FOLLOW THE BIBLE ONLY?
by Wayne Chamberlain
When one suggests that it is possible to follow only the Bible in their effort to serve God, it brings different responses. Sometimes this statement is met with indifference. Occasionally someone will act like that is a noble thought, but really impossible to do. And at other times someone will say, “That is what I do.”
Yet when questions are asked, it becomes obvious that they are not following the Bible only because, 1) they refer to themselves as some particular “brand” of Christian; 2) they admit that they follow the teachings of some particular man, and that, in essence, they interpret the Bible according to the teachings of this man; 3) they are a member of a church that identifies itself with a term not found in the Bible; 4) in “the name of Christ” they practice things that are clearly not authorized in the Bible, and many times the list could go on.
Is it possible in the 1990’s to follow the Bible only? Some individuals and churches do not even lay claim to such a philosophy. They say plainly and boldly that they will not be bound by a 2,000 year old set of rules, and that the church today must be a progressive church that offers programs that are appealing to kids raised on Nintendo and that has a message which is in vogue with modern American values and ethics. Is there precedent for stressing the ideology of “following the Bible only”? Yes, there certainly is - and, I might add, the precedent is set by a very impressive lot.
Just before the Israelites entered Canaan, Moses reminded them of the attitude they were to show toward God’s law. “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it...” (Deut.4:2a). A long list of infractions could be made showing what happened to those who gave no heed to those words. The sons of Aaron had already been smitten with fire from heaven for transgressing God’s instructions (Lev.10:1-ff). Later, Saul lost his kingdom because he wanted to do things his way (ISam.15). Many times throughout the Old Testament, Israel turned from God’s truths - and suffered for it.(e.g. II Ki.17:5-23)
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul unequivocally stated, “...if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Gal.1:8) John wrote in his second letter saying, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.” (II John 9) Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” (John 8:31b) One would demonstrate very little respect for God’s word if he read these passages then said, “It really doesn’t matter what you believe and do, just as long as you love the Lord in your heart.” Yet the world is filled with people making that very statement. And these people do not contradict my teachings, they go against the teachings of the inspired writers.
The humanistic philosophy of man being his own god, is not far from the thinking of many today who claim to be following the teachings of Jesus. They claim that “Jesus is Lord”, when in fact they have never truly yielded the scepter. Too many times, we are just like King Saul. Saul “spared the best” of all the animals to sacrifice to God, when God had already said he wanted them destroyed. (See ISam.15:1-26) Saul claimed he was trying to please God. He was going to offer all those animals as sacrifices to God. Did Saul fail to realize that God wanted obedience - instead of some showy claim of service? Or was Saul just determined to do what really pleased himself while claiming to do it for God?
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” So, the Son of God says, it takes more than just claiming that Jesus is our Lord, one must “do the will of the Father” to be acceptable to God. Jesus carries this thought further and says, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Do you know what “lawlessness” means?
It simply means “without law”. Something that is not authorized. In this case, something outside God’s word and will. Now keep that in mind as we once again ask the question, “Can we follow the Bible only?” The answer is quite simple. If we want to please God - we MUST follow the Bible ONLY.
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