same Hebrew Scriptures endorsed them with the seal of His personal authority. Indeed, He said that if men did not believe Moses and the prophets they would not believe even if one should rise from the dead; and His initial earthly conflict with Satan was a victory He won by a faithful appeal only to one authority, "It is written."
The main attack of the Adversary, from the time of Eve down to the present day, has been an unrelenting attempt to question and discredit Gods Word. . . "Hath God said?" ... and strangely enough, it seems men have always preferred the lie to the truth until now much prevailing contemporary thought has been enmeshed by a tangled web of lies which many subconsciously accept as if they were true. This is indeed a foretaste of that great delusion foreseen in Scripture when men everywhere shall believe "the lie."
There is only one protection for those who love the truth; and that is to bring every thought, every conclusion, every theory to the cutting edge of Scripture. Truth will be found only where such thinking survives the test of fidelity to that which is "written." An example has been set for us once and for all by the circumspect Jews of Berea. Hearing the words of Paul and Silas, they examined the Scriptures daily "whether these things were so." They displayed a commendable readiness of mind to receive what was spoken to them, in contrast to the unready and closed minds of most nominal "believers," but not without applying the test of Scripture. They searched to see what was written; and 'when they found that the spoken word was confirmed by the written word, but not until then, they believed.
We do not have to be in bondage to any theories, nor accept the conclusions of any teacher, however eminent, if we are prepared to accept as our ultimate authority that which "is written."
The claims which God makes for His Word are so tremendous that we should treat it with the utmost reverence. It is more enduring than the heavens and the earth themselves and many and severe are the warnings against the denial and misuse of it. Inherent in that Word is the power which brought the universe itself into being; He spake, and it was done. It is the same Word which sustains all things. It is sharper than a two-edged sword, it is like a fire and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces, it is the Voice of Deity!
Despite all this, men use it dishonestly; add to it and subtract from it, corrupt it and make it of "none effect."
To be on sure ground, any man who writes or speaks about the things of God should take up the position adopted by the Apostle Paul when setting out his evangel as recorded in First Corinthians 15. It is all, from first to last, "according to the Scriptures." To do this, we should seek to know the Scriptures to the limit of our ability, a task demanding constant thought and study. If we do this with unfettered mind, ever seeking the enlightenment of the eyes of our hearts, we shall be able to say in all honesty, as Paul did, "but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ."
When, some five years ago, a group of my friends in America generously provided the necessary finance to print the first edition of this book, their object, in the Lord, was to provide at a purely nominal cost, a series of Scripture studies which, while being faithful to Gods Word, were readily understandable by the genuine believer, even where he or she had no pretensions to scholarship.
Their venture of faith has been honoured by God and amply rewarded by the reception accorded to this book, resulting in a continuing demand. This is being met by the Concordant Publishing Concern who are responsible for printing this second edition.
On all the subjects there is, of course, much to add, but this is one of the wonders of Gods Word, that it is inexhaustible, and light and truth constantly break forth from it, and the lover of God is constantly inspired by it to "follow the gleam."
Cecil J. Blay
May 16, 1973
|Preface||VIII. "God Ruleth on High"||XVI. Of Our Humiliation|
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