Archive for the 'Living Theology' Category

Living Theology #9 – The Immutability of God

by Garrett Glende

Last week we looked at our ability to know God, concluding that although God is ultimately beyond our finite minds, we can still know Him in a true way. This brings us to the next chapter of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology which focuses on the incommunicable attributes of God. There are about 25 attributes listed over the next three chapters and if I spent an article on each attribute of God mentioned this series would become even that much longer. Needless to say, I think it’s going to be long enough already. So the next two articles will each focus on a single attribute of God, one incommunicable and one communicable. The term “incommunicable” is meant to distinguish certain aspects of God’s character, specifically those that cannot be shared by man. One example of an incommunicable attribute is omnipresence, which man cannot even come close to relating to. Something such as love or mercy would certainly be able to be expressed in some capacity by humans, thus qualifying them as communicable attributes. We can also think about these as either shared (communicable) or unshared (incommunicable) attributes. One of God’s incommunicable attributes is His immutability, or unchangeableness. This attribute of God will be the focus for now, and we’ll look at a communicable attribute next week.

Grudem defines the immutability of God, writing that “God is unchanging in His being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations.” A biblical basis for this definition comes from verses like Psalm 102:26-27 where the psalmist thinks of all creation and declares that “they will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.” God proclaims His longsuffering and patience with the people of Israel in Malachi 3:6, saying, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob are not consumed.” Even more, James relates the fact that all good gifts are from God to His immutability when he writes, “every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). All of these verses describe the fact that God does not change in His person or character. We can always be sure that God is a loving, faithful, and just God because He is unchanging in His being.

God is also unchanging in His purposes, as everything that He has purposed will come to fruition. He does not decide to do one thing and then not follow through with it. We see this clearly in the person of Christ, as He was tempted many times to avoid the cross, but always was faithful to the eternal plan of the Father. In fact, there are many instances throughout the ministry of Christ where He does something in order to fulfill the prophecy spoken long before. Psalm 33:11 says, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” Isaiah 46:9-11 wonderfully demonstrates the unchanging purposes of God, saying “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.”

Although the Bible is clear that God does not change in His person or purposes, there are many passages that speak of God changing His mind or feeling sorry for an action that He had done. So does this mean that we cannot trust what Scripture says about God’s immutability? Grudem responds to this challenge, saying that “these instances [God being sorry for making man on earth, withholding judgment on Nineveh, etc.] should all be understood as true expressions of God’s present attitude or intention with respect to the situation as it exists at that moment…God responds differently to different situations.” For example, God promised judgment would fall on the wicked city of Nineveh, but the situation changed once the city became repentant. Seeing the new circumstances, God chose not to cast judgment upon them. “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).

Because God’s law and standards never change, then neither should ours. It’s common for us to mold our morality to our circumstances rather than keeping it in line with God’s unchanging truth. This happens often in dating relationships where as the couple grows closer, their standards for purity become more and more loose until they fall into sin. God’s requirements regarding sexual purity have never changed, but some couples claim that certain sins become permissible because they’ve been in the relationship long enough. Just because you think you’re going to marry someone doesn’t give you the right to act like a married couple, ignoring God’s commands about premarital sex. This is just one way in which we shift God’s law to meet our desires, and there are many others.

The immutability of God is a wonderful truth for the Christian to come to grasps with. Imagine if it were the case that God did change who He is. What then would be our basis for our salvation? Could we even be sure that we are still saved, or has God decided to change the methods and requirements for salvation? We would live in constant fear and insecurity because we would not be able to rest on the unchanging nature of the gospel. Seeing that the canon is closed and God does not give any new revelation, we would not even know if He changed at all. Thankfully, God does not deal with us in this way. We can stand before the throne confident that He will receive us as His own because of the constant truth of the gospel. Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf has always been and will always be the only way to secure eternal life.


Living Theology #8 – The Existence of God

by Garrett Glende

It is perhaps one of the most asked questions in our day, and certainly the most passionately debated. Is there a God? The answer has profound impact on the world and our daily individual lives, but do we often consider how we should live in light of the existence and knowledge of our Creator? The Bible testifies to the reality of this triune God, telling the story of His marvelous work of redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ.

America used to be a nation founded on principles that took into account the existence of this God, yet today there are many who would discount the truth altogether, claiming that Christianity is immoral and, in fact, harmful to the world. They challenge the Bible’s authority and suppress the knowledge in their hearts, all the while proselytizing their own stream of intense atheism. What should the Christian response be to the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Dan Barker, who claim that the God of the Bible is immoral and repulsive? More importantly, knowing that God does indeed exist, how are our lives affected?

If there is to be a response to the naturalistic materialist, then certainly our argument must be based on what the Scripture says about the existence of God. First, we know that God exists because of the inner testimony of our hearts. We have been created in the image of God and are therefore able to think and act in ways that no other created thing can. Having been made in this way, God has written on our hearts an innate knowledge of Him. Those who deny His existence only prove that the Bible is true when it says that those who do not believe “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” These men know that God exists, but they have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Rom. 1:18, 25). The Bible’s stance on atheists is not that they are people who say “God doesn’t exist,” but rather as Douglas Wilson would say is the first tenet of atheism, “God doesn’t exist and I hate Him.” It is clear that our own sin causes us to deny God’s existence, a fact that our own hearts testify to.

Not only has God revealed Himself to us through our own inner knowledge, we are able to see Him through His creation. Psalm 19:1 says that “the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” When we look up and see the stars and the clouds, we cannot help but be amazed at the character of God. His majesty and glory shine forth simply through what He has created. We can know of His creativity when we see the vast amount of life in a coral reef, and His power when we stand at the base of a mountain. Thus, Paul can write in Romans 1 that the existence of God, “namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world. So they are without excuse.” Since God has so clearly shown Himself to us, we can only say that the fool does not believe in Him (Psalm 14:1, Rom. 1:21).

How then shall we live? It is the most necessary question of this article. If we take in our knowledge of God and leave it at that, then it’s really of no use to us at all. We might be able to win an argument with a sophomore biology student on campus, but does God’s existence really change our hearts?

What does it all matter?

That’s the issue. It does matter. Life matters. If God is just a man-made construction intended to soothe our fearful consciences, then why live with any care for the future? If there is no God, then there is no ultimate purpose in life. We live our three-score-and-ten and its over with nothing to look forward to. Our life as a collection of living cells is over and no one cares because that’s all we were – a lump of cells. But no, God does exist and there is purpose in life. As God, He is necessarily the ultimate end of all things. We exist because of Him and we exist for Him (Col. 1:16). In this way, every aspect of our lives has meaning and we should use the greatest to the smallest parts of it to glorify Him (1 Cor. 10:31). The decisions about what to buy at the grocery store matter because God exists. What car we drive, what house we live in, what we watch on TV – it’s all significant in light of the existence of God. Ultimately, we will all stand before God and give an account for our lives here on earth. It is my prayer that we all can say that our lives were lived with a purpose – the glory of the true and living God.

Living Theology #7 – The Sufficiency of Scripture

by Garrett Glende

We now come to the final Characteristic of Scripture: its sufficiency. To say that Scripture is sufficient is to trust in its usefulness for all areas that it addresses. Grudem defines the doctrine in his own terms:

“The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly.”

This is not to say that the Bible is some sort of encyclopedia, capturing all the knowledge available to us, but rather that it is sufficient for the matters it addresses, mainly knowing and obeying God. The Bible is not sufficient for a calculus education, but it is for salvation. Sola Scriptura, a proclamation of the reformers, gets to the heart of what this means. Scripture alone is the source of God’s word and it is enough for us to come to know Him and obey Him in light of the gospel of grace revealed to us.

Scripture itself attests to its sufficiency in bringing about an understanding of salvation as well as how to live and grow in sanctification once saved. Paul makes it clear to Timothy that the word of God as revealed in Scripture is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). Peter also declares that Christians have been “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). The words found in the Bible, the very words of God, are the only way to enlighten hearts to salvation. Any other method claiming a path to salvation is insufficient. Every other religious text falls short in its claims, both in truth and efficacy. The word of God as revealed in Scripture stand tall above the sacred writings of Islam, Buddhism, and the cultic offering of the Mormons. It needs no additional laws from Rome. Salvation is found in no one but Christ, whose holy word is brought forth through the pages of Scripture.

Scripture is also sufficient for our growth as Christians and for perfect obedience to our Lord. Psalm 119:1 declares, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” The Law is referring to God’s word revealed to His people so that they might live lives pleasing to Him, thus the psalmist is saying that people are able to be blessed and blameless by walking according to what Scripture says. God truly has given us all that we need for life and godliness, especially through His word, inspired by Him so “that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). This section (verses 15-17) describes the absolute adequacy of the Bible’s revelation for the Christian and leaves us confident that we need not look elsewhere for instruction.

But how often do we go to another source of wisdom? The world goes to Oprah and Dr. Phil, but surely this is not where the Christian finds his or her guidance – or is it? How many of us ignore what God has spoken and carry on in the ways of the world? There should be no competition in our hearts or minds between the words of the world’s counselors and the word of God, as it is sufficient to guide us in obedience to Him. If Scripture is not our guide for our daily decisions then we are demonstrating that we don’t believe that it is sufficient. This is not to say that there is no room for practical considerations, but the principles that the Bible lays out for us are enough to make God glorifying choices.

Living Theology #6 – The Necessity of Scripture

by Garrett Glende

As we continue our overview of systematic theology, we come to the topic of the necessity of Scripture. It is the third of what Wayne Grudem calls the “characteristics of Scripture” (the first two being authority and clarity). He says that “the necessity of Scripture means that the Bible is necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God’s will, but it is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about God’s character and moral laws.” Basically, we need special revelation from God in order to be saved, to grow, and to know God’s will, but not to know that He exists or to feel conviction of sin.

“How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?,” asks Paul in Romans 10. Is it possible for one to believe in Christ if they have never heard of Him? We assume that Paul expects an answer of, “they cannot.” The sinner needs to be told of Christ in order to place any sort of saving faith in Him, but where does this information come from? There is no other true message of salvation apart from what is revealed about Christ in the Bible. Christ alone is the mediator between God and man and salvation is found in no one else but Him (1 Tim. 2:5, Acts 4:12). Scripture is clear that the only way to salvation is through a knowledge of the gospel that it reveals – the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need God to illuminate our hearts to this knowledge and the way that He does this is through His inspired word.

Moreover, we need Scripture in order to know God’s will. Grudem writes, “If there were no written Word of God, we could not gain certainty about God’s will through other means such as conscience, advice from others, an internal witness of the Holy Spirit, changed circumstances, and the use of sanctified reasoning.” Certainly these are able to give estimations of God’s will, but they cannot bring about any sense of certainty. We can suppress what God has written on our hearts and ignore the wise counsel of others, leading us to doubt that a certain course of action is truly God’s will. But the Bible does give us a reliable source to turn to when dealing with this issue. We need it to know with certainty anything regarding God’s will. God has revealed His law to us through His word so that we would walk in obedience to it. More will be said on this issue when we get to chapter 13.

Finally, we need Scripture to maintain our spiritual health. When being tempted by Satan in the wilderness Jesus said that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Our wellbeing is directly tied to the amount of God’s word that we are taking in. Just like our physical health is dependent on the proper intake of food, our spiritual health will fluctuate in accordance with our digestion of Scripture. We are told to have the word of God dwell richly in us, so that we can worship as a corporate body (Colossians 3:16). The milk that is the word of God needs to be what our lives depend on so that we would be walking well in the Lord, carrying out His will, and increasing in personal holiness.

However, the Bible is clear that man is able to perceive things about God apart from what He has revealed in Scripture itself. This is what is called general revelation. Romans 1:19-20 speaks of man’s knowledge of the Creator, stating that “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. ” Creation itself attests to the existence of its creator, as the psalmist writes that “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). This evidence allows even fallen man to comprehend some attributes about God such as His greatness, power, and beauty. God has also graciously given all men a conscience that speaks to their hearts about what is right and wrong. Part of being made in God’s image is that we are able to discern such things, but our hearts have been stained with sin and we are not always able to see moral issues clearly. Thus, although we have been given some general revelation about God and His law, we must still be supplied with special revelation in order to come to a true saving knowledge of Him.

What does this all mean for the Christian today? I want to specifically focus on the aspect of God’s Word as the source of our spiritual health. It’s so easy for us to get down spiritually and to not know where to go to “get better.” So often we get stuck in a rut so to speak, and can’t seem to find any way out. A tempting thing to do is to look elsewhere for some new experience that might “light a new flame.” But has our sanctification ever been about finding the newest, trendiest cure-all? No, the work of the Holy Spirit in illuminating the truths of Scripture to our hearts has always been what has caused our growth. God’s word is always the only true source of encouragement when we are struggling. We should always have a steady intake of Scripture, especially when we aren’t doing well, so that our relationship with God will become all the more intimate. We need not look elsewhere for a remedy for our sin or for daily sustenance than the Bible.

Living Theology #5 – The Clarity of Scripture

by Garrett Glende

For the past several weeks we have looked at different characteristics of the Bible: its cannon, authority, and inerrancy. In chapter 6 of Grudem’s Systematic Theology the question of the clarity of Scripture is addressed. You should have noticed by now that there is a purposeful ordering of these chapters, as the book begins with a foundation built on the Word of God. Grudem deliberately introduces these topics first so that we would be prepared to study the rest of the issues with a proper bibliology. This is necessary because we must think rightly about the source of our doctrinal convictions. Our beliefs about God will hold no weight if they are not firmly tied to a high view of His word. That being said, the topic addressed this week bears even more importance, for if Scripture is not clear about what it says, how can we be sure about any belief we have at all?

Thankfully, we can be sure of God’s character as revealed in Scripture because the Bible itself attests to its clarity. Grudem says, “The clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God’s help and being willing to follow it.” This doctrine is also known as the perspicuity of Scripture. This conclusion can be made by looking to Jesus’ understanding of the Old Testament. He often rebuked the Jewish people for not understanding or misinterpreting what was written for them (Matthew 12:3, 5; 21:42). Christ expected that the people would be able to comprehend the Old Testament for themselves and He blamed them, not the Scriptures, for their misunderstanding. There was no leeway given to the Jews because a certain aspect of Scripture was unclear on any point. Moreover, God commands His people to have His word on their hearts and to teach it to their children (Deut. 6:6-7), implying that God’s word is clear enough to be understood and taught to others. Discussion of the Scriptures was to be a daily part of life for the Jew, but this would not be possible if it were limited in its clarity. Even when we get into the New Testament writings, although Peter admits that some of Paul’s writings are difficult to understand, there is never any sense that one cannot ever come to a conclusion. Paul even wrote predominantly to a Gentile audience who knew little about Jewish culture, but he still expected that the churches would understand him. As the church age has progressed and we now live in a culture much unlike the one of the Bible, God’s truth remains the same in its clarity and usefulness to our lives.

Those who argue against the clarity of the Bible often bring up 1 Corinthians 2:14, where Paul writes that “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” However, this verse describes the inability of the unregenerate to discern spiritual truths, not the overall ambiguity of Scripture. It is obvious that a non-believer is able to understand what the Bible says in an academic sense, but they are not spiritually affected by what they learn. Only those who have been born again through the Spirit are able to be transformed at the heart.

In a world where there is much religious confusion, the Bible sheds light on the truth (Psalm 119:105, 2 Peter 1:19). Thus, instead of adding to the conundrum of philosophical and religious thought peddled by many, Scripture enlightens us, revealing clearly what is true about God and the way of salvation. We can turn there knowing that we will not leave without gaining further insight into the knowledge of our Creator. So what do we do when we come to something in the Bible that we just can’t make sense of? It’s not as if the Bible reads like a children’s novel, so what do we do with the hard parts? Grudem points out two reasons for our misunderstanding of the text. First, he writes, we could be “seeking to make affirmations where Scripture itself is silent.” Some common places where this may occur could be in making many practical decisions, such as music style or church size. In this case, it would be wise to stay away from any dogmatic stances, seeing that Scripture does not explicitly mention such issues. Secondly, our misunderstanding could be due to our own inadequacies in study, not the ambiguity of the Bible. We could have simply not read carefully enough or put aside the time necessary for comprehension.

The perspicuity of Scripture particularly applies to us especially in dealing with difficult subjects. When we wish to study controversial issues that there is much debate over such as miraculous sign gifts, the extent of the atonement, or end times prophecy, we can know that Scripture speaks clearly on such topics. Our approach in dealing with this should be one that sees comprehension as possible. We should not see the difficult road ahead, throw up our hands, and leave it to the seminary professors to decide the issue for us. There is no special society that alone can interpret Scripture correctly. We are all members of a royal priesthood, given the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Scriptures for us (1 Peter 2:9). With the proper prayer, dedication on the Spirit, and diligence in study, we are able to understand God’s word for ourselves.

Living Theology #4 – Inerrancy

by Garrett Glende

Having looked at the doctrine of the authority of Scripture last week, we’ll now deal with a related issue, inerrancy. Grudem defines the inerrancy of Scripture to be the fact that “Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is false.” This idea is closely tied to the reality of Scripture being fully God’s word and authoritative. Were it not for the inspiration of Scripture, then there would be no basis to say that it is inerrant, for we would not be able to point to the truthfulness of God to defend its veracity. If the Bible has been written by mere men, then its words attesting to its authority hold no weight. However, we know that God has indeed inspired men to write down His word and we can say with confidence that all of His word is true.

There is often much misunderstanding about the specifics of inerrancy. It is many times confused with the word “infallibility,” which implies a less strict standard of truthfulness. While infallibility claims that all of Scripture pertaining only to “faith and practice” is true, inerrancy goes further, saying that the Bible speaks truthfully on all matters including faith and practice along with historical accounts. Proponents of inerrancy argue that the Bible does not limit itself in the extent of its truthfulness. Grudem points out that there are places in the New Testament where the author regards the smaller details of the Old Testament to be reliable, such as in Acts 24:14 where Paul claims to “worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets.” Everything in the Old Testament was written to be meaningful to us, according to Romans 15:4 where Paul writes, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” This includes even the smallest details that may not seem to matter much to us. From this evidence, we can come to a conclusion that the Bible speaks truth on all subjects that it speaks of. Inerrancy does not mean that the Bible is a complete source of knowledge to everything one would want to know. It will not teach you calculus. However, all knowledge that is included in Scripture is fully trustworthy.

The practical applications of this doctrine are similar to that of the authority of Scripture, following the line of thought that says we should submit to the Bible because it is authoritative and true. However, while we’re on the topic of the inherent truthfulness of Scripture, it seems appropriate to comment on an unsettling trend emerging (pun not intended) in today’s culture. More than ever, the idea of truth itself is being attacked and the idea that one can discover absolute truth in the Bible is seen as arrogant and intolerant. In my own experiences evangelizing on campus at UCSD I’ve found that many in my generation admire the tenets of religious pluralism, attempting to be welcoming to all beliefs, meanwhile sacrificing intellectual integrity. However, this mindset, although it may seem pleasant and gracious on the outside, often leads to a general apathy towards ultimate truth or an inconsistency in thought. “I accept all beliefs except those which contradict my own,” is essentially the attitude. Indeed, tolerance abounds. I’ve spoken to many students who, after hearing the gospel, simply say that “what is true for you works for you and what is true for me works for me.” To assert that there is no absolute truth is indeed a propositional truth claim. This seems to me to be an incredibly lazy and irresponsible outlook to have in dealing with concepts of such magnitude. The reality of it all is that the Bible is true for all people. Christ’s Lordship is not limited to those who believe that He is Lord. He is Savior of all the nations and there will be a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11).

On a more personal level, as we’ve been studying what it means to worship God in spirit and truth on Sundays, consider that the entire Bible is the truth of God. Jesus prays to the Father in John 17:17, asking that He “sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” We must worship God in light of the truth that He has revealed to us through His word. Since all of Scripture relates to us different truths about God, then we should study every part of it in order to worship God for all that He is. There are wonderful, sanctifying truths found in the crispy section of our Bibles, but do we even turn there? In putting aside these parts of Scripture we are inhibiting our own growth in holiness and limiting the source of truth that leads to our worship. The flow is simple: we must worship God in truth (John 4:23-24); God’s word is truth (John 17:17); all Scripture is God’s word (2 Timothy 3:16); and Scripture shows God to be holy, just, omniscient, loving, and merciful, so we worship Him because of these truths. We would do well to consider the inerrancy of Scripture in light of our own personal worship, as it should lead us to desire to praise God for all that is revealed to be true about Him.

Living Theology #3 – The Authority of Scripture

by Garrett Glende

Two weeks ago we looked at what it means for us that the words written in the Bible are the very words of God. This reminded us that there should be no time spent in His word without it eliciting a response on our behalf. Considering that we have God’s own words written down for us, there should be a deep longing to know and understand relationally who God is. This week’s topic, the authority of Scripture, flows directly from this doctrine in that because the Bible is the word of God it is authoritative.

It isn’t difficult to come to this conclusion. After all, if God has spoken, is not what He says true (Numbers 23:19)? As creator of the universe, His stance on any given subject should be authoritative on this basis alone. So the answer to the question, “Why should I listen to what the Bible has to say?” is simple: because God says so. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “all Scripture is breathed out by God…” As discussed in last week’s article on the canon, the Greek word used here is graphé. This term is always used to describe Old Testament writings, but there are also places where New Testament material is placed in the same category as graphé (2 Peter 3:16, 1 Timothy 5:18). Thus, we can confidently say that all of the New Testament is inspired by God as well.

The most direct implication that this has is that any time we disobey Scripture we are disobeying God. We must not see the Bible as simply a gathering of good spiritual morals to live by. Instead, it is to be looked upon and treated as the authoritative, true, and final word of God. Obedience is not optional, it is commanded.

One specific pitfall that I think is easy to fall into is defending a belief based not on what the Bible has said, but what man has said. So often we claim to understand complicated issues because our favorite theologian takes a stand on them. “I know that the Bible teaches predestination because MacArthur says so.” It’s easy to do because we know that they already have put in the hard study. If such godly men seem to be so decided on this issue, then why should I have to do much looking into it myself, is our common refrain. But this attitude displays that we care more about studying what Piper or Sproul says than what God says. If we truly believe that Scripture alone is authoritative, then we would look to it to find out answers instead of running to a pastor or friend. It isn’t necessarily wrong to ask other’s opinions, but when their opinion is placed above what the Bible says we are in sin. This is common in dealing with controversial issues or Christian liberties. Yes, the charismatic sign gifts may have indeed ceased, but surely not because Pastor John says so. And yes, it is wise to build boundaries while dating, but these things are not so on man’s authority alone.

Alternatively, because the Bible is authoritative, we should know for ourselves what it says. So when a friend asks us about a difficult subject, we can answer with “because the Bible says so” and not “because Pastor John said so.” The weight behind our words is far greater when we can point to Scripture to illustrate our beliefs instead of pointing to man. This will also strengthen our own faith and convictions because we will have thought deeply about the issues and put the necessary study in to come to a conclusion, a process which in and of itself is invaluable. May we all seek to come to know God more by reading, studying, and meditating on the glorious truths revealed through His authoritative word.


The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.