The Continuity of the Word of God
Jesus promised the world that God’s revealed will through Him would never pass away. “Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31). The word translated pass away is the same word found in 2 Pet. 3:10, “... the heavens shall pass away.” Christ’s words are eternal. They are the life giving words that produce spirit and life (John 6:63). Peter said this same word has been preached and is an everlasting message, the incorruptible seed that conceives a newborn child of God (1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Pet. 1:23). In the same context Peter says it is the word that “abideth forever” and affirms that it is the same gospel, which was preached by the apostles of Christ (verse 25).
In the parable of the sower, Jesus said the seed is the word of God (Lk. 8:11). Matthew’s account calls this “the word of the kingdom” (Matt. 13:19). It is the indestructible and infallible word that produces the kingdom. Catholicism errs by affirming that the church produces and preserves the word of God. The opposite is true. The first century church fell away from her original purity. Paul was deeply concerned that the church might fall into the snare of Satan and become corrupt (2 Cor. 11:1-4). Corruption, Paul declared, would come when someone preached another Jesus, another gospel, which he also said would bring God’s anathema (Gal. 1:6-9).
R.P.C. Hanson thinks Catholics tend to harp too much on the continuity of the church while Protestants give it too little significance. He opposes the idea that the church, in order to have continuity, must simply be faithful to the Scripture, for he alleges that had there been no church to preserve, copy, print, circulate, and teach the Scriptures, there would be no Scriptures. (The Continuity of Christian Doctrine, Seabury Press, New York, 1981, page 64.) But the church is not the incorruptible and indestructible element in what God has designed to remain when all else passes away. It is the word that will remain when all else perishes. As long as there is the seed, the word of the kingdom of God, the Lord’s church and kingdom stand. That can only be said so long as the church remains loyal to the truth of Scripture. History, both secular and sacred, records the departures of those professing to be the church and argues against the opinion that the continuity of the church insures continuity of the word of God. The exact opposite is true.
“The words of the Lord are pure words,
As silver tried in a furnace of earth, refined seven times,
Thou, O Lord, wilt keep them.
Thou wilt preserve them from this generation forever” (Psalm 12:6-8).
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