The great tragedy of our generation, even within many churches, is the lack of a solid foundation upon which to build a strong, vital faith that can withstand the storms of life and not be moved by the winds of opposition or every new teaching that comes our way. What is the only truly solid foundation upon which we can build a faith which is immovable through the sands of time and the storms of life? The Word of God. Everything else in God’s creation is movable and subject to change but the Word of God is a firm foundation which abides forever:
"All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the Lord endures forever." (1 Peter 1:24-25)
We not only see that the Word of God is enduring but Peter says that it is the firm and stable base upon which to build our lives and faith:
“And we have the more firm (bebaios “sure, firm, stable”) prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19 DRB)
The prophetic Word is the bedrock upon which we are to build our faith. And, what is this firm prophetic Word to which Peter refers? The Scriptures. He goes on to explain in verses 20 and 21 that the Scriptures are not mere opinions of the men who wrote them (“of private interpretation”). It wasn’t a product of the will of men who decided to write down their own thoughts and opinions, but rather the Scriptures came into being as a result of holy men of God speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Being the inspired Word of God, Paul could make the unequivocal, dogmatic declaration:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17)
So we see that the Early Church considered all Scripture to be inspired of God – God’s very words spoken to mankind through His yielded and consecrated servants. This dogmatic faith in the Scriptures as the Word of God and the only absolute authority for faith and godliness did not originate with them. Jesus set the example, referring to the Scriptures as the very Words of God. Jesus, when tempted by Satan resists him quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3 saying: “It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Matt 4:4) He then proceeded to defeat each temptation of the devil with the appropriate Scripture stating in each instance: “It is written….” If the Scriptures were merely words of holy men, or even words of men containing divine truths, they would not have carried sufficient authority so as to stop Satan in his tracks.
Jesus’ use of the Word of God - resisting the devil with “it is written,” explains why Paul refers to it as “the sword of the Spirit.” (Eph 6:17) Hebrews 4:12 states that the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. This could not be said of the Scriptures if, as many today affirm, they were merely words of saintly men with divine thoughts and therefore subject to question.
As a child I had sword-fights with my friends. However, we didn’t use the two-edged swords of tempered steel. We called them swords but we knew that they wouldn’t be very effective against a real enemy because they were made of rubber. If the Scriptures are not indeed the very words of God: If they are nothing more than words of men mixed in with divine ideas, then it would be entirely ineffective, just as a rubber sword would be against a real enemy. One who does not have a firm faith in the Scriptures as the very words of God is of no threat to the enemy. Satan mocks those who lack absolute confidence in the Scriptures as the very Word of God, just as a soldier would mock you if you came against Him with a rubber sword.
The enemy knows that he cannot win against one who has their faith firmly planted upon the Word of God, no matter how frail or insignificant that individual may appear to be. David demonstrated how even a shepherd boy with a firm faith in the Word of God and the God of the Word can become a giant-slayer. The enemy also knows that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17). Therefore, the only way he can possibly defeat us and prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ is to undermine our faith in the Scriptures as the pure Word of God.
A brief review of the history of the Church reveals how Satan’s strategy, from the very beginning, has been to move us from the firm foundation of the Scriptures as the only absolute authority for faith and godliness. From the time of the original twelve apostles, the leaven of the Pharisees sought to contaminate the pure Word of God, adding to it the commandments of men. The leaven of the Sadducees, on the other hand, took away from the Scriptures, denying it’s supernatural nature. Then the mysticism of the Gnostics sought to remove truth from all objectivity, leaving one without a solid anchor for one’s faith in the knowable Word of God. This was followed up by the rise of the Roman institutional Church which replaced biblical truth for tradition and removed the Scriptures from the common people depriving them of the truth and mixing it with pagan superstition.
With the invention of the printing press the Scriptures once again became available in the language of the people and the Reformation sprang out of a renewed faith in the Scriptures as the objective and authoritative Word of God. Following the example of Jesus and the Early Church, the reformers once again stood firmly upon the conviction that the “it is written” of Scripture was the final authority on any matter of doctrine and practice. Sola Scriptura (only the Scriptures) was once again the theme of the rising Church.
With the Scriptures now in the hands of the people, the Papal Church, with its traditions and pagan superstitions, that had kept the people in the dark for more than a thousand years, could no longer keep them from the transforming truth of God’s written word. They were now rising up with a renewed faith in the God of the Bible, and Satan was losing his power to keep God’s people from knowing the truth that would make them free. Now the only way the enemy could possibly stem the rising tide of the Reformation was to undermine this renewed confidence in the Scriptures as the Word of God.
The reformation, which began in the sixteenth century, was headed off by what has become known as “The Age of Enlightenment,” in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The “Enlightenment” exalted reason above the authority of the Church and the Scriptures. Exalting reason over God’s revelation is seen in Scripture to always result in “every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes.” (Deut 12:8; Jdg 17:6; 21:5; Pr 3:7; 12:15; Isa 5:21, etc.) It has always led to bondage and ruin, requiring God’s judgmental intervention.
The Age of Enlightenment gave birth to Modernistic Materialism in the nineteenth century, which rejected the supernatural in favor of empirical science which denied any reality which could not be demonstrated by scientific investigation. Many within Christianity, feeling the need for affirmation by the scientific community, began to call into doubt the veracity of the Scriptures. The creation account in Genesis was either altered to accommodate science or outright rejected as myth in favor of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The miracles were spiritualized and historical events recorded in the Bible were subjected to the “higher criticism” of the liberal theologians, which essentially approaches the Scriptures in the same way as empirical science (assuming Scripture as false until every means to discredit it fails). The devil, demons; and for some, even God Himself, came to be considered by them to be nothing more than mere myths. The religion of the day was Atheism.
Man, however, having been created in the image and likeness of God, cannot find significant meaning to go on living in the void produced by the concept of an impersonal, materialistic world. Modernistic Materialism only produced hopelessness and despair. At the same time, scientists began to realize that there are many mysterious realities which empirical science cannot prove – except possibly in theory. This gave place in the late twentieth century to Postmodernism which has begun to open up to the acceptance of spiritual realities beyond our physical world.
This new trend towards the recognition of the spiritual dimension, beyond that which materialistic science can prove in a test-tube, would seem, at first sight, to be a tremendous opportunity for the Church, enabling it to reach a generation for the gospel, and indeed it is. However, even as Modernistic Materialism produced a generation of Atheists who operated from unbelief until proven otherwise, Postmodernism has now produced a generation of Agnostics who operate from uncertainty. Since they now realize there are realities beyond those which can be tested in a test-tube, they conclude that there are no definable absolutes – that everything is relative.
What is lacking in our generation are those faith is firmly planted upon the foundation of the Word of God – those who can say with conviction “it is written” and therefore it is true; no matter what the latest “science” fad may be affirming as truth. Our generation needs to hear a clear word in the dark vagueness of relativity – a more sure prophetic word.
Tragically, as usual, many in the church world are seeking the approval of men rather than the “well done” of our Lord. Many churches, just as it has been since the beginning, are seeking to be conformed to the present worldview in order to attract a larger audience, rather than being transformed by the renewing of our minds, bringing captive every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (Rom 12:1,2; 2 Cor 10:5) Only in this manner can the Church positively impact the world, becoming salt and light in a dark world as Jesus commanded us.
The Liberal theologians, parroting Modernistic Materialistic science, approached the Scriptures in the same way as the empirical scientist with the mind-set: “It is false until evidence requires belief.” Today Atheistic Modernism has given place to the agnosticism of Postmodernism, and Liberal theologians have morphed into today’s Progressives. Progressives do not deny that the Scriptures contain truth; nor do they deny the supernatural. What they do deny is that all Scripture is inspired of God, and that truth can therefore be known with dogmatic certainty. Many even go so far as to deny Jesus’ words “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) The emergent church of the twenty-first century is once again departing from the faith once and for all delivered to the saints into the sea of relativity that could eventually cause her to take on the form of Mystery Babylon, the harlot church. (Rev 17)
The Church of the living God needs to rise up to this opportune hour with a clear word like Elijah crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” We need to build upon the solid foundation of “it is written,” following the example of Jesus and the Apostles. We need to bring the Reformation to perfection, using once again the reformers theme: Sola Scriptura.” The reformers restored the Scriptures as the foundation of absolute truth, recovering the doctrine of justification by faith and rejecting unbiblical traditions. It is my conviction that, as we go on to complete the reformation which the reformers began (but was side-tracked by Modernism), we will rediscover the doctrine of the restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began, but was lost sight of upon entering into the Dark Ages. (Acts 3:21) (For a more detailed exposition of this subject read my book The Triumph of Mercy.)
The whole of creation awaits the time of the manifestation of the sons of God, the Bride of Christ who is the first-fruits of God’s new creation. At the time of their manifestation Paul says that all creation will be restored. (Rom 8:18-23) Obviously the reformation will not have come to completion until all the elect sons of God have finally come to believe, based upon the Scriptures that the restoration of all is indeed part of God’s overall plan for the ages. How are we as sons of God going to be instrumental in the restoration of all and the reconciliation of all, when many of us do not even believe it will take place as prophesied?