Originally posted by lunadanipog
at GOD AS CREATOR: GRACIOUS SUSTAINER
I have been dealing with the topic God as Creator in my previous posts. I started with GOD AS CREATOR: a truth often taken for granted
. The article simply says that we should always go back to the truth that all we see with our naked eyes belong to God and are from from God (even we, ourselves). Next is GOD AS CREATOR: Isaiah Amused by the Creator King
. Here we saw how Isaiah praised the God of Israel and how he emphasized how imporabale their God is (our God is)...how He sustains His creation. No one is like our God. I posted a song entitled "My Creator King" at the end of the article.
Today, we'll see another amazing character of God as the Creator of all. Since He created all the things in heaven and on earth, He also graciously sustains everything. Let us look at some verses which support this.
Again, from the book of Isaiah, it says in chapter 51:12-13, 15-16
12 The Lord says, "I am the one who strengthens you
. Why should you fear mortals, who are no more enduring than grass?
13 Have you forgotten the Lord who made you, who stretched out the heavens and laid the earth's foundations?
Why should you live in constant fear of the fury of those who oppress you, of those who are ready to destroy you? Their fury can no longer touch you
15 "I am the Lord you God; I stir up the sea and make its waves roar. My name is the Lord Almighty!
16 I stretched out the heavens and laid the earth's foundations; I say to Jerusalem, 'You are my people! I have given you my teaching,
and I protect you with my hand'"
This is how God cares for His creation. As for his concern for humans (to those whom He has chosen together with the Israel), He won't let any fury touch them. His very own hands will protect them.
Let us see what the New Testament has to say with this. It is said in Acts 14:17 "But He has always given evidence of His existence by the good things he does: he gives you rain from heaven and crops at the right times; he gives you food and fills your hearts with happiness."
God purposely sustains his creation to show His glory, His existence. It's for his glory! You can also see in this verse that He does and designs things to happen in order. He knows when to pour out rain, so the crops may be for harvest 'at the right times' (He knows their time). He gives us food (I believe this is not only for our physical bodies but for spiritual also).
Also in Matthew 6:25-34
(the famous passage about Worrying), Jesus (himself) testifies how God sustains everything - from the flowers, to wild grasses, to the birds,..and to us humans.
I would like to include here Psalm 104 because the whole chapter explains it all. How God put His creations in order, how they are interdependent with one another and how He sustains all of them. Psalm 104 "In Praise of the Creator" O Lord, my God, how great you are!
You are clothed with majesty and glory;
2 you cover yourself with light.
You have spread out the heavens like a tent
3 and built your home on the waters above.[a]
You use the clouds as your chariot
and ride on the wings of the wind.
4 You use the winds as your messengers
and flashes of lightning as your servants.
5 You have set the earth firmly on its foundations,
and it will never be moved.
6 You placed the ocean over it like a robe,
and the water covered the mountains.
7 When you rebuked the waters, they fled;
they rushed away when they heard your shout of command.
8 They flowed over the mountains and into the valleys,
to the place you had made for them.
9 You set a boundary they can never pass,
to keep them from covering the earth again.
10 You make springs flow in the valleys,
and rivers run between the hills.
11 They provide water for the wild animals;
there the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 In the trees near by,
the birds make their nests and sing.
13 From the sky you send rain on the hills,
and the earth is filled with your blessings.
14 You make grass grow for the cattle
and plants for us to use,
so that we can grow our crops
15 and produce wine to make us happy,
olive oil to make us cheerful,
and bread to give us strength.
16 The cedars of Lebanon get plenty of rainâ
the Lord's own trees, which he planted.
17 There the birds build their nests;
the storks nest in the fir trees.
18 The wild goats live in the high mountains,
and the rock badgers hide in the cliffs.
19 You created the moon to mark the months;
the sun knows the time to set.
20 You made the night, and in the darkness
all the wild animals come out.
21 The young lions roar while they hunt,
looking for the food that God provides.
22 When the sun rises, they go back
and lie down in their dens.
23 Then people go out to do their work
and keep working until evening.
24 Lord, you have made so many things!
How wisely you made them all!
The earth is filled with your creatures.
25 There is the ocean, large and wide,
where countless creatures live,
large and small alike.
26 The ships sail on it, and in it plays Leviathan,
that sea monster which you made.[b]
27 All of them depend on you
to give them food when they need it.
28 You give it to them, and they eat it;
you provide food, and they are satisfied.
29 When you turn away, they are afraid;
when you take away your breath, they die
and go back to the dust from which they came.
30 But when you give them breath,[c] they are created;
you give new life to the earth.
31 May the glory of the Lord last forever!
May the Lord be happy with what he has made!
32 He looks at the earth, and it trembles;
he touches the mountains, and they pour out smoke.
33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
as long as I live I will sing praises to my God.
34 May he be pleased with my song,
for my gladness comes from him.
35 May sinners be destroyed from the earth;
may the wicked be no more.
Praise the Lord, my soul!
Praise the Lord!
Verses 27-31 are very powerful. The psalmist gave emphasis on the total dependence of the whole creation to the great Creator. Our lives come from HIm. If He withhold his sustaining grace, WE'RE LOST! We die!
And in response to this, our sould shall forever praise His name! (verses 33-35).
Let me quote again Isaiah 40:26. I really love it how Isaiah put it in astronomical language:
Soli Deo Gloria!
Originally posted by lunadanipog
at GOD AS CREATOR: Isaiah amused by the Creator King (Isaiah 40:12-31)
I'd like to share this passage from the book of Isaiah. Isaiah 40:12-31
"Israel's Incomparable God
". This is my devotion for this day and it's related to my latest post GOD AS CREATOR: a truth often taken for granted
. In this passage, Isaiah tells Israel how great their God is. He even gave emphasis to how God sustains His creation. It really amazes me.
Israel's Incomparable God 12
Can anyone measure the ocean by handfuls
or measure the sky with his hands?
Can anyone hold the soil of the earth in a cup
or weigh the mountains and hills on scales? 13
Can anyone tell the Lord what to do?
Who can teach him or give him advice? 14
With whom does God consult
in order to know and understand
and to learn how things should be done? 15
To the Lord the nations are nothing,
no more than a drop of water;
the distant islands are as light as dust. 16
All the animals in the forests of Lebanon
are not enough for a sacrifice to our God,
and its trees are too few to kindle the fire. 17
The nations are nothing at all to him. 18
To whom can God be compared?
How can you describe what he is like? 19
He is not like an idol that workers make,
that metalworkers cover with gold
and set in a base of silver. 20
Anyone who cannot afford silver or gold[a]
chooses wood that will not rot.
He finds a skillful worker
to make an image that won't fall down. 21
Do you not know?
Were you not told long ago?
Have you not heard how the world began? 22
It was made by the one who sits on his throne
above the earth and beyond the sky;
the people below look as tiny as ants.
He stretched out the sky like a curtain,
like a tent in which to live. 23
He brings down powerful rulers
and reduces them to nothing. 24
They are like young plants,
just set out and barely rooted.
When the Lord sends a wind,
they dry up and blow away like straw. 25
To whom can the holy God be compared?
Is there anyone else like him? 26
Look up at the sky!
Who created the stars you see?
The one who leads them out like an army,
he knows how many there are
and calls each one by name!
His power is so greatâ
not one of them is ever missing! 27
Israel, why then do you complain
that the Lord doesn't know your troubles
or care if you suffer injustice? 28
Don't you know? Haven't you heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God;
he created all the world.
He never grows tired or weary.
No one understands his thoughts. 29
He strengthens those who are weak and tired. 30
Even those who are young grow weak;
young people can fall exhausted. 31
But those who trust in the Lord for help
will find their strength renewed.
They will rise on wings like eagles;
they will run and not get weary;
they will walk and not grow weak.
(Good News Translation)
Originally posted by lunadanipog
at GOD AS CREATOR: a truth often taken for granted
My first official post here in LiveJournal says that It's Not About Us. I ended it with the introduction of 'God as our Creator'.
The book of Genesis clearly says that everything in this world comes from God. He is the author of it all, things in heaven and on earth. (Pls see Genesis 1&2). The universe is His, not only the 'known universe' or what is usually taught to us in our science classes, but all of "God's universe". Even scientists admit that they have not yet discovered the entirety of universe. Well simply because it's limitless...it's a limitless masterpiece of a limitless Creator.
Look, this is very basic but we often take this truth for granted. Living in a material world tempts people to think that they can do anything they want to do even without God. Or even deceive them that what they see with their naked eyes are but creations of man. There are so many gifts which we should be thankful for but we tend to love the gift more than the Giver.
On every day of God's creation, it is written always that "...God was pleased with what He saw..." Maybe we forget that this is what we are made for after all - "to please God". The creation is for His own glory, not ours. Let us give back to God the praises that He deserves.
In Psalm 24:1 it says, "The world and ALL that is in it belong to the Lord; the earth and ALL who live on it are His." The use of "ALL" in this verse is clear. There is no doubt that we have a great Author of life. We are His.
And in response, it says in Psalm 103:22 "Praise the Lord ALL His creatures in ALL the places He rules. Praise the Lord my soul!"
The psalmist acknowledged his Creator and gave Him praises. May we also have the same attitude and heart of David (the psalmist). Let us remember our God as our great Creator.
Alright, looking to revive some of LJ's reformed community:
Can infants have faith? I would contend they can.
Faith is more trust than intellectual cognition. The demons intellectually understand God exists but are not saved. Likewise a child can trust his mother without truly understanding much about her. Through the word and sacraments, in the same way we speak to infants eventually teaching them speech, God uses them to build faith even in infants.
BTW, note this doesn't assume paedobaptism, though it may make more sense. You could argue that infants may be regenerate but should be baptized until they demonstrate their faith.
Alright, what about the question of paedocommunion? I'm already a former baptist, moved to a paedobaptist, but along the way it made sense to me that if one sacrament is good enough for our children, then why isn't the other? One of the fundamental things that moved me into the paedobaptist camp was a belief in treating the children of believers not as pagans but Christians (why exactly would get into the paedobaptist/credobaptist debate, which isn't really what this is about). My main thought is, why exactly would you hold back these means of grace from children if you think they are enough a part of the church to receive baptism?
Your thoughts are appreciated.
While I was thinking about what to write, I was browsing through my Myspace account, I stumbled upon an old blog entry of mine. (The only one in my Myspace, to be precise.) Since I have forgotten what I wrote there, I took a look what was I thinking at that time. And what I read surprised me. So I thought I'd re-post it for you guys.
This was posted May 30, 2005 (but was written much earlier than that!).
I just read forum entries regarding an article about Christian music. It breaks my heart to see entries that are full of blasphemous metaphors. It makes me sad to see people totally reject the idea, essence, and teachings of Christianity. What is wrong about praising the one who created everything? What’s wrong with lifting up the name of the one who died for us so that we can be saved? I kept thinking whether I could make a difference. Whether I can make a stand. Will my lifetime have enough time? I feel the desire to tell them off. But I didn't. I guess I'm just afraid of the harsh words that may be shot back at me. I feel I'm not strong enough. So I felt like writing. Regardless of the numerous mosquitoes biting me, I wanted to write this.
I feel that I am now challenged to make use of every talent I have to tell people of what I know: The Truth. I have known this truth for a decade and a half. I come to church every Sunday for as long as I can remember. I have been taught bible stories, Christian values, the meaning of Christmas and countless other things. I have kept them with me. Yet I didn't spread the news. I didn't apply them. I just knew them. It was just recently that I have begun to realize my wrongdoing. Or wrong-not-doing for that matter. My inaction has brought great sadness to me. My eyes were opened. Despite the time wasted, the years of inaction, it wasn’t too late. For my life has only just begun. For the first time in my life, I really felt God in me. For the first time in my life, I felt alive!
My whole life, I knew that there was a God. But I wasn’t aware of him. I took him for granted. I spent my life contemplating on the meaning of everything I experience. I spent countless hours complaining and making excuses. But God did not give up. He had been working with me through all those years. And He is working now. I tell you one thing, God worked slowly, yet effectively with me. He worked in ways I could never have imagined. He worked so slowly, that I am surprised to find myself writing this. The moment you will first be aware of Him, God lets you see things in a different view. You begin to look at things differently. I’ve never had a life-changing moment. I’ve never had those moments that when it is over, you resolve to be a better person than you are. Then POOF! Changed forever. I’ve observed that there are several factors in this. And everything has to with your relationship with God.
Have you ever asked yourself how you really see God? What is his role in your life? Perhaps you have just stopped to smell the flowers, but not thanked the one that made them. Is God some omnipresent being just watching over you? Is he your last hope? Like a lifeline? Do you pray to Him in times of great trouble? Is he a listener to everything you say or complain? A Master? A Friend? Each one of these is correct. But each is just a small part of the big picture. And that’s what we need to do: see the big picture.
You have to learn that God can be and is everything to you. Creator, Provider, Friend, Protector and Guide are just a few of the immense number of words that can describe Him. But there is one word in the English language that I hold great importance to describe Him. Reason. He is the reason. The reason for everything. He is the reason you breath, love, think, feel, smile, frown, walk, make friends, sulk, read, thank, eat, be happy, jump, raise your hands, make reports, are. To reverse the idea: Everything is because of Him. Then everything is for Him. Since everything concerning you will compose your life, you give your life to Him. And when you dedicate everything for Him, you worship Him. Worship today, has the context of singing, praising, raising your hands and celebrating. Although it cannot be denied to be worship, it cannot be the definition of worship. Worship is something much, much bigger. Rather than an act of praise, it is an act of living. Seems simple, right? I don’t think so.
So this is where we start, we give everything to God. How do we do it? I have taken the liberty of putting them into one simple verb, namely: Love. Yes, Love. That’s the one thing God wants us to do. Yet this one thing will lead to many others. Perhaps the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren contains those things. So I guess I agree with the saying, “Love makes the world go ‘round.” The Bible says that this is the one commandment that governs the others. Love is a powerful thing. Love leads to great things. Loving God and others will lead to praise, serving, giving, faithfulness, friendship, joy, contentment, happiness, sharing, transformations, sense of fulfillment and many great things.
Love promises all those things. But love also provides us with a job, a mission, a commitment. We have to work hard for the church Christ built. We have to work hard to spread the good news. We have to work hard for the sake of others. We have to work hard and make sacrifices for him. I have put in the context of working because living for Christ is no easy task. It requires total dedication and determination on our part. Satan will work extra hard to destroy your credibility. He will not rest until he breaks our spirit and give up. He will be most active on faithful followers of Christ, because they are a threat to his existence. I tell you this because this is the truth. I have experienced it. Even though many times I have fallen on my knees, Christ has always been there to reach his hand out and help me stand again. It may be a scary thought that the devil will always be scheming behind your back if you continue to live a Christian life, but you need not be afraid, the God that you cherish and love is always with you and for you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. God has promised the greatest gift every mortal has ever desired as an incentive: the gift of eternal life. Believe, love, serve, worship, live for God and be saved. I ask you: What is a lifetime of sacrifice compared to an eternity of pleasure in God’s presence?
In my perception, Christian living may be summed up to living a life of worship filled with love. Even though I have illustrated it as work, I assure you that everything will come naturally. If you have Christ in your heart, you will be able to love and worship without difficulty. Everything will fall into place. I can tell you this because I have experienced a taste of it. I admit that I lack significantly in upholding the values taught by Christ. Yet I just put up a smile and tell God that I love Him. Loving God is more than a feeling, it’s more than a duty, it is an existence. You will never be able to be alive unless you love Him. I cannot accurately describe how loving God is more than a feeling, or how everything will fall into place once you put your faith in Him, or how excited I feel while writing this manuscript. I find no words to define what I feel. But one thing is for sure: this is the Truth. I pray that you will be able to see or feel Christ, or maybe even get to know him through reading this. I may neither be a pastor nor a preacher, but I emphasize that this I tell you is the truth. The Truth Jesus shown by suffering and dying at the cross.
Kevin Jan Saquilayan
2:41am 17 June 2004
I was honestly surprised to read that. I refreshed me to see how God empowered me back then. And it made me see that since He empowered me back then, wouldn't he empower me now all the more?
It was pretty strange to see that God used "past me" to inspire "present me". I hope that God will use this will bless you as this has blessed me. :)
[also posted in my journal]
A little over a week ago I made some inquiries
in my journal into the possibility of apostasy. Then, I set out to find how someone who believes in genuine apostasy would interpret John 6:39 and Romans 8:30
. I began my inquiry in christianity
, and am now expanding my inquiries, elaborating on my view, and hoping that other Acts 17:11-type Christians will join me in exegesis, dialogue and wholesome debate to help ascertain the truth of the matter.
So far, many have presented important and much-appreciated points regarding my inquiries and the views and assumptions my inquiries presuppose. Let me start off with where we have come to this point. First, in response to my first post, lhynard
suggested that concerning John 14:16 I was “putting too much stock in the English word ‘forever.’” After all, “The Bible was not written in some magic language of preciseness. It is possible that this verse indicates what you are saying, but it is equally possible that the verse is indicating a promise to remain forever if accepted
.” My response and challenge to him was as follows: If you can invalidate the translation from the Greek into the English with respect to the word ‘forever,’ with its many implications, I welcome it. I am not a student of Greek. So for those who know the Greek, I ask: If the Greek word does not imply everlastingness, then what does it imply, and why was the word ‘forever’ used? Furthermore, what evidence is there that it is just indicating “a promise to remain forever if accepted
Second, in my second post, golodhgwath
remarked that salvation “is not merely a transaction that happens upon conversion. It is true that we are saved when we turn to God. He has snatched us from the fire, as it were. But we have the ability to jump back into it, if we so choose. On the other hand, to be saved is to be saved in the [final] analysis. The question being, did we persevere in repentance?” Of course, this latter question—its importance notwithstanding—is not the inquiry I am pressing. Rather, can a person who begins the race, who receives Jesus into her heart as Lord and Savior, fall willfully and completely away? I agree with golodhgwath
that salvation is not a one-time transaction at conversion. On the other hand, I believe that the justificatory element of salvation
is indeed a one-time thing. I rest this assumption on the revelation of justification as accomplished (i) by grace (Rom 3:24), (ii) through faith (Rom 3:22, 10:10), (iii) accomplished in the past (Rom 5:1), (iv) necessarily but conditionally leading to glory (Rom 8:30). I believe that once we have been justified by grace through faith, we are new creations (2 Cor 5:17), and the sinful efficacy of the old self persists only in and for those who fail to renew their minds (Rom 12:2; Eph 4:23), who do not “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24). But, I submit, the new self will never cease to await the being of its put-onness. The very possibility of its nonbeing in the Christian soul is what possibilizes grieving the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30). The Spirit never leaves, never forsakes. I do believe that all Christians will have to give an account before God (2 Cor 5:10), but that since Jesus Christ is the foundation (1 Cor 3:11), the only thing we can lose is rewards (1 Cor 3:12-15). I do not agree with golodhgwath
that we can jump back into the fire. The sinful nature was crucified
(Rom 6:6; cf. Gal 2:20). It is possible to sin, but I believe that the Spirit keeps us from being wholly devoted
to sin ever again—i.e., I believe that metanoia
is a very real turning point in a person’s life, not just the picking up of a new fad.( A distinctionCollapse )
Next, I would like to address tutal
comment that Scripture “warns believers that it is possible to lose faith: 1 Cor. 10:12; 1 Pet. 5:8; 2 Pet. 3:17; Heb. 2:1-3; 3:12-19; 6:4-8.” First, I would reiterate that I believe it is possible to have unformed faith in God (Jas 2:19), but that such a faith is not virtuous—nay, it is dead! (Jas 2:17). (John Calvin, nota bene
, rejected the formed/unformed view, but his attacks on the Schoolmen show little acquaintance with Thomas Aquinas’s presentation of the view.) So, to address the first text: 1 Cor 10:12 does not imply that anyone will
fall who has (had) formed (in them) the virtue of faith—indeed, it could even be that the very admonitions against falling away (such as this) in the Word of God are precisely what keep any of the elect from falling away
.( Secondly, thirdly, and finallyCollapse )[Cross-posted to my journal, christianity, and sovereigngrace.]
I'm pretty much a babe in the reformed theology camp and need a little help with the concept of apostasy. Up until 24 hours ago, I would have said anyone who rejected Christ after having called themselves a Christian, didn't really have faith in the first place. But after studying Heb 6 & 2 Tim 2, I realize that this is too simplistic a view.
Basically what I'm struggling with is how apostasy and the doctrines of grace can coexist. I don't understand how one can receive a true revelation of the Truth and reject it. That seems to go against the doctrine that grace is irresistible. I've been reading Calvin's Institutes, specifically "Regeneration by Faith" [III, iii, 22-24] where he discusses this issue, and I am still confused. Any light that can be shed (including links to articles, as well as personal understanding) on this would be greatly appreciated.
I have an honest question to address to those well versed in this work so that I can better understand all this. Can you point me to scriptural support for the following highlighted passages, whether they be direct or applied? I understand that there might be reasons for purposes of avoiding apostasy, but I'm asking for a little more than that.
CHAPTER XXV - Of the Church.
II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children; and is the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ; the house and family of God, through which men are ordinarily saved and union with which is essential to their best growth and service.
CHAPTER XXVII - Of the Sacraments.
III. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which conatins, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.
IV. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the gospels, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord: neither or which may be dispensed by any but a minister of the Word, lawfully ordained.
CHAPTER XXVIII - Of Baptism.
II. The outward element to be used in the sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto.
III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.
IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.
V. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.
VI. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinancy the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in his appointed time.
CHAPTER XXIX - Of the Lord's Supper.
III. The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to declare his word of institution to the people, to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants; but to none who are not then present in the congregation.
"Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth."
Sartre realized that God did not exist, and thus freed himself from submission to the idiotic moral code contrived by society. Neither good nor evil has any substance in the mind of the existentialist philosopher. Man is an accident—some quasi-intelligent monstrosities of nature, able to observe the universe, yet some are such imbeciles as to believe it has meaning. In asphyxiating God, Sartre offered freedom, not only to himself but to all humanity. But is freedom an accurate description of this state? If every man holds an equal share in the freedom granted by the revelation that purpose is a mere invention, what binding standard can direct our lives? Each man is left to defend himself and himself only. He is responsible for every action he takes, yet he will pay for the actions of others. And there is nothing he can do.
However, we Christians have the answer to this dilemma. Faith in God is a guarantee of objective universal truth. Life as we know it truly does have a purpose, not only an associated purpose for each individual but one for all. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) To live under an objective standard, the only protection man has from Sartre’s hideous realization, is to live accordingly: in unconditional submission to that authority. Only through obedience to the will of God are we freed, but how does God makes His will known?
Some Christians today would answer that the Bible, God’s almighty Word, is our only source for infallible universal truth. “All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17) When asked a question about doctrine or morals today, a Christian may resort to a message they know from Scripture, claiming authority because he speaks indeed from God’s Word. However, an evolving society tends to complicate the question, evading the grasp of Biblical morality. Is contraception condemned by the Bible? One Christian will answer yes; another will answer a condemning no. However, a third person will say, “I see equivalent Biblical evidence to support either opinion.” A person may argue until out of breath, but the question remains: “Does the Bible support or condemn the use of contraception?” No matter how well debated, two contravening opinions can not both be true. Either contraception is a sin or it is not, but without an authoritative statement, we can not know. A sin is a sin whether we choose to believe or reject the idea, and lacking the ability to discern, many people are condemned by their own ignorance.
At this point we begin to fall back into the dilemma of subjectivism. Scripture undeniably must be interpreted, an actuality attested to by the fact that within Scripture itself there exists no explicit teaching of dogma. Many fundamental dogmas of the Christian faith—such as the doctrine of the Trinity, which has no explicit mention in Scripture—are defined by and accepted as an authoritative statement of interpretation. We arrive at many extra-biblical truths only by claiming that they follow logically from how we interpret what is stated in the Bible. So when a person says, “I believe in the teachings of the Bible” it must then be noted that this person is referring to a specific interpretation of the Bible based on private judgment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with believing Scripture to be an infallible standard of truth, but to isolate Scripture from an authoritative body which protects its inherent truth from fallacy promotes theological relativism within the Christian faith.
This is shown again and again throughout the history of the church. The heretics of the early centuries, having detached themselves from the teachings of the church, were known to quote from Scripture even more than the orthodox Christians. Unable to appeal to an authority, they could use only deceit through the perversion of the Scriptures to protect their doctrines. St. Vincent of Lerins, in his Commonitory writes:
"Do heretics also appeal to Scripture? They do indeed, and with a vengeance; for you may see them scamper through every single book of Holy Scripture… Whether among their own people, or among strangers, in private or in public, in speaking or in writing, at convivial meetings, or in the streets, hardly ever do they bring forward anything of their own which they do not endeavor to shelter under words of Scripture."
Vincent later to compares the use of unsubstantiated interpretations of Scripture to Satan’s temptation of Christ. “[Satan] has the answer ready, ‘For it is written;’ and forthwith he produces a thousand testimonies, a thousand examples, a thousand authorities from the Law, from the Psalms, from the apostles, from the Prophets” to deceive and destroy the faith of the believers. The church settled dispute not merely by an appeal to Scripture, for even the heretics, even Satan, has that. Rather, the disputes were settled by the church’s claim to having verifiable authority over the private judgment of the individuals. If not for that intrinsic authority, that God-granted supremacy, no dispute would have been settled; there would be as many “churches” as there are believers.
According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the current number of Protestant denominations has exceeded 37,000, a frightening fact considering the command of St. Paul that there be no schisms. (I Corinthians 1:10) However, relativism inevitably leads to irreconcilable disputes, and without an earthly manifestation of God’s authority, even theism is unprotected from this fate. Relativism has cut us off from historic Christianity, and according to Philip Blosser, left us “reeling in the capricious and devastating winds of doctrine that have swept across the last five centuries.” Since no authority exists to objectively declare one right or wrong, our presuppositions assume that authority, leading us into incompatible factions.
If one finds himself disagreeing with his denomination, should he find another that agrees with him? Or should he submit to his church’s authority? He is left to face the question, “Which religious authorities are valid?” The appeal to Scripture no longer suffices as an authority at this point, since the very issue at hand is determining which theology is the Biblically sound. The Christian would at this point be forced into the tautological statement that “the only biblical authorities are those that are biblical”. Although the statement is true, it is unhelpful and, in fact, detrimental to the believer because he, having failed to recognize a pre-existing definitive authority, has now to choose only between two options: either to found his own denomination based on his interpretation, or to find another denomination that agrees with his interpretation. In either case, the believer has failed in his goal to keep Scripture as the highest authority because it has been subordinated to an external interpretation.
Apart from an auxiliary magisterial body to protect its inherent truth, the belief in a Scriptural authority is untenable. An overlooked, yet sufficiently conspicuous fact makes this obvious: Scripture has no inspired table of contents! Scripture simply is incapable of identifying itself as such, and aside from faith in a divinely guided administration to recognize specific writings as God’s infallible Word, how do we discern scripture from uninspired texts? If not for an infallible canon, the very foundation of our faith collapses, leaving us in no better a condition than the existentialist in defining purpose for our lives. We would be relying on an equally synthetic and chimerical authority to prescribe objective meaning.
However, this need not be the case. Through faith in God’s Holy anointed Church, the “pillar and ground of the truth,” the “Bride of Christ,” the divinely guided authority that Christ established on this earth, we may know, with certainty, that life has a purpose. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) To love the Lord is to love His Church. “For where the Church is, there the Spirit of God is also; and where the Spirit of God is, there the Church is, and all grace. And the Spirit is truth.” The Lord Jesus Christ who says, “I am the …Truth,” (John 14:6) guaranteed His Spirit of truth to the His church to guide it into “all truth.” (John 16:13) To the leader of His church he gave the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and with this, the authority to bind and loose as it shall be in heaven. (Matthew 16:19) The gates of hell shall never prevail against his eternally exalted Church. Glorify and praise God in obedience through the love of His blessed sacrament of truth and salvation: His divine court, the triumphant One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.