Faith and the Word of God

T. W. Carron, Worthing

Part 1 of 12 of the series Foundations

Category: Young Believer's Section

We live in a day when human knowledge and achievement have increased to a remarkable extent, especially in the realm of science. Much of what was thought and taught in the past has been discarded in the light of fuller knowledge. Moreover the scientific achievements of recent years are truly staggering. But, as the Bible says, "Knowledge puffeth up", and it is not surprising therefore that many educated people feel that they have outgrown Christianity. They are asking for something up-to-date, and there are those in the professing church who are prepared to offer them a revised version of Christianity tailored to fit modern people.

The whole matter turns on the answer to one question: "Is the Bible the Word of God?" If it is, if God has spoken, as the Bible claims, in times past by the prophets, and finally in His Son and by the Spirit of God Himself through the apostles, to reject the Bible is to reject God; to change it or to modify it is an insult to God, and He will judge those who do so.

We live in a day when human knowledge and achievement have increased to a remarkable extent, especially in the realm of science. Much of what was thought and taught in the past has been discarded in the light of fuller knowledge. Moreover the scientific achievements of recent years are truly staggering. But, as the Bible says, "Knowledge puffeth up", and it is not surprising therefore that many educated people feel that they have outgrown Christianity. They are asking for something up-to-date, and there are those in the professing church who are prepared to offer them a revised version of Christianity tailored to fit modern people.

The whole matter turns on the answer to one question: "Is the Bible the Word of God?" If it is, if God has spoken, as the Bible claims, in times past by the prophets, and finally in His Son and by the Spirit of God Himself through the apostles, to reject the Bible is to reject God; to change it or to modify it is an insult to God, and He will judge those who do so.

Now we have the Lord's own witness to the veracity of the Old Testament. He said, "the scripture cannot be broken", John 10. 35. Defending the writings of Moses, He said, "if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?", John 5. 47. He said, moreover, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: . . . but to fulfil", Matt. 5. 17. He upheld the inspiration of the Old Testament from which He frequently quoted. In 2 Timothy 3. 16 we read, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God (God breathed)". Peter, writing of Paul's Epistles puts them on the same level as the other Scriptures, 2 Pet. 3. 16.

If you were asked, "How do you know the sun is shining?", you would say "What a silly question! I see its light and feel its warmth". Precisely! Just as we see the light and feel the warmth of the sun on our bodies, so the rays of truth from the Bible shine into our minds and warm our hearts. This has been the experience of millions in all ages. The Bible has trans­formed the lives of men and women in every generation since Pentecost. In this respect it is unique, and wherever it has been read with willing heart and unbiassed mind it has pro­duced the miraculous change we call conversion. Lives have been changed from sin and degradation to honesty, purity and holiness. This miracle has occurred times without number all over the world, among all races, civilised and uncivilised. The most degraded heathen, even cannibals, sunk in sin and debauchery below human level, have been raised and trans­formed beyond recognition, and given a new life in Christ. Hatred has been replaced by love, drunkenness by sobriety, lying by truthfulness, robbery and theft by kindness and honesty.

The annals of missionary endeavour abound with accounts of such transformations. There is the well-known story of Calvert who went to the Fiji Islands, armed with the Bible alone, and worked among the cannibals who were converted in large numbers. Darwin, who at one time regarded the natives of Tierra del Fuego as the lowest specimens of humanity, wrote years afterwards: "The success of the Tierra del Fuego Mission is most wonderful, and shames me, as I always prophesied utter failure". In his book, The Bible in World Evangelism, A. M. Chirgwin develops this theme, and shows what the Bible has done throughout the ages. He tells some amazing stories of conversion through the reading of the Bible. Among others, he records the remarkable story of Tokichi Ishii who, in circumstances of fiendish brutality murdered men, women and even children. This man was visited in prison by two Canadian ladies, and though he would not listen to them, he was prevailed upon to accept a Bible. He read it, and coming to the story of the crucifixion was completely broken down. He believed, his heart was changed. "Later, when the jailer came to lead the doomed man to the scaffold, he found, not the surly hardened brute he expected, but a smiling, radiant man, for the murderer had been born again". If such testimonies, corroborated times without number over nineteen centuries, fail to convince a person that the Bible is the Word of God, then nothing will convince him. The Lord Himself said, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead", Luke 16. 31. There is such a thing as the will to disbelieve.

But what produced these wonderful transformations in the lives of men? Faith: faith not simply in the Bible, but in the Author of the Bible, faith in God Himself. Faith, however, is not mere mental assent. It is a matter of the heart. The Bible says, "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness", Rom. 10. 10. There lies the crux of the matter. The heart is the core of man's being, the seat of his desires and impulses. Men follow their desires more than their reason, their hearts rather than their heads. If we want something badly enough our heart will often override our reason or our common sense, and the heart will suggest or invent a reason for getting it. On the other hand, we may find ourselves resisting what reason or common sense dictate if it is in conflict with our desires. Little though he may realise it, man has an instinctive bias against God. The Bible tells us that "The mind (tendency) of the flesh (our fallen nature) is enmity against God", Rom. 8. 7 R.V. Hence there arises much of the criticism of the Bible. It has been attacked again and again, and the attack has often recoiled on the attackers. Many times archaeology has shown that what the Bible stated was true after all. So many of its prophecies have been fulfilled that the possibility of the events prophesied being co-incidences is completely ruled out. A recent complaint, publicised on television, is that it is too difficult to understand. Yet millions of children have been able to grasp its message. The Lord said "If any man desires to do His (God's) will, he will know whether the teaching is from God", John 7. 17 amp.

Fear of man is another hindrance to faith, fear to confess faith in Christ because of scorn or ridicule. How many are afraid to believe for this reason, and so find excuses for their unbelief?

We must not forget that there is a being greater than man who is opposed to God, and uses all his devices to prevent faith. He is a spirit. The apostle Paul speaks of him as "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience", Eph. 2 2. The Lord called him the Prince of this world. The apostle Paul says he is also the god of it, "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not", 2 Cor. 4. 4. Satan uses two powerful weapons. One is doubt. His first words to the woman in the Garden of Eden were "hath God said?". And he uses that weapon very effectively today. Modernism and the higher criticism are his work, instilling doubt into the minds of those who read the Bible. By this means he has largely nullified the reading of the Bible in schools. Doubt is cast on the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, doubt as to its veracity, doubt as to the Lord's words, doubt as to His deity, doubt as to His miracles; this is simply another form of the old question "hath God said?" When the poison dart of doubt has done its initial work, the Devil follows it up with a direct lie, as he did in Eden. God said if they ate of the forbidden fruit they would die; the Devil said "Ye shall not surely die". The Lord said of him "he is a liar, and the father of it". Therefore, says the apostle Paul "taking the shield of faith . . . and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God", Eph. 6. 16.

"But without faith it is impossible to please God". Hence the stress that is laid on it in the New Testament. The word faith or its corresponding verb both occur over 240 times, and the adjective translated faithful or believing nearly 70 times.

Towards the end of his Gospel John writes, "these (things) are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name". This is saving faith, this is the way into eternal life. It is however but the beginning of the Christian path. That path is a path of faith (trust) all the way. The world teaches self-reliance, but faith is reliance on God. The worthies of Hebrews II became strong out of weakness through faith. The Christian is like an electric train drawing power from an overhead wire; the power lies in constant contact with the wire which links it with the source of power. "For we walk by faith, not by sight" says Paul, 2 Cor. 5. 7. The Word of God lights the way. The Psalmist of old had learnt this, for he wrote, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path", Ps. 119. 105.

Now we have the Lord's own witness to the veracity of the Old Testament. He said, "the scripture cannot be broken", John 10. 35. Defending the writings of Moses, He said, "if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?", John 5. 47. He said, moreover, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: . . . but to fulfil", Matt. 5. 17. He upheld the inspiration of the Old Testament from which He frequently quoted. In 2 Timothy 3. 16 we read, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God (God breathed)". Peter, writing of Paul's Epistles puts them on the same level as the other Scriptures, 2 Pet. 3. 16.

If you were asked, "How do you know the sun is shining?", you would say "What a silly question! I see its light and feel its warmth". Precisely! Just as we see the light and feel the warmth of the sun on our bodies, so the rays of truth from the Bible shine into our minds and warm our hearts. This has been the experience of millions in all ages. The Bible has trans­formed the lives of men and women in every generation since Pentecost. In this respect it is unique, and wherever it has been read with willing heart and unbiassed mind it has pro­duced the miraculous change we call conversion. Lives have been changed from sin and degradation to honesty, purity and holiness. This miracle has occurred times without number all over the world, among all races, civilised and uncivilised. The most degraded heathen, even cannibals, sunk in sin and debauchery below human level, have been raised and trans­formed beyond recognition, and given a new life in Christ. Hatred has been replaced by love, drunkenness by sobriety, lying by truthfulness, robbery and theft by kindness and honesty.

The annals of missionary endeavour abound with accounts of such transformations. There is the well-known story of Calvert who went to the Fiji Islands, armed with the Bible alone, and worked among the cannibals who were converted in large numbers. Darwin, who at one time regarded the natives of Tierra del Fuego as the lowest specimens of humanity, wrote years afterwards: "The success of the Tierra del Fuego Mission is most wonderful, and shames me, as I always prophesied utter failure". In his book, The Bible in World Evangelism, A. M. Chirgwin develops this theme, and shows what the Bible has done throughout the ages. He tells some amazing stories of conversion through the reading of the Bible. Among others, he records the remarkable story of Tokichi Ishii who, in circumstances of fiendish brutality murdered men, women and even children. This man was visited in prison by two Canadian ladies, and though he would not listen to them, he was prevailed upon to accept a Bible. He read it, and coming to the story of the crucifixion was completely broken down. He believed, his heart was changed. "Later, when the jailer came to lead the doomed man to the scaffold, he found, not the surly hardened brute he expected, but a smiling, radiant man, for the murderer had been born again". If such testimonies, corroborated times without number over nineteen centuries, fail to convince a person that the Bible is the Word of God, then nothing will convince him. The Lord Himself said, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead", Luke 16. 31. There is such a thing as the will to disbelieve.

But what produced these wonderful transformations in the lives of men? Faith: faith not simply in the Bible, but in the Author of the Bible, faith in God Himself. Faith, however, is not mere mental assent. It is a matter of the heart. The Bible says, "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness", Rom. 10. 10. There lies the crux of the matter. The heart is the core of man's being, the seat of his desires and impulses. Men follow their desires more than their reason, their hearts rather than their heads. If we want something badly enough our heart will often override our reason or our common sense, and the heart will suggest or invent a reason for getting it. On the other hand, we may find ourselves resisting what reason or common sense dictate if it is in conflict with our desires. Little though he may realise it, man has an instinctive bias against God. The Bible tells us that "The mind (tendency) of the flesh (our fallen nature) is enmity against God", Rom. 8. 7 R.V. Hence there arises much of the criticism of the Bible. It has been attacked again and again, and the attack has often recoiled on the attackers. Many times archaeology has shown that what the Bible stated was true after all. So many of its prophecies have been fulfilled that the possibility of the events prophesied being co-incidences is completely ruled out. A recent complaint, publicised on television, is that it is too difficult to understand. Yet millions of children have been able to grasp its message. The Lord said "If any man desires to do His (God's) will, he will know whether the teaching is from God", John 7. 17 amp.

Fear of man is another hindrance to faith, fear to confess faith in Christ because of scorn or ridicule. How many are afraid to believe for this reason, and so find excuses for their unbelief?

We must not forget that there is a being greater than man who is opposed to God, and uses all his devices to prevent faith. He is a spirit. The apostle Paul speaks of him as "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience", Eph. 2 2. The Lord called him the Prince of this world. The apostle Paul says he is also the god of it, "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not", 2 Cor. 4. 4. Satan uses two powerful weapons. One is doubt. His first words to the woman in the Garden of Eden were "hath God said?". And he uses that weapon very effectively today. Modernism and the higher criticism are his work, instilling doubt into the minds of those who read the Bible. By this means he has largely nullified the reading of the Bible in schools. Doubt is cast on the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, doubt as to its veracity, doubt as to the Lord's words, doubt as to His deity, doubt as to His miracles; this is simply another form of the old question "hath God said?" When the poison dart of doubt has done its initial work, the Devil follows it up with a direct lie, as he did in Eden. God said if they ate of the forbidden fruit they would die; the Devil said "Ye shall not surely die". The Lord said of him "he is a liar, and the father of it". Therefore, says the apostle Paul "taking the shield of faith . . . and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God", Eph. 6. 16.

"But without faith it is impossible to please God". Hence the stress that is laid on it in the New Testament. The word faith or its corresponding verb both occur over 240 times, and the adjective translated faithful or believing nearly 70 times.

Towards the end of his Gospel John writes, "these (things) are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name". This is saving faith, this is the way into eternal life. It is however but the beginning of the Christian path. That path is a path of faith (trust) all the way. The world teaches self-reliance, but faith is reliance on God. The worthies of Hebrews II became strong out of weakness through faith. The Christian is like an electric train drawing power from an overhead wire; the power lies in constant contact with the wire which links it with the source of power. "For we walk by faith, not by sight" says Paul, 2 Cor. 5. 7. The Word of God lights the way. The Psalmist of old had learnt this, for he wrote, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path", Ps. 119. 105.