The Word of God is our source of truth for living and ministry
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be
thoroughly equipped for every good work; [2Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)]
One of the underlying themes of the critically acclaimed film The Matrix is that things are not as they appear. As the film’s protagonist is taken deeper and deeper, layer by layer, into the real meaning of things, he encounters more confusion, more uncertainty. He longs to know the truth, but his experiences continually reinforce the notion that if there is truth it cannot really be known for sure, and what he might experience to be the truth at any moment is most likely an illusion. Animals take life as it comes to them. Only humans ask why. Some say that the search for truth is man’s most noble quest. Given the conclusions at which some have arrived, it might also be his greatest curse.
The seventeenth century French mathematician and philosopher Descartes set out to discover, relying only upon himself, if there was anything in all existence that could be truly known and beyond doubt. The one unshakable, undeniable truth at which he arrived after rigorous thought, he summed up in the now famous statement, cogito ergo sum – “I think; therefore I am.” The very fact that he was able to think, to consciously reflect, was taken to be the unshakable evidence of his being. What would Descartes make of The Matrix, apart from being blown away by the technology? If its message is correct, then Descartes’ maxim itself is by no means self-evident or beyond doubt. He might be forced to conclude, “I think, therefore I am confused.”
If the search for truth starts with man, there it will also end. When we try to discover truth on our own we will always paint ourselves into the same corner of doubt and uncertainty. We will find ourselves alone in a world where there is no way or truth or life, as Jesus Christ claimed to reveal in his own person. (John 14:6) For us truth is not an illusory projection of our own thinking. Nor is it a relativistic truth confined to our own experience. Our truth does not begin with what we want or what we think works for us. It does not begin with what makes us feel good or what we inherit from others. We are not, in fact, alone in the world to work things out for ourselves. Our truth begins with God, the one who in response to Moses’ question about his identity, said, “I am who I am.” His very existence, unqualified, unlimited, unchanging and unfathomable, is the basis for all truth. He is the one whose identity as creator is clearly revealed in the natural world. He is the one who has shown his character of holiness and love by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to redeem man from his sin. We know these things because we accept by faith the truth of his word revealed in his Son who is the Word-made-flesh (John 1:1-14) and in his written word, the Bible.
We stand together with generations of Jesus’ followers for whom God’s written word has been a lamp to the feet and a light to the pathway (Psalm 119:105), a fully sufficient, completely authoritative source of truth about God, his ways, his world and his plans. The word of God is an accurate historical record of his dealing with mankind. It is a compendium of teaching about who God is and how he relates to us. It is sourcebook of moral principles and precepts. Its meaning and interpretation challenge the deepest thinker. At the same time its message is clear and evident to the simple and uneducated. From the ancient Greek, Celcus, to the modern Briton, Sagan, the Bible has withstood the rigorous examinations and vicious attacks of skeptics. It is the anvil that has shattered every hammer.
The Bible is all this and more. It is not an ancient sacred text that invites literary admiration or the reflections of the pious. It is the living word of God. Its revelation is utterly relevant to all peoples and cultures everywhere and for all time. It is both a window through which we may gaze at the wonders of God and his universe and a mirror that reflects who we truly are. During the interview of an old black man in the deep south of America some years ago, the question was asked, “Do you read the Bible?” Leaning back in his ancient chair under the leafy shade of an oak tree the old man replied with a sly and toothless grin, “No suh, I don’ read de Bible. It read me.” In his own way that old man bore eloquent testimony to the personal impact of the word of God in the lives of people in every generation. His words confirm in daily human experience the implications and applications of God’s word as so powerfully explained in the letter to the Hebrews: For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates event to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12). Simply put, the word of God is, for us in Proclaim! International, the source of truth for living and for ministry.
Jesus said, Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:27) Jesus expected his word to be heard and obeyed. This is the solid rock upon which to build life and ministry. Jesus never wavered in that expectation. Included in his final instructions to his disciples before he ascended into heaven was a clear authoritative admonition to teach all nations to obey everything I have commanded you. We find that it is not easy to obey everything the Lord has commanded for our life and ministry. We have our traditions and special understandings. Sometimes we find that obeying God’s word of truth is not convenient. It doesn’t meet with the expectations or approval of others. The wide highway of the world rather than the narrow path of the truth is a much easier route to follow, though we understand it to be the way of destruction. Difficult though it may be, our commitment is to follow the narrow way, hearing and obeying God’s word in all that we are and do, for it is the way of life. (Matthew 7:14)
The word of God is not a matrix to confuse, confound and obscure. It is an inexhaustible mine of rich truth whose treasures are available to everyone who will hear and obey.